Easy Iftar/Eid Table

I'm a terrible host. I have an official sit-down kind of lunch or dinner at my place about once a year only and I really don't care about what someone may think of my presentation as long as the food I'm serving doesn't get anyone food poisoning. People should just be able to have a good time over fun conversation and be super comfortable. Those are my goals.

But this year when we decided to have an iftari at our place for just a few of our close friends, I decided to set up a table that only pretended to look like hard work but was actually super duper super duper easy. Enter lots of Pinterest inspiration I've digested over the years and my obsession with green. 


I wanted something fresh and summery (cos it's hot, bros) and easy on the eyes. I also want to remind you that I'm a task-simplifier and I don't personally enjoy it when I go to someone's place and the hosts are hardly at the table because they're prepping the food or clearing out the table, etc. Everyone should sit together if that's what the gathering is for. So I chose on an easy table setup (took me under 30 mins) with no fuss food (I'll share that at the end because so many people asked me about that on Snapchat) and disposable plates and it was the best.


Check it out, friends. Please tell if you like?


I'll explain below in detail what I did, along with a short and quick video on how I put the centerpiece (?) together, and if you appreciate what I've done, you can easily replicate it for yourself. I'll also suggest alternatives if you can't find the exact same stuff like those paper plates. Ok, let's go.



What You Need:
I had all of this in my home already except the plates
Greens for the centerpiece/tablescape (whatever you want to call it, don't know that much English)
Candles
Disposable plates
Gold cutlery
Glasses
Tissues
Twine
Sticky tape

Setup time: 30 mins


1. Green Tablescape: These are all faux green branches/stems that are all randomly assembled together (see video at the end). I started at one end and started taping them down so no one would accidentally move them and ruin my life. I already had them on me as props for my work, but not everyone's going to have these on hand already, so if you want to get yourself some, here are a few options.

a) Purchase. I usually buy mine from Creative Minds in Dubai, they have a huge selection and if you want to regularly use them, then you can easily pick some up. They should cost you about AED 150 - 250 depending on the stuff you pick.

b) Snip some off the real plants you already have at home. A tiny stem off each plant will do the job. Or you could beg a neighbor for one.

c) Go to your local nursery and tell them to give you anything they're ready to toss. You'll find enough greens to make it work and they won't die until the next day too.



2. Candles: Random candles from around the house. One was a gift from H&M Home and one was from Ace Hardware (10 AED).


3. Disposable Plates: In Ramzan I usually use disposable plates because I have friends over nearly everyday or have family visiting and it's a nightmare to do 5000 dishes on a daily basis. It takes time out of my schedule that I want to put aside for taravih and tafseer, and in parallel food coma is breaking boundaries so the mind is unbelievably numb at most points, so I try to do everything that I can to not waste time in pointless chores. On regular days, I use simple plates but if I want to make it a tiny bit special, I buy these bio-plates that are environmental friendly and look uber sexy too. I get these from Carrefour or Geant (you might not find them in the disposable plates section, sometimes they are in the party plates aisle).


Some of you had a few comments on the paper plates when I posted earlier so I'll address them quickly:

a) Disposable paper plates are not the best option in the long term because they are definitely a waste of the planet's resources. The only reason I use them in Ramzan is because with the kind of traffic I have at home at iftari (and sometimes even sehri) I save water with not having to wash a truckload of dishes. Is it an equal tradeoff? I don't know but it makes sense to me. Plus I've compromised on prayer time in previous years because of all the extra Ramzan food prep and cleanup work and I'm very clear that I don't want to do that anymore.

b) These plates I've only seen here in Dubai. I'm not sure if they sell in Pakistan. If they don't and you can't imagine using disposable plates for a formal dinner, I'll suggest some alternatives at the end. You can read and assess if they work for you.



4. Gold Cutlery: I got mine for super cheap from Daiso in Battuta. They don't look inexpensive and plus I love gold, bros.



