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The Vision of Iris

The World Through My Eyes

In my shoes- appreciation

“The things you take for granted, someone else is praying for.”

This is by far one of my favourite quotes because despite how much gratitude you show towards anything in your life, there are some things you take for granted. Be it something major like having a car or even the fact that you have the luxury of not knowing what it’s like to go hungry. It’s human nature to feel as if a few things we have are deserved but the fact is, it’s not.

The past week I left home and came back to my small university town. It was the first time I was away from home for my birthday, so my parents drove me up with a car filled to capacity of food. This is a twelve hour drive that they really didn’t need to do. It would’ve cost them a lot less time and money to just send me up with the bus and give me a great big hug at the station. But instead, they put their lives on hold for a few days, left their other responsibilities and road tripped all the way to the Eastern Cape. I know for some students, their parents haven’t been able to see where they live yet.

Forgetting to appreciate the sacrifices others make for you or even the basic luxury of receiving an education happens more often than you might think. How often do you stop and think “Man, I’m so lucky to be studying.”, almost never right? Instead we complain about how heavy the workload is or how early we need to wake up everyday. It’s totally okay and normal to complain, but we should just say thank you more.

That’s all it is. Saying thank you to God and if it’s not God then just the universe for putting things in place, or even your parents, your guardians, siblings and friends! Everyone in your life who pours any form of positivity in deserves a thank you.

So next time when everything is going well in your life, take a moment to appreciate all the things and people that brought you there.

 

 

In my shoes- timing

It has been about two weeks since the idea of this series popped into my head. I thought it would be a good idea to remind myself and my readers that we don’t take enough out of our situations. But I didn’t expect something so strange to happen to me and create the perfect opportunity to explain how something so negative could end up being a positive.

Cyber bullies and keyboard warriors are a real thing. These perpetrators are usually hiding behind their computer screen or cellphone because, well, guts. They want to hurt you and bring you down but definitely not as themselves. Recently I had the unfortunate experience being harassed via Instagram.  Some very puny minded individual thought it would be a great idea to create a fake account and DM (direct message) me all sorts of things.  At first I was extremely taken aback and hurt to say the least. Based on the information they knew, I thought this has to be someone I’ve known or currently know. Of course it was a little unsettling to know that someone I have crossed paths with has the ability to stoop so low.

How do you describe an adult who feels it is appropriate to take up a fake identify and threaten someone else? The problem lies with maturity and sense of protection.  Many of these cyber bullies who use false identities forget that actions have consequences. Whether the consequences are immediate or take time, being a nasty individual catches up to you.

So what did I learn? After posting an angry status on my Facebook page on this subject, I had a few ladies mention to me that this has happened to them before. It’s not hard to believe that sometimes girl hate or even just hate is expressed by others through a screen. But it made me realise that you could be a saint or the worst type of sinner, and you will still deal with some form of negativity from the world. These individuals want to break you. They want you to feel isolated, hopeless and lost. But you shouldn’t give them that satisfaction.

I think maybe we all have little demons inside of us that push us to do really dumb things without thinking through the consequences. I steal my sisters clothes almost every holiday even though I know she will eventually see it on me and I will be dead.  But I consistently still take the chance. So my point here is that some people have bigger, out of control demons. And unfortunately, they target others and reflect their own mental wars on you. It is up to us to decide how we will react, and this is something that should always be remembered. Reactions are everything. So if you are ever in my shoes with a tough little situation, remember that these things are learning experiences and they are put in your way to teach you that we are all coded differently and sometimes we just need to accept, grow, laugh about it and move on.

 

In my shoes

It was eons ago that I actually had the time to be consistent in my blog life. Last year was an exacting year and so much of my time was frittered, which is why after my Prague series  I just fell a bit short with the concordance of the blog. So here I am introducing a new series that I anticipate will continue for the next few weeks.

In my shoes

If we wholeheartedly pay attention to the world around us, we can learn something new every day. Regrettably, I don’t have such a wide awareness so I feel I learn something new at least once a week. Maybe a few months ago I would consider something small an inconsequential learning experience and I would just let it slide. But as time goes by, it has started to become clear to me that the little things we learn from the people around us or even the small gestures we stumble across have the chance to stay in our lives mentally and maybe even one day help us become better people. This doesn’t mean just being a witness to good or positive things. It can be a learning experience from being exposed to something you might deem unfair or an overheard conversation that made no sense to you.  Nobody in this world experiences anything the exact same way you do. And that is one of the most beautiful facts of humanity; no two people can experience the same thing in the same way. It is what makes us remarkable creatures of nature.

In my shoes will bring you parts of my week that touched me, shook me, broke me or even made me smile. It will be small things or even huge things that would have altered my life in some way. The purpose isn’t to focus on what I learn as a person, but rather to bring to the surface how easy it is to take something positive away from every situation.

