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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

 

 

 

 

Almost there

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Finally I have been able to enjoy a stress-free week of my holidays! It has been great but I have also been a bit slack with updating The Vision of Iris. Now I have had enough, I am back and I have SO much to share with you all. This is the second last part of the Prague series as the last one will feature just the concert.

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This is from our walk towards Charles Bridge, it was so exciting because my dad and I navigated to all the places we wanted to go with our phones and nothing else. We watched everyone else move in swarms with tour guides, but we made it on our own. Charles Bridge was overpopulated and there was barely any space to move! We actually had to go through the bridge to make it to the Lennon Wall which we were dying to see.

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Although the bridge was just a by the way thing for us, the view from the bridge was obviously phenomenal!

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As we grew closer to reaching our destination, we found some beautiful sights and walls full of graffiti, this just made us more excited to finally see the wall!

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FINALLY! The Lennon Wall. The atmosphere around the wall was so serene and peaceful and it just made you feel a part of something out of this world. There was a man singing the Beatles oldies in front of the wall, it was surrounded by trees and people! It was so beautiful. There were people spray painting their names on the wall to leave their mark too, and at the end of the wall you will find a young man telling the story of this historical wall. To read more about the wall, click here.

PS- I mentioned this in my post about the places every Beatles fan should visit!

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To end off our wonderful experience, we stopped off at the John Lennon pub for some beer and pizza. This entire pub was filled with The Beatles themed art work, memorabilia and music! The service here was  lovely, it was chilled out and a good time-out before we headed back to Old Town Square.

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We were lucky enough to be staying 5 minutes away from the Old Town Square, so we managed to stop off at our hotel to rejuvenate before searching for some good supper every evening.

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Colourful buildings were my absolute weakness during this trip! Every building was so well kept, bright, neat and it all looked like a mesmerizing painting.

ALMOST THERE!! PAUL WE ARE READY!

 

This Way to ‘I do’- Whimsical Wedding

This Way to ‘I do’- Sangeet Sensations

This Way to ‘I do’- Mendhi Moments

This Way to ‘I do’- Capturing Moments

It has been about three months since This Way to ‘I do’ so I have decided to share some of the magnificent photographs from the weekend we will never forget! Kashmir and the rest of my family spent sleepless nights to make #vivwedskash an absolute success and everything a bride could ever dream of.

As mentioned in my posts during the series, the wedding week turned out to be such a blur for the immediate family because we were extremely busy. But luckily, we had a fantastic photographer who managed to capture all the right moments.

Stay tuned for galleries of each day!

Hand Me the Henna: Phase 3

Hand Me the Henna

We are at the end of the road with Hand Me the Henna, we hope this journey has been as a beautiful one for you- as it has for us.
If you missed the first two phases click here: Phase 1 Phase 2  

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Location: Bagwandeen Household

Mission: Mehndi Day (phase 3)
Time: 1:45pm

The Body- What is happening?

If this were a race, we are almost at the finish line and we are winning. We have taken the heat head on, and the first day which marks the beginning of the wedding week is about to come to an end. As the mehndi artist continues to apply ravishing designs on my sister’s body, she proceeds from the arms, to the feet, with extreme care and undiminished concentration. After the latest outburst that emerged from ‘the wedding jitters’, Kashmir is much calmer now while she is fed lunch by my little niece. Being a child, she is distracted by the magnificent art. So, with each helping of food that she feeds to my sister, she marvels with delight at my sister’s arms and feet.

I sit with them both as we discuss the forthcoming festivities; the exhilaration in our voices is noticeable. With each bite that Kashmir is fed, I stare at the spoon with the hope that in the midst of our merriment, the food will not fly off of it. I know my sister’s first instinct would be to clutch the spoon, or instantaneously stand up, but we can’t afford a mishap right now – we have come so far in seeing this mendhi ordeal through, and we are nearly at the end.

The artist is reaching my sister’s calves and Kashmir is starting to get slightly twitchy. I think to myself, “there’s just a few minutes more and we are done. I will no longer need to be a right hand lady, and my niece can finally take a mid-day nap.” Only in this moment did it occur to my sister that we are nowhere near the completion of this majestic process (which, in the blistering heat, isn’t feeling very grand.) There is still another five hours to go. The job of the mehndi artist is now completed, and now it is up to us (as the family) to take care of my sister’s exquisite hands and feet so that all of the work that was put into it would not be in vain.

