Monday, January 25, 2016

The One Who Couldn't Stay // Spoken Word

The regular congregation of birds outside my bedroom window

You sought refuge from the bitter cold, inquiring for a place to stay.
I watched the light seep out of you and embrace the night like day.

And in my childish excitement, fixed up the finest room the inn had to offer.
Eagerly passing you its key.

True, you were a guest, but I had arranged a permanent abode.
Hoping you could stay.

How little did I know?
You were just another nomad, stopping to catch your breath along the way.

Well, I hope you find your way.

And, how true is what they say?
They all go away.
Eventually, they all go away.

// To listen to an audio version of this piece, click here //

Thursday, January 21, 2016

50 Facts about Me

The sunrise from my bedroom window
Some time ago, I did the '20 Questions Tag' on the blog. If you are interested, you can read that by clicking here. I got a request do more posts about me, so I decided to compile a list of 50 (interesting?) facts you probably didn't know about me before. It was fun to sit down and dig my cranial matter for these and I hope you enjoy reading them! So, here we go!

1. I am an aries, but I don’t believe in horoscopes.

2. I was named by my favorite person in the world and I love my name.

3. One of my favorite books of all time is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. It is a great tale of friendship and sacrifice. I can read it over and over again.

4. I could sit in a busy place and people-watch for hours.

5. When I am tired, my eyes water uncontrollably, so people tend to think I am crying even though I am perfectly fine.

6. I am double jointed in my thumbs, so I can make them look really funny if I want to freak someone out.

7. I was in a really bad car accident with my mom when I was young. To this day, I am the most jumpy/paranoid passenger ever. I really prefer to be in the driver seat.

8. I love desserts. When I meet people who don’t like dessert and ESPECIALLY chocolate, I wonder if they can really be trusted ;)

9. I am not afraid of spiders at all.

10. I didn’t know what I wanted to study at university and I made my decision based off of a character from a reality TV show. I am thoroughly satisfied with my decision.

11. I really, really love being around people. I love hearing the constant buzz of people talking, but sometimes I get too excited being around them, so I have to tune it out for a bit, calm down, and get back into it.   

12. I used to practice Bikram and I was pretty good at it. I don’t know why I stopped.

13. I’m very easily startled in “real life”, but I love watching scary movies.

14. When I was in middle school, I almost got suspended from school for scanning my face in the computer lab scanner. When I got called to the principal’s office, she was sitting there with my dad and a manila envelope. She asked me to open it and inside was 8.5” x 11” scan of my face. I screamed out of shock.

15. I love art and making things. I have been artistic for as long as I can remember.

16. I absolutely LOVE to travel! Far away is great, but I also love seeing new places nearby just as much. I don’t believe you have to go to a far off land to have an enjoyable time.

17. Unlike every other girl on the planet, I actually don’t like pumpkin spiced lattes, at all.

18. When I like a song, I will play it on repeat over and over again until I don’t like it anymore. If I just love it too much, I will avoid listening to it, so that I don’t ever stop liking it.

19. My first pet was called pinky. He/she was a pink goldfish.

20. During my teenage years, I went through a major bronzer phase as a result of watching The Hills. I have heavy photographic documentation of this phase and I am not embarrassed by it.

21. I love horses! I cannot put my adoration for them into words, so I will leave it at this, I love horses.

22. I’m secretly very bad at math, well actually just numbers in general too. I suppose it’s not really a secret. If you know me, you will know this about me.

23. Although I do dabble into a lot of interests, I don’t believe I have one true talent and I am ok with that.

24. Dogs hate me. I don’t know why, they just do.

25. I am really good at giving advice, but horrible at following my own advice.

26. I have wanted to get the ombre effect done on my hair ever since it became trendy, but haven’t had the courage to actually get it done. Mainly because I am terrified of color/bleaching damage.

27. When I was about four, my dad ran over my foot with a car. Yes, it was completely by accident and no, I was not a big girl about it.

28. Growing up, I had a lot of math tutors. They would come over on the weekends. I would go to them after school. I dreaded it and none of them were able to work their magic on me.

29. I much prefer making food at home and knowing exactly what is in it/ how it was made than going to a restaurant.

30. I am quite the cry baby. If I see someone crying, I also start crying even if I don’t know what they are crying about.

31. I think that the southwest salad from McDonald’s is ridiculously delicious.

32. I have really bad FOMO. There are a lot of things I do simply because I am afraid of what I could be missing out on.

33. When I was younger, I wanted to be a librarian or a grocery store cashier when I grew up.

34. I strongly dislike flip flops and I would not wear them even inside of my house.

35. I used to have a pet turtle named Otis, but a few months ago he ran away from home and hasn't come back yet.

36. I consider myself to be a very girly girl. I adore getting dressed up. I love makeup and jewelry and fashion. I don’t think I have a single tomboyish bone in my body.

