My Ramzan Decor

You know typically, Ramzan would just roll in for me, I'd follow what everyone else was doing, countdown to 30 days and then move forward. I would fast throughout the month very properly, sure, but as embarrassing as it is to admit this, I don't think I ever had my heart fully into it. More obligation, less enthusiasm.

Over the last few years, something changed (no particular reason why) and I started valuing it more. The last couple of Ramzans I tried to make the month more than just about starving myself and I really liked it. Fasting became easier, the countdown became less important. I changed from being the person who'd say, 'Oh man, is Ramzan coming?' to 'Oh hey, Ramzan's coming' (though still not the person who waits for it the whole year). I developed respect for the month.


During this time, I also really came to appreciate how some religions celebrate their important days and weeks with such a festive spirit. Thankgiving and Christmas, for example, are done so well and with such vigor on a community level that everyone knows about them, even the non-Christians want to be a part of it. It's infectious and draws you in.

I'm not saying Muslims don't have the same festivity in them but I wish it was a bit more (perhaps it's just me). I've always looked at these big days that others have from the outside (and I don't mean that I don't feel included) - but I do want to be inspired and bring the action into my own as well.


So here in my tiny little microscopic way, I want to make Ramzan aspirational for myself and my family. A celebration. Something to look forward to. Something to create an energy in my heart, my soul, my house.

And not just as a Muslim. But also as a human being so even my non-Muslim friends appreciate this time in my life.


I'm naturally going to focus on being extra nice, kind, compassionate, all the ace stuff. Force myself to let my good shine more than my bad (21 days makes a habit, all the cool kids are saying that these days). That's fundamental, everything else is irrelevant without it. But I also want my home to reflect that - not just with my relationship and what I do in that space - but with some Ramzan décor thrown in as well.

You can argue that this distracts from the purpose. If you feel that, don't go for it; do what your heart agrees with.


For me, it gets me excited. I'm already all set up with these super simple decorations and I'm ready to get started (I'm leaving on vacation soon or I would have done this a night prior to the first of Ramzan). My home feels charged with energy to welcome this amazing month. It's affordable as well (so it's not like you got a gold sculpture of a swan, if you know what I mean) and incredibly easy to execute. I'm going to try and be the best I can be this month and I'm going to get started with this.

Have a fantastic Ramzan you guys.

Note: I haven't shared what practices I have outlined for this month because everyone has their own way and it's deeply personal how you manage you relationship with your God. I will share topline though that I've outlined my 3 goals for Ramzan with N and we're each going to focus on making sure we are able to realise them as best as we can.


Quick Décor Overview
1. Installed foil balloons as the main statement. I added a balloon weight to keep them locked on the ground, you can also tape them. The balloons last for about a week (then start becoming loose slowly) so I plan on getting them refilled halfway through Ramzan. Also, you can buy the balloons online through the link I've posted below but to inflate them, a trip to the store is necessary.

2. Bought tiny stars that are actually balloon weights and used them as décor on the TV console.

3. Added balloons to the office area as well but most probably won't refill these when they start dying.

4. I already have lots of string lights in my living area, but you can install them just for this. That's an easy, cheap win and you can have tons of them against windows, on plants, running parallel to curtains, the options are endless.

Tip: If you don't want the hassle of balloons (refilling, etc) get tassel garlands (see sample in image here) or buy tiny cutout stars like these and have them on your window sill, leaning against a wall, etc. Or if you have time, hang those stars on a string and make a banner.

Total Cost: AED 106
Breakup + Purchase Links
Crescent Gold Balloon: 40 AED / Crescent Silver Balloon: 30 AED / Black & Gold Star Balloons (link has 19 inch, mine are slightly smaller): 8 AED / Small Stars (Balloon Weights): 10 AED each

You can also see my living room makeover here if you haven't already.

Share thoughts.

I'm writing Ramadan décor here at the end (instead of Ramzan) so this post remains searchable for non-Ramzan spellers.

Favorite Thing: Shower Filter by Pure Blue

I've been trying out this baby for a month now and it's official: this is the one.

I received this water filter from Pure Blue a few weeks ago and I quietly installed it and waited to see if it would do all that it claims it would (I didn't even talk about it on Snapchat for even two seconds because I wanted to be super sure). It's supposed to remove 98% of the chlorine from the terrible water in our pipes, help with hair conditions and prevent hair loss, make the skin better and also reduce risks like asthma/bronchitis that can result from chlorine inhalation.

