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Tuesday 29 September 2015

Spring Inspired Home Decor by Lubna Ali Khan

 1. Flowers
Adding flowers in your home during spring time is a great way of bringing the outdoors in. Flowers can make your home smell amazing and lift up your mood. A great way to incorporate flowers in your home is to get a bunch of glass milk bottles and decorate them. You can use a black twine if you want to add a rustic look to it. You can also use ribbons and bows if you want a pastel theme. Just wrap them around the bottle anyway you fancy. Lastly fill them up with water and your favorite flowers. If you have trouble taking care of flowers then you can put some fake flowers as well. And you’re done. Now you have a great piece to decorate your mantel or side tables with. 




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2. Incorporate bright colors
A good way to change up your room for the spring time is to change your duvet. You can invest in a bright colored duvet which will brighten up your whole room. Also if you have a sofa in your room, then place a colorful blanket on top of it to give your room a pop of color. Place some floral throw pillows on your bed. You can also change up accessories around your home and replace them with ones that have a pop of color. Paint your basic white frames turquoise, coral or yellow color. These little things make a big difference. They basically give a new life to your room.



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3. Floral wall art
Buy paintings and artworks that are spring inspired. They can be floral or bright colored paintings. If you don’t have enough money to buy expensive paintings then you can just print out your favorite spring time photos. You can either frame them or you can get a twine and some clothespin to make a tumblr inspired photo time line. 

4. Centerpiece
Place a centerpiece with some fresh flowers on your dining table. Blue, green and white colors from flowers, give your eating area a very beautiful modern look.

5. Area rug
If you have plain walls, furniture and curtains then things like throw pillows, area rugs or photo frames can really brighten up the room. A bright area rug can give your space a pop of color. There is an amazing collection of beautiful area rugs online. From overdyed rugs to hand knotted Persian rugs the choices are endless. This way you won’t have to do a lot of work to bring in color to your home and just by changing up a few things you’ll have a spring inspired home.

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6. Let light make its way to your home 
Spring is all about bright lights and colors so in order to lighten up your space use thin drapes on your windows so that the sunlight illuminates your home and you save money on electricity bills. But if your house doesn’t have direct access to sunlight then invest in lamps and chandeliers if you can.   

Article was written by Lubna Ali Khan. 

Monday 17 August 2015

DIY Room Decor Ideas by Lubna Ali Khan

DIY Photo Collage
This photo collage is perfect for your room if you have a basic plain wall and you’ve been wanting to do something with it. This collage is really easy to make. 

You’ll need: 

- Photos
- Masking tape
- Double sided tape

 1. All you have to do is pick some of your favorite photos and just print them out. 

2. Then you want to go ahead and lay all of your pictures on the floor in shape of a heart just so you can get an idea of which picture you want to go where. 

3. Put a little bit of masking tape on each picture and hang each of them on the wall to map the collage out. 

4. Once you have them all up take a double sided tape and stick them on the wall permanently and remove the masking tape. This is a great way to display your favorite photos. 

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DIY heart lantern
You’ll need:
- Glass jars
- Glitter of your choice
- Spray glue
- Scissors
- Sharpies
- Sticky paper

1. Using the sticky paper draw a heart on it with your sharpie first, then take your scissors and go ahead and cut out the heart. 

2. Now remove the back side of the heart to reveal the sticky part of it and just go ahead and stick that inside your glass jar. Press it firmly on the glass. 

3. Now spray the jar with the spray glue and once you’ve completely sprayed it pour a generous amount of glue in the jar. 

4. Screw the lid back on and shake it so that the glue sticks to the sides of the jar. 

5. Now take the lid off and pour out any excess glitter that is in the jar. 

6. Use a pencil to help you remove the sticker heart from your jar. 

7. Put a battery operated candle inside and you’ve your heart lantern ready. 

DIY succulent holder
You’ll need:
- Looking glass spray paint
- Glass bowl
- Spray bottle
- Vinegar
- Succulent

1. Start off by heading over to the sink. 

2. Take your spray bottle and mix in a concoction of half water and half vinegar, close it up and give it a good shake. 

3. Now head outside and spray paint your glass bowls with the looking glass spray paint. You want to do five thin coats of the spray paint on the inside and wait a minute for it to dry. 

6. Then take the water and vinegar mixture and spray that in and wait for 20 - 30 seconds. This gives it the most amazing effect. 

7. Now repeat the process on the outside of those bowls. 

8. Now you can put a little bit of sand in the bowl and place a succulent on top of it. This makes a beautiful indoor plant decor. 

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 Article Written by:  Lubna Ali Khan

Tuesday 4 August 2015

Recipe: Beef and Barley Stew with Mushrooms

Serves 8-10
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- About 1kg beef chuck, cut into chunks
- Salt
- 3 cups chopped onions
- 500g button or cremini mushrooms, quartered
- 1 litre beef or chicken broth
- 3 cups water
- 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 1 cup roughly chopped carrot
- 3 cups celery root, peeled and chopped into 3/4-inch to 1-inch chunks
- Black pepper
- About 1/2 cup sour cream (around 1 Tbsp sour cream per serving)
- Dill for garnish

If you can't find celery root, you can substitute turnips, rutabagas or potatoes. Just be sure to adjust your cooking times—potatoes cook faster than celery root. Save time in the prep work by prepping the onions and mushrooms while the beef is browning

1. In a Dutch oven or other large, lidded pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add enough pieces of the beef to sear in the pot without crowding. You will need to brown the meat in several batches. Salt the beef as it cooks, and set aside browned pieces in a bowl.

2. When all the beef has browned, add the onions. As the onions release some of their water, use a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Sprinkle a little salt over the onions as they cook. Lower the heat to medium and cook the onions until they begin to brown, 5-6 minutes.