The beginning of the end (Cliché, I know)

Nothing shakes my bottle more than hearing overused and cliché phrases but I had to! 2017 marks the beginning of the end for my university career. It has been three years since I packed up my pretty little room in Durban and headed off with a truck full of boxes to my dorm room at Rhodes University, Grahamstown. A big move for someone who could’ve been labelled a spoilt brat back then…

Since the big move, I have shifted my life into my own warm and comfortable home, I have changed a tire, I have cooked my favourite foods from scratch, my sister got married, grew my hair, watched Paul McCartney live in Prague, started a blog, loved, lost (lost a little more) and been published in two newspapers! So I think it is safe to say my journey so far has been one helluva ride! As with anything in life, there are a few things that I think could’ve gone a little better for me, but everything does happen for a reason, right?

Living in Grahamstown away from my family has been one of the biggest challenges in my life thus far. For some, leaving home is easy and if not easy, anticipated. But for me it was a lite different. Prior to leaving home, I literally couldn’t even wash a spoon. Well, not couldn’t but wouldn’t. It took a lot from me mentally to realise that I cannot live a healthy and enlightened  life if I keep babying myself and expecting those around me to do so too because I am the youngest. This was a decision I made for myself to start being more independent. Yes, some might argue that leaving home grows anyone up but I disagree. I have seen many people lose control or confuse priorities because their “policeman” (so to say) is back at home. My point of this isn’t to put myself on some sort of pedestal, instead I think it is important for us to always realise that change is good, even if we don’t see a need for it. Change scares everyone but the amount of good that can come out of an improved situation is infinite.

During the process of change and growing, you will always fall down a few times. You lose love, you lose relationships, lose friends and sometimes you even lose control because you can’t figure out where you should draw the hypothetical line that everyone always speaks of. This is what creates an unidentified fear in us and we end up in a state of comfort and stagnation, but trust me; any downfalls are worth the reward of turning your life around. Getting off that sofa to get the TV remote YOURSELF is worth it. Taking YOURSELF for that McDonalds McFlurry is worth it! The less you depend on others, the  capacity for a Joie De Vivre mindset in your life expands beyond your control because when you are able to be there for yourself, then it is more than okay to live your life as you please. This doesn’t refer to monetary aspects but rather the way you allow yourself to grow.

My point is that there is so much you can do for yourself and it took me a good three years to appreciate and recognize the power I have as an individual to better myself, to leave my lazy comfort zone and grow up. I am so excited to tackle my last year as a student because once I cross the line and become a working class grown up things are going to get a little more challenging, and who doesn’t love a challenge? (me, I don’t… But what choice do I have?)

After all the really morbid posts and remarks about 2016, I must say that I couldn’t agree. Yes 2016 was a year of crazy things happening, but for me personally it wasn’t all that bad… Here’s to better things, more accomplishments, a Bachelor of Journalism and turning TWENTY TWO! taylor-swift-22-gif

The Festival of Lights

The festival of lights, better known as Diwali or Deepavali is a celebration found in the Hindu culture that embodies light overcoming darkness. It was one of the most eagerly awaited celebrations on the Hindu calendar and is usually celebrated towards the end of October  or the beginning of November.

This celebration is full of happiness and love as it focuses on knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair. In India, it has been known to be one of the most beautiful nights of the year as houses are lit with lamps and the night to celebrated by lighting fireworks. South Africa is also big on Diwali and we celebrate it in a similar way.

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A satellite image of India on Diwali

On Diwali, we wear our best clothes, we prepare by spring cleaning and renovating just to get our homes and families ready for this day. Our houses are decorated with lights (a lot like Christmas lights) from a few days before to bring in this special day in style.

As a child, Diwali was my favorite day. We got to take a day off school, we got to buy new clothes, new shoes and sometimes my mom even took us to get our henna and hair done at the salon. For some Hindus, this day was also the day we take part in a family prayer to the Goddess Lakshmi who brings good health, wealth and prosperity.

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The Goddess Lakshmi

Relationships, family and friendships are extremely important during this time. So we exchange sweets (known as Mithai) to our loved ones. Sometimes these can be homemade Indian sweets, chocolates and biscuits. This is one of the most eagerly awaited parts of Diwali. We go from house to house, visiting all our relatives and giving them a beautifully wrapped parcel of sweets.  We spend most of this day eating! It is the best part which is why people like my sister spends about three days of excessive gyming as most of our Mithai is made with TONS of fattening ingredients that makes it so good.

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My mom’s perfect parcel of mithai. Individually handmade and designed. She calls this her Bon-Bon option where she makes the usual sweets such as burfee or ladoo all into little perfect bite sized balls. 

 

Unfortunately, I have spent Diwali away from my family as I was at University. But this has never stopped me from decorating my own home, lighting my own beautiful lights, overeating my sweets and having a delicious dinner!

My mother is one of the most talented and creative people I know. She has always made the best Mithai and many people just wait to receive my moms parcel so they can indulge. Her love of baking promoted her to start a little business where she specializes in making these sweets for functions and celebrations. Her business has boomed over the last few years and I am lucky to enough to have received a HUGE cooler bag filled with her designer sweets!

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My morning tray. We prepare a tray in the morning to add to our prayer as an offering to the God’s. My tray was colourful and had some of my mom’s but sweetmeats. After the prayer is complete.

 

Although I didn’t get to spend this day with my family, I still managed to stick to old traditions and make this day a beautiful one filled with love, light and tons of food!

