If you’re new here, welcome! (big hugs sent your way), and if you’re not new, you still get hugs, but you’re probably slightly more familiar with my end of year reflective postings and know that I kinda sorta love them! ( re: 2016, 2015)

I figured I’d do things a little different this year and instead of sticking to my usual written brief, I googled one of them pre-made reflective question lists lol and going to use that to help me recap this whirlwind of a year! (there are 50 questions; is that a lot?)

 

 

Here it goes:

  1. The most important goal that I achieved this year was:

I graduated! 2 years later whilst being abroad and working full time and going through life madness and still being able to do really well makes me proud of myself!

  1. My biggest fitness accomplishment was:

Probably running in Ramadan! Joining a running club last year in Kuwait definitely upped my fitness and I surprised myself with timings and distances I thought I was too old for haha although the fitness and running took a massively sharp decline since September lol running in Ramadan, both in Kuwait in the heat and in Canada was yay! mostly because I’d always had the mindset that people who do that are crazy and why would anyone do that to themselves, but woop!

  1. My biggest career accomplishment was:

leaving my old school to work at one of the top schools in Kuwait which is a tad more ‘professional’ I suppose. Not really a big deal lol but I could’ve easily stayed at my old place where I was comfortable and complacent in terms of what was expected of me and what I was giving versus now where I feel more overwhelmed at times and like super duper working but I feel better about myself and my profession whilst I’m doing it if that makes sense..!

  1. My biggest relationship accomplishment was:

not holding back I suppose; in terms of expressing feelings be they positive or negative at times. life too short and we’re all going to die soon so if you love someone tell them you love them, if they make you happy or inspire you or annoy you, just tell them x friends, family, strangers, what’s the worse thats going to happen?

  1. These are the skills I acquired this year:

-I taught myself a teeny bit of photoshop and lightroom lolol (it still counts!)

-creating sick websites and presentations for uni projects that I was proud of

-Arabic! Learning Arabic and recently taking lessons to pick up vocab has been a massive skill for me lol

-putting on falsies in 5 minutes. practice makes perfect

-[how to apply eyeshadow. lol]

 

  1. A big mistake that I made this year—and the lesson that I learned as a result—was:

-checking flight times. Lucy and I missed our flight to Nepal because I read the time wrong and OBVIOUSLY no ones that thick so you’re not going to get insurance so that was a waste and had to get a new flight

-Also nearly missed my flight to Istanbul for the Reyhanli deployment and if it wasn’t for Qes texting me to have a safe flight in the morning, I wouldn’t have gone. Lesson learned: triple check flight times and tell your friends so they can remind you or wake you up in case you fall asleep (because that has also happened to me. smh.)

-in terms of life stuff, I learned and came to accept that I’m not responsible for how people behave or their actions/reactions and that everyone, including me, has a choice which we consciously make to do whatever it is we want to or don’t want to do. If you want the apple, eat the apple, you want to hang out with mates, go, but then don’t say you were coerced into doing something you really didn’t want to do. You had a choice, you made your choice, simple as lol

  1. An obstacle or a challenge that I overcame this year:-I think being afraid of the unknown. I’ve grown to not be as much of a scaredy cat as I think I was before.-Also my final project for uni. jeez.

8. This year, I learned the following about myself:

I am beyond blessed alhamdulillah. I have my health, a family that loves me, a roof over my head, and God. I am more than good. Anything and everything else is extra and I feel as though I am so much more consciously aware of this that I’ve ever been. I don’t stress myself out as much as I might have done in the past about life, and plans etc. inshallah everything’s going to work out the way its supposed to and there’s a time for everything. We plan, and he plans, and so far it’s worked out okay right, so he knows what he’s doing lol it sounds really loosy I know lol and its not easy to do, but if you consciously continue to remind yourself to just chill out and let things flow naturally, it becomes a natural mindset. Just smile to yourself and say alhamdulillah I’m good! (do it now I promise you’ll feel it!)

