Holly Jolly Christmas {Photo Diary}

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Dirty Eggnog Hot Chocolate

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You know it’s that time of the year when I share my favourite Hot Chocolate recipe of the year. In my knack to reinvent my cooking and kick things up a notch, here’s a ‘Dirty’ Eggnog Hot Chocolate recipe that’ll make you feel all warm and tingly inside.

And it goes like this:

  • 1/2 Cup EGGNOG
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1 Tbsp. Orange Espresso Powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Sea Salt
  • Whipping Cream
  • Sprinkles (Optional)
  • 1 Shot of Whiskey
  • 2 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder Snapseed 3

Start by mixing eggnog and milk in a pot. Whisk in the orange espresso powder and cocoa powder. Whisk thoroughly and allow it to simmer. Add the sea salt. Bring the pot off the flame and add the shot of whiskey. The key is to add the alcohol off the flame to be safe and also to stop it from dissipating in to thin air.

Add whipping cream and enjoy!

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That one time I went to Ireland…

Memory is a beautiful thing in life, more often than not, we hold the important ones close; sometimes by choice, and others, not so much. When I look back and think to the very first one I remember, I’m back in my aunt’s home, all cozy and sipping on the sugariest cold coffee, hearing stories about my long-gone grandma. I can still envision the details, the room was lit in this green hue of a night lamp, my aunt sitting on the floor, my mom and I on the bed, listening intently as she passionately talks about stories from her childhood. From the corner of my eye, I see my mom reminiscing her past, holding my hand tightly as she thinks back to their best days.

If you ask me right this second, I’d happily trade places for that moment. It had a familiar sweetness and acceptance that made me feel like I belonged, like I was home.

And if you haven’t been keeping up with my quarter life crisis, then you could read some of my posts from before that tell you how I feel like a nomad in a city I’ve lived for 16 years.  Ironically, for a week, I found that feeling again, right in the middle of Dublin, with not a single familiar soul to soothe my anxieties, yet I felt right at home. Not the kind of home that you can just sleep at night, not the kind of home that is eternally broken; but the kind where I felt my insecurities disappear, my anxieties become passive and my heart felt something it hasn’t in a while…it felt at peace.

Whether I walked alone, late at night on the streets; or up early to relish in a moment overlooking the canal; whether I sipped on a fancy shot of whiskey or mixed some in with my morning coffee, every moment felt like my own. Every memory was mine and mine alone; no one to change how I wanted to live it, no one to tell me when to come home, no one to judge me when I went to the theatre, or when I sat by myself at restaurants enjoying the view. I’m sure to a layman that sounds despariningly lonely, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in 2017 is to be okay with just that.

So okay I was; lost in the city’s perfect sights, charming people and its nosy-culture, by some regard I felt like the Galway girl. Living life one night at a time, singing (badly) at Grafton Street alongside an impeccable street performer, walking into history in Belfast, letting foreign friends share with me their fascinating histories and sharing some of mine; oooh, last but not least waking up to strangers in a cramped hostel room and finding yourself playing cards with them 5 hours later. Everything was unexpected; the people, the city and above all, ME.

As I write this, I’m torn between reminiscing that version of myself and accepting that it was short-lived or holding on tightly enough to save its remains. It haunts me that I would climb any mountain, cross any ocean; just to relive this memory, and there are very few, that would make me want to do that. Meanwhile, I have found comfort in writing stories of my past and remembering them in extensive detail. It’s the only way to preserve the magic when the going gets tough, or when I find myself lose touch with the reality; it’s all right here, etched forever, here and in my heart. 

Let’s make up for lost time

Sat here, a little lonely; trying to plan the next big move that makes life more meaningful, but coming up empty. I’ve felt a lot of things in my life, in fact, I pride myself on being sensitive enough to accept them, but this one’s a little alien and I’ve identified it as defeat.

Let’s back up for a moment, and picture this. A 14-year old girl; a casualty of her own self-deprecating thoughts, put in a terrible situation with people around her; tainted by sadness, what does she want to be when she grows up? In one word: Happy. Fast-forward 11 years, the future is still bleak, heartbreak now is exactly like the heartbreak then, friends that left, still haven’t found their way back.

