Monday, 30 March 2015

Artisanal Goat's Milk Soaps from Modest Queen

After a tiring day I returned home last night to find a cute little box outside my door containing some artisanal soaps and lip balm. Aliya Riaz Khan, the owner of Modest Queen had personally delivered it to my home. She had seen my inquiry on Facebook for goat's milk soap and had generously offered to make some for me.

Handmade Goat Milk Soap

My elder daughter Sofia has been suffering from severe eczema ever since she was four months old. Alhamdulillah (all praises to God Almighty), over the years it has improved but is yet to be cured completely. Recently someone had suggested goat's milk soap for her and I had been looking for it.

Goat milk's soap is rich in several vitamins and nutrients important to healthy skin including zinc, alpha hydroxy acid and amino acid as well as vitamins A,B,C and E.The pH balance of the fatty acids found in goat's milk is very similar to the pH levels found in the human body, making it easy for these beneficial nutrients and moisturizers to be absorbed into the skin..The lactic acid in goat's milk helps to break down skin cells aiding the natural process through which we continually shed old cells as new ones are formed. For those desiring a more natural lifestyle and products, what is lacking in goat's milk soap is just as important as what is in it.

Handmade Goat Milk Soap

Modest Queen is a Toronto based brand for all natural cosmetics, luxury bath treats and unique hijabs and purses. My box contained a cute bunny shaped goat's milk soap bar, a couple of exfoliating goat's milk soap bars with oatmeal , a jasmine scented massaging soap bar and a chocolate healing lip balm.

Aliya had also included a list of ingredients for each product. All the products are handmade from natural ingredients like goat's milk, almond oil, olive oil, coconut oil,sweet almond oil, unrefined African Shea butter, rolled oats and cocoa powder. Even the tubes containing lip balm are hand designed.

I'm really thankful to Aliya for these products. May Allah Subhan Wa Ta'ala (God Almighty) give shifa (cure) to my daughter through these products.

Do you or your loved ones suffer from eczema or dry, sensitive skin? What natural remedies do you suggest? Please share in the comments section below.


Disclaimer: I received free product samples. However, the views and opinions expressed are my own. I did not receive any other compensation for this post.


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

2015 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration Invitation

Yes, I received the most coveted invite of blogosphere - an invitation to the 2015 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration at Walt Disney World !!!! Did I expect it? Not even in my wildest dreams.

Yes, Disney and BSM Media have been really generous to me by choosing me a #DisneySide @Home Celebration host two years in a row but I certainly didn't expect that my humble little blog would be considered for the magical invitation.

2015 Disney Social Media Celebration Invitation #DSMMC

When I nonchalantly opened my email last Friday I could not believe my eyes to see an email from Walt Disney World which had me and my daughters jumping with joy. However, the full impact of the big invite didn't hit me until I posted the news on social media. Congratulatory messages started pouring in from far and wide. I came to know that bloggers had been refreshing their inboxes in anticipation ever since news broke out on Twitter that invites were ready to be sent. Twitter and Facebook were all aflutter with the #DisneySMMoms and #DisneySMMC hashtags.

2015 Disney Social Media Celebration Invitation #DSMMC

What is it all about

Now in it's sixth year the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration continues to be one of the most prestigious conferences and one of the few family-friendly events for bloggers,social media influencers and opinion leaders.

The Conference is an invitation-only event where bloggers are also invited to bring their families. Attendees have opportunities to meet, mingle and network with fellow influencers , get inspired by industry leaders, and participate in family events sprinkled with Disney magic.

Only about 150 - 200 bloggers and influencers are invited to the celebration each year where apart from networking opportunities they are also treated to a stay in one of Disney’s deluxe resorts, theme park tickets, goodies from Disney and other sponsors,special dining and events all at a deeply discounted conference rate. There are dedicated events just for conference attendees as well as fun family events for all registered conference guests.


How to get an invite

No one knows the criteria behind the much coveted invites. I believe that the organizers try to include Mom and Dad bloggers from different niches. It helps if one has written a few Disney related posts and posted them on social media with popular hashtags. It is also helpful to follow the right people and accounts like @DisneyMoms on social media.

I have heard that attending one of the On-the-Road Disney Social Media Moms Celebration might also lead to an invite. However, I never attended any of the On-the -Road events.

About this year's celebration

Ever since the conference started in 2010 it has been held at Walt Disney World, Florida except for last year when it was held at DisneyLand, California. This year it is back at Walt Disney World. The conference will be held May 7-10, 2015.