  1. Here’s something I learned about other people:

they suck sometimes. but sometimes they are the most beautiful, warm hearted, genuine freaking human beings on the planet and they deserve your love and energy and support. and you know what, so do the sucky people because love really does make the world go round and life is too short not to spread light and goodness x you do it because thats the kind of person you are and don’t let their personality or disingenuousness cloud your judgment or question your reasoning. you do you because its what you believe in. leave the rest to God x

  1. This made me laugh the hardest this year:

I laugh a lot so it’s hard to choose lol

-in India when Amani asked the waiter if they had Hummus. DEAD.

-when the plane landed and I survived ( refer to#26)

-my sister dancing

-mamas jokes

-Hashmat always

  1. The most fun I had all year was:

I try and have fun everyday..!

  1. My best memory of the year was:

-returning to Nepal 7 years later and walking those same streets I did at 19. Being recognized by the neighbours who I was staying with and my heart just wanting to freaking explode with this burning love and happiness and contentness for life and these beautiful people x

-Reyhanli deployment with SKT. That’s probably going to be one of the best memories of my life and I hope and pray it’s changed me as a person, as a human, for the better x

  1. My biggest regret of the year was:

This may sound very cliche but I have no regrets. I’ve been sat here thinking and going through the months of the year to reflect on something I really wanted to do or somewhere I wanted to go or anything that I didn’t do which I now regret but I can’t think of anything. I’ve come to a point alhamdulillah which I’m consciously aware of the ‘big’ decisions I make for myself and in life so as to not have any regrets and later on wish I chose another route or did something differently..

When the Reyhanli dates were set they were right in the middle of back-to-school and orientation at the new place and visas and paperwork which would guarantee owed salaries etc.  I didn’t want to make a bad impression at the new school or lose my hard earned money for the past few years but also no way in the world did I want to miss out on Reyhanli! Thought about it for a while, like the entire summer lol and concluded that whatever, I’d miss out on pay and learning the ropes of the new school and making friends with newbies, etc etc but if I didn’t go I would SO regret it for the rest of my life and I didn’t want to look back thinking ‘what if’. I could always make the money back, and again if you know me I have this love/hate relationship with money, and I didn’t want bloody money of all things to be the reason I missed out on the opportunity. So I chose and I don’t regret my decision one bit! wallah if I didn’t go I would’ve kicked meself in the backside for being a massive dumb!

-I had been wanting to go back to Nepal for ages, more so when I moved to Kuwait because it was so close, and I had mentioned it to Lucy before. She said lets go in April and I had booked and changed a Eurotrip to Prague/Vienna/Budapest legit like 3 times like  an idiot, but then took it as a sign it wasn’t meant to be at this very moment in life so cancelled it, lost me ticket x3 and booked Nepal and it was such an epic time alhamdulillah x

be conscious of your choices and listen to what your heart and soul wants. #noregrets

  1. My biggest disappointment of the year was:

-Donald Trump

-people; in terms of humanity

-not getting this relief work job I was so stoked about but its okay everything happens for a reason

-samosas in India! I was so excited because samosas are my favorite and I figured duh India has the best, but nope. Nepal takes the cake for best samosas ever.

  1. The books I read this year were:

-Sofia Khan is not Obliged (first and second one)

-Secret Daughter

-bone.

-HER

–seeds planted in concrete

(do uni books count?!)

  1. My favorite movie of the year was:

nothings really sticking out atm…Moana was pretty cool lol (I don’t know..!)

17. A TV show I really enjoyed watching this year was:

-Our Girl

-The Apprentice UK

-Doctor Foster

  1. I really enjoyed this live performance (concert, play, musical, or dance performance):

-Seeing the Kite Runner in London was my favorite!

-K’naan on Canada Day was super cool too!

  1. Here’s a song I listened to over and over again this year:

Zina-Babylone

Too Good at Goodbyes – Sam Smith

Big Picture – London Grammar

Happier – Ed Sheeran

Same Drugs – Chance the Rapper

20. This is something I wish I hadn’t bought this year:

probably clothes I either haven’t worn yet or old wore once. just a dumb waste lol but it’s one of the things I want to get better at next year in terms of just not buying stuff, clothes especially, and if I do, 10 items go for that one piece.

