Fridays

My best friend Sumika (can I stop saying best friend? Do you guys know her by now? Please help clarify) is working on a personal project which is going to be fantastic, you guys. We've been talking about it over the last few months and I'm incredibly proud of what she's trying to accomplish. I can't wait to tell you about it in a few months but for now I do want to inform you that she's been harassing me into creating a logo for her. NOW I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO THAT but she wants meaning behind it which apparently can only come if I do this for her. Okay, no big deal. So this weekend I'm super excited (that's a lie) to work on putting something together - if it turns out like crap, this post will self-destruct so there's no trace left on the internet between me and that thing // My shirt is from H&M.


This one's going to come into my life this coming week, A Time To Kill by John Grisham. N's forced me to buy this because he thinks it's amazing and has been on my case to get started on it. Since he's not going to be in Dubai all of coming week (AMMMIIIIIII), I'm going to get on it and make him proud by the time he comes back. YEAHHH.


Weekend pairing (let's not ever talk about how I'm going to get into those white pants). Shoes are Chapter 13, shirt is American Eagle, chain necklace is H&M, glasses are from Grand Optics and bangles are from Fab India.


New delivery that came recently and that I'll wear and shoot next week, woohoo.


Waves for the weekend. A lot of you have asked me how I curl my hair and I have zero technique so I'm finding it hard to come up with anything but this is what I can tell you. Don't follow the tutorials. Just take your curling iron and curl small sections randomly. That's what I do. It's not YouTube material but it's definitely everyday life material and if you're low maintenance that should be enough. I finish off with a texturizing spray which I think keeps them looking messy and helps you win at life overall.

Have a great weekend, guys.



Online Listening & Therapy - Let's Talk

Therapy or even just talking to someone is such a taboo with our part of the world. We'd rather suffer in silence and let something go from bad to worse than address the issue and get help for it.

Our standard fix-it approach to anyone dealing with an 'issue' (and I'm putting the quotes here because I don't see these as issues, they're just different experiences and a state of mind) is to say things like, 'you'll get over it' or 'snap out of it' or 'it's not such a big deal' or 'don't be a wuss'.

Even worse, because of this mentality that we've been conditioned to grow up with, most of us don't even register something that needs addressing as important. We tell ourselves that we've got to deal with it.

It's terrible considering we will seek help for any concern that manifests itself physically (simple things like the flu to more critical things like a tumor). But we refuse to work on our mental health.

Things that absolutely require attention but are considered unimportant by so many of us: Loneliness, grief, motivation, weight management, trauma, panic attacks, distress associated with chronic pain, anxiety, work stress, family stress, depression, bullying, disabilities, domestic violence, college life, breakups, mood disorders. And a TON more. 

Ever since I got onto Snapchat, I've had SO many people (including some guys too, so it's gender-neutral) reach out to me about some kind of 'problem' they are having (Snapchat is definitely more personal and so I think it makes it easier for people to talk to you). I've realized that a lot of people are struggling with something or the other and trying to find a way to resolve it.

I'm not an expert, of course, so it's not possible for me to 'help' someone out in the right way. But I happened to find this website a few days ago and I was thrilled. It's called 7cups and I quickly tested it out as much as I could to see if it would deliver and I felt pretty good about it (I know I probably 'wasted' a resource while trying to 'test' it but I can't possibly just refer something to you guys without understanding it a bit deeply, SO).



WHAT IS 7 CUPS? 

It's an online emotional health and well-being service. They anonymously connect you with trained listeners or therapists in a 1-on-1 chat format to talk about ANYTHING you'd like to discuss. If you're having a challenging time or just looking for someone to talk to, you can find someone kind to help you out.


They primarily have two things to offer: Listening and Licensed Therapy. I'll talk about each of these just a bit.

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LISTENING
7cups has a team of trained listeners who will chat with you anonymously about anything that's on your mind - whether it's something complex like loneliness or something just as simple as needing a hug. Talking to a stranger can actually help you vent - someone who's not trying to solve your problems, someone with no judgments, no opinionated responses - just simple listening. And since it's anonymous and the listeners are trained, I think it's a pretty safe environment to be a part of.

I love how while waiting to find a listener, the system says "connecting you with a kind human being" (see bottom of image)


You can choose to change listeners if you're not clicking with one until you find someone who you feel a connect with. Listeners come from 189 countries with different backgrounds and can communicate in 140 languages. This is entirely free and you can chat as much and as long as you want.

My experience: I had a small conversation with a listener but since I'm not feeling any challenges in my life currently, I didn't really know what to talk about. I used short, concise sentences and here's what I liked: a) The listener appeared to be very compassionate and kind and genuinely interested in talking to me. b) Despite not offering much information about why I had started the conversation, the listener asked me a lot of questions trying to narrow it down to what could be bothering me. I thought it was fantastic since I can imagine that someone with a genuine concern would take time to loosen up and offer details about themselves.