This year’s host hotel will be Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. This grand New England-style lakeside hotel is within walking distance to Epcot and a convenient boat ride to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Needless to say, my family and I are beyond excited to make our first trip to Walt Disney World, thanks to the great folks at Disney. Please follow me on social media to get updates regarding this magical event.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Toasted Coconut Marshmallow Brownies

It's not difficult to find halal marshmallows in Toronto but it's certainly difficult to find great tasting  halal marshmallows.

A few days ago I received a box of some delicious  halal, vegan toasted coconut marshmallows from Kaamilah , a Toronto based luxury boutique for Muslim families.These gourmet marshmallows are handmade by S'more Treats, an Ottawa based halal candy store. S'more Treats halal marshmallows, halal gummy candies and other sweet treats are available at Kaamilah boutique located in Scarborough as well as on Kaamilah's online store.

I was tempted to munch down the entire box of pillowy soft marshmallows but decided to pair them up with chocolate to come up with these Toasted Coconut Marshmallow Brownies.


Incidentally, this brownie recipe has become my new go-to recipe for brownies. They are awesome even without the layer of toasted coconut marshmallows and chocolate buttercream. However, if you are a coconut lover and have a really sweet tooth do try them with the toasted coconut marshmallows and frosting .



Ingredients:
For Brownies
1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter
4 eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
 2 boxes (approx. 12 oz)  halal toasted coconut marshmallows

For Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup milk
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla extract


Method:

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9×13 inch pan. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

2) Add the melted butter, whisked eggs, and vanilla. Using a whisk, stir until mixture is combined and no dry lumps remain. 

3) Spread batter in prepared pan and bake for 25-35 minutes. Brownies are done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean and moist.

4) When brownies are done, remove from oven and place the marshmallows in a single layer on top. Return to the oven for 3-4 minutes or until the marshmallows are puffed and starting to turn light golden. Remove from oven and cool completely.

5) While brownies are cooling, beat together the frosting ingredients on medium speed until light and fluffy. Spread over the cooled brownies and cut into squares.Add some sprinkles, if desired.



Disclaimer: I received a free product sample for review. However, the opinions expressed are my own. I did not receive any other compensation for this post.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Our Sofia the First #DisneySide party

My little princesses were swept off their feet by the magic of Disney as we hosted our Sofia the First themed #DisneySide @Home Celebration last Saturday.

Ever since we received our #DisneySide @Home Celebration kit last month through BSM Media we had been planning excitedly for D-day. We were helped by two GTA based companies - Henna Decor and Wishes Princess Parties who added some more pixie dust to the event.

My modest little home was transformed into a fairytale kingdom with all the party supplies from my #DisneySide @Home Celebration kit along with those provided by Henna Decor, a GTA based event decor company. We also got a few party supplies and favors from Party City.

Sofia the First Dessert Table and Candy Buffet by Henna Decor
Sofia the First Dessert Table

Ayesha from Henna Decor also set up a candy buffet at the dessert table which was a big hit with the kids. Every kid received a treat bag to fill with his/her choice of candies to take home.

 I made chocolate cupcakes and Tres Leches cake filled with whipped cream and pineapple tidbits for the dessert table.

Sofia the First Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla ButtercReam Frosting
Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Sofia the First Purple Tres Leches Rosette Cake
Tres Leches Layer Cake with pineapple tidbits

We had purple (grape) Kool Aid as drink and some savory snacks at the snack table. For main course we had the eternal party favorite - pizza.

Sofia the First Party Snack Table
Sofia the First Snack Table

We had a special guest at our princess party - Ice Queen Elsa from Wishes Princess Parties , a GTA based company specializing in Princess character entertainment for children's parties and events.

 She enthralled the little princesses with some fun games and princess etiquette lessons.

Princess Visit - Ice Queen Elsa from Wishes Princess Parties
Queen Elsa from Wishes Princess Parties

She also posed for pictures with the little guests and gave them autographed coloring pages. The kids just adored her.

Princess Visit - Ice Queen Elsa from Wishes Princess Parties
Ice Queen Elsa giving princess etiquette lessons

We filled the mini snack pails from my #DisneySide @Home Celebration kit with Sofia the First lip balms, stickers, badges, hair accessories etc. to give out as party favors. We also had paper tiaras for the little princesses.

There were a few princes too at the party for whom we had light up swords and paper crowns.

Sofia the First party - Favors Table
Sofia the First Favors Table


Sofia the First Party Favors
Sofia the First Favors

Sofia the First Party Tiaras
Sofia the First Paper Tiaras

Every corner of our house was decked up in purple and pink.

Sofia the First Party Decor by Henna Decor
Pink Hanging Lanterns

Sofia the First Party Decor
Stairs decor

We used one of the paper place mats from my #DisneySide @Home Celebration kit for making a door sign for our front door. I downloaded the Waltograph (Disney) font for printing the message.