So defeat it is. Now it all makes sense, right? That’s the thing about growing up, we think that its a magical place where all’s well and all’s right; a fairytale land that always seems too far ahead. I thought that too; but, between all the late nights I carelessly let go; sometimes with a little too much work and others with a little too much whiskey, I’m struck by this realisation that life’s not what I wanted it to be at 25.

When you’re young, all you have is your imagination to keep you close to your dreams. As an adult with all the means to ‘make it happen’, I still seem to fall short. My imagination no longer cuts it, I can’t just dream a life I want for myself, I must live it. I’m not even sure if I get in the way of life or life gets in my way; but for now its a mutually destructive relationship. 

I can almost hear you say, “you’re too young to feel that way.” But, I do feel like I’ve defeated myself and that 14 year old who believed she would have the life she wanted by now. Back then, I hadn’t made as many mistakes, I had known loss but never lived it, I had touched sadness, but hadn’t felt it. With all that said, I also envy her. She had hope, she had a sense of reassurance from her future, like she could almost taste the victory of what awaited her. I’d give anything to feel that way now.

And I know I’m not the only one who regrets the things she’s done. And I know I’m not the only one in the world who has looked at her reflection and hated every inch of it. I get that; believe it or not, I understand that there’s a big picture with ups & downs. I just can no longer accept that that’s it.

It seems as if I’ve read every chapter over and over again, some regrettably more than the others, waiting for the big reveal. Praying that it lives up to my fantasy. I can no longer function without knowing how my story ends. Whether I get the guy or the aspiring career? Whether I finally make amends with people I hurt, or they come back seeking redemption?

I’ve watched my life flash before my eyes far too many times, the persistent heaviness in my heart prevails, feeling exactly like the 14 year old who sought after her future with fear and fearlessness all at once. I don’t think I have her big heart, or the passion to fight off anything the world throws at me. The only thing I’ve got is a desperate desire to fight defeat.

I could sit here and go on forever. I know there’s so much I have to say, so many words I haven’t written yet, some I haven’t even learned. But something tells me, I’ll be back for more because the story never really ends, does it?

10 Minute Malt Chocolate Fudge Recipe

The simplest things in life are quite possibly the most decadent.

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This, 10-min one-bowl chug and go recipe is at the top of my list for a delicious treat. I admit, I did go overboard with a lot of ingredients, but the crunch of biscuits paired with  gooey marshmallows was a match made in heaven. Before we get into the ingredients, I must add that this recipe is merely a guide, you can switch up flavours that you prefer; change dark chocolate to white or make a christmassy version with orange zest and cranberries (It’s June and I’m already thinking Christmas!)

Whatever you do, don’t forget to tag me in your pictures @heena_mak on Instagram

Ingredients:

  1. 340g Hershey’s Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
  2. 2 Heaping Tbsp. Malt Powder (I used Horlicks)
  3. Sweetened Condensed Milk (To taste, I used 3/4 of the way through)
  4. 10-14 Chunky Crushed Digestive Biscuits
  5. 1 Tbsp. Butter
  6. 1 Tsp. Sea Salt
  7. 10-15 Crushed Maltesers
  8. Mini Marshmallows
  9. Crushed Walnuts
  10. Crushed Hazelnuts

I started by heating my Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips with condensed milk and butter. I added some milk to loosen the mixture until it was a thick pourable consistency. Let it cool for 5 minutes. Chug all the remaining ingredients in the pan and give it a good mix.

Pour in a square pan lined with foil or plastic wrap. Let it cool for 4-5 hours.

LIFE UPDATE

Some writers paint a pretty picture when they write, I’m not one of them. But painting a real one, yea, that sure sounds like me. The sun is setting and I assure you from the hustle and bustle of where I live, there’s no place to catch that action; so I’m sitting on the dinner table, sipping some camomile tea whilst watching the light get dimmer and dimmer. I guess it’s time to not just sip the tea but spill it.  Continue reading LIFE UPDATE

What I told myself about ‘Quarter Life Crisis’

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‘What am I doing with my life?’ is a question you ask and avoid relentlessly.