  1. This is the best thing I bought all year:

-my Gucci bum bag (boob bag as mama calls it!) It’s so practical and functional for me and I already feel as though its been rinsed but definitely making the most of it so yay!

-Also I think my phone was bought this year and that’s definitely a best. Not sure if many of you know but I only use my iPhone to take photos and love love it!

-The oversized ripped denim jacket from Zara that everyone has lol I absolutely love it and chuck it on with everything and it shall continue to be rinsed!

  1. Someone I really enjoyed spending time with this year was:

really weird, but my instagram friends! This was the year I physically met people who I’ve followed and chatted with via social media, and being able to spend real quality time with them, and even travel with, was so enlightening and inspiring for my soul. Halima, Qes, and Mariah. There’s good people, then there are golden people who God put in this world for a reason x love you guys and I’m so glad to have you in my life! xx

  1. I adopted this new positive habit:

consciously looking for the good even in the worst of times. I’ve been working on this for a couple years and I want to get to a stage where it becomes second nature. Focusing on the positive instead of the negative is such a breath of fresh air and makes you appreciate life and situations and realize what’s truly important in the here and now.

24. I dropped this negative habit:

catching feelings – in terms of blaming myself for other people’s behaviors or actions (still a work in progress but getting better at it lol) Sometimes it’s not you and you’ve got to cut yourself some slack. Still reflect and if you’re in the wrong own up to it and apologize and try and fix it if its worth fixing, but if it’s not reciprocated don’t beat yourself up for it. You tried and did whatever because that’s who you are as a person and you’ve got no reason to apologize for that.  Remember, you’re not responsible for how other people’s actions. How you react to a situation tells more about yourself than the other person.

25. One time I stood up for myself this year was:

I think internally just being able to let things and people go and not take it to heart; accepting that things change, as do people, and that its unhealthy dwelling on the ‘whys’ and working yourself up over it all the time. Standing up for my heart and peace of mind I’d say lol and knowing when to leave things and people be, simply because it is what it is.

26. The scariest thing I went through this year was:

wallah I thought I was going to die on the way to Nepal. We were caught in a massive storm and turbulence was unbelievable; literally the sky was lighting up all around us with the thunder and the airport was closed so we couldn’t land and I just lost it. Ive never ever ever cried as much as I did on a plane. I sent voice notes to my family telling them I loved them, made promises to myself incase I survived etc etc. I was flying with my friend Lucy and just praying so hard for the both of us and telling her I loved her and glad I was dying with her lolololol laughing at myself now but jeez. definitely the scariest!

  1. A really cool thing I created this year was:

the current vibe in my new flat. Just a clean white open space with lots of light that feels like home and ‘my space’ when I walk in the door.

  1. My most common mental state this year was:

“we’re all going to die soon anyways” – is that even a mental state? Say what you want to say, do what you want to do, #noregrets

29. Here’s how I grew emotionally this year:

I cried when I wanted to cry but then also knew when to stop and pick meself up and get on with it.

30. Here’s how I grew spiritually this year: 

-consciously made an effort to pray 5 times a day

-consciously put all my eggs into God’s basket and even though things might not have gone my way, put my trust and faith into the fact that it wasn’t meant to be because that’s not what he wanted for me and that’s cool! And it sounds really simple but it’s a constant struggle to get to that point of full conviction and faith and hope (for me anyways), but I feel myself getting better at it alhamdulillah

31. The best gift I received this year was:

life. waking up every morning when not everyone was as blessed. alhamdulillah x

32. The nicest thing someone did for me this year was:

-probably comfort me and tell me its going to be okay.

-give me hugs

-also Qes for inviting me to join deployment; will always be grateful for you x

-Mariah for meeting me once and offering me to bunk with her. what a freaking gem x

-my brother and sister for being my support system sometimes and telling me nice things about myself at times I wasn’t feeling the greatest x

33. The nicest thing I did for someone else this year was: 

I hope I did nice things for people this year! I don’t believe in keeping track of things you do for others; you do them from the heart because you want to and then its over and done with x


34. I showed real gumption this year when I: 

when I was able to bake brownies without any eggs or butter! coconut oil is surprisingly quite good for a lot of things!