3. When the onions have lightly browned, mix in the mushrooms and increase the heat to high. Cook the mushrooms until they release their water, about 2-3 minutes.

4. When the onions have lightly browned, mix in the mushrooms and increase the heat to high. Cook the mushrooms until they release their water, about 2-3 minutes.

5. Add the beef back to the pot and sprinkle with marjoram. Add 1 cup of the stock and use the wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add the rest of the stock and water and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot, lower the heat to low and simmer very gently for 1 hour.

6. Add the barley, celery root and carrots, stir well and recover the pot. Simmer gently until the barley and celery root are tender, between 40 minutes and an hour.

Ladle servings into bowls, then top with a dollop of sour cream and a few sprigs of dill. Grind a little black pepper over right before you serve. To eat, stir in the sour cream.


Recipe: Spinach & chickpea curry

Serves 4

A low fat, low calorie Indian vegan one-pot that's full of delicious sunshine flavours and hot spice

Nutritional information per serving: Carbs 28g | Fat 4g | Protein 9g

- 2 tbsp mild curry paste
- 1 onion, chopped
- 400g can cherry tomatoes
- 2 x 400g cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 250g bag baby leaf spinach
- squeeze lemon juice
- basmati rice, to serve


1. Heat the curry paste in a large non-stick frying pan. Once it starts to split, add the onion and cook for 2 mins to soften. Tip in the tomatoes and bubble for 5 mins or until the sauce has reduced.

2. Add the chickpeas and some seasoning, then cook for 1 min more. Take off the heat, then tip in the spinach and allow the heat of the pan to wilt the leaves. Season, add the lemon juice, and serve with basmati rice.

ref: Good Food magazine

Recipe: Mushroom Chickpea Stew

Serves 6


- 8 carrots
– 3 boxes of mushrooms (about 30 mushrooms/850g)
– 3 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
– 2 400g tins of chickpeas
– 600ml of boiling water
– 7 tablespoons of tomato puree
– a big handful of coriander, about 50g
– 2 lemons plus 3 more to serve
– 4 teaspoons of turmeric
– 4 teaspoons of cumin power
– 3 teaspoons of ground chilli
– 3 cloves of garlic


1. Start by peeling the carrots, then chop them into pieces. Cut the mushrooms into thin slices.

2. Place the crushed garlic, turmeric, cumin, chilli, salt and pepper into a large saucepan along with 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Allow this to heat until it's bubbling, then pour in the tins of tomatoes, tomato puree and boiling water. Then stir in the chopped carrots and mushrooms. Bring this mix to the boil then turn it down to a simmer.

3. Let this cook for about thirty minutes, then stir in the chickpeas (drain the tin first) and the finely chopped coriander. Let this cook for another twenty minutes, at which point the mushrooms and carrots should be soft and ready to eat.

4. Once everything is ready squeeze the two lemons into the mix and place the stew into bowls. Serve with savory or brown rice, half a lemon and an extra sprinkle of coriander.


Recipe: Spinach Tomato & Garlic Penne Pasta

Serves 4

Nutritional information based on per serving: Carbs 56g | Fat 11g | Protein 14g

- 2 tbsps tomato paste
- 57 grams cream cheese
- 25 grams parmesan cheese (grated)
- 227 grams penne pasta
- 255 grams fresh spinach
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onions (small)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 425 grams diced tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- ground pepper (fresh, to taste)
- 1/2 tsp salt

For the crust
1. Fill your pasta pot with water, add salt and let it reach a boil.
2.    Add pasta, cook and stir occasionally until tender (7 to 10 minutes). Drain pasta.
3.    Dice the onion and mince the garlic.
4.    While pasta is cooking, place a large sauce pan over medium heat with olive oil.
5.    When hot, add onions and garlic to sauce pan.
6.    Stir occasionally and cook for about 5 minutes.
7.    Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), oregano, red pepper flakes, basil, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper to the skillet with the onions and garlic. Stir to combine.
8.    Add tomato paste and a ½ cup of water and stir again until the tomato paste is dissolved into the sauce.
9.    Reduce to medium-low heat.
10.    Add cream cheese and stir until evenly combined.
11.    Add Parmesan cheese and stir until melted.
12.    Add the fresh spinach and gently stir it into the sauce until it has wilted (3-5 minutes).
13.    Add pasta and stir well.
14.    Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed.
15.    Serve warm.


Recipe: Crunchy stuffed chicken breasts in lemon butter

Serves 4

- 4 skinless free-range chicken breasts
- 125g ball mozzarella, sliced
- 100g semi-dried tomatoes, chopped
- Small handful fresh basil leaves
- 100g fresh brown or white breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp grated Parmesan
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 75g plain flour, seasoned
- 2 medium free-range eggs, beaten
- 2 tbsp olive oil

1. Make a small incision in the side of each chicken breast and stuff each with a quarter of the mozzarella (about 1 or 2 slices), a quarter of the chopped tomatoes (about 1 tbsp) and 2 or 3 leaves of the basil, then season. Mix together the breadcrumbs, grated parmesan and lemon zest. Season well and spread out over a shallow tray.

2. Carefully roll the stuffed chicken breasts in the seasoned flour, shake off the excess flour, then dip the breasts in the beaten egg and finally roll in the tray of crumbs. Put on a plate, cover and chill for 20 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 180°c/fan or 160°c/gas

4. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a low heat and fry the chicken breasts for 3-4 minutes each side until just golden brown. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes until cooked through.

5. Meanwhile, cook the beans in a pan of boiling salted water for 4-5 minutes until just tender, and drain. Add the butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper and stir until glazed.

6. To serve, divide the beans and chicken among plates, and serve with baked potatoes, if you like.

Estimated time needed: Preparation time: 20 minutes & Cooking time: 30 minutes