Monday, July 28, 2014

Dinner Diaries

One thing I absolutely love to do is to throw a dinner party!  Because dental school is an overwhelming vortex that sucks you in without giving any room to breathe, I decided to take advantage of the last few weeks I have free from the vortex and throw a dinner/birthday party for a few family and friends!

My adorable cousin Lana was turning 12, and I wanted to surprise her with a fun gathering on her birthday!  Because it was still Ramadan (our fasting month) at the time, it was going to be a break-fast dinner, so I tried to prepare foods that aren't dry for the mostpart!

I began preparing for the birthday with the funnest part- decorations!  I didn't make them too dramatic because I invited some people who didn't know it was a birthday dinner, and I didn't want them to have an awkward surprise!

I chose a pastel pink and green theme, because they're Lana's favorite colors :)
I ran out of balloons (eek!), so I filled the middle with some flowers and vines!

Also, most of the food I made were Syrian dishes my mother taught me how to make, and they ended up to be quite tasty! (Thank GOODNESS!)

Here was my menu:
Stuffed zucchini (called Koosa in Arabic)
Stuffed grape leaves
Chicken Asparagus Rolls 
Greek Salad
Kibbeh
Babaghanoush
Fatteh with stuffed eggplants
Rice with Seafood (called Sayadiyeh in Arabic)
Puff pastry cheese braid

Everything was homemade except the kibbeh, which I ordered from a very talented Arabic chef in town!


I'll post some recipes for these in the future sometime! ;)

And I couldn't forget about the traditional dates, which are a necessity for beak-fast dinners. I decided to take a little spin on the dates and use date paste, pistachios, walnuts, and sesame seeds to make some date creations:



My desert menu was the exciting part!  I made Lana the coolest cake I've made yet!  It was a four layer pink velvet and vanilla cake with home-made marshmallow fondant (which is super easy to make!).  I also made strawberry tart, raspberry macarons, knefeh (an Arabic cheese pastry), cheese and watermelon bites, and some friends brought 3 other yummy deserts!

Notice the new Moroccan wall design on our wall behind us!  Completely DIY (expect a future post ;))
It looks homemade, but the premade sugar flowers added a professional touch 
My favorite desert to make!  Super easy and yummy looking!
The tasty most coveted Arabic desert- Knefeh!  I decided to make them muffin sized instead of one big platter!

All in all, the party was a great success!  And it was bittersweet because I probably won't be able to throw anything like it within the next two years!  I start school next week, and I'm pretty bummed out about my loss of free time to have fun with things I love to do... but I'll always find some time for it!

Andddd, most importantly, HAPPY EID!!!! I hope everyone's having a good week and a blessed Eid!

P.S.  The pictures weren't the greatest quality because they were mostly phone pictures!



lovepeonies

Friday, July 25, 2014

Blooms

Because Cleveland glooms up pretty hard in the winter, us Clevelanders try to embrace every ray of sunshine, and take every opportunity to enjoy the warm weather!  So, I set out to make our humble abode more more summery!  And nothing adds summer to a home than florals!

Check out our new hanging fleur additions!





















After a long decision making process from the countless hanging pretty flowers, I ended up choosing the petunias!  They are a lovely addition to our home, and seeing them makes me smile when I see them hanging outside on a beautifully sunny day!



lovepeonies

Thursday, July 17, 2014

!DONUTS!

There are few things in life I love more than a warm fresh donut!!  I've never made donuts before, and it has definitely been on my short term bucket list for quite some time, so I decided to finally give them a shot!  I scoured Pinterest for some donut recipes and decided to try out this amazing old-fashioned sour cream donut recipe...

It was a success!!!  The donuts were more of a cake-like texture rather than the common fluffy ones, but that's what I was shooting for, and for the glaze, it was PERFECT!


If you're a donut lover like me, then you MUST try these!

