Sunday, December 30, 2012

Best and Worst of 2012

Took a break from the marathon bloggers as I was traveling during the last week, and then not feeling like writing much. But as today is the last day of the marathon, I wanted to get in this one that was our themed post for last week. The Best and Worst of 2012, however we might want to interpret it.


1. I think I will always remember 2012 as the year I found my balance/peace/contentment - from housewife/homemaker to freelance writer ;), becoming a green warrior in my own small way by adopting waste management practices, and scaling up my kitchen garden and learning a lot about the subject too. Some forays into baking were literally the cherry on top :).

2. 2012 was also the year I have got to know a lot of great people, through my blog and the FB groups related to Gardening, Recycling and Foodies. I am not going to start naming them, you know who you are ;). This has been a big change for a somewhat introverted person like me who doesn't usually make new friends easily.


3. The kids, they will always be a part of my best - growing up so fast that I don't know how I will deal with the next phases, yet each age is lovely enough to not make me miss the baby years too much :).

WORST:
1. Top on my worst is also to do with parenting - the year I clearly could figure out my short temper, but still haven't got it in hand. When I have completely realized that having 2 kids means worrying about 3 individuals brushing their teeth, having their baths, putting their things away (yes I am included in that number ;)).. the list goes on. Not that I have to do all of it by myself 24/7, but still I feel like I am the main responsible for these things for the biggest part of the day, and somedays like when I have hit the limit of my temper every single time I tried to get S to eat enough while on a trip it totally feels overwhelming.

2. Terribly tally on movies seen, not that I didn't want to, but somehow did not make it happen.

3. All that was from a very personal perspective, but I cannot end without thinking that a big addition to the worst of 2012 has been the way women are unsafe in this country of ours. Not that this is new in 2012, I think it is only that the events have got more attention lately. I hope the collective voice of the citizens is good enough to make a change, as I would really love for my kids to grow up to a more enlightened India.

Posted on and for Day 31 of the Marathon Bloggers Challenge. I had so much much fun being a part of it :) !

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Innovating with Jenga!




 I bought the game of Jenga a couple of years back before realizing that it's rather too much for a 4 or 5 year old. Ever since then, the kids have found out innovative ways of using the blocks from playing Dominoes with them to building up different structures. This one was the "highest" ever one and therefore the look of achievement on D's face :).



After a while of trying the high structures, S moved to making a train which was also pretty great!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A tomato called Beefsteak?


The first time I heard the  name I definitely went "huh"! What a name for a tomato. But as time and more gardening went by, I definitely got fascinated by this variety and wanted to try growing it myself. These are large sized tomatoes where each fruit can be really large and heavy if it grows well. As luck would have it, my first one was a double one with 2 flowers/fruits stuck together :).




Strawberry flowers appearing at last - this plant has produced a lot of runners and covered a large surface area in a few months, now it is turning its energies to producing flowers, and I'm looking forward to the lovely strawberries in a few weeks!




After months of waiting for yellow zucchinis, at last my plant has produced 3 of them, and I'm hoping the trend will continue. Wish me luck!

The Sweetest Secret Santa

I have never been part of a Secret Santa experience, so I was delighted when Pallavi suggested this as part of our Marathon Bloggers FB group :). Received my gift yesterday, some lovely Christmas tree ornaments that I had hoped for, from Amitha - Thank you for taking the trouble :). Oh yes, in the bit of confusion that was part of the gift delivery, my secret Santa ended up revealing her identity and ended my suspense of the last few days!






Merry Christmas!!

Posted late for Day 24 of the Bloggers Marathon.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

'Tis the Season

to be jolly.. tra la la la la la, la lah la la.

Well, yes, I'm jolly enough, but also verrry busssy and having no time to try and figure out what to write! I wish I was good at taking food photos - could have taken a ton of them in the last couple of days and posted those at least. Instead all I have is this:

My soaking fruits for the Christmas cake

Glass christmas tree ornament

And I'm afraid that'll have to do for today ;). Merry Christmas in advance everyone, I'm hoping to post at least a couple more days before setting out on a road trip to Kerala, but signing off just in case.