5. Tissue & Twine: Just your basic white tissue, rolled up like a cigarette and tied together with twine. I snipped tiny stems off my faux IKEA plants (the smallest size ones) and inserted one into each knot of the twine. 


6. Glasses. I got these from Crate & Barrel about 4 years ago and they were definitely not worth it. C&B is terribly expensive, I was possibly hallucinating when I bought them because I would never do that again. They're pretty, sure, but I think they were about 20 bucks a piece? I use them about twice a year which is exactly why I don't buy expensive stuff - you're so scared of breaking it, YOU DON'T LIVE YOUR FREAKING LIFE. I got another set of really pretty summer glasses, that I use everyday btw and they're twice as sturdy, from Home Center. And they were 7 bucks a piece. What is this life. I'm not vomiting over C&B, it's great for specialty stuff, but for generic things like GLASSES TO DRINK WATER FROM, I stick to Home Center. I used the C&B ones here because my table was small and with the centerpiece, I wanted something low in height. 


So in summary:

1. I assembled the green centerpiece.
2. Added candles.
3. Placed the paper plates around it.
4. Threw the spoons and forks next to them.
5. Added tissue and twine.
6. Added glasses. 


Now let's check out some pictures before we talk alternatives.








Alternatives
For the tablescape
- Other things you can do instead of the greens: a) Flowers b) Dry stems c) Lots of tiny plants arranged in one line in the center of the table d) A line of candles   
- Instead of candles in the middle of the greens: a) Add a couple of flowers b) A couple of cacti in small pots

For the plates
- Embrace the regular white, boring plates and play with other things.
a) Get a colored tissue to place in the middle of the plate as the main accent
b) Take a big leaf and place in the middle of the white plate and add a white paper bowl on top. The leaf will add interest
c) Take brown circular placemats and put them under the white paper plates, it will make them look sexy
d) Put a flower in the middle of every white plate, instant dose of pretty.
e) Find solid colored paper plates and use those instead of white. Imagine a peach colored plate in this setup with neutral accents.


I know people say you can't do the paper plate thing in Pakistan. Do it if you want to, doesn't matter what anyone else says. I always ignore such nonsense and do whatever I want to - as long as it doesn't harm anyone you're good to go. Try it. 


If you'd like to see how simple it is to put together the centerpiece/tablescape (I still don't know what it's called, check out this very awesome (?) video below.


And for those asking for what food we did, here's what was on the menu. There were 5 iftari items and one dessert. Each of this took minutes to prepare - I prepped everything, except the bread, the night before.

1. Fruit Chaat
2. Dahi phulki
3. Fried samosas and prawn (I use Al Kabeer chicken samosas and some frozen prawn I don't remember the brand of)
4. Chicken Alfredo Bread (recipe here)
5. Dahi puri station (I got the puris from Al Adil and made yogurt and chutneys with it) Check out my Instagram to see it.
6. Imli and Green Chutneys (recipes here)
7. Papri (that I made at the beginning of Ramzan, recipe here)
8. White chocolate dipped dates with cashews (bought from Geant)
9. Banoffee Pie (I'll post the recipe on Tuesday)

Our friends also brought over quite a lot of food so we had way too much to eat (I don't really like having so much but then we reused the same stuff next day).

That's it, guys. If you do something like this for any of your Iftaris or Eid, I'd LOVE to know because ainveen. So tell me.

Fridays

HEY. Hope you guys are having a great Ramzan (and if you're not Muslim, hope we're being extra nice to you). Tonight N's mom arrives in Dubai and stays with us till Eid so we're both quite excited about having her. This time Ramzan and Eid feels more special than over, I've just been in a very festive spirit this whole time. N and I have planned on giving each other small gifts this time around - anything under AED 50 - could be something handmade as well so potentially could be just a piece of paper too. We set a monetary limit so we'd focus more on the gesture and not about getting something 'great'. I bought this wrapping paper very randomly a few months ago from Magrudy's in Jumeirah and now I'm terribly excited to use it for our gifting exercise (symbolically appropriate). We told our friends about our idea too and they also joined in, so now we're all getting each other something. Borderline delirious behavior a couple of weeks ahead when we share the gifts, please consider yourself warned.