Here's what you need:  

DONUTS:
2.25 cups flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbs butter (room temperature)
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sour cream
Vegetable oil (for frying)
GLAZE:
3.5 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
1.5 tsp corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup hot water

1.  Sift together flour, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
2.  In another bowl, beat sugar and butter together until sandy.
3.  Add the egg yolks to the butter mixture and beat until "light and thick"
4.  Add in the sifted flour mixture in 3 increments, alternating with sour cream in between
5.  Mix until the dough is sticky and thorough
6.  Refrigerate for an hour
7.  Roll out dough to be half an inch thick, and using a cookie cutter (a big and very small one) cut out the donut shape along with a hole in the middle. (should yield about 12 donuts)
8.  Heat frying oil to about 375 degrees (I used a 6-7 on the stovetop dial)
9.  Fry each donut about 2 minutes and each donut hole about 1 minute.  (or until golden/light brown)
10.  Make the glaze by combining all its ingredients in a bowl and whisking until achieving a smooth texture.
11.  Dip the donuts into the glaze and place on cooling rack until glaze cools.  (some of my donuts broke in this process, so be very careful if you don't want broken donuts!)
12.  ENJOY!

So, I absolutely loved this recipe from Handle the Heat!  The donuts turned out mouthwateringly delish!
The nutmeg brought out such a scrumptious taste in the donuts that had me eating them by 2's, and the salt in them was perfect!  I will definitely be making these yummies more often!!

 They taste perfect with a hot cup of coffee or tea!


I donut forget about my donuts! ;)

Have a lovely day! (And enjoy the indescribably amazing weather outside (if you live in the midwest))

lovepeonies

Monday, July 14, 2014

Hot In Cleveland

The loveliness of Cleveland doesn't show in the presence of grandiose nature, but in the little charms you find in hidden alleys, and random corners.  There's always something new to discover in Cleveland, it's really filled with little boutique shops, and saturated with delicious unique restaurants that are rare in other cities!

Today, I visited one of the places I love most in Cleveland- the West Side Market!  Not only is it a vast farmers market with numerous vendors shouting right and left to try to get your attention, but it is also a market for every type of food you can think of!  It is very similar to The Grove farmer's market in Los Angelos.  (Obviously, I'm a sucker for farmer's markets!)



Over in the market you can find anything your heart desires including fruits, veggies, meats, seafood, jerkey, cupcakes, popcorn, ravioli, pierogies, amazing deserts, pastas, crepes, olives, canolis, literally EVERYTHING!

So today I paid it a visit and decided it was so necessary to share it's charm that has me always coming back!














I'm excited about the new goodies in my fridge today ;)  Our meals just get tastier when I visit the market!


lovepeonies

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Cinema Craze


I'm definitely an independent film fanatic, so I've been waiting to watch this movie ever since I saw the preview in the theaters a few months back!

I was seriously blown away by the charm of this film!  It's definitely a mixture of quirky, cute, and emotional!  I highly recommend watching it!!  It's amazingly organized and by the end of, my mind had gone through quite the emotional roller coaster filled with surprises, twists, and turns at every corner.  I would LOVE to explain my view on it, but I can't without spoiling anything (yikes!)... so I won't... 

It definitely brought out some sensitivity for me... I hope everyone enjoys it like I did!

It definitely serves as some food for thought!  The cutest must see ever!


lovepeonies

Friday, July 11, 2014

Pink Peonies

There's no flower on earth that makes me more happy than the amazing Peony!  I'm sure I'm not alone when it comes to this craze!  I take every chance I get to find a way to get my hands on them, so I had a thought....  Maybe I could make some!!

I always obsess over flower appliques, pins, or really anything.  I've seen countless ones on Etsy which I have been tempted to buy quite a few times, but never really got around to.  (And didn't really know exactly what to do with them either)

Sooo, thanks to Martha Stewart, I learned to make these beauties myself!  And now I have about a dozen (and more to come) florals at my disposal! 

And it was quite a pleasant surprise the way these lovely fleurs turned out!  I seriously became hooked, I mean these babies look great!  I couldn't believe my eyes by the end.... everyone with a crafty bone should definitely give them a try!