35. If I could change one thing about this year it would be:                          

 nothing. everything had to happen the way it did to get me to this very moment and its all good alhamdulillah x

36. A new food/dish I tried this year was: 

figs in Reyhanli – I’d always been apprehensive about trying them lol

37. This year my physical health was:

alright actually alhamdulillah x no accidents or blood or broken bone incidents so alhamdulillah xx

38. Here’s a new friend I made this year:

Mohib! #tyler

  1. This year I traveled to:

-Dubai, Istanbul, Reyhanli, America, London, Nepal, Mumbai, Toronto (but that never counts) (legit ugh-ing myself rn like is that it?!)

  1. Here’s one adventure I had this year:

If you know me you’ll know I consider taking an alternate route on the way home is an adventure, so I have many lol

-in Nepal trying to find my spring roll place from 7 years ago (they no longer had them and it broke my heart)

-rooftop with Qes in Reyhanli. so sick.

-walking and talking around Knightsbridge for hours with a random (Adz) who helped me at Harrods and now were mates!

-going for dinner with a random group of girls after one of the fashion shows in London. They said they liked my turban and we ended up at dindin!

-scaling buildings to get on the roof with Hashmat in Istanbul. SO freaking worth it and the most beautiful view of Istanbul

  1. One contribution I made to my community was: 

(is it terrible that I feel this doesn’t apply to me because I don’t feel like I’ve got one in Kuwait like I did in Canada?!)


42. This year I spent a lot of time here:

-the rooftop pool lounge bit at my old building

-prayer mat

-airplanes

-mamas house

-on my laptop

  1. This year I broke out of my comfort zone by:

-wearing my glasses a lot! it sounds silly lol but I used to have a love-hate relationship with my glasses and only wore them when I took my contacts out and never to work or in public etc. Not too bothered now really lol sticking the contacts in seems to be more of an effort these days haha

-(also just chatting to strangers, eating on my own, making myself my best friend and enjoying my own company etc.)

  1. A hobby I loved spending time on this year was:

reading, traveling, editing photos, creating content. it makes me happy.

  1. This year I practiced self-care by:

breathing, praying, face masking. doing what makes me happy.

  1. My biggest time waster this year was:
[a boy who didn’t want to marry me] – I was planning to keep that as is, but a really good friend made mention that its very unlike me to see things as a waste of time and not look at the benefit or good that’s come from a situation. And I thought about and I know she’s right. Although a part of me wants to say it was a waste of my time, it was also a learning opportunity and I’m not ungrateful for having said person in my life because we’re still kinda sorta best friends but it is what it is I suppose x

  1. Here’s a great time-saving hack I learned this year:

making lists.. if I ever felt like I had a lot to get done and just super overwhelmed with it all, making a list and being able to physical see and refer back to it and cross off things that were completed def helped me not waste time and stay on track. Daily lists, monthly lists, I like lists lol

  1. What I am most grateful for this year is:

my family. the boy who didn’t want to marry me. my friends. the opportunities I’ve been blessed with and all the amazing people I’ve been lucky enough to cross paths with as a result; who I’ve hopefully been able to be nice to and love, or who have loved me, inspired me, or taught me something x

  1. Here are three words that would sum up this year: 

blessed, reflective, surprising

50. If I could travel back to the beginning of the year, here’s some advice I would give myself:

-no you don’t need to buy that.

-save some money for a rainy day.

-order burgers if you want to eat burgers.

-tell her you love her. tell him you love him.