Having a big iftari at my place today. Just six people but big by my standards, YAS. Making some chicken alfredo bread as one of items to make love to at 19:00 hours, thanks (that's iftari time, incase anyone's confused).


I'm a big believer of simplifying your life. I don't like it when I get even remotely stressed and like to operate in zen mode most of the time.  So I always get paper plates in Ramzan (started doing this last year, so 'always', yeah). It's a tiny added expense but so functional because you don't end up spending your entire middle age doing the dishes. Also, since extra action is happening in Ramzan like slipping into food coma and taravih, it just frees up time to do that stuff instead of dying a slow death in the kitchen. These are the nicer plates because we have an iftari today but for everyday I use the lame, boring, white ones.


Love these white chocolate dipped dates with cashews (warning: I can eat the entire box in one go, so never give me one). Usually get these from Geant or Carrefour, they're by Bayara.


Look what Rituals gave me, you guys. A teacup. Massively crushing on them, hope you understand. I'm going to use it for all my herbals teas but if you like this but don't like tea, use it as a container for anything and everything (could make a very sexy toothbrush holder for the bathroom). They have a black version selling in store too.

Have a great weekend, you guys.



10 Days Of Gifts with Rituals

My UAE friends. FIRST, I LOVE YOU. Second, I have a surprise for you.

For this Ramzan and Eid, I am partnering with my new love interest, Rituals, for 10 Days Of Eid Gifts. WOOHOOO.

Rituals is a Netherlands based brand that's newly launched in the UAE and has quickly become one of my most favorite brands to have worked with (after this, it will be yours too). I practically lust for their brand philosophy which is: Happiness can be found in the smallest of things. They believe in transforming everyday routines into moments of indulgence. Like enjoying a warm, fragrant bath, a cup of speciality tea. You feel me, bros? THIS IS WHAT I WANT FROM LIFE.

Ok back to gifting.


I've been really focused this month on making Ramzan a big celebration. You guys know I did Ramzan d├ęcor at my place this time, N and I made tiny goals before the month kicked off, and also decided to give each other small gifts on Eid (focus on gesture versus value). We told our close friends about it and they decided to join in too. So we're all really in the spirit, you guys.

And now I want to take this one step up, and share some kickass gifts with some readers who've always supported me with their amazing comments, feedback, likes, messages, eraaythaang. I can't show my love to so many of you all the time but with every comment I read or every email I get, I FEEL IT. Yas.

I have 10 beautiful gift sets from Rituals to give out to ten of my UAE readers. (I'd LOVE to do this for Pakistan too, if any brand wants to partner for small, special gifts for 5-10 people, let me know, I'm happy to do it).


This is NOT a giveaway. This is simply a gift from me to some people I really appreciate for having as my blog buddies.

I made a list of people I'd love to give this out to and then I randomly selected 10 from that list. And I'll announce one name each day so get excited!

I'm going to show you the contents of one such box. Rituals has different lines and you can pick the box of your choice if you're the win I pick. This is one sample, let's collectively drool.

This box is the Tao Treat. And includes four of their best sellers: Shower Foam, Body Scrub, Body Cream and Deo Spray.

This stuff smells like heaven. And you'll probably want to name your first-born after me if you get this.


I honestly don't believe in big gifts. I believe in the value of something that you truly give from your heart without costing you a lung and a half. And I'm happy and proud to be partnering with Rituals to share that sentiment with some of you. Insert giant ass smile.

By the way, these gift boxes are selling in store if you want to buy them for anyone. They make beautiful gifts for Eid and someone special from friends or family totally deserves one.