If you’re 25, give or take, I’m sure your plate’s starting to feel too small for all the questions, all the choices and all the decisions that you’re about to make. Every day you’re farther away from the person you were at 17, dreaming of a certain life, a certain goal and a certain magic. What once seemed a stepping stone for becoming closer to the person you’ve always dreamt to be, is now becoming a train you’re running too late to catch. I’d argue that age is just a number, that there’s still time and this isn’t a race, but that would go against every cell in my body that’s making me feel just that. Continue reading What I told myself about ‘Quarter Life Crisis’

Birthday Blog

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It’s nearly 12:00 AM, which means my birthday is ending in merely minutes. And instead of a bitter-sweet goodbye, I have a sense of peaceful content. This year has been a bumpy one and I didn’t expect the kind of love and affection that swept me in the last 24 hours, but I have to tell you, I know some really thoughtful souls.

And as I initiate becoming a 24-year-old woman (hate the word, really), It feels like this giant weight has been lifted from my heart. The fear of never being worthy of such intense love has faded away, and as much as I’ve realized I need these people in my life, I’ve also realized that I’m needed too. Even as I write it, I find this the most refreshing sentence I’ve heard in a while from myself.

Here’s to this year of intense lessons, new friendships, the renewal of old ones too… I am forever grateful for everything you’ve put me through. I don’t feel wiser or older, per se, I just feel lifted and transformed. I literally have no words for all the admiration I have for the ones I hold close. I just know that all the years I’ve spent wanting relationships like these, they’re finally worth the wait.

And I couldn’t be happier.

Sending everyone of you a big fat panda hug ❤

2015 life hits and misses

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When 2015 began, I set myself a goal. The goal was to travel at least three different cities in a year. 11 months and 27 days later, I succeeded in travelling two cities – Hong Kong and Istanbul. And then, last week, I booked myself a getaway to Tbilisi for New Year’s (I’m inclined to add a million exclamation points, but I shall pass). Continue reading 2015 life hits and misses

Taking my life back

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I look in the mirror and find a part of me missing.

I sit amidst a little park surrounded by tall buildings, hair swinging in the wind, blocking my perspective from my screen, chuckles of young souls frolicking in the backdrop and Another Love playing quietly, so only I can hear it. And even when I’m just here by myself, I’m unable to find what has changed? What has separated me from myself? Who am I now? And more importantly, do I like this person?

As a cold breeze passes, sending shivers down my spine, my eyes wander far; as if looking for the mysteries that I must unravel within my heart. I look around, there are many souls around me; do they know who they are? The man who walks with his child, the mother who watches her child play, the girl with the gym bag or the girl who sits with her laptop inside a coffee shop, looking inadvertently at the window? Do all of these people know who they are? Where they are going? Just the mere thought fills me with a strange alienation, as if I’m destined to be a troubled and lost soul forever. As if my own happiness was slipping away from my hands and I’m here with a glass half empty that is cracking from the pressure of me holding on so closely.

Letting go hasn’t been my strongest quality. Coping with change and instability follow suit. Playing victim is my comfort zone, and truth be told; strong and independent are no longer the adjectives I’d use to describe myself. The ones who know me closely have seen me go from standing tall to crumbling down. This dissatisfaction in my life has been nothing but past experience that I never accepted as lessons, but blows to my self-esteem, self-acceptance and self-love.

I’ve build four walls around myself, adorned with my both beautiful and breaking past. It bears the memories of those loved and tokens of those lost. The walls that I’ve built, don’t have doors, but tiny openings that allow me to have new interactions. Hell, sometimes, I even bring these interactions in my world. They light up my space, but sooner or later, the darkness gets to me. My tainted memories within these walls override all the new experiences. I should probably leave these walls, but they’re home, they’ve all I’ve known for as long as I can remember. The only way out is building a door, marching through it and breaking all boundaries I’ve ever known.

I want my life back. I want that carefree girl who could take chances, whose dreams were out of this world, who knew when to give her heart and when to lock it away, who conquered storms and withered heart ache. She could smile through her pain and let no one worry about her. Her love was her strength and not her weakness. I lost that part of me behind the walls I put up and its time to step outside and start looking.