IN PHOTOS : A weekend getaway to the Columbia River Gorge




It was close to sunset when we left our place but made for some beautiful views of Mt Rainier on the way.



Arriving after dark and Anya’s excitement at staying in a ‘hotel’







Skamania Lodge on the border of WA and OR states where we were staying. I bought a last minute Groupon for this place and it was a pleasant surprise.



Next day on the Oregon side of the Columbia River, driving past the Beacon Rock on this chilly day. The rock is a natural formation that was leftover by a volcano.




On the Historic Columbia River Highway, that has views quite a few waterfalls, we stopped by really quick at the Latourell Falls. It was so cold and icy, specially for this area.


The beautiful scenic highway










And the famous Multnomah Falls. I have only seen photos of it in summer and so this semi-frozen version was very different from the image in my head.



Driving up to the Vista House for some gorgeous views of the area. It was crazy windy here, so we didn’t even get Anya out of the car and slipped out only to take some photos ourselves. Gorgeous though.










On the way back to the lodge that night, passing by the snow touched mountains and the views of the many frozen waterfalls and the city lights at dusk. I love how moody dusk time photos look.



Hanging out by the fireplace that night sipping our apple cider and hot cocoa, with Anya inventing her own games with Tumbling Towers and us talking about random things. (Those little bunny slippers my mom bought for her last winters in Pakistan)


Woke up early the next morning for some me-time with a view.






Next morning we woke up to some snow and checked out from the lodge as snowflakes fell all around us.



On the way back there was snow all along until we reached close to our home to Anya’s sadness




Thanks for stopping by. Lots of love.



Looking back. Looking ahead.

Found this in my letters to Anya from two years ago, “It is 2.30 am, 19th Feb 2014, you’re 3 years old. I want to stop time, I want to go back. That baby smell, those chubby rolls. I want time to go on, see you grow and discover and learn, see the world through your eyes, re-live my life through yours. And I can’t decide what I want more. “

Last Friday Anya turned 5 mashaAllah, and I feel the feelings again so for today just some looking back and remembering!


TURNING ONE: Photos taken by A’s Waliya khala in Islamabad as she turned 1 // This is how we celebrated her after we came back home.

2013-02-20 0282013-02-18 Anya is 2 MA 135

TURNING TWO: The day she turned 2 // Here is a photo story of her day.


TURNING THREE: The story of the day she turned 3 // Photos from our Birthday Tea Party


TURNING FOUR: The story of the day she turned 4 // Birthday Playdate with her friends.

More from her big day soon.

Thanks for stopping by. Lots of love.



The month began with us taking a little road trip to the Columbia RIver Gorge area. (More photos in a later post)





After we attended a Kindergarten informational for our school district, it hit me that we just have a few months left where Anya gets to spend most of her day with me. And I have been capturing our afternoons and evenings a lot more and also trying to spend some quality time with her.


I took her along with me to see this Pakistani movie that was playing and it reminded her of her fascination with ‘shadi’ and one day I got I got to do shadi with Ugly Doll. Yay. More about watching Ho Mann Jahaan here.


Surprised my girl with a net canopy over her bed to find when she comes back from school one day.



Trying to capture more of the imperfect pieces of our lives. Came back one morning after dropping Anya and took these to show how not-perfect my house looks many days!



With Bilal working from home a lot too with his new job I miss my alone time at home and really cherish the one day I get most weeks! Also love watching ‘The View’, these ladies and their discussions remind me of my main girls and our discussions. lol. // And dreamy views on the way back from dropping Anya many days. // Making lists as I enjoy my guilty pleasure Coke one day when I reached early at pick up time.



NOTHING LIKE GIRLFRIENDS : An evening with these same main girls as we got together to celebrate a friend’s baby who arrives this spring inshaAllah. Here is what our version of a baby shower looks like, a cozy night-in with a potluck dinner, chai and lots of gupshup. // Also got to meet the amazing mom behind UrduMom when she was in town. Bonding over chai discussions as our girls played around. How fun. // And happy mail when you find a card from the first ever friend I made online. Love her.


Bilal playing his cricket and making me watch the replays and we’re not as excited as we were about the return of X-Files but watching it brings back so many memories.





WEEKEND Evenings // Her sweet message to me before I left for a shoot,  Sunday evening walks, Skype with her taya. And finally we can do family movie nights (Though finding a movie is hard with her)


We introduced her to our KInect finally and she has spent many afternoons playing Dance Central since then.



WEEKENDS out when we go to our favorite park specially when its sunny




NIGHT TIMES in our house: Finishing up dinner as she dances along before Bilal gets home // Random hanging out in the hallway one day as he was on the phone with customer service for our Internet Provider and Anya brought us a picnic // Finishing up some crafting one night



NIGHTTIMES when I enjoy my chai and reading before bedtime in her room as she plays with her doll house More here.  // I put a note my dad wrote in a frame on my nightstand and love having it there



HER ARTWORK: Her artwork, sigh. I can’t keep them all and its so hard to decide. One day she won’t write us all these love letters and I cherish them because of that!