For Day 23 of the Marathon Bloggers Challenge #marathonbloggers

Friday, December 21, 2012

10 things on my Bucket List


Our Marathon Bloggers challenge for this Saturday is:

Let us lay our hearts open, and talk about our “Bucket List”, 10 things you want to do before you kick the bucket. It may be a plain and simple bucket list, or a contextual subset, 10 adventures you want to try, 10 foods you want to try, 10 holiday locations you dont want to miss, and the list goes on! Run your imaginations wild and entertain us all :) 10 is just a number, it will be easy for people to read and interact, else sky is the limit.

This is not something I've ever attempted, mainly because I wouldn't know where to stop I guess ;). But here goes:

1. Visit one new destination in India every year, wishlist starts with Rajasthan, Konark, Kashmir.

2. Visit one destination outside India every other year, phoren places start from London, going on an African Safari, parts of Europe that I've seen before but in a very touristy way, and I want to go there again with hubby. Children are not necessarily included in all these trips, as I think some parts of the world need to be attained by yourself to get the right flavour ;).

3. Become a consistent bread baker and manage to bake that perfect loaf of wheat bread - yes boring I know, but it is something I have been wanting ever since I realized the poor nutrition content in most store bought breads. I do not manage to try out the baking very regularly, so I hope a gadget like a KitchenAid (part of my 2013 wishlist) might help! As I was telling hubby today, for all the jewelry I have never bought, I do not need to feel too guilty about wanting appliances ;).

4. Become organized - seriously this is a long journey for me. I want to reach a state where thinking about the meals for the next day doesn't from time to time send me into panic mode (like realizing at 11 pm I have no butter in the fridge when breakfast is supposed to be bread!), where the house is reasonably clean all the time and I don't have to scramble when someone is coming to visit.

5. Gardening has been a passion for a little while now, but as a side effect of point 4 above, I feel like my clutter extends into this space a bit too. If I can plan better on what to plant when, do my fertilizing regularly, and have an expectation of harvest times, I hope to reach a stage where I can grow at least 50% of my vegetables. Even better if it's 100% and a farm!

6. Slight cheat, partly taking from point above, I'm hoping to move as much towards organic foods as I can, in the hope that products certified as organic actually are!

7. Be the most efficient mom I can be - provide super nutritious meals for my kids, be encouraging without being nagging, teach them to follow their hearts.. you get the drift.

8. In between all the above, learn to pamper myself in between too. My hair, skin, feet all need regular attention that I'm terrible at providing.

9. One of the smaller wants - I want to learn to take good food photos - good photos in general, but especially food photos because I seem to usually finish my baking only in the evenings, and at times of low light my lovely Nikon S9100 doesn't serve me very well. I resist buying a DSLR because I cannot yet call myself enough of an enthusiast to deserve it, but hope to figure out to make the best use of what I have as a starting point.

10. Phew! That was tough... thinking very hard on what should make up this last point, and I think it has to be that in the long run I would love to be doing something actively to spread that message of going green. I try to do my little bit, but if I could make even a few others change their thinking I would be really happy about it. I try to do it online anyway, but this is more of a grassroots campaign I am talking about.

Posted for Day 22 and Saturday Challenge of the Marathon Bloggers December Dhamaka :).

Boys and Cars - it always catches up!

Much as I thought S might not get the complete car craziness factor, as he was exposed to a lot of girly stuff thanks to D, and seemed to be happy enough to do their "acting" stunts and sleep with stuffed toys.

Slowly but surely it has been building up, he keeps getting cars as gifts from friends and grandparents, and now it is a daily exercise to have a pile of cars on my oh so lovely wooden carpet, and just make noises and drive them around. I should have seen it coming as he learnt to identify cars on the road nearly as soon as he started forming words at 1.5 years (this is not proud parental exaggeration!). And this is something that persists even now, with us listening to a recitation of "zen, auto, bike, scorpio, auto, auto" - basically every vehicle we pass on the road.