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Some homes have the tradition of making a milkshake in the morning called Bombay Crush. It is made with cardamom syrup or rose syrup and some vanilla ice cream. This is my version, and to accompany it I had Poli. Poli is a sweet pastry shaped in a half moon and filled with coconut and nuts. It is then fried n oil and enjoyed! I also decided to make some coconut macaroons.
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This is a lamp or better known as Dhiya in hindi. This lamp is a special one because it is lit the night before Diwali and placed at your front or back door. 
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The weather in Grahamstown was pretty bad on Diwali. It was cold, windy and rainy. So based on what my mom has taught me, I used little brown bags filled with sand to leave my lamps in. These lamps are usually tea lights.

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Maybe next year you could light a lamp and exchange some homemade sweets with your loved ones!

My sister loves trying new places but she never forgets to include me in her plans when I am in the same city as her. Things have been a little overwhelming for me on campus so my parents suggested I study from home for a while.

We went for coffee together a week ago and stumbled across the most enchanting salon I have ever seen! We knew immediately that we had to invite my eldest sister and plan a little sisters pamper day, so we booked an appointment and counted down the days till we could relax in this beautiful salon.

It is called Buff Parlour in Umhlanga Rocks, Durban. It is something out of a movie. The staff was incredible and an abseloute delight. The products they use are of great quality and the entire experience is just mesmerizing. My sisters and I had a lovely time and although their prices are a a bit high, we will definitely be going back!

Follow them on Instagram @buffparlour or call them on 087 2879 878

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A little kids chill area.
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Their retro coffee shop area.
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The reception area.
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These light fittings are clouds made out of cotton wool, so smart!
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My middle sister and I ready to get pampered.
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There’s also a tiny malt cafe with vintage Archie comic books.
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They also offer hot drinks, cool drinks and doughnuts! YUM.
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My eldest sister and I.

 

 

 

 

Blank…

Have you ever read something that leaves you with feelings but takes away your words?

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It’s kind of a touching book

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini is a book that I have read a million times (no not really but like three.) I borrowed it from a friend and never returned it.

There is a part of the book that has stayed with me for a long time, just because I feel it was written with truth. It is easy to tell which part of the book was included for emotion or for a thrill, but this; this was just honest. Yes, I know it was based on the writers real life experience, but sometimes it is easy to fish out sincerity and this was it.

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The Baked Life

If you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat, you will see that almost EVERY week I am baking something. I am not a fancy baker where I try weird and wonderful things. I actually just stick to the basics; cupcakes, one-layer cakes, cookies. I have never tried venturing out to the rainbow seven layered cake or the cupcakes with a surprise in the middle! Ingredients are way too expensive on a student budget to deal with anything that MIGHT end up inedible.

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Many friends and family have asked why I bake so much and if being a student is so ‘stressful’, where do I find the time? I guess most people assume baking is a tough job and when you have term tests or assignments, you wouldn’t really expect to see a student spending afternoons whipping up a batch of choc-chip cookies. But I find baking very therapeutic and it also helps me save money. I am a stress eater, so when my workload gets heavy, I am the person who lies in bed with a slice of cake, pretending as if nothing else exists! This is where my love for baking comes from (apart from learning everything from my mom). With baking, I can save money by buying a batch of ingredients once a month, instead of a slice of overpriced cake once a week…

Baking isn’t like cooking because you are able to (or you have to)  follow a strict recipe with exact amounts. So if you just stay true the recipe, nothing can go wrong. I suggest baking to any sweet tooth who feels a bit distracted by life. Buy some flour, eggs, butter, vanilla and there you have it; CAKE!

Here are a few simple recipes I have tried and they have never failed. They are not my own recipes, I get most of my ideas off Pintrest. So just click on the link below the pictures and get your wooden spoon ready because these are easy peasy!

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Lemon and Poppy-seed muffins, topped off with some lightly sweetened cream cheese frosting.  This is the perfect quick breakfast or tea-time snack. The muffins are moist and really good for you! If you want to take it easy on the fattening stuff, minus the cream cheese frosting and try a simple glaze instead.

Lemon and poppy-seed muffins; http://www.food.com/recipe/lemon-poppy-seed-muffins-100943

Cream cheese frosting; http://www.dessertnowdinnerlater.com/best-cream-cheese-frosting-recipe/

Alternate frosting (glaze); http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/lemon-glaze/6aa29b08-da0e-442b-ac25-a2975a72f381

 

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Mind blowing custard cookies. These are the most divine cookies I have ever tasted. And every single time I have made it, it always tastes the exact same way! It takes a little kneading so this might scare you, but trust me; it takes about 5 mins and your dough is ready! 

Custard Cookies; http://www.kannammacooks.com/eggless-custard-cookies/

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Carrot Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting (yes, I love cream cheese)

Carrot Cupcake; http://gimmedelicious.com/2014/07/21/easy-carrot-cupcakes-with-cream-cheese-frosting/

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Everyone’s favourite M&M peanut butter cookies. 

Peanut Butter cookies; http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/soft-and-chewy-peanut-butter-cookies-mms

 

 

 

 

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