Are you ready for the 10 Days of Gifts? Starting Saturday, I'll announce one name everyday on social media - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

Note: Getting a gift from me in these 10 days does not mean that your chances for winning the annual giveaway are less. This is just a gift and if you win the giveaway too, then you're one lucky bubba.




Sehri At The Parents

Note: The blog's 3rd anniversary giveaway is LIVE, is worth $3500 and is running for Pakistan and UAE until July 3rd, 11:59 PM GST! Enter right now if you haven't already. Here's the link.

That picture above is not even a sehri picture, nor are we all in it. But I love the happy, chaotic vibe in it (also, roza lug raha hai, so this is it, boys).

Even though getting a 'breakfast date' with your husband in the middle of the night everyday should trump everything, it's never been able to one up the whole sehri routine at the parents place for me. Sehri at ammi and abbu's place is one of the best memories I have with my family and it's amazing how I never knew that while I was living it. 

My siblings and I were one of those useless offsprings who expected to be woken up and served our food; parents were simply slaves meant to cater to our sehri needs. This understanding was pretty clear in our household and waking up to help the parents out with heating the food or setting the table were laughable concepts really. I mean. Parents, please.

Our dad would try to wake us up at regular intervals before the azaan; it was a well-paced exercise at every 5 minutes and if he ever LIED about it being 15 mins to the azaan when it was actually SIXTEEN, we'd liberally throw accusations his way. 'Itni jaldi utha dia hai, ab hum kya karain'/'Jab bataya hai keh jaldi nahi uthayen toh kyon uthaya'. AND HE WOULD ALWAYS APOLOGISE (brat alert). 

This gentle treatment however was reserved for the girl child only - I totally feel for my younger brother about how he used to be dragged out of bed with a generous dose of insults entirely unrelated to the circumstances ('future tabah hai tumhara agar subha naee uth saktay' or 'utha utha kar pagal kar dia hai, zaleel kar dogay baray ho kar'.....Wha??) Full throttle character assassination, bros.

Our dad always used to be in the best of moods that early in the morning. He'd be cracking jokes consistently at the table and we would be sitting with faces that looked like someone had just done the entire ghar ka pocha with them. There were times when we would oblige him and join in and make way too much noise and inevitably our mom would scream 'Khayal karo, parosi kya sochainge'. That same line, for TWENTY years bros. Lolz.

Other times, we'd be sprawled out on the living room floor like patients on anesthesia, waiting for the azaan because we were brutally woken up 5 minutes prior to the regular schedule (see prior reference one paragraph above, thanks). Patients on anesthesia but also capable enough to hurl trash talk and throw shade at the people who gave us life.

Time with the parents is in any case one of the best times of your life but there are some amplified moments like these that make all of us go back in a second and laugh like nuts. (I know my sister will read this and message me immediately). It's been years since I've had sehri with my mom (dad took a one-way ticket to the heavens some time ago) and I don't think it can ever be the same thing, because now I'm supposedly responsible and shit so would wake up with the mother to help out with the food? (whatevs, adulthood) And who knows when all of us would be together in Ramzan again. I miss that. But I'm grateful that I have a sound and healthy mind to be able to go back and actually 'look' at these memories (the visuals are so strong) and relive them in some way.

Thanks Ammi, Abbu (dad, I hope you got internet up there) for one more absolutely priceless gift in life.

What was/is your sehri action like?




The Blog 3rd Anniversary $3500 Giveaway Contest Is Live!

Guys, it's back. And it's bigger and better. YAS.

The blog's annual anniversary giveaway is so much bigger than last year's, has a ton of fantastic brands and is waiting for you to claim it IMMEDIATELY. Drop whatever you're doing (unless it's your husband, lulz), get yourself a beverage of choice and put yourself in Do-Not-Disturb mode for about 10-15 minutes. But right before that, let's just talk prizes for two seconds.

There will be TWO winners in this contest. (You can see all product details right here)

One winner will win from the UAE with a prize worth $1900+. That's roughly AED 7000.

Deep breaths.