She has started to read and that has been so exciting Alhamdullilah


And the countdown to turning 5 which she has been waiting for the past whole year, has finally begun! You might remember this from here too.


My husband has finally mastered his Kashmiri chai after diligently getting after it for days.


REMEMBERING MY DADDY He passed away on 17th January four years ago and I thought of him a lot this month. More about the memory journal here.


Loving my Quran classes on Tuesday and trying to do a Quran time with Anya on Fridays.


These little moments of me-time that help me stay sane.


Previous Months-in-photos here.

Thanks for stopping by. Lots of love.

(Except for the first few photos from my DSLR the remaining were all taken on my cellphone using this app.)

Room Tour: Nora’s Nursery in Kirkland, WA


Hey lovelies I have a special treat for you lucky guys today. Ever since I first walked into Ayesha’s house years ago, I have been inspired by how beautifully she makes a house feel like home and I am so excited to be able to share her little girl’s nursery today.



Ayesha is a design student and even though she has taken a break from her studies to be with her girls full-time, she has an eye for beautiful things and putting them together in such a way that it seems like they were just made to be together! Her whole house is a labor of love and Nora’s room is just her latest project!


I asked her to share a little bit about the inspiration behind this room and this is what she had to say.

“The moment I found out we were having another girl, the first thing I thought to myself was no pink for sure. I love the color but I don’t like how it is associated typically for everything girls. “


“This room served as an home office for my husband initially and I painted the walls metallic blue to give it a masculine feel. So it all started with the paint color. Who knew it would serve as a perfect color for a baby girls nursery! I opted for white accents to balance the space and wanted the window treatments, crib and accessories to brighten up the space against the dark walls.”


“I knew I was going for a mid-century modern nursery and it worked perfectly, when I incorporated the mid-century dresser I found at value village in the room. It’s my absolute favorite piece.”




And here she is letting in on some of the resources behind this room.

Crib: Amazon (link) There are some great modern crib options these days at fairly affordable prices.

Rug:  Amazon (link)

Rocker: Amazon (link) My husband loves to buy everything from here whenever possible, lol

Gold Pouf: Land of Nod (link)

Shelves: DIY by husband, bought at Ikea.

On Shelves: Globe from Anthropologie  // Zebra Print Courtesy from a friend who took it on a trip to South Africa

Throw: West Elm

Dresser: Value Village from one of my trips there way before Nora was born. I initially used it for my guest room and knew I had to incorporate it in the nursery somehow. I later painted the drawer knobs golden to somewhat incorporate it with the other accents in the room.

Mirror: Anthropologie. I had to buy this sailor mirror. It’s my all time favorite.

Elephant wall sculpture: Marshalls

‘LOVE YOU MOSTEST’ Print: Land of Nod I loved the words the moment I saw this at the land of nod store.

‘DREAM BIG LITTLE ONE’ banner: I did this small DIY banner inspired by my beautiful friend Nataliya.

Yarn Wall Hanging: Handmade gift from a dear friend. She did a wonderful job making it and I love how it looks on the wall. Adds so much texture and warmth.

Lamp: Target

Throw Pillows in crib: West Elm & Ikea

Curtains: West Elm.

Crib Bedding: Land of Nod.

Gold Table: West Elm.

Light Fixture: DIY by me using Y sockets from Home Depot. Here is a similar tutorial

Basket : Land of Nod holding stuffies borrowed from big sister.

Metallic Baby Moccasins: Freshly Picked. Gift from a friend. Cant wait until she grows into them.





While she was here I asked her for her expert advice for anyone wanting to decorate a child’s room and overwhelmed by the whole process. Here is what she had to say.

“My advise when designing a room would be to think outside the box. The baby furniture stores look too appealing with all their matching room themes but they do not necessarily give you the look and feel you want.”


“Go with the flow, pick out the key pieces first and work your way around them. Never shop at one store for everything in a room. Go to thrift stores, flea markets, shop Craigslist for treasures, or go to fancy home stores for accent pieces. It doesn’t have to be a certain theme. It can be anything you like, find or make on your own.  I love that this room can transition seamlessly from baby to teen with only minor tweaks.”

Thanks for being here Ayesha and letting me sharing this sweet nursery. Hope to be able to share more of your home projects in the future.


If you’d like your space to be featured please send me a message on If you live in the Seattle area, I would love to come by to take the photos for you.
And thanks for stopping by sweet readers. Lots of love.

Life Remembered – A Memory Book

2013-01-15 Islamabad 019

On January 19th, it was 4 years since the death of my dad and the first time when I was not with my mom and sisters on the date.  I had bought this journal a few years ago and sat down this month to finally print out all of the messages and memories that have been left for him on Facebook and email and adding them to this. It was so bittersweet, going through all of them, I couldn’t stop tears as some reminded me of so many painful days but in the end it felt so good to do this. My dad was so blessed Alhamdullilah, it is unbelievable the kind of love he received while in hospital and since his passing, we have received messages from countless people, some that we didn’t even know, who told us how he touched their lives. That is such an honor. And adding all those messages in one place felt so good to me!