It has totally, a one hundred percent, done lots for my hair. Despite having used another brand before, which I hadn't repurchased regularly because I didn't really feel a lot of difference (there was a difference for sure but not as life-changing), I'm convinced I'll keep buying this one. It's entirely worth it.



WHY DO YOU NEED IT?
Our skin is the biggest organ of our body, we all know that. Showering regularly in harshly chlorinated water (that we get in our homes unfortunately) ends up with us absorbing about 7-8 glasses of chrolinated water through our skin, especially because hot water opens up our pores (honestly never thought about this stuff before). Horrendous.

This water is terrible for our hair. I've noticed a significant decline in my hair quality since I moved here. Everyone I know has.

N's dry skin is worse than ever.

And then most people I know have children who really should not have to be exposed to this nonsense on a daily basis.

Real problems.



WHAT I LOVED

Hair does not get greasy at the roots at all for at least 3 days for me. The last few months, my hair would get greasy the next day of a wash which was becoming a source of emotional pain. I was SO happy when I installed the filter and washed my hair for the first time and it was softer (also thanks to fresh chop), straighter (also thanks to shampoo) and stayed clean for an acceptable period of time.

The hair color I got recently hasn't been fading very fast. There's no way to prove that this is because of the filter, since I'm also using a color protect shampoo, but logically speaking I'd say it's both.



I hope I'm not imagining this but my hairfall has gone down. Really. It's still happening but considerably reduced.

Fantastic water pressure, no decrease whatsoever. It's strong and sexy, yus.

I have no idea why this was happening or what the science behind this is, but my previous water filter was screwing up the temperature of the water (which I did not know of at that time or I would've tossed it urgently). In the winters (whatever level of winter we get here), the water would just not heat up enough which was a pain and I blamed the building. I got it checked as well and the maintenance guy said that hot water was coming in the tap in  the tub (I know this is boring but stay with me, I have a nice heart) but not in the shower above, and that I have to get the water heater fixed. I'm lazy so I thought I'd get it done some other time, plus it was expensive to do that, and I sent him away. In the meanwhile, I changed the filter and BAM. The temperature was fixed. Can you believe that? Imagine I would've paid to fix a water heater that didn't need fixing. GOTSAVED. (Has this happened to anyone - temperature decrease because of a filter?)



Better energy levels. This could be because I'm eating slightly better as well. But their literature says that if you're not intaking such high amounts of chlorine through water, you should experience better energy levels. I do feel more energetic - this could be a combination effect (food+filter+just generally), but I started feeling it around the time of installing this.

You can sign up and they'll send you reminders on when your cartridge replacement is due. Brilliant. I installed mine in April so my next change is due in October, that's super doable (Based on a 10 minute shower everyday by 1 person, that's me. If you take longer showers or two people sharing the same bathroom, then you'd need to replace sooner).

The technology they use for cleaning, which I read up quite a bit on to understand the difference, seems to be fantastic. You can read up on this yourself as well before purchasing to understand how it works and what a shower filter should ideally have and what it shouldn't.

WHAT I'M STILL OBSERVING

I haven't noticed any stellar changes in my skin. I'm going to give this one some time because I've lazily reduced the amount of water I've been drinking since a month (it instantly has an effect on my skin). Since everything's related, I'm going to park this and come back to it in another month (will update accordingly).

Although, interestingly, we had guests over for about a week some time back, and N had to use this shower (he uses the guest washroom usually), I could see a visible change in his skin & hair, which is very dry usually. All his dry patches disappeared. So I'm thinking it was the filter. Will observe him like a hawk and report back. Also, I'm thinking perhaps such water causes abnormal skin ageing over time and it's best to be preventive rather than wake up one day with premature deterioration.



HOW IT WORKS?

What you buy is the filter which comes with one cartridge. The filter is yours forever. The cartridge needs to be replaced every 4-6 months, depending on usage, your general showering time and number of people using it. There's also an accompanying connector in case your shower fittings are too tight and you don't have space to fit the filter in.

It's ridiculously easy to install. Your neighbor's 3 year old could do this (it's true). If you need to show your neighbor's kid an installation video, here's one from their website.


Cost?
Shower Purifier + Cartridge (first purchase): AED 299
Replacement Cartridge (every 4-6 months): AED 149

How do I get it?
They stock at a number of locations (including my fave SLaM) but the easiest is to buy online right here.