The other winner will win from Pakistan with a prize worth $1700+. That's roughly PKR 180,000.

Yes. It's true.

The entire giveaway is worth $3500+ and is 75% higher than last year's giveaway. That's a total value of roughly AED 13,000 or PKR 370,000. You feel me, bros?

Now let's check them out. Pictured prizes are for the UAE and Pakistan Prize combined.


The UAE Prize worth $1900+ includes: 
* Clarisonic Mia 2
* Ponds Age Miracle Beauty Package: Age Miracle Cell Regen Day Cream, Age Miracle Deep Action Night Cream, Age Miracle Firm & Lift Face & Neck Lifting Day Cream, Age Miracle Firm & Lift Eye Contour Lifter and Age Miracle Firm & Lift Targeted Lifting Massager
* Make Up Forever Sculpting Kit: Pro Sculpting Palette, Pro Sculpting Brow and Pro Sculpting Lip
* Izil Beauty Pack: Multi-purpose Argan Oil, Green Tea Body Scrub and Golden Glow Face Mask
* Jooti Shooti voucher for two pairs of shoes (read details here)
* Jewellery by Mariam Sikander Statement Pendant
* Exquisite Beauty Stores Voucher worth AED 300
* Jane Iredale 'In The Blink Of A Smoky Eye' Smoky Eye Kit and Just Kissed Lip & Cheek Stain
* Chapter 13 voucher worth PKR 4000 (read details here)
* Babel Alchemy Beard Kit
* The Pochette Handbags (2)
* Inaya Dinner Plates (8)
* Bio-Oil 60 ml bottles (3)
* Wardrobe On Web voucher worth $50 plus free shipping
* Unilever Personal Beauty Pack: Dove Intense Repair Shampoo, Dove Intense Repair Conditioner, Dove Go Fresh Revive Body Wash (2), Dove Inner Glow Gentle Exfoliator, Dove Deep Pure Mattifying Scrub, Dove Beauty Moisture Facial Cleanser, Dove Antiperspirant Deodorant (3), Tresemme Keratin Smooth Shampoo, Tresemme Keratin Smooth Conditioner, Tresemme Oleo Radiance Oil Elixir, Tresemme Heat Protection Shine Spray, Lux Magical Beauty Handwash, Vaseline Intensive Care Spray Moisturizer (3)
* Emirates Grand Hotel Spa voucher for massage for two persons (read details here)
* SLaM Dubai voucher worth AED 430 for a haircut, blowdry, manicure and pedicure
* H2O Pure Blue Shower Purifier
* Skechers voucher for 1 pair of shoes from the Burst range (read details here)
* Osmo Genius Kit
* Sudio Klang earphones

The Pakistan Prize worth $1700+ includes: 
* Clarisonic Mia 2
* Ponds Age Miracle Beauty Package: Age Miracle Cell Regen Day Cream, Age Miracle Deep Action Night Cream, Age Miracle Firm & Lift Face & Neck Lifting Day Cream, Age Miracle Firm & Lift Eye Contour Lifter and Age Miracle Firm & Lift Targeted Lifting Massager
* Make Up Forever Sculpting Kit: Pro Sculpting Palette, Pro Sculpting Brow and Pro Sculpting Lip
* Izil Beauty Pack: Detoxifying Body Mask Powder, Beldi Black Moroccan Soap and Green Tea Antioxidant Face Mask 
* Jooti Shooti voucher for two pairs of shoes (read details here)
* Jewellery by Mariam Sikander Statement Earrings
* Magicosmetix HD Magic Palette
* Masarrat Misbah Lip Varnish, Liquid Lipstick, Lip Gloss, Eye Varnish, Lash Enhancer and Blusher
* Chapter 13 voucher worth PKR 4000 (read details here)
* Babel Alchemy Beard Kit
* The Pochette Handbags (2)
* Inaya Dinner Plates (8)
* Bio-Oil 60 ml bottles (3)
* Wardrobe On Web voucher worth $50 plus free shipping
* Unilever Personal Beauty Pack: Dove Intense Repair Shampoo, Dove Intense Repair Conditioner, Dove Go Fresh Revive Body Wash (2), Dove Inner Glow Gentle Exfoliator, Dove Deep Pure Mattifying Scrub, Dove Beauty Moisture Facial Cleanser, Dove Antiperspirant Deodorant (3), Tresemme Keratin Smooth Shampoo, Tresemme Keratin Smooth Conditioner, Tresemme Oleo Radiance Oil Elixir, Tresemme Heat Protection Shine Spray, Lux Magical Beauty Handwash, Vaseline Intensive Care Spray Moisturizer (3)
* Emirates Grand Hotel Spa voucher for massage for two persons (read details here)
* 9lines Heart Bag and Sunglasses
* Little Things In Life Cushions (2)
* Blood Orange voucher for two pajama sets
* Skechers voucher for 1 pair of shoes from the Burst range (read details here)
* Osmo Genius Kit
* Sudio Klang earphones 

