me Life and Times of the Fireflies: August 2013

Friday, 30 August 2013

Birthday Parties!!

It is sadly true that I haven't lifted a single baking utensil since the passing of Eid. I haven't baked, attempted to bake, or even thought about baking in the last three weeks! Until last weekend that is.... With my nephew celebrating his birthday last Friday, and another nephew having a party on Saturday; all baking duties turned to me, which meant the end of my baking drought!

Drawing inspiration from my sister in laws gorgeous cakes, I attempted my own version of her Belgian chocolate cake classic, for my 13 year old nephew. Using a trusted chocolate cake recipe of my own, I went all out in dressing it up! Complete with Louis Vuitton ribbon!!!

And for the kids party that took place at Action Cricket on Stadium on Main, I made, per request, Red Velvet cupcakes. As I mentioned before, I'm relatively new at red velvet cupcakes, and still feeling my way around the perfect recipe. The recipe I'm sharing today, was given to me by Moon and is deliciously soft and moist, and it is so quick and easy to make! Here is the recipe...


  • 2 1/2 cup cake flour

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 Tblsp cocoa

  • 1 tsp bicarbonate soda

  • 1 1/2 cups oil

  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • 4 eggs

  • 3 Tblsp red food colouring ( 1 whole bottle)

  • 1 tsp white vinegar

  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Sift all dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. In another bowl, mix all wet ingredients ( I put it in a blender)
  4. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredient and mix.
  5. Place mixture in either cupcake or muffin tray depending on size you want ( I used cupcake sizes).
  6. Bake for about 12-15 min for cupcake size.
*Tip: I have learnt that timing is everything with a red velvet cupcake, and over-baking changes it's texture. In my oven, I felt that 12 min gave the best results. For muffin size, bake for 18-20 min.


  • 100 grams butter
  • 125 grams cream cheese
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla essence or lemon juice
Beat all ingredients together, making sure not to over beat as mixture will turn runny, and then pipe onto cupcakes!


Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Let's Talk Fashion

I love fashion, and I love watching the waves of fashion trends that come and go. I've survived the fashion faux pas of the 80's and arrived on the other side of the millennium kinda unscathed...but I would not classify myself as a raging fashionista in any way.

I have a very relaxed approach to fashion. In fact, on most mornings, you will find me doing errands in my trusty old gym pants and sneakers either on my way to or from a workout; and, as a mom on the go, comfort reigns supreme. You will most likely see me going about the rest of my day in a comfortable ensemble and more often opting for stylish flats and sneakers instead of heels.

So, as we approach a new season, with the sun already starting to shine it's fake rays over the weekend, and winter not leaving us for good just yet; all major stores have already started tantalising us with their Spring/Summer collections. From Monochrome to the Geisha print, Pastel colours to bright Neon, soft Georgette's and whimsical lace; there are many new trends to navigate...but one particular trend has caught my eye...and I'm not sure it's for the right reasons...The Pyjama Pants!!

Now, I love pyjama days as much as the next girl...lounging about at home on a lazy day; but I'm not so sure going outdoors sporting anything pyjama looking is socially acceptable. Which has led me to investigate a bit further...

Sporting a comfortable, stretchy waistband and soft, silky textured fabric; it is definitely a classier version of the pyjama, and it seems to have been designed with hot, sticky, summer days in mind. I delved a bit deeper, and sought the help of my good friend, Google, as to how Hollywood fashionista's  are sporting the trend. This is what I came up with...

Heels are a great way to perk up this casual trend....


Printed pants...plain top!

Add a structured blazer or cardigan, and a pop of colour for an overall chic look...

 Can be worn with flats. Great news for moms on the go!
A more muted take, in a solid colour with great accessories!
I'm not a 100% sold just yet, but whether you embrace this trend or not, the pyjama pants is here to least for a season or two ;-)

Friday, 23 August 2013

A Son I Call My Own

Name: Abdur Raaziq; Language: Arabic; Meaning: Slave of the Provider

 Only Son of Deed

I was 21 years old when you were born; tall and lean with "flipper" feet. I was probably the last in the family to see you, having been put under quarantine for a horrid allergic reaction to something or the other...You are 13 today, and have grown way past me. Your hugs arrive rather awkwardly at times, but at least you have not outgrown giving them to me. I am not your mother, yet I have an overwhelming magnitude of love in my heart for you...

I may not have lugged you around for nine months, and I do not bare the scars of your birth...but, from the day I lay my eyes on you and embraced you in my arms; from the moment you wrapped your then, tiny hand around my finger and pressed your head against my chest...from those very first days; you have captured my heart....

I am not your mother....but, I have witnessed your growth since birth, I have rocked you to sleep, I have bathed you, fed you, danced with you till your laughter filled the house...I know your fears, wiped away your tears....fainted at the sight of your blood...