Kashmir now moves herself out of the sun and into the dining room so that the rest of us can commence the preparations for the evening’s celebrations. It is not easy for a perfectionist like my sister to sit on the sidelines and watch everything being done  before her eyes ; to be entirely unable to contribute to what we’re doing. But she took everything in her stride and ceased this as an opportunity to take a break from the busy household.

Every few minutes, one of us breaks away from our preparation duties to moisten the inevitably drying henna on my sister. I am the first to start this process.

I am under a lot of pressure as I take a ball of cotton wool and dip it into the concoction that the artist left for us to use. This all begins to alarm my sister as she knows I can be a little careless at times. Thankfully, she was observing the artist when she performed this routine, and so she guided me through it with ease and elation to be helping in some way.

Everyone has had their turn to assist the bride-to-be as the day descends. Night begins to fall, and as the stars burn the dark sky, the copper coat becomes more rooted onto my sister’s body.  Old traditions believe that the darker the stain of your mehndi, the more love your mother-in-law will have for you. So, fingers are crossed for Kashmir.

Guests start to fill the house and the sound of music ignites the celebrations. In every corner of the house, there are groups of laughing girls tapping their feet to the music as they get their turn to have their palms adorned in mendhi. Kashmir greets all her guests and this is accompanied by warm hugs before everyone admires her beautiful hands. There is a light in her eyes that I’ve never seen before- this is the light of a bride-to-be. She is glowing.

It is now time for us to remove the mehndi and admire the dazzling tint that will be left behind. My eldest sister and I help Kashmir rub the mehndi off her body as she twitches and fusses as a result of being exhausted.

The morning after today will reveal the actual hue of the bridal mehndi. So, as she dances the night away with family and friends, the colour will seep through her skin, and leave the true mark of the extraordinary bride that she is.

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Time: 2:05pm

The Mind- The Backdrop of Henna as an Art

Henna artists, Dipti and Sayuiri Nathoo, are a dynamic mother and daughter duo situated in Durban. They explained that they have come across a multitude of brides who have requested that their henna designs be symbolic to elements of themselves, their families and even their first meeting with the groom. Despite the fact that patterns with such great sentimental value may be challenging to execute, henna artists respect their responsibility to master the trade, and are devoted to fulfilling the wishes of their clients to the best of their abilities.

In addition to hands, the bride-to-be gets her feet adorned with henna too. This is the completion of the henna process, once the feet are ready-in the Hindu tradition; the bride-to-be is then ready to conquer day two of the beautifying process. This is usually a prayer followed by the application of hurdee or haldi, this is a yellow paste made from turmeric and sandalwood. Both these rituals enhance the procedure of self-expression that the bride undertakes before her big day.

Although these sacraments are seen as a technique in which she can express herself and her inner beauty, it is entrenched in the roots of traditional India. At the time, the community didn’t have jewelry or foundation to add to their special day, so they created natural ways to replace these characteristics of bridal preparation that we commonly take for granted.

The history and the meaning behind the application of henna, including the traditional mehndi ceremonies, have rich significance in guiding us with understanding how these practices came into existence. As the traditions continue, the effect strengthens and this is reflected in the self-expression of those who indulge in it.

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Time: 2:30pm

The Spirit- How does it make me feel?

How do you come to conclude something that is so sacrosanct to beauty and expression? Something that has been in action for thousands of years and has had a substantial impact on the rituals traditional Indian brides immerse themselves into. The answer is, you cannot. I have always felt strongly about culture and tradition, and this being one that has such beauty attached to it- there will never be an adequate amount of words to explain the splendor behind an act that is sustained by tradition.

There are countless customs over numerous cultures that mirror the act of self-expression, some new and some old. It can be enlightening to expose your mind and discover the extensive spectrum of ‘techniques’ that have a list of purposes including self-expression.

I have found that, in many settings, beautifying can be seen as an egotistical act but, within these settings, there is still the implication of expressing yourself.

The mehndi ceremony will always be one I keep close to me, and the experience can be imprinted on your mind forever. As henna grows progressively popular in western societies, it becomes more recognisable as to why and how it can be used. Sometimes westernization of longstanding practices can contribute to the meaning being lost in translation and the practice could even be trivialized but I hope this has delivered a better understanding.