37. I love going to baseball games, but I don’t understand the game.

38. I still have my first doll. Her name is Dorothy and she is missing an eyeball, but I still love her just the same.

39. When I was sixteen, I cut front bangs in my own hair. I would never do it again, but I didn’t regret it for a moment. I just NEEDED to know what it was like to have front bangs.

40. I am a very excitable person about everything in general, but especially with plans. The feeling of looking forward to and planning for something is just as exciting as the thing itself for me.

41. Freshly painted nails make me very happy. Between my sisters and I, we own an inhumane amount of nail polishes and nail art supplies. But if it were just up to me, I could be satisfied with five colors. If you are wondering, they are baby pink, red, lilac, black, and white. Yes, I have thought this through thoroughly.

42. When I went to Germany, I bought a piece of the Berlin Wall to bring home with me. I was the cause for many a laugh after that because everyone kept saying I had paid good money for a fragment of a brick.

43. I have always, and still do, dream of living on a farm with animals and crops. I am totally about that “living off the land” life. Sigh.

44. I absolutely love sending and receiving letters. I have kept every single letter I have ever received in its original envelope in a box in my room.

45. Last year, I donated seventeen inches of my hair. I chopped it off myself as a spur of the moment decision late one night when I couldn’t fall asleep. Some of my best decisions are made at 3 AM lol.

46. I am a really big believer in chivalry. It isn’t dead and when I see it, it’s beautiful.

47. I am horrible at following people back on social media because busy/cluttered news feeds make me anxious.

48. When I was younger, I had an extensive rock collection. Each rock had a human name and I remembered all of the names.

49. I am a huge environment person. I am very particular about not littering and making sure to recycle. I rarely believe in confrontation, but if I see someone in public littering, I will call them out and I will not be subtle about it.

50. As cliché as it may sound, my biggest dream in life is to make a difference in the world. I don’t know what it will be yet, but I want to leave something great behind. God willing.

Well, that's 50! I hope you found this at least a little entertaining to read! I'm curious to know an interesting fact about you, leave it in the comments below!

Hope you have a great day!

xo Aneela

Sunday, January 17, 2016

How To: Breakfast Entertaining Made Simple

My first attempt at making a gif ;)
Around Thanksgiving time, I wrote a post about breakfast ideas I had used at the time since we had family over, but I wasn't able to share original pictures because I didn't get a chance to take any. You can read that post by clicking here

So, to make up for where that post fell short, I am writing another one with original pictures, hoping this one will be a one-stop destination for an entire breakfast arrangement, complete with how to plan out your menu, beverages, and all of that mumbo jumbo. 

Side note: The pictures in this post are from my snapchat. I just made an account for the blog a couple days ago. I don't know how I feel about temporary content yet, but I'm trying it out sharing mostly recipe/outfit pictures and videos because that has been my life these past few days. I hope to share more craft/recipe/organization tips through videos in the future. I also plan on using it as a sort of "behind the scenes" look at the blog. Let me know if there is something you would be interested in seeing in a snap story and I will try my best to make it happen. We shall see where the snap journey takes us! Add me as a friend if you like! My account is: thedesiknotblog 

The Food
I would say, as with most things in life, the middle path is key here. You don't want to skimp on the number of dishes because your guests should feel special, but you also don't want to go overboard because that can be uncomfortable as a guest. The goal is to make your guest feel welcome and avoid awkwardness at all costs. 

For a complete breakfast, I would say it is important to look at the basic food groups and make sure you have a good balance with something from each category. Below I will list out the categories and what we (my mom and I) served for each of them:
  • Fruit: For a simple way to serve fruit. Make a fruit salad! Just cut up the fruits of your choosing and add a splash of lemon juice. The sourness in the lemon will amplify the sweetness in the fruit. Mind blown. I used bananas, oranges, grapes, and peaches. You can use whatever is in season and available in your area. 

  • Grains: For this category, I decided to get fresh pastries from the bakery and arrange them on a platter. I used croissants, cookies, muffins, and scones. I also served sour dough, white, and whole grain toast for healthier carb options.

  • Protein: The easiest protein is egg. We did fried eggs one day and scrambled eggs on another (pictured above). Super duper easy peazy. 
  • Dairy: In terms of dairy, it's really simple to arrange a few different types of cheeses on a platter. You could also serve milk as one of your beverages. More on beverages later in the post. 

  • Vegetables: Veggies are a bit tricky to sneak into breakfast. For our scrambled eggs, we used tomatoes, onions, potatoes, scallions, and cilantro. You could also serve avocado as a side or make green juice. 
This is a personal choice you have to make based on who is visiting, but I would say the magic number is three drinks, other than water of course. Create a balance between hot and cold, caffeinated and juices, etc. Below are some ideas of drinks you could choose from when creating your menu:
  • Orange Juice
  • Green Juice
  • Coffee 
  • Tea (oh glorious tea)
  • Milk
  • Fruit Smoothies

Hope you enjoyed these ideas! What is your favorite thing to have for breakfast? Share below!

xo Aneela

Friday, January 8, 2016

Coming Home // Spoken Word

“Home is where your heart is full. You feel a constant euphoria and you never want to leave that moment that you wish could last an eternity.”