What is it about, that without any specific gender stereotyping whatsoever (D is free to play with them too, but rarely does), such connections are sure to make their presence known ? :).

And yes Jane D, that's yet another question ;). Posted for Day 21 of Marathon Bloggers December challenge.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

What can we do?

Though I'm anyway not a great newspaper reader (get most of my news on FB ;)), in the last few days I just pick up the newspaper and read the first page and then wonder why I even bothered. I know the TOI thrives on sensation, but seriously there seems to be a dearth of "good" sensational news :(.

And the mind of course goes back to the recent rape case in the capital, how could it not? Not the first, and definitely not the last, how much ever of a hue and cry we are all doing to make about it on FB or on the streets. When there exist minds that feel that raping or molesting a woman is an acceptable way of proving power or superiority, how could this situation ever change?

I badly want my children to grow up strong, and being able to face any situation. So what can I do as a parent?
  • Teach them about having a sense of respect, so that they grow up to be good human beings.
  • Talk to them about the perils of interacting with strangers, not just strangers but any adult other than a parent and maybe a teacher (even that only in a classroom environment).
  • Educate them about good touch/bad touch using videos like this one.
  • Send our children to martial arts and self defense classes.
  • Figure out how to keep that channel of communication open so that they'll always feel able to talk to us.
  • And hope, hope, hope!

Posted for Day 20 of the Marathon Bloggers challenge.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Awww moment of the day :)

I am still not too much in the writing mode, thinking of the fast approaching Christmas, and all the stuff I have not done is getting to me. I need to have a whirlwind 2 days now to catch up with the baking and putting up the tree!!

But I could not resist noting down this one. I may have mentioned here before about how S is a really affectionate child and very free with his hugs and kisses at the moment. I know this is unusual with boys especially as they grow older, so I was telling him today:

Me: S, you are such a konji (difficult to translate!) now, you love to hug Amma. But when you grow older, if you stop doing it, Amma will be very sad.
S: When I'm 5 years old?
Me: Yes!
S: No I'll surely hug you when I'm 5 years old.
Me: But what about 6 years, 7 years, 8 years, 9 years, 10 years?
S: Even when I'm Thirty Five years old I'll hug you !

Happy Mommy :) !

And that's my post for Day 19 of the #marathonbloggers. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

In Memoriam


Ever since I heard the news, there's a weight on my heart. I cannot even imagine what the parents and family of the victims of the Connecticut shooting would be going through. The very thought of our kids getting hurt is enough to send us into a frenzy sometimes, and to lose them forever is something that no parent ever wants to even think about. Though politics and decision making is far from my usual thoughts, if laws and lawmakers cannot protect 6 year olds what are they for?

A group of us bloggers wanted to take a day of silence to honour the memory of these kids, and to send our collective prayers to the parents and families. You are in our thoughts, and we ardently hope a horror like this will never happen again.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Learning responsibility

I received this in my monthly Babycentre mailer reminding me that S is now 4 years and 9 months old!



Learning responsibility
Having something to dote on, like a plant or pet, is great training for your child's budding sense of responsibility. That doesn't mean you should bring home a puppy just yet, unless you plan to do most of the work yourself. Your child is far from ready to take full responsibility for an animal. What she is ready for, though, is a chance to help out with small jobs that make her feel useful and teach her what living things need.


Pets, now are something I have never been used to as a child, and am still not completely comfortable with. Plus I see one more being to pottytrain as the end of the rope, and absolutely refuse to do it! The kids know that if they want pets, they're going to need to be old enough to take care of her/him themselves. Even then I get the occasional query from D of "Amma, can we get a dog?" and it gets tougher each time to say a firm no :(.