So next time you come across a henna artist, don’t forget to ask her to hand you the henna!

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Written by- Khinali Bagwandeen

Photographs by- Khinali Bagwandeen

This Way To ‘I Do’- Let’s Get Jiggy With It (Part 4)

 

The wedding weekend has just flashed passed us. It feels like it hasn’t even happened yet. When you are actively involved in such a mountainous event, there is such a long list of things to be done that actually immersing yourself in the function becomes impossible. Nevertheless, we had an unforgettable time marking the marriage of Vivek and Kashmir.

The Vision of Iris was slightly absent through it all, but I tried to keep you all updated as much as possible in the middle of pick ups, hair, make up, setting up and so much more.

My mother and I had innumerable arguments about me sitting on my laptop in the middle of the day while there was work to be done, so yes- I tried! But now that the rush is all over, I have gathered and accumulated so much to share with you all, from parents to pups- I have it all!

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The newly weds are off to their honeymoon and according to Vivek, this is where his work begins!

The Sangeet (our night of dance) was so exquisite and ravishing, everyone had a blast. The theme was a Royal Rajasthani Affair.

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The set up was enchanting and the moment we walked in, it felt like we were teleported to the middle of Rajasthan. This is exactly what Kashmir wanted for her guests. All we really wanted was a fun night that brought everyone together- that is exactly what we had.

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The dances went off smoothly, and everyone, young and old took part in the festivities.

The background– Dancing has always been such a dominant factor in our family. Both my sisters are qualified Kathak dancers (a North Indian classical dance form) Kajal and Kashmir have both been dancing from age 9 and 6, and since then, dance has been what makes us who we are.

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Every time you see a dancer dance, you see them in the best version of themselves. Albert Einstein once said, “We dance for laughter, we dance for tears, we dance for madness, we dance for fears, we dance for hopes, we dance for screams- we are the dancers; we create the dreams.” This embodies the life of a dancer, and the passion a dancer holds within. Kashmir wanted nothing more than to celebrate her marriage with her passion.

Our family commends my parents for pushing their daughters in the direction of dance, and from a very young age, every family function has adopted a dance aspect to light up the evening and ignite the celebrations.

The production- Kajal, my eldest sister could be defined (in the conventional sense) as Kashmir’s maid of honor. So it was her duty to rally up the troops and construct a group of dancers from our enthusiastic and talented family. In the space of three weeks, she had convinced a group of doctors, businessmen, busy students, and the young to help us put on a show for the rest of our family.

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Rehearsals were full of laughter and fun (well, according to my family. I wasn’t there 😦 ) Even after a few beers on a chilled Sunday afternoon, they still got jiggy with it and had a blast!

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Kajal had no doubt that it would be a victory for us. And it was! Together with our dancer friends, they managed to put together a performance that could’ve almost been a professional show.

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The result was exactly what we intended for, it brought everyone together, even after the dances, the spirit lingered and filled the room with a fire that burned inside of everyone to party on!

The power dance had on our family left us speechless, the fun we had at the Sangeet still lingered on the lips of everyone even days after!

P.S- To add to the beautiful theme, we had a prop filled photo booth with Rajasthani props.

These are some of the fun pictures!

This Way To ‘I Do’- The Essence of Marriage (Part 2)

This Week
It has been ten long days since the first part of the journey. I didn’t think I’d make you guys wait this long BUT it has been a crazy week with many ups and downs. The moment I landed in Durban on Saturday, I went straight to a dance rehearsal and since that moment, it has been a jam packed week!

The past few days wasn’t just bursts of fun, it was also a test for my family emotionally and it really proved our strength to keep it together even in the toughest times. The admiration I have for my mom, dad and both my sisters is constantly growing with each day we tackle together.

Now
Today marks the beginning of the four day celebration. And I have decided to start off this weekend with my first video! This was an intimate interview with both the bride and groom. The questions were based on their opinions on marriage itself.

Kashmir and Vivek are such different personalties and their answers really resonate within by bringing their differences together to become one!

A special thanks to my cousin Akira for assistance with the production of this little video.
To follow the journey a day at a time, add me on SnapChat- KhinaliB or follow me on Instagram @khinalibagwandeen

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