-don’t worry too much, it’ll get sorted xx

There you have it lol kudos if you managed to get through all 50! I’d love to know some of the goals and aspirations you might have set for yourselves in the new year so please share below! How do you plan on achieving them because that’s always the hard part lol

I’m about to make a final cuppa for the year and watch the BFG because I was supposed to watch it with a mate about a year ago but they flopped and I don’t wish to carry that burden into the new year haha x Wishing you a beautiful 365 days ahead filled with love and kindness, and perhaps a year in which you finally put your heart and own happiness first xoxo

You’re probably getting sick of seeing all my Istanbul postings on the gram, but I’m not finished yet because I’m having a grand time playing around with newfound tools and making it all visually appealing so #sorrynotsorry ! but thanks to the ones who are still showing love because it makes me feel like you appreciate the werk lol love you!x

This is a quick rundown of what our 3days kinda sorta consisted of. I don’t think I ever plan or schedule things to the T, it’s often a rough idea of a few places I’d maybe like to see or check out (I’ll google beforehand to creep) and the rest is whatevers stumbled upon on the way, but there were a couple new places I wanted to share incase anyones ever in town!


Tourist Attractions 

  • Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque

Standard (written about here and here)

  • Basilica Cistern

This is the largest of several hundred cisterns that lies beneath the city of Istanbul and used to act as a water filtration system for the Place of Constantinople.  Each time I’ve been to Istanbul I’ve always wanted to go but never got around to it, which is weird because its en route to the Metro and Gulhane Park and literally to the roadside of the Hagia Sophia lol lord knows I’ve walked past it a number of times, but definitely a really neat place worth seeing!

  • Galata Tower

This is another place I’ve been wanting to go for ages and always saw it from afar. I had heard it’s a mission to get to and so many stairs and an uphill climb that goes on for days, but it was neither. A bit of an uphill climb but that’s standard and its definitely worth it once you arrive. A friend recommended to go a bit before sunset so you could catch it whilst at the top of the tower and that was sound advice. Be prepared to queue for a bit, but theres a cutesy tram café to grab a cuppa while you wait! It also gets super crammed up top because you’re only able to do a round of the top and exit, but definitely take your time to appreciate the view and if you have to find a special spot to squat at for a bit, so be it! There wasn’t an epic sunset when we went, but it was beautiful to see everything wind down for the evening and the city light up with the call to prayer echoing from each side and seagulls crying and just ugh. Beautiful!

  • Süleymaniye Mosque

This was actually a random stumble and I don’t know why we’ve never crossed paths before. We were headed to look for something else and saw this beautiful mosque and thought lets have a look and dang! Massively beautiful with a gorgeous courtyard alongside a stunning view overlooking the city. The inside of the masjid donned this burnt-orange carpet and a similar interior to the Blue Mosque, but just super beautiful mashallah! (also I had to creep on this man outside the masjid because old people are just beautiful bless them x)

  • Dolmabahçe Palace:

I never knew this existed, but came across some photos of this intrinsic gate on Instagram, did some research, and turns out it was part of Dolmabache! Mashallah times a million for how beautiful this palace is. The architectural detail and grandeur of this place was magical and cleancut and just made me feel honored to be in its presence if that makes sense lol we didn’t go inside to the museum bit, but the grounds are still someplace worth visiting! Round the back of the palace dons the prettiest pink walls (you guys thought it was a filter didn’t you?!) and a rose garden which we were lucky enough to see in half bloom.

  • Grand Bazaar

Standard; super pretty and loads of wonderful bits and bobs with shopkeepers who speak a million and one languages which is quite impressive lol I strongly suggest bargaining a shitload if you’re purchasing something and if there’s no budging don’t fret at all because chances are you’ll find it elsewhere for much cheaper

  • Istiklal Street

another standard; kind of like a high street if you will with familiar shops (zara, Mango, H&M, Sephora etc.) but also has side alleys which are great to stop at for coffee or shisha and is buzzing at night!


Views

This was probably the thing I was most excited about locating and turning into a reality! After a lot of time spent trying to read suggestions on where I could get the best view of the city (not at any of the rooftop cafes-there are many fyi), a few seemed consistent with this place near the Grand Bazaar where you’re meant to knock on a door and ask for a ‘Mr. Mehmet’, pay him a little summin summin and he gives you access to the roof lol sounds super sketch I know, but one of the sites had a google location to the exact spot and another one had photos of what the stairwell looked like so I figured I’d have a go because why not!