Though I am still definitely on the fence on this one, I know many of you do have pets and kids, so I was wondering how do you manage? Could it be because you yourself are a pet kinda person without making any special effort about it?

On the positive side, at our home, my plants are living beings enough at the moment, and S has a blast trying to help me water them on weekends :). 

This post is written for #marathon bloggers Day 16.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Saturday Challenge - Day 15

I ran. Fast. Out of breath. Lungs bursting. Legs hitting the earth. I thudded up the path, around the corner, right up the stairs and reached the door. I flung it open and .................

As usual I was too late to save the milk that I had left on the stove from boiling over! Argh that smell of burnt milk after it has reached the stovetop.. it's one of the worst smells ever.. and I can literally smell it in my dreams sometimes!

Why oh why do I refuse to just leave it on sim so that I never have to undergo this again.. oh yes.. because it's just so SLOW!

Other things I have managed to "forget":

- the Geyser switch - we have a solar arrangement that has a built in heater to use on those cloudy days. One hour or so will give you super hot water, but you will be surprized that leaving it on for a day does not supply your needs for the next 24 days :(.

- the Aquaguard - this one is truly amazing. I have the biggest water container ever, and we boil water after it passes through the aquaguard. So I put on the water, it seems to be filling so very slowly, so I leave it to go do other chores and then come back. Next thing I know, I hear the sound of falling water after it has overflown to the slab, onto the floor :(.

- Boiling water - ever lost a vessel as the water in it evaporated and the bottom got absolutely burnt? I have - a couple of times!!!

- The roti on the flame -- especially when it's that last one and I "just" step away from the stove for a second, to come back to burnt roti (can be dosa sometimes too!).

- Stuff in the fridge - put leftover dough into a dabba to use the next day, leftover veggies as they were soo good I just had to have them the next day - it's a wonder if I remember just one out of ten times of storing stuff :(.

This post is part of the Marathon Bloggers series, we were given a lovely beginning by the lovely Jane (who unfairly took herself out of the challenge ;)), and were supposed to finish it in whichever way we pleased. Sorry for the pedestrian ending to your brilliant beginning Jane, but I quickly realized that fiction is so not my thing :) !

Survey - What to read next?

A recent discussion on Enid Blyton, and how many of us are big fans, reminded me of this one lying in my drafts :).

D is 7 going on 9 reading age ;).. She reads a lot of Enid Blyton, probably because I introduced her to it and she took to it. So now she's done with a lot of the Naughtiest Girl, Faraway Tree, O'clock tales level of books and also all the Secret Sevens and most of the Famous Fives. I've tried nearly every type available in the local library, and now I think we've nearly exhausted the EB options :(. Roald Dahl is the only other author whose children's books I am reasonably confident about and have tried.

Now comes my quandary, I have no idea what could be the other authors that I could pick up for her next! I tried Harry Potter a few months ago, but it was still a bit too much then. In any case if she reads them at her usual pace, she'll be on to the slightly PG level of the later books before she's actually prepared for it.

Now that I have quite a few moms reading the blog (captive audience? ;)), I thought this would be a good place to ask - please give me some ideas! The main thing to keep in mind is her reading level is a little bit higher than many kids her age, but similar to any other reading-crazy kid I guess :).

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Who's up for a light dinner?

Let me start with 2 pieces of information:
1. I HATE standing for hours in the kitchen trying to make stuff, so much so that I will (without much muttering) eat the occasional chalta hai type food from my cook, as I know what an effort it is, and how much I would suffer without her :).
2. I take awful food photos, so the following one does not do it justice :(.


Though we're not much of a tiffin at night kinda family, I decided to try it tonight for a change. Now I hate to keep the dosais in the hot case, and then find them warm but all soggy, so even though my maid came and went as usual, I just HAD to stand over the stove, and make them all hot and crisp and ready to eat :). They're even better when they're super-thin, get really crisp, nearly stick to the iron tawa to get all those browned and lovely flavours!