These are what you'll need:
Chiffon fabric (I purchased about 1/2 a yard and was able to make about a dozen blooms)
Scissors
Tea light candle
Needle and thread
Beads for the center of the flower (I purchased Bead Gallery beads from Michaels)
First step- Cut 5 circles, in an ascending order of largeness.  I ranged my cuts from a 4 inch to a 3 inch diameter.  The circles DO NOT have to perfect! (what a relief!)

Next, you light the candle, and take one circle and place the edge of it close to the flame (not on the flame o
r it'll burn), you'll see it shrivel up like magic!



Do this for all 5 petals!  Now, here's a part where you can get creative... You can just shrivel them all up into circles without petals, stack them in each other, and you'll get a poppy-like flower (I actually prefer the way this fabric flower looks more than the petaled one).  OR, you can cut and flame petals and make it look more like a peony!  So, here's how to make petals:

Cut 4 slits in the shape of a cross, be sure there are no more than 4 petals on the bottom 2  layers and top layer.  (Or it'll look strange).  Also, be sure not to cut them too deep, or the petals will get a little floppy!



Seal the newly cut edges with some flame:



You can add more petals in the middle 2 fabric layers.  I made 8 layers in some of mine by cutting the 4 previously made petals in half:



Then seal their edges with some flame:


Then, you stack the layers inside each other, with the bottom layer being the biggest, and the top the smallest.  You cannot go wrong here, you can mix petaled with non-petaled layers, go solid, whatever you do will turn out great! 

To secure the layers together, you should sew them together, nothing too fancy, just so they won't move around.





The final step is to sew the bead right in the middle of the flower, and you'll have beautiful blooms that will quite impress you!  


You can totally create variety with these crafts.  For example, you can get creative with the colors, fabric materials, even the center can be whatever your heart desires!

Before you know it, you'll have a garden made of fabric!

Now, the fun part is not over!  Having fun with these crafties is the exciting part!  Think of all the endless possibilities for these accessories- just off the top of my head I thought of a few- hairbands, gift toppers, napkin rings, serving tray accessories, brooches, bouquets, and the list seriously never ends!

I'll definitely follow up with the spice I've added to my life using these new fleurs!

P.S.  I finally matched my post to my blog background ;) (It's pretty exciting!!)

lovepeonies

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Feelin Electric

Unfortunately, I was camera-less for quite some time because I lost my charger!  Sooo, I couldn't be patient anymore, I needed to find a way to charge the cam so I can actually take decent pictures!  There were quite some websites that sold the charger for my camera, but I wondered if I could just find some way to charge it right then and there without waiting for a charger to arrive!

As usual, I googled it!  Anddd... it's totally possible, and now I have a charged camera!  It is totally uncharacteristic of me to fondle with wires, I felt like a mad scientist in the process!

So, here's how to do it!

First, you have to find a USB cable at home that you don't need, it just has to have one USB end and could have any other end.  

Then, you have to look on your camera battery and find the 3 gold squares on the side.  The 2 outer gold squares are usually marked whether they're positive or negative.


Now, you have to cut the USB cable at the end that's not the USB port. (I know, scary to cut a wire)


Roll back the rubber and little wires until you see the 4 colored wires- red, white, black, and green.


Now, all you're going to use are the red and black wires!  So, peel back the rubber off the red and black mini cables exposing the wire.  (I just used scissors, and pulled the black rubber tip off).  The RED wire is usually POSITIVE, and the BLACK wire is usually NEGATIVE


Okay, here's the fun and crazy part!  Plug the USB cable into a USB charger in the wall, or a computer.  And you are going to touch (seriously, just touch) the black cable wires to the NEGATIVE golden square, and the wires of the red wire to the POSITIVE golden square.  (Just make sure they're touching)  Hold them like that for 10 minutes maximum!  (Or you may start a really unwanted fire :O ) 


Don't touch any exposed wires with your fingers while the cable is plugged in, unless you want to know what a current feels like...

ANDDD, within 10 minutes you should unplug the USB cable, and you'll find that you have a charged battery!!  My battery charged half way within 10 minutes!  

It was fun playing electrician for the day!!

Have a positively charged day! 

lovepeonies