For those who’s hearts ache with a loss, it helps to be able to do something like this that reminds you of them and their life (Also helps to give some sadqa in their memory). In January as I silently grieved, it helped to do a few of these things that made me feel so much better!



Thanks for reading. Lots of love.

ALSO: Shadow Frame to honor my dad’s memory // Memory Table at my sister’s wedding

Crafts for Kids : Cardboard boxes doll house


One good thing about living in a small place is that you think twice (or many times) before buying large items for your kids, like a doll house. I have so many fond memories of playing with my sister with the doll house my nani nana had given me that I felt sad but made peace with it, till I saw some ideas on Pinterest to make your own. We collected our Amazon delivery boxes for months because we needed only small ones, and then one Saturday morning finally finished this with her watching excitedly!


After we had our boxes, I hot glued scrapbook paper to the walls and the outsides of the boxes to give it some color. The roof part came from a long piece of cardboard from probably an Ikea packaging. The furniture and a few of the figures, my sisters had bought for Anya and now all of her little figures from various play things live here including Elsa, Pluto, the ponies from My Little Pony 🙂  

It is one of her favorite things to play with these days and I love it! I’m sure you’re dying to see some close shots of what’s going on in her little house, so here’s a look 😉





I just left the boxes unglued to each other so she can make her own formations as she likes, like this one day, when it turned into an apartment building!


If you’d like to make one too, here are some ideas that inspired me (1, 2, 3)

Thanks for stopping by. Lots of love.

ALSO: Cardboard Box House // Crafting with Kids // DIY Ideas // In the Kitchen with Anya

Reminiscing, of road trip memories


Road trips always take me back to childhood memories. My parents were very adventurous and both of them loved travelling specially when we were very young. I have so many happy memories of those times with my sisters in the backseat as we travelled to one place or another with our parents. Luckily being from the air force, we kept moving cities and each city brought opportunities for new adventures. On the night before the trip, my mom would dress us up in the clothes for the next day and we’d go to sleep all dressed up. The next day we would be carried to car half asleep, and the journey would begin. My mom would pack a meal for the way, sandwiches, her tasty pulao or something else.


I remember eating our breakfast by a little river in Hyderabad one time and I remember the many many lunches or dinners where we’d stop by at a roadside hotel (or dhaba in Urdu which is a small roadside hotel typically for truck drivers serving very low cost and tasty food). My dad would give them our karahi(wok) or our pot to warm up, order naans and we’d enjoy the meal either in our car or sometimes even inside if they had a ‘room for families’. I remember my dad used to jokingly call them ‘greenu hotel’ because of the garish color of green most of these use to be painted in. Our whole family loved the truck hotel daal and we used to love trying that out during our drives.

I remember the excitement we felt as kids, especially if we were travelling at night. It just felt so adventurous to be up past our bedtimes and just sitting cozy and safe in our cars as we anticipated the arrival of an exciting destination or our home. Nadiya and I had endless games that we loved to play in our car. Of course there were many fights too. The lines in the upholstery of the backseat marked our areas and no one dare even inch a toe into the other’s area. When Waliya came we happily gave her the tiny area between the middle of the two seats and she had to stay in that. (With no rules for booster seats or seat belts, actually few cars even had seat belts in those days, we could move around freely).


A special favorite were trips to our grandparents house in Lahore and once our parents gave us a surprise. We thought we were going to Rawalpindi, from Sargodha. Suddenly we saw some of the famous Lahore monuments but they quickly distracted us telling us they had probably built replicas where we were passing through. We even believed them. In our defense it was night time so in the dark and night lights, many cities look similar, TILL we saw some WALLS billboards and we knew. WALLS ice cream had just arrived to Lahore and another reason we loved coming to the city! Anyways our excitement was beyond imagination:)


We had games we would play in the car. Nadiya and I had one where you had to count the number of VW Beetle cars you found (We called them foxy) and the person finding more would win. The rule was, you had to see it the window on your side or it didn’t count. We even had our version of a computer game that we played with our finger being the figure and us having to jump over the obstacles we found on our side! Good old days really. I feel kind of sad when kids today have to be entertained with DVD players and phones and tablets in the car. Because seriously the creativity that came out of boredom lead to amazing memories for us!


All photos above from my parents photo collections taken on various trips through the years. A white Corolla has been a part of our whole childhood. Except for a few in recent years, most of the cars in my dad’s life were White Corollas:)

Today whenever we make our own road trips, it always reminds me of these memories. Our family is different with my husband and I coming with different expectations so its definitely not the same. My husband’s and my idea of travel are different in many ways too. I like to explore more and of course take lots of pictures. My husband wants to relax mostly and it becomes kind of a challenge if I push him too much or if we end up not doing much. (You know how it feels when there’s a super crabby person in the car when you’re stuck with each other on a long drive?) Ten years down the road, we still haven’t mastered the balance but in between our cracks we are slowly building our own road trip memories repertoire.

Do you have any special road trip memories from when you were growing up?

Would love to hear.

Thanks for reading. Lots of love.