The accompaniments were ghee and sugar for the kids (don't know when they'll enter that chutney/sambhar phase!), and some yummy Thengaipodi (coconut lightly fried with some dals and spices and then powdered) made by mom for me. Also some steamed broccoli so that the kids do not miss out on the veggie component ;).

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I have a life?

Ok, this is a total from-my-heart post, or you can call it a filler if you will ;)

I kept trying to find time to blog yesterday, but it just wasn't working out. Had a meeting in the morning, then went out with Dad for some long-postponed shopping, caught up on some gardening in the afternoon and then was out the whole evening! I had a life nearly completely away from my online existence for once, and it was a bit of a surprise!!

My hubby has started joking that whenever we go out somewhere I meet one of my "FB" friends ;)! Well it's not (yet) true really, but FB has been the starting point of me meeting a lot of amazing people, many of whom I actually can call "friends" now!! I have never been a very outgoing person otherwise, but after chatting online for hours with another person, you cannot be quiet when you meet in person I guess :).

So this post is for the many wonderful people I have met and connected with through FB, the latest being my partners-in-crime for the Marathon Bloggers challenge!

This is for my missed Day 12 for the #marathonbloggers.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My newest tomatoes.. and some pest strategies

My terrace is under attack! First it was aphids, and though they were slightly reduced by a couple of applications of neem spray, they keep coming back in renewed numbers :(. The other culprit (and I HATE these critters) are the mealy bugs.. from dampness to the plant not being strong enough - there could be many reasons for this infestation. I am still trying to figure out what to do for this, and am hoping the latest suggestion of watered down whisky will help with this - for the plants, not me ;).

All the pests have made me less enthusiastic about clicking snaps of my garden, but today I took my camera along and looked around for something to cheer me up. These are the first flowers on my beefsteak tomato plants, and the size of the flower is hopefully an indicator to the tomato itself ;)


The other newly blooming plant is a cherry tomato variety, given to me by a friend, a lady famous for her jams :). Looking forward to seeing yellow cherry tomatoes from this one soon!


Posted for Day 11 of the Marathon Bloggers challenge.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Challah time!

Day 10 of the Marathon, and I'm starting to grasp at straws a bit, in between trying to get some other work done, and still find something interesting to write here - I remembered the challah I had posted on FB and had promised to put up the recipe of :). So here it is!

This one is from a Breadworks workshop that was arranged for us (for free!), us being a group of us from the Foodies in Bangalore group on FB who were the first to apply (Fastest Fingers First type of arrangement) for it. Much thanks to Chef Maurice Chaplais who was very patient with all our first-timer queries and to Mr. Cherian Philip for the kind initiative.

The recipe is for 6 pieces, so you have to edit according to the space of your oven, didn't want to do too many divisions and confuse everything, so writing it here as is:

1485g White flour
250g Butter
85g Milk powder
28g Salt
28g Improver (this is something we used at the workshop but I made at home without it and there was no problem)
85g Dark sugar
6 eggs plus 6 yolks
590g Water
28g Fresh yeast (I used instant yeast, found the conversions online)

Did I mention you need a digital weighing scale for this one ;) ?

1. Mix all to window, make into ball and bulk 1 hour - that was the original recipe. Just wanted to add that the dough will seem absolutely squishy squashy and scary, but you need to just use those scrapers and your kitchen slab as your workspace and go ahead and knead. The technique was a sort of pull and fold, that I can't explain further, probably you can check out some videos online. The "window" refers to when the dough when pulled into a thin film will look like a translucent window!

2. Fold and leave 40-45'' - This is after the first proofing, when you pick up the dough, slightly stretch it into a rectangular shape. Then fold over from one edge, and then the other to make a square. Cover and leave again for a second rise.

3. Divide into 6 pieces of 450g each

4. Divide each piece into 3 and roll into lengths thicker in the middle than on the edge, and braid - Not too difficult except for the stickiness of the dough, if you've ever plaited hair before ;).