Sofia the First Party Door Sign
Sofia the First Door Sign

We had also designed our own invitations using a free template available online. We got them printed from the Walmart website - fast, cheap and easy way to make professional looking party invitations.

Sofia the First Party Invitation
Sofia the First Party Invitation
My daughters loved their Sofia the First costumes purchased from Disney's online store.

Sofia the First Costumes
Sofia the First costumes

The little princesses and princes are still talking about all the fun that they had at the magical celebration.

A big thanks to Disney, Mom Select/BSM Media, Henna Decor and Wishes Princess Parties for a memorable party.

Disclaimer: I received free products and services as a host for Disney Side @Home Celebration. All views and opinions expressed are my own. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this post.

Friday, 30 January 2015

I'm a #DisneySide @Home Celebration Host once again!

My girls and I are thrilled to be chosen as a #DisneySide @Home Celebration host once again. Like last year, a select number of bloggers were chosen to receive a wonderful party planning kit for hosting a magical Disney Party as part of the 'Show your Disney Side' campaign.

Show Your Disney Side


Last year we had a great time at our Mickey and Minnie themed #DisneySide party. This year we received an awesome Sofia the First themed kit. My daughters were delighted especially since my elder one is named Sofia.

 The kit contained:
Party supplies -  Plates, cups, napkins, party decor, table cover, snack bowls,cupcake stand, coloring book, snack pails, sandwich bags, paper tiaras, toys, games, favors etc.
Baking Supplies- Tie Dye Cake Mix, Wilton Sprinkles, Mickey Mouse Cake Pan
Classic Disney Paraphernalia - Luggage Tags, Vacation Planning DVD, Chore chart
Hostess gifts -  All detergent mighty pacs, Wisk and Snuggle sample packs, Twinings herbal tea.
HP Photo Card packs

Sofia the First themed party supplies

A big thanks to Disney, Mom Select/BSM Media, HP and all the sponsors. Time to start planning a princess party for my princesses! Stay tuned!


Disclaimer: I received free stuff as a host for Disney Side @Home Celebration. All views and opinions expressed are my own. I did not receive any other compensation for this post.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

My little one turned 6 yesterday and as has been the tradition in my half-chocolate half-vanilla lover family, I made a simple vanilla cake filled with strawberry swiss meringue buttercream for my vanilla cake lover.


It's a 2 layer 9 inch cake which required about 5 cups of Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I added about 3/4 cup of fresh strawberry puree to 1/3rd the frosting to use as a filling between the two layers and also for the crumb coat. However, as it was my first time piping ruffles I decided to do it with plain vanilla swiss meringue frosting rather than strawberry flavored. The ruffles didn't turn out to be as neat I would have liked them to be but as they say practice makes a man perfect.

After I finished piping the entire cake I realized that I didn't have any space to write the birthday girls' name. What good is a birthday cake without the birthday girl's name, so I decided to go in for a DIY bunting banner with my girls' craft supplies. All it took was a couple of straws, some construction paper, scissors, ribbon, stickers and marker and I had a beaming 6 year old, Alhamdulillah (all praises to Allah).





Sunday, 11 January 2015

Pomegranate Soufflé

After a long hiatus I finally found the time to return to blogging and decided to start the new year on a sweet note.

Pomegranate Souffle

This is another one of my quick and easy dessert recipes which can be whipped up in under 15 minutes. It's not exactly a soufflé in the strict sense of the word but I decided to name it thus since it has a light and airy texture like a soufflé. You can say it's a no-bake, eggless soufflé.

Pomegranate Souffle

The recipe can be easily tweaked to make other fruit flavored souffles. I have tried it with orange juice and orange jelly crystals to make Orange Souffle and it tasted equally delicious.

Ingredients for souffle



Ingredients:

For souffle

1 tbsp gelatin
1/4 cup water
1 cup (200 ml) pomegranate juice
1 packet (3 oz) red jelly crystals (strawberry, raspberry or mixed fruit flavor)
1 tin (370 ml) evaporated milk
4 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream.

For garnish

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1tbsp icing sugar
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

Method:

1) Soak gelatin in water for .5-10 minutes
2) In a sauce pan add pomegranate juice, jelly crystals & soaked gelatin. Cook at low heat until gelatin and jelly crystals dissolve and the juice looks clear. Keep aside.
3) In a blender add evaporated milk & sugar, blend it for few minutes. Then pour jelly juice mixture and blend . Lastly add cream and blend until combined. Pour in bowl. Keep in refrigerator. Cool till set.
4) For garnish beat the heavy cream with icing sugar and pipe it on the souffle. Sprinkle some pomegranate seeds. Enjoy!
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