Ready to go? Before you begin, let's talk some specifics. Please go through these. They'll make your life simpler.

IMPORTANT:
1. The contest is being administered via the Gleam app and all terms and conditions governing the giveaway are mentioned in it below (or you can also read them here). Please read these carefully. By participating in the giveaway contest, you agree to be bound by all of these terms and conditions.

2. The giveaway is open to the UAE and Pakistan and will run for a period of 13 days starting on June 21, 2016 at 12:00 hours (Gulf Standard Time) and conclude on July 3rd, 2016 at 23:59 hours (Gulf Standard Time).

3. You will be allowed to gain entry points in the contest through 43 ways. Each way has different points attached to it (the first 13 ways are related to the blog, the rest are all related to the sponsors). You can choose to enter through any and as many of these, example, via an Instagram like, Twitter follow, etc. Naturally, the more accounts you follow, the more points you make. 

4. You can even win with a single entry point. But the more options you enter with, the higher your chances of winning.

5. You will need to login before you can start gaining points for the contest. You can choose to do that with an email address, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account. All points gained will be linked to that account. If you're already logged in with a social media account, you can log out and log back in with the choice of your platform.

6. Even though this is mentioned in the giveaway terms and conditions (see Point 1 above), I am compelled to mention that a) Any and all custom charges for the delivery of the giveaway packages will be the liability of the winners. b) You will be required to sign a release form before the items are shipped to you, failing to do which the prize will be passed onto the next eligible participant.

7. You will be asked to provide your email address which is where you will be notified if you win the contest. Please provide your most frequently checked one and include thedesiwonderwoman@gmail.com in your safe email list.



Before you begin, it would be helpful if you sign into all your available accounts on the device through which you are entering the giveaway. So sign into your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, etc. before clicking below to get started.


Update: I removed one of the Pinterest steps because it was giving a lot of you trouble.

Ok, lesson's over. Ready to go? Good luck!

PLEASE FOLLOW ALL ACCOUNTS MENTIONED BELOW, AND DON'T JUST VISIT THEIR PAGES, IF YOU WANT EXTRA ENTRY POINTS. YOU CAN MANUALLY FOLLOW THEM NOW, IF YOU DIDN'T EARLIER.

FOR EVERYONE ASKING WHY THEY CAN'T SEE THEIR COMMENTS: I mentioned this on social media but adding this here as well. You can't see your comments BECAUSE THEY ARE ALL NOT SHOWING ON THE SAME PAGE. You have to click on "LOAD MORE" at the end of the page and KEEP CLICKING if you want to see your comment. Typing this out like a moron because some people are just not hearing me -_-


Any questions and/or issues relating to the giveaway, email me at thedesiwonderwoman@gmail.com. But check these FAQs first to save us both time.

The blog will resume regular transmission from Thursday, June 23rd, 2016. Until then you can find me on Instagram and Snapchat: shehzeen-r. Bye.