5. Brush with egg wash on top and dip/sprinkle poppy/sesame seeds. Prove again for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Under prove rather than over prove.

6. Bake deck @ 200 degrees C for 25 mins
7. Then bake in convection @180 degrees C for 20 mins - This deck part was a bit of a mystery, so I just baked at the temps given, in my oven. 

And that's what mine looked like :). Didn't have sesame seeds handy and was too enthusiastic to wait until I bought them ;). Unfortunately did not take one after cutting, but the crust was lovely too.


 Happy Baking!

Homework - whose work?

It's 10:30 in the night, and I'm printing out some pictures that D wanted for school tomorrow. Yes PRINTING - searching for pics in magazines is not the done deal anymore, as D told me a few weeks back when I was persuading her to flip a few pages and look for them.

"But everyone prints it now amma!" - she informs me.

Now I'm a complete Last Minute person, so though I had the pics ready, printing them was left to the end of the day. And what happens - today was the day when the printer decided to tell me - cartridges are not available! Not EMPTY which at least I could blame myself for not noticing, but a vague error message that I've never seen before.

How accomplished do I feel now, to have found some hitherto unknown menus (apparently holding the power key with the "X" key gives some options) - with the help of dear friend Google of course, and actually resolved the problem, by re-installing the cartridges - which was not the way explained on Google ;).  Doesn't happen very often that I win over a machine, especially when I'm desperate and having visions of what a bad mom I am, but YAY at least it happens sometimes!

Phew!! So I don't have to send D without her precious pictures and worry about what impressions I'm conveying to her teacher. What all ideals we have to live up to nowadays!!!

Will this teach me to not leave stuff to the last minute? Hmm... will have to wait and see ;).

And this will have to do for my Day 9 post ;)

Friday, December 07, 2012

Blast from the Past!

Wow, how tough was this theme for me! This is for Day 8 of the Marathon Bloggers challenge, where we are having one post a week based on a theme. The first week's theme is "Blast from the Past!" and my first instinct was to write about something to do with the kids. But then, that is the kind of stuff I have always been writing about on this blog, so I kept looking around in the hope of finding something different :).

And at last after some "inspiration" from the direction of other posts in the group, I realized that for me, this term would have to link back to college days! The days when cameras used film rolls, and we used to have a Photography department who were the only ones who usually took photos on campus during special occasions. This was in the mid 90's and I'm sure the situation is quite different now, with most kids owning phones and digicams themselves, but oh the charm of those days :)!

This was a photo taken with a friend of mine, whom I have completely lost touch with. She got married soon after we graduated, and I had even attended her wedding at Tirupati. But soon afterwards, and before the age of social media, we drifted apart. And now even with FB around, I as well as others have been unable to "find" her! Which is very mysterious in this connected age!


So this one's for you Harini, known to all of us as Honey. You are on our mind, I hope we get back in touch!

My first successful ice-cream !

I recently picked up a Kenwood Ice cream maker - an impulsive decision as it looks "soooo cute!" See here if you don't know what I mean ;).

My first trials were a couple of vanilla ice creams - used both the essence and the bean - but wasn't too happy with the results. Wasn't sure what I did wrong but it felt like they had too much (if there is such a thing) of a creamy aftertaste. And then I tried this amazing Fig ice cream recipe using fresh figs. And I have a confession to make - this was the first time ever that I had seen what figs look like when they are fresh :O !!

The recipe is from David Lebovitz - you can see it here. I used both the Milky Mist Fresh cream, and the Amul Fresh Cream with decent results. The figs were from Town Essentials (www.towness.com) and I also tried a second time with Orange juice and orange rind instead of lemon as I hate trying to rind those miniscule lemons!

I didn't manage to get a good shot of the ice-cream as that was consumed all too soon, but here's one at the jam stage:

Phew! This one was lying in my drafts for a while, just to save me for Day 7 ;).

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Butt-ed out?