I know I lost the favourite aunt title to Moon the day I got married. You were just a year old when I left...when I left open the space for her to take over. And though she's married now herself, there's a magical bond you share, that nobody can replace. She even has the added title of Mommy at the end of her name.

I am not your mother...yet you are a big brother to my children. Fighting, playing, squabbling, creating mischief. Building memories. Sharing moments. Building a bond that is strong....

I am not your mother...yet our lives are eternally the threads of a tapestry, delicately woven into each other...

Some bonds are forged in the womb, while others are built, brick by brick, with kind gestures, heartfelt moments. Love. It is strengthened through time and sealed in the confines of one's heart for all eternity...I am not your mother....but I love you so much more than an you like a you like a son I call my own...

Happy Birthday!
Love always,
Jaan :-)

Friday, 16 August 2013

Celebrating Eid

By now I am sure, everyone has recovered from Eid celebrations, the post Eid binge and the long weekend; and already back into the swing of the normal day to day mundane routines. The only remnants of Eid day being the extra lumps on our hips from all our guilty indulgences!

No matter where in the world one happened to be celebrating, one thing is certain, Eid is about unity, family, tradition...and food. While here in South Africa our celebrations are rich in old traditions, it is refreshing to watch as family and friends who have settled abroad have created and embraced new traditions too. But, whether new or old, wherever you may be, Eid still holds the underlying feeling of bringing communities, family and friends; together.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner (and dessert) were all big family affairs, with everyone contributing to the menu and table of treats. The combined effort of all the ladies of the family, led to a wonderfully enjoyable Eid day; lots of laughter and a Skype session with my brother; and I even managed to survive the entire day in heels!! Due to the busy nature of our typical Eid day in Cape Town, I was not able to capture everything on camera, but here are a few of the things I did manage to snap...


Tradition of giving money to all the young kids of the family. 





I managed  to equal Abdur Raaziq's height with the help of some major heels!!!
(short aunt problems!)
Walking around in 2cm mini wedges is soooo exhausting ;-)
Saafi getting a foot massage from big cousin Waseem.
Celebrating in the UK... my brother's kids, Abdul Hameed and Shuaib.
All partied out! Grandkids at Naani's house for dinner.
Both Moon and Saafiyah inherited these rings from their mom's :-)


Beautiful big sister Appa!


homemade chocolate truffles...

mini carrot cakes...

red velvet cupcakes...

baked cheesecake with chocolate and butterscotch sauce...
and eclairs made by Deed...
I feel slightly bad for mostly taking pics of the things I made. Everyone put in a lot of effort to make our Eid table look fantastic!!
Enjoy the weekend.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Frozen In Cape Town

I find myself penning these words on a rather cold and blustery winter evening in Cape Town. The wind is howling, the rain is gushing down, it is FREEZING; and I, for the life of me, cannot find my beanbag!!!

As I storm through the house franticly in search of the bag in question, opening cupboard doors and drawers; mumbling to myself...I realise how unnecessarily petty I am being in my pursuit. I am cold, yes. My toes are slightly frozen, for sure.... But I am clothed; if somewhat unattractively; in the warmest pyjamas (plus gown and leggings), I am bundled up in a blanket, and I am safely indoors.

I feel guilty about my tantrum now, a little embarrassed at my ingratitude, disgraced by my selfishness. While I wailed, competing with the wind outside. While I stomped about, fighting the cold from within my four walls; for a minute, I failed to realise the countless people battling colder temperatures outside!

The people whose shacks are flooding under the incessant downpour. Those without the comfort of electricity. Those who risk the oh so common shack fires by keeping their paraffin lamps burning. The man on the street.

I feel rather ashamed at myself now, as I'm curled up in bed with my extra thick blankets weighing over me, as I huddle a little closer to my baby boy, as I put my frozen toes against his warm, tiny feet.
So what! I didn't find my beanbag...but I am blessed beyond belief!!


Thursday, 8 August 2013

Eid Mubarak

Amidst all the feverish preparations for Eid; the battling of heavy traffic and crowded malls, long queues everywhere and equal levels of frustration to get our chores done; there's an underlying feeling of gratification, especially when seeing the excitement light up in our young children's eyes.

When I think back to my Eid mornings as a child; it is always awakening to the aroma of moms breyani and freshly baked pies...Dad and bro all ready for mosque, mom getting ready to tackle the task of blow drying her 4 girls hair...Our neighbourhood was alive with all the little kids meeting outside, all dressed in their finest. Going door to door greeting, embracing each other, celebrating together!

I wonder how my kids will remember Eid...If they will remember me hanging their freshly ironed clothes on the doorknob of their cupboards the night before.