Buy it for your own and your family's health (really) right now. As a bonus, you get good hair (and skin, hopefully).  I love this product, it's a great purchase.

This post is in collaboration with Pure Blue but all opinions are straight from the heart and mine. If you're having trouble trusting them, here's a drugged milkshake - you'll be on my side soon.

Join me on Snapchat (ID: shehzeen-r), I'll do a 'tour' of this filter tomorrow and also install it in my shower right in front of you guys (but that's as far as we go, please).

Until next time.

The Ultimate Beard Kit by Babel Alchemy

If an important guy in your life's got a beard, this is the PERFECT gift.

N started to think about experimenting with a beard a few months ago. I wasn't such a fan of the idea in the beginning but I decided it wouldn't hurt to try it out at least once (one person keeping a beard in a relationship is a mutual decision, FYI). He did, we both loved it and since then he's been part of the beard fraternity.

However, keeping hair on your face is just like having it on your head - it's got to be taken care of. I didn't really care about this aspect initially but pretty soon things started going south - dryness, itchy skin, coarse hair, all the sexy stuff. Some guys (and by some I mean him) can be pretty ridiculous and ignorant, unfortunately, when it comes to these things but I like to keep my toys clean (lulz) so I decided to fix this.

I received this Black Box Grooming Kit by Babel Alchemy, forced N to try it (he was secretly excited because I saw him handling the beard oil like it was his baby) and decided this was a keeper.

So ladies and gentlemen, meet your new friend. You need this in your life and I'm going to introduce you guys to each other some more. This grooming kit comes with all of the below.




1. Black Vetiver Beard Shampoo: Beard hair is so coarse. N's hair is really soft on his head but the beard is another story so his regular shampoo doesn't work. This shampoo designed for beard hair softens it down. You can actually feel the difference post wash (I touch-tested everything like the beard police). Also, it's chemical and sulfate free, so big win (also because your face is right behind your beard and no one wants any nasty stuff on that). It's got Vetiver oil in it which is supposed to be great for aging/dry/dying hair (reading up on this has made me interested in Vetiver oil for myself?). Check it out on their website here.


2. Beard Oil: This is my favorite. This oil really conditions the hair and also moisturizes the skin. It instantly calms down the scraggly look of the beard and takes away the itchiness. It's a MUST-HAVE. They've got two oils: unscented and sandalwood. We have the sandalwood and like the smell. Again, no colorants/preservatives/chemicals in these. It's got about 60 ml and should last upto a few months. Check it out on their website here.


3. Beard Balm: This is a styling product. If you're getting confused about the difference between the balm and the oil, here's what it is - The oil will condition and moisturize, the balm will style the beard into shape. It's basically a pomade (like women use for styling the ends of their hair after adding waves, for example). This is what bangs a beard into shape and makes it look presentable so you look less "My girlfriend just broke up with me so I haven't shaved in five months" and more "Oh hey, I'm ready to go out and party". No chemicals in this as well so it's actually what you should have versus a petroleum product because that's a synthetic sealant and will damage your hair and skin and you shouldn't do that to yourself. I was reading up about it and I saw that this has shea butter and that's what you need to make your beard look thicker especially if you have a patchy one. AND, it has additional oils so the balm doesn't just lock your hair into place but also moisturizes and conditions - without the oils, a balm will just cause hair breakage by sealing in dryness (you're welcome for all of this information - I googled it because initially I thought the balm is pointless). Check it out on their website here.


4. Beard Comb: This baby's handcrafted from pear-wood and is meant to tidy up your beard and distribute the natural oils through the hair strands. Couples are supposed to share everything but not a hairbrush. A comb's important because again the hair's different on your face. Imagine beard hair on your head - I'd NEVER abuse it with a hairbrush because that would just be lots of heart and hair break. This doesn't sell separately but comes within the grooming kit.


Babel Alchemy ships worldwide so ANYONE can have this. It's priced at AED 245 (roughly PKR 6900) AND SHIPPING IS FREE. You've got to get this for guys you like (with beards, naturally). Force them to use it if they're not on board. They'll be convinced after the first usage (test subject in my house so speaking from experience).

Buy the Black Box Grooming Kit here. And if you want extras, you can buy them separately at these links: Beard Shampoo, Unscented Beard Oil, Sandalwood Beard Oil, and Beard Balm.

They also have a cologne for men here and some other cool accessories if you're interested.