Managed to get to the place, and the stairwell looked like it did in the photos but all the doors were bolted shut and there was no sign of anyone residing; more like storage behind the doors. Knocked on every door lol nothing happened but it was one of those moments where you know you can’t do anything but that motivates you to find another way because you just gotta somehow (my word choice and explanation is not its finest at the moment so apologies x ) SO, I was like Hash, you can scale the wall right, you go up and help me up lol there was one of them bushes growing out of the wall and a broken pipe so Hash managed to use them to get himself up and I followed (not as gracefully and it reminded me I have crap upper body strength), cut meself and lay there for about 5 seconds, but dang. When I got up, it was such a freaking beautiful sight to look at! And I was super excited that we had made it and that I was right (because I was on about it since before we left for Istanbul and Hash was like really, you’re not going to do it, how, blah blah) and just ahh! While we were finding a way to get on, these 2 Turkish guys joined as I guess they were also looking for Mr. Mehmet but helped them get up as well and so the 3 of us had a grand time overlooking the city and taking pictures and enjoying life until Hashmat waved at someone below like a dumb and the man started shouting that he was going to call the police and gathered a group of mandem so we jumped off and that was that!

Here is the exact location which you can always load up onto your maps (Buyuk Valide Han) if you go looking for the view lol it stops you at this 4-way crossroad and theres an arched stone wall on your right with Buyuk Valide Han written on it. Turn right and immediately to your right theres a stairwell going upstairs. Go up the stairs, and to your left there are some rusted stairs (like 6-7 steps) to a closed door. Use those stairs to jump onto the tarped material or whatever it is on your left and take on that wall. I’d suggest maybe going with someone so you can give someone a boost and pull the other up (I’m sure I would’ve found a way on my own), but that’s that! Try not to get clocked, but I promise you’ll love it (both the thrill and the view!)

Another recommendation for rooftops is high rise car parks! Walk in and take the lift to the highest floor, take the stairs, but eventually you’ll get to the highest point which more than likely will make you feel on top of the world! (kind of!)


Artsy Fartsy

  • Karaköy

Someone on Instagram had recommended munch at a place called ‘Batazar Burgers’ which was a super cool place and just the general vibe of the area itself (Karakoy) was up my alley (burgers were good too lol Hash loved it so thankyou!) Lots of street art and cutesy cafes, lunch spots, boutiques and the sort. I’d recommend going here after Dolmabache; we got the metro after Dolmabache to Sultanahmet, and my GPS signaling told me to walk…tell me why we ended up walking all the way back to where we started and had munched haha I was like hey! This is such a cool place, twice in one day well done Saira #winning! Turned a corner and went oh. We were legit right here haha #fail it was a lovely walk though so aadhee.

  • Umbrella [street]

I haven’t got exact directions for this next one, but if you stroll around the same area, or even if you ask I’m sure someone will help you, you’ll come to this alley with umbrellas hanging up top. I don’t think this is the famous one, but it got me excited so yay! I thought we could get a sick photo lol but Hash had just about had enough at this point and even the man in the shop came out with an umbrella to help get the right shot but alas. This is the closest we got to the perfect shot but I love it regardless because of the backstory lol

  • Rainbow Stairs

The Rainbow Stairs are also a cutesy place to check out for photos or just to put a smile on your face. In 2013 a man named Huseyn Cetinel spent 4 days painting the bland concrete stairs in rainbow colors simply to make people smile bless him x Unfortunately it was painted over [by the government], but people are freaking amazing sometimes and volunteers repainted them and they survived! Slightly run down now but put a smile on your face they do! If you’re heading by foot you’ll come across a set of stairs that look super broken and painted over in grey; don’t get discouraged lol keep walking and you’ll see the actual ones further up on your left! (*disclaimer: I just googled a bit myself to be sure and this is the location to the ones I managed to get to; not sure if they’re the exact same ‘famous’ steps but they were still coloured steps..!)