If I leave my house and travel 343 miles north, past the final traces of city life, sometime after the last of even the familiar golden arches of a McDonald’s restaurant, there sits a place perched high on a hill, surrounded by busy clusters of tall trees, that is home.

I have left a vital component of my heart in this place. Yes, without it my heart still continues to beat according to schedule, but it is left to carry out its affairs without the capacity to breathe full satiated breaths.

Breathe in. Breathe out. 


When I am here, my heart is full

I am home, alas, for a short while. 


My mind does not wander to any place outside of these walls. 

I do not merely hear words. I listen for fear that I will forget the quirks and phrasings in her voice. 

I do not simply see. I watch every gesture, intended and otherwise, and commit it to memory. 

I do not speak. I pour out the sentiments building up from this newfound fullness in my heart. 

Then, as suddenly as I showed up at its doorstep, I gather these raw reflections in my heart, scoop up my belongings, and depart to come home to a house.

// To listen to an audio version of this piece, click here //

Thursday, January 7, 2016

DIY Homemade Mini Desserts Party Platter

Hello everyone! Happy New Year to all of you!

I had this post written up and scheduled to automatically publish on January 1st, but technical difficulties ensued (as they do once in a blue moon) and the entire post got deleted. So, that night must have seen a blue moon and I am now about to write this for the second time because better late than never, am I right?

For New Year's Eve, I went to a Great Gatsby themed party at my friends' house in Chicago. It was a beautiful evening filled with lots of laughter, eating, and (failed) Cranium playing. Is it just us or is that an impossibly difficult game?!

We all dressed up in the Gatsby roaring 20's theme. I wore a black and white dress (made by my mom) with lace and fringe across the front with long necklaces, stacked bracelets, and a beaded headpiece. I will include a detail shot of the outfit at the end of this post if you're interested/need inspiration for a future themed partayyy.

Moving on to the reason you started reading this post, for the party, I  made a platter of bite-sized desserts using different kinds of chocolates.

I found the compartmentalized platter at the Dollar Store, so that was a steal! Otherwise you could use a large tray and just put each dessert in a bowl on the tray. Also, the chocolate balls in the center compartment of the tray are from the holiday section at the grocery store. I imagine you could find something similar year-round or you could prove to be ultra domesticated and make those yourself too! ;)

Working clockwise starting at the top of the picture, I will tell you how to make each of the items shown above:

Pretzel Reese's Pieces Hugs
Preheat your oven to 200F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and in a single layer, lay out as many square shaped pretzels as you want to make. Then, place a Hershey's kiss on top of each pretzel, unwrapped of course! Bake in the oven for about 4-5 minutes, until the chocolate looks shiny. You don't want the chocolate to start melting! Watch it like a hawk until the kisses are glossy, but still have their original shape. Remove from oven and immediately press a Reese's pieces candy onto each kiss. And voila! Easy as pie...well I'd say it's way easier than pie actually!

Polka Dot Rice Krispies
For these, you will either need to make your own rice krispy treats or buy already made ones. Cut them into small bite-sized pieces and dip them half-way into the melted chocolate of your choice. Immediately press Reese's Pieces into the chocolate before it hardens to create a polka dot design.

Belgian Chocolate Truffles
Ok ok, these truffles are the more ambitious element of the platter. Who better to teach you how to make Belgian chocolate truffles than a Belgian chef? You can find Chef Eddy Van Damme's recipe by clicking here.

White Chocolate Sparklies
Simply dip one side of square pretzels into white chocolate and sprinkle with some gold edible glitter. I have a slight obsession with Nestle Tollhouse white chocolate morsels. It's so smooth and the crunch from the glitter complements it very well! The sparkle is very Gatsby bling!

Pumpkin Spice Bites
Again using rice krispies, witha knife, cut the krispies into cubes and dip just the top of each into pumpkin spice flavored chocolate. Sprinkle with chocolate jimmies for the finishing touch.

Drowning Gummy Worms 
These gummy worms are drowning, but they don't need a lifeguard to come to the rescue. They are happily drowning in chocolate! Yes, they are as easy to make as they look. Just dip half of each worm into melted chocolate and lay them out parchment paper to cool.

xo Aneela

P.S. All of these treats taste better chilled, so for best results, refrigerate before serving.

P.P.S. As promised, here is a detail shot of my outfit from the Great Gatsby themed party. Darn it, I just realized I forgot to include the headpiece arghhh. Well, I hope you like it anyway and have a great day!