I wonder if Raqeeb will remember going to mosque with his cousins, and if Saafiyah will remember going to Deed for her beauty routine of hair and make-up while I see to Zaydaan.

I wonder if they will remember piling up in my car with their Sonday cousins to go greet Naani and Naana; taking scores of photo's...for memories of course!

I wonder if they will realise how lucky they are to spend Eid with their grandparents...if they will remember playing hide and seek at Naani's....the lively lunches and dinners...remember the Eid day ritual of climbing in the back of the Quantum van to do the round of greeting with their Dad, uncles and cousins!

I wonder, when they are my age and building memories of their own, if they will look back at these days fondly. I wonder if they will remember...wonder if they will remember half as well as my brother did in this published poem he wrote; celebrating Eid for so many years far away from home...

Eid Mubarak

He'd come into my room early
hairy pot-belly straining against
a towel too small,
face flecked with foam
"It's time" he'd say.

Little Cotton-wool balls
dipped in Jannatul Firdous
or some other concentrated sweetness
from a cigar box with Alchemist's delights
no Cohibar or Monte Cristo
but attar with ambergris, or musk, or rose
and placed just so
in just the right bit of my ear
the remnants on oily fingers
rubbed on my new clothes
but lightly so they didn't stain.

When I was too tall
for a comfortable embrace
he stood on the raised pavement
or the second step
his fuzzy cheek to my smooth
his moustache tickling
"Eid Mubarak" in my ear

 (A poem by Asif Firfirey)

Even back then, there was always an Eid photo shoot ;-)
Mom always landed up being photographer...

Eid Mubarak,


Tuesday, 6 August 2013

My Truths - Giving What We Can

In an ideal world, there would be no such thing as poverty and injustice, dictatorship and oppression, tyranny and autocracy. In a perfect world, all mankind would live in unison, in harmony. The truth is, the world will never be totally free of these despotic tendencies; for as long as the earth continues to spin there will be extremities; but that does not mean we, as humanity, should stop the fight against it.

Our actions may not change the outcome of the world nor entire nations, but it may change the course of someones destiny. If it has the power to create a ripple effect that can create a better chance for an individual, and in turn a family; then giving is never a futile act; for the rich man was once a poor boy in desperate need of a chance!

Charity, therefore, should not put the giver on a pedestal, but rather put humanity on an equal footing, because in this existence of extremities, the giver could easily become the one in need. Charity is not an act of " I am better therefore I give". It is the realisation that roles can change at any time and what I do now will resonate back to me...

It is quite apt then to say that charity begins at home...our first selfless acts are born in our homes. Giving bits of ourselves to our parents, siblings, partners, children. Sharing, caring, nurturing, empathy, sympathy...Doing little things for our family members opens our hearts to carrying out those traits towards others. Instilling these values in our kids gives us hope that the plight does not end with us, ensures continuity in the perpetual acts of giving....

A mans wealth lies not in his gold filled coffers. A mans true wealth lies in the good he has done in the world for others. The string of actions that go by without notice or reward...every smile, every kind word, every comforting embrace, every kind spirited action towards his fellows. This is what leads to a satisfyingly rich life.

Charity is not merely to is not an act or something we do. It's something you feel, an emotion, a character trait. When you awaken your mind to the needs of others, when giving starts to arouse your soul and cleanse your heart, and keeps your feet firmly rooted to the ground...THAT is where charity begins...the fruits of which, will prosper forever...


Friday, 2 August 2013

A Passion Renewed

I have really been enjoying the process of reacquainting myself with the kitchen; wrapping  myself in familiar scents and tastes; treating my family to nostalgic recipes that first got me enticed into the baking world. It's been a tasty journey so far; baking and sharing some of my tried and tested favourites; old fashion recipes with equally old memories attached to them, memories that have broken my rebellious strike from the kitchen!

Lots has happened in the baking world during "the rebellion" it seems. So many new ideas, recipes and techniques that I have not yet attempted. Red Velvet cupcakes are almost out of season, and I have only just started making them. Cake Pops, Rainbow Cakes, Macaroons, Tiramisu Cupcakes...the list is endless. It seems the only person to have lost out, is the one that has taken themself out of the game; and in this case, it is me. Our passion you see, does not cease to exist and die within us, we just ignore to fan the flames!

As I dip my toes into the water once again,  I realise I have a lot of catching up to do, but I'm in no rush to go anywhere, just glad to be back, glad to have rediscovered my passion and reignited the spark; excited at the prospect of exploring new avenues; grateful that there are people ready to share and offer advice, and pass on valuable tips and words of  encouragement to an oldie baker like me!

So I've decided to steer away from the safety net of what I know, and venture a bit further from my comfort zone. My first experiment being this Rose Swirl cake which I made for my daughters' birthday. I'm quite pleased and proud of the outcome! What do you guys think?

Fit for a princess!?