One of those hilarious instances that happen all the time that I don't always manage to note down...

D is 7 and a half years old, and a voracious reader to boot. Once in a while I read something "with" her just to see she's understanding all the words, you guessed it - she surprizes me with knowing a lot of the  elaborate words too.

This happened last evening - S has some allergy in his eyes, so in trying to keep him from doing anything to strain it, we had a long story session. I read 2 stories, D read 1, then D wanted to tell her "own" made-up story. I started walking around and doing something else by now, but suddenly heard her use the word "butted" in the story - about a cow butting somebody.

S: What's the meaning of butted?
D: It's when you push somebody with your bum.

5 seconds of "Hunh?!" from me, and then it struck!!! My perfect little monster did have a few doubts after all :)

P.S: For Day 6 of Marathon Bloggers, I think this challenge has made me note down more embarassing stuff than I ever used to, my kids are not going to thank you ;).

P.P.S: I hope the kids are going to say/do something funny tomorrow!

Green this, Garden that

Well, it's Day 5 of our #marathonbloggers challenge, and here I am down with a bad cold, and in no mood to write. So I thought this is a good day to rehash some of my garden photos that I haven't updated on this blog for a while :). Bit of a cheat, but well, better than nothing.

Here's one click that I'm terribly proud of - loved that the lighting and the angles worked out to bring out the beauty of the subject. It's the flower of a guava variety - I thought it was a cherry guava, but that's currently in question. Let me just call it a variety of maroon guava :).


This one's not a great shot(taken in the night) but just a nice memory of my first couple of passion flowers :). It was good that I didn't fuss about the flash and took the photo at least, cos by morning they were all closed up!


That's it for now.. more recent photos coming up soon, seems like the weather or the light or something is never "perfect" when I go to take photos nowadays, perfectionist with minimal knowledge anyone :) ?

Monday, December 03, 2012

Sweating....

on the bed?

I usually don't write about too much stuff that would embarass the kids when they grow up and read my blog (now that's WHEN and not if ;)). But this one I just couldn't resist.

Happened a couple of days ago - S moves to our bed in the middle of the night, he's been having a big of a cold and cough so has been restless at night. In the early morning, when amma and appa have woken up and are busy with other stuff I hear a fit of coughing, then his voice:

Ammaaaa, please come and change my nightdress!

Me: Why S, did you do moocha (pee) on the bed?

S: No no, it's because I'm sweating so much my clothes are wet.

Me: Ran to investigate and of course you know what had actually happened.

How do kids get so inventive? !! Good strategy as it makes amma roar with laughter instead of telling him off about it ;).

Sunday, December 02, 2012

The Kindness of Strangers...

.. is a term I have heard around the place, but never actually experienced much. After all, kindness is not easily found nowadays, and especially from strangers!! We also seem to get into the habit of looking at unknown people suspiciously and teach our kids to be wary of "strange" uncles and aunties too.

This post is part of the Marathon Bloggers initiative, one post every day in December. Too lazy right now to update with the stamp and all, will do that tomorrow, but if in case anyone reading is not a part of it and wants to join, do check out the FB group Marathon Bloggers.

Just drove back from Chennai, which is a relaxed 5-6 hour drive for us usually. But today was the day S decided to throw up all the contents of his stomach all along the way :(. Nearly every half hour after we started from Chennai, there were some mini explosions in the car, that even the experienced with car-sickness ol' me was unable to contain.. End result: splatters all over the car, including our clothes (Mine and S) and needing to wash and change 4 times. For S, we could just stand on the roadside and do that, but me obviously needed a nook somewhere.

Scene 1: Roadside thatch roof veggie shop, where the ladies very accommodatingly came out and let me go sit inside and change.

Scene 2: An auto garage that had some sort of toilet, where I could do a quick change.