Food

In terms of food and munch, I can’t suggest a whole lot of places to try. wallah guys I’m not much of a food person, especially when travelling lol I love trying new dishes and eating etc. but when I’m away legit a cup of tea and a croissant or sandwich or something in the morning will usually get me through til the evening. I tend to grab and go and/or snack on streets as opposed to sit down places.

I’d definitely recommend Hafiz Mustafa if you don’t know if it by now lol for baklava and Turkish tea. The burger place we tried was good (Baltazar Burgers) Definitely fresh juice from one of the street vendors; the best orange juice ever for some odd reason lol alongside street side shawarma and roasted corn and chestnuts from the side stalls. Also love grabbing pieces of Turkish delight and chocolate mushrooms and Haribos for munching-while-walking because that’s just what I enjoy lol

Actually, if there’s one place you do go to, make sure it’s this one! Last year I mentioned we went to this place which Iman highly recommended and they only did a couple things on the menu but was so good and I didn’t remember the name, but I made a point to note it this time around so here it is: Meşhur Sultanahmet Köftecisi and I’ve got the location down below! If there’s a queue just wait lol and I promise you won’t be disappointed! I suggest a plate of the kofte with the red sauce and a salad lol so simple yet so satisfying!

This was my first time not having Lahmacun which is my absolute favorite Turkish dish (its not a dish) which is flatbread with mince on top. Add a bit of lemon juice and coriander on top, roll it and munch and you’re good to go. Super basic I know haha but I’m typically not fussy when it comes to food!


I hope that’s either inspired you to add Istanbul onto your bucket list, or given you some ideas of where to hit up if you’re ever in town, or even just put a smile on your face looking at all the pretty pictures! Let me know if this is helpful in anyway and if adding locations is something you’d appreciate in future posts; I found it super helpful when I was creeping so I hope I can make your lives a little easier too!

I miss blogging and sharing and I don’t know if you guys miss it as well lol but I’m super open to interactions and suggestions on things you might like to see or read about! Xx

Hope everyone’s winding down for the holidays and super excited for time off; I’m counting down to go home and really looking forward to seeing my family and have warm fuzzies inside lol lots of love, light, and hot chocolate sent your way! xoxo

Merhaba!

Hope all is well lovelies! x

My brother was in town a few weeks ago and me being the bestest big sister in the world decided to take him to Istanbul for a couple days! I’ve been before, around the same time last year actually! but it was a first for him and I’m pretty sure he had a fab time (he better have haha)

Istanbul is pure magic on its own, but finding someplace to stay which enhances that is a tad hit and miss. After my last trip, I really wanted to stay someplace in close proximity to the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia; its all kinds of beautiful and hearing the call to prayer echo between both mosques amidst the hustle&bustle of people does things to your heart and soul and having the freedom to walk between the two at any time of day is just an experience on its own which leaves you in a state of blessings upon blessings and I just really really love it!

We stayed at the ever so lovely Hotel Empress Zoe, a boutique hotel situated in the heart of historic Sultanahmet and I kid you not, an approximate 8 minute walk to the grounds of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia! (I was hella excited!) A few minutes walking distance from there you’ve got the Cistern and Gulhane Park to visit, and can easily hop onto the metro if you’re headed elsewhere.

Besides its amazing location, the charming interior exudes a contemporary Byzantine feel which is showcased throughout the hotel. From the rooftop terrace, to the décor chosen in both the indoor and outdoor dining areas, to the intrinsic wood detailing in the bedrooms, it was hard not to feel like a modern-day Turkish princess haha (the most precious and fluffiest ginger house-cat included as well!) Given that the hotel is built from the remains of an Ottoman passage and barrel vaulted room, there is no elevator, however staff are more than helpful in taking baggage up and down the beautiful marble spiraled staircase for you. (yes, I took a shoe-fie on the staircase each day #noshame)

The hotel boasts 26 rooms, 4 of them being suites which include their own marble hamam-style bathrooms. A hamam is a traditional Turkish bath usually hosted in a communal type environment; so to have your own personal one is pretty freaking amazing! Pictured below is one of the suites (room 702) which has got its own stairwell entry and terrace, essentially your own private living quarters overlooking the beautiful garden below. Look at all that light legit just beaming through the windows! ah! I’m a big windows and letting light shine through type of person so totally in love with everything that was going on at this moment! It’s also a lovely choice if you’re traveling with your special someone for that added privacy and bit of seclusion from the rest of the hotel.