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THERAPY
You sign up to private therapy with a licensed, supportive professional. It's entirely anonymous and confidential. It's a paid service, however, you can access 30 days of free therapy on signing up (you will have to add your credit card at the beginning which you can cancel at the end of the 30 day period if you're not interested).

While trying to find you a therapist best suited to what you want to talk about


They'll match you to a therapist who fits your personal preferences and required area of expertise and you can start chatting away with them right away.

My experience: I tried to access the therapy, however, I didn't add my credit card details so it wouldn't let me through and then I just let it go (my bad). However, what I liked was that I got a note from their team a few hours later supporting my decision to join and encouraging me to share. I understand that sharing with anyone comes with a lot of hesitation and often we might try asking for help but then back out - this support felt very motivating to push forward and lean on someone.

While 'Listening' is free compared to the 'Therapy' that 7cups offers, if you have a deeper concern, I think it's always best to connect with a licensed professional so they can help you in the best way.

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There's a lot more that the website offers. If you're interested, you can explore the website in detail and find out all that you can get from it.

Website: www.7cups.com

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If you need help with anything, it's important to lean on someone and get help. Your well-being is in your hands and finding contentment in life is your responsibility to yourself.  I really encourage you to reach out and seek help - whether online through this website or offline through any of the channels where you live. There's nothing 'wrong' with you, it's not being weak, you deserve to be happy and you know it.

Using this website is a suggestion and any decisions to sign up and consequentially share information are entirely up to you. Please understand that I cannot be responsible for any negative experiences you may have upon the usage of such a forum. I wish you well.

Favorite Chai Memory With N


You know all that over-the-top stuff they say in chai ads about chai bringing people together and strengthening bonds - I'M THAT PERSON WHO LIVES THAT IN REAL LIFE. It's what I have as one of the first things in the morning, what I make plans with friends around and what I look forward to doing the most with N at the end of every day.


My favorite chai memory with N is from last year when we went to Nepal and were introduced to the most heavenly masala chai ever (I'd had masala chai before but Nepal was playing in a different hot-beverage-league altogether). One of the days, we went to Sarangkot (I've talked about this very briefly on the blog before) which is the highest viewpoint in Pokhara (the city we visited in Nepal), hoping to catch the sunrise against the Pokhara valley.

We woke up at 4:30 in the morning to drive up to to the viewpoint. It was pitch dark and we went up winding roads for a good half hour before getting to the spot. A short hike later, we reached the rooftop of a tiny shop where we were supposed to hang out until the good stuff started to happen (the sunrise, guys).


We were the first ones there. It was so high up, the entire city was asleep, it was super quiet, mildly chilly, we could hear the river down below and everything was just.fan.tastic.

And then our driver got us piping, hot masala chais.

If we were looking for kids at that point, we would have adopted that guy - that's what he had done for us.

The chai was so kickass, you guys. When N and I have a really good cup of chai, it's a definite highlight and this one was killing it. We hung out on plastic chairs, sipped our ryan-gosling-level masala chais and watched the color of the sky change from black to navy and so many more shades of blue.


Gradually, people started coming in and things started to get more visible. We could see the entire city wake up right in front of us and even though we never got to the see the sunrise because the clouds never parted (that can happen in that season), we still had the absolute best time.


N and I stayed back for quite some time even after the sun was way up in the sky and people had mostly left. We ordered another round of masala chais and hung out in the middle of the clouds just chatting. Anyone else may have been disappointed that they never got to see the mountain ranges (which are absolutely stellar in pictures by the way) but for us it was about the moment and the experience.



I never had the same masala chai once I got back home until I had some at a meeting and it was so good. I raved about it a lot so they sent me a dabba a few months ago and I've been making it since (still trying to achieve pro level). It's Waghbakri spiced loose tea (they have masala teabags too but with mild sugar, and I prefer mine without).

If you ask either one of us about our favorite chai memory, both of us go back to that sunrise masala chai action in a second. It was speshul. Now tell me about your favorite chai memory, thanks so much.

Waghbakri spiced tea sells for about AED 14 at most hypermarkets and supermarkets. You can join them on their Facebook page here.




Unique Gifts Under PKR 2000 / AED 60

Note: The name of the Glam Nails giveaway winner is right at the end of the post.

Today's post is coming from Atiya & Amna, who are the Lifestyle Intern duo on the blog. Both of them are weird and cool which makes their gift recos so much more awesome. Their ideas are for Pakistan and I've added a tiny input next to each for UAE and general worldwide shopping. Say hi to Amna and Atiya's first post!