You can follow Babel Alchemy on social media here - they have a very cool feed. Facebook, Instagram. (I'm doing it FYI)

This post is in collaboration with Babel Alchemy but all opinions are mine as always.

Until next time.

Fridays


I thought I'd do Fridays post a little differently today. I've never really shown my place photographed at night (even though I often take pictures of that for myself) and I thought it would be interesting to do that. Even though I love mornings (imagine that) I reallllly love the downtime that comes after work. To be able to disconnect, relax, do things to unwind - and my home is my most favorite place to do that. Having some chai right now and sharing with you my most favorite downtime moments at home.


It's hard for me to accept that until a year ago I was oblivious to candles. Soul-crushing fact right there, considering how many years I've lost out on having these bad boys in my life. Lighting a candle at the end of a day has become one of my most favorite things to do (not even a tiny bit of exaggeration there). On days where I get done with work before N gets back home, I quickly prep the place for us so we can switch off and start winding down. I'll tidy up whatever crap I have lying around (if I've been shooting something, it's a trainwreck), light a candle, turn on the mood lights (fairy lights have the power to change the world), put on some light music and wash my brain off anything stressful from the day. It's like getting a tiny brain massage everyday. (I don't usually have it this dark immediately; when we get into a show with dinner, let's say, that's when we take down the brighter lights).


Mood lighting is one of the best things you can do for your home. Buy a good couch, get a nice rug and then get lighting. Awesome threesome.


Impossible for me to end my way without consuming any kind of hot beverage in my life. I always get a cup of chai or some herbal tea (chamomile is supposed to give restful sleep) - either a bit before wrapping up in the living room or take it into bed with me - but it's mandatory and it's a no-discussion kind of thing.


Can't manage this on every night but when I have enough time, I really love to finish off the day with getting into bed with tea, catching up on some of my favorite blogs, checking out insta/snapchat etc, talking to friends and family on WhatsApp and getting harassed by N to look at 9gag with him. Retired life for the win.

Have a great weekend, you guys.

5 Days Of The Lob: Day 5

Once you go through this, some of you may be like, HAIN, what is this. I'm going to bribe those people with low-fat, high-satisfaction cookies and ask them to go with me on this. Let's discuss.

So my most favorite, MOST FAVORITE, LOB hairstyle so far has been the hang-loose, go-with-the-flow kind. It was what inspired me to get the chop in the first place and so I'm dedicating the last day of this 5 Days series with ALL the ways I've been wearing my hair without going too gimmicky with it.

There are no hair acrobatics like braiding/pinning happening today. Just playing with the hair parting and texture to get different looks. Let's be real, 70% of the time people like you and me are not going to have the time or motivation to throw our hair into something action-oriented. And that's where this stuff comes in. Those of you who love this vibe and the ones who've happily been bribed by the cookies, LET'S HOLD HANDS AND CHECK OUT THESE IMAGES.

Day 5 of Styling a LOB: Hair Parts & Textures
So here are the six ways I've been styling my hair the MOST frequently, for the past one month (since I got the haircut). I am a BIG believer in throwing your hair around in different positions or textures to change up your look. There are subtle differences but if you're doing effortless chic (which is my new (failing?) mission in life) this is the way to go.
1. Center part and sleek. All hair loose, nothing pulled back.   
2. Same as above. BUT I'll pull a section from one side behind the ear (with a strand hanging in front of the ear because if I don't micro-manage my face it becomes a potato). Subtle but makes a difference.
3. Side part and sleek. I pull the front few inches behind one ear and let the rest of the hair hang and come to the front. Reason quoted above, reference potato.
4. Deep side part and sleek. One of my faves. Because the hair gets pulled from one end all the way to the other, it falls short and gives the illusion of layers (see above?). Also, adds volume at the top of your head if you like that (I do). Looks great with waves too.
5. Textured waves and side part. Picture explaining everything like a ninja.
6. Textured waves and center part. All hanging loose or some pulled behind one ear, it wins every way because, it just does. 

Products I used on my hair (straight): Loreal Elvive Color Protect ShampooHask Macadamia Oil Conditioning Hair Treatment.
Tools: Straightened the front two inches on each side in 1, 2 & 3 with a straightening iron.

Tools: Curling iron. It's not good, recommend me something.

That's it! Did you enjoy the series?

Check out all the previous days here: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 & Day 4.

Recos for more 5 Days? Please send them my way. I'm in acceptance mode.