Breakfast and taxes are included in all bookings at the hotel; breakfast consists of a traditional Turkish mezze which included Turkish borek and a variety of cheeses and breads and olives and cereals etc. in an open buffet style concept meaning you could always go back for seconds so yes, more than enough food lol

We stayed in a double-room with a garden view and ugh, it was just so beautiful. A large wooden four-poster canopy bed to one side with a tradition Turkish sedir on the other (large couch built on the wall covered in textiles and pillows used for lounging on sleeping) (this was basically the brothers bed lol). Consistent flow of water (hot and cold) in the bathroom and shower was ace as well; the only only gripe I had was that the full length mirrors in the room were both on opposite sides of the window lol so to put on makeup or even take pictures just didn’t happen because it couldn’t as everything was just dark, but that might just have been our room!

I have to say my most favorite part of the hotel would be the attention to detail in terms of the décor and furniture chosen to effectively execute a tactile presence of another time. All the furniture, textiles, pillows etc. are made up of a collection of old Turkish pieces, and its careful curation comes off as effortless; broken pieces of paving, Ottoman marble fountains and antique stone artifacts lying about as though they’ve been there for centuries. The rooftop terrace with its breathtaking view of the Bosphorus glistening in sunlight to your left, with the two mosques to your right was another fave, alongside the sunken lobby upon entrance to the hotel. Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous!x

If you’re ever in town, or Istanbul is on your bucket list, make it happen in the new year and get yourself a room at the Empress Zoe (click here). Being a boutique hotel, not only will it exceed your expectations and provide a much more authentic experience and appreciation for traditional Turkish architecture, but promise it’ll make your trip that little more special x

Thank you a million and one to the exceptionally helpful and friendly staff at Hotel Empress Zoe for providing complimentary stay for the 2 nights. All opinions are my own.

As you may already know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, an annual international health campaign to raise awareness and funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure.

Image result for breast cancer tumblr

As per the National Breast Cancer Foundation,

  • One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
  • On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer and 1 woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes.
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women.

Sudio Sweden (@sudiosweden) has been running a campaign in support of this month where 10% of all profits from any of their pink products will be donated to Rosa Bandet, a Swedish Pink Ribbon Foundation.

I’ve worked with Sudio previously in a post here where you can read up on how lovely their quality is, both in aesthetic and sound. These are the REGENT headphones with pink caps (separate attachment) and they’re also wireless so yay!

I don’t think I’ve ever owned an over-the-head set and I’ve always been skeptical of them ruining my hijab or turban haha but these extend far enough over the turban and are uber comfortable and don’t look ridiculous!

They come with the usuals and charge into any usb port for wireless pairing; can also use them via direct cable which is included. I can definitely see these accompanying me on flights and travels as they also fold up into a super convenient size which can be thrown into a backpack easily.

You’ve still got a few days left in October, so help yourself to the 10% by using ‘saira’ upon checkout at sudiosweden.com ! It might be a small contribution , but something towards the greater good is always better than nothing at all init x

If you think about it, kids were the more recent people to hang out with God and so we should respect them, value them, not like smaller adults but more like if they were the best versions of humanity.

                                                                        – Jerome Jarre

totally aware that not all of these are photos of children, but I’m so in love with the aforementioned and find it quite fitting. Still having warm fuzzies about all of it, but there’s always that extra something about the people you meet (and smother with hugs) in certain places. That in-explainable tug at the strings of your heart&soul which concludes with a massive drawn out sigh on my part because I want to go back! Until then though, I hope you fall as in love with these as I have xx