I am a huge fan of gift giving. It is an exchange that says: “Here’s something that made me think of you and I think you should have it.” Amna and I brainstormed many ideas for this gift guide and we thought we'd highlight some unique Pakistani businesses whose products you can also turn into very thoughtful gift ideas. And all these are under PKR 2000 so they are budget friendly but no less on heart and love. So let’s do this, yes?


Coloring Page Frame
Adult coloring books are all the rage these days and trust me I was not ready to climb on the bandwagon. That is until Amna suggested that they can make amazing wall décor. What is nicer than spending an afternoon coloring an intricate pattern for a friend and then framing it? And all of it under PKR 200. The coloring pages can be bought from Phuljhari, a small business creating “stress-relieving coloring patterns for adults with a Pakistani twist.” According to Amna, coloring the page was one of the most calming hours she has spent and then she just popped it in a frame bought from Sunday Bazaar for PKR 100. This would also make a very nice gift for Pakistanis settled abroad and something which is not the usual truck art.
Pakistan: Phuljhari Facebook Page / PKR 200
UAE: Souq / AED 30 (You can also buy in person at bookstores like Borders or Magrudys and slip into an inexpensive IKEA frame)
Worldwide: Etsy / USD 2 OR this pop art version at ASOS / USD 12


Candles
Shehzeen is obsessed with candles so we thought this item would be right up her alley. The Karachi Candle Company is a small business started by two young women in Karachi. They make soy-based, clean burning candles that smell divine! I bought this cucumber and melon scented candle for PKR 1300 and guys, it smells just like the freshness of cucumber and melon which is perfect for summer (or really anytime of the year for that matter). The Motia and Lavender scents are also the bomb so if you are in the market for a candle and support a home-grown business, The KCC is the way to go.
UAE: Any Bath & Body Works store in the UAE / AED 60 onwards
Worldwide: ASOS / USD 25


Gifts in a Jar
This idea can go many ways given your time and budget. You can make a bunch of themed jars for a bunch of friends or make one special jar full of goodies for that one friend. Amna got these mason jars from Sunday Bazaar for PKR 150 each but you can always use a regular jam jar that has been soaked in warm water and cleaned. We made two versions: 'Cookies in a Jar' for that friend who loves to bake (or just starting to get into it). We followed this tutorial because it is hella easy for even the most novice cook. The 'I Woke Up Like This' jar is filled with makeup goodies for that beauty-obsessed friend. You can play on these themes, like brownies in a jar or theme the beauty around one thing like smoky eye kit or a pedicure kit. Switch it up and make the gift man-friendly with gadgets that can fit in a jar or something Marvel or DC themed if he is into that kind of thing. Make it pretty with twine, ribbon, labels whatever you have on hand and you will have a stellar gift on your hands.
Pakistan: Sunday Bazaar or Daraz / PKR 790 for 2
UAE: IKEA / AED 15
Worldwide: Etsy / USD 10


Organic Skin Care
Artsy.pk is like the Etsy of Pakistan and a site that you should definitely check out for homemade scrubs, lotions and potions. We were sent a box of goodies months ago from them and Amna patiently tested them out to say that yes, organic skin care FTW. And also perfect for unique gift giving. Check them out and you can make your own boxes of prettied up scrubs and shampoos that will delight any receiver.
Pakistan: Artsy / PKR 200 onwards
UAE: Izil / AED 60 onwards
Worldwide: Nordstrom / USD 26

Other than these options, you can do a bunch of stuff that's a tad unusual but would make fantastic gifts - a tiny houseplant (cacti are low-maintenance and can survive any plant-killer), jars of raw honey, DIY toner you made yourself, the list is endless.

We hope you enjoyed this list of unique gift ideas. Let us know what you think. And as always, support local!

Atiya and Amna are all about the good life. From books, sci-fi to pop culture and fashion, you can find them always talking and joking over a cup of tea. Find them on Instagram at @atiya107 and @amnaabbas and their blog at @blogthegoodlife. To read more about these girls, check out the meet the interns post.

The winner of the Glam Nails giveaway is Madiha Shariq. Congratulations Madiha! Please email me at thedesiwonderwoman@gmail.com or Facebook inbox here so I can give you details on how to get your prize.

Timeout: The Best Nude Lipcolors For Every Skintone. And More.

1. My struggle with most nude shades I've picked up is that I look super washed out in them. This article sounds pretty perfect for how to find the right one for South Asian skintones. Also, check out these drugstore nude shades that look great.


2. I don't do off-shoulder but if you're into them, then this one (and many others) on Zaful are so great. And so freaking cheap.


3. Such gorgeous DIY painted baskets. WANT ONE.


4. Pretty sure you haven't seen this before: A Japanese restaurant serves noodles in ice bowls. Yup.


5. AMAZING 4 minute video that shows what releasing 12 wolves into a park did. We've got to remember we're all connected to each other and must take care of this planet.

Until next time.