Scene 3: Our water was also done by then, and I just stopped at a house (small one) on the side and asked for water. A young boy - actually got me a 2 litre bottle of cold water to drink! How very sweet!! I gave it back and asked for water for washing, for which he unhesitatingly gave me a vessel/lota with water in it to use. I also managed to evict an entire family from their one room house where they were watching TV for changing into what was my last set of clothes (It was a 2 day trip after all, and I kept my fingers crossed that it wouldn't happen again!).

I was just amazed and touched at the willingness of people to help. After the first incident, I was on the verge of turning back towards my parents-in-law's home thinking we would just stay the night and leave again the next morning, but each experience taught me that the world is not too bad after all :). Reached home finally post 8, and S is doing ok as of now, fingers crossed!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

HAARAM.COM, STOP POSTING OUR POSTS ON YOUR SITE WITHOUT OUR PERMISSION!


A bunch of us bloggers have noticed that you have listed our blogs and have been copying our entire posts on to your site for which we neither signed up nor gave explicit permission. Hence would appreciate if you could stop doing that and take our blogs off your site ASAP.
Consider this a gentle reminder from our end..for now.
We may not be so gentle the next time, for this is a serious issue of copyright violation..
Thank you.
All of us

Bread Blogathon contd - Healthy Bread in 5

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day is by the authors Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François, who also wrote Artisan Bread in Five Minute a Day. The concept of this book is to use a lot more of whole grains in the recipes, and as my quest has been to figure out that perfect whole wheat bread, I had to pick this one up!

After a weeks of dilly dallying, I tried the first recipe at last during the last week. What makes these recipes even more doable for me is the fact that these are no-knead recipes! I have a few issues with my neck, which make it really tough to do the usual "knead to window" kind of recipes :(. Well the results of my first trial were pretty pretty decent, so I thought I should put it down here. I will put down the basic proportions and details, but not the complete recipe as-is from the book, as I'm not sure if that would involve any violations. In case anyone reading has any specific doubts that I might have missed out, do ask away and I'll try to clarify.

This is from what they call the Master Recipe, which makes enough for 4 free form loaves, or 2 loaves of Sandwich bread.

Whole Wheat Flour - 5 1/2 cups

All purpose flour - 2 cups

Granulated yeast - 1 1/2 tbsp (I used instant yeast, so reduced the quantity to 75%)

Salt - 1 tbsp

Vital Wheat Gluten - 1/4 cup

Lukewarm water - 4 cups

Cornflour or parchment paper for the pizza peel

1 - 2 tbsp of whole seed mixture like sesame for sprinkling on top

The 5 minutes that is a part of the title of the book refers to the preparation time that you actually need to spend before baking a loaf. It really is an accurate claim, much to my surprise!


Mix all ingredients mentioned up to the water, using a wooden stick, no kneading required at all. Only mix until everything comes together well. Use the mixing bowl itself, or a large container with enough space for the rise, and leave it out for 2 hours until the mixture has doubled in size and nearly started to collapse or flatten on top. Now put it in the refrigerator and leave it to "develop flavour". This dough can be refrigerated for up to 14 days, and it is recommended to at least leave it overnight before your first loaf. For the first 48 hours in the fridge, leave the lid open a crack, so that any gases formed can escape easily.

I was most satisfied with my sandwich loaf, so that is what I will be describing here. The book recommends using only non-stick pans but I used a normal metal/aluminium one with no problems at all. The shaping involved for this loaf is also supposed to be a very quick exercise not involving more than 20-30 seconds of work else the dough will get overworked. For the "Hearty Whole Wheat Sandwich loaf" remove 2 pounds of dough and quickly shape into an oval shape. Stretch it out a bit and put it into the prepared loaf pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise for 1 hour 45 minutes.

For most other recipes, a baking stone is recommended but it is not strictly necessary when you are using a loaf pan. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (for at least a half hour if using the baking stone). Put in a broiler tray at any level that would not interfere with the rising bread - this is used for forming that great crust with the steam that is generated. Just before baking, paint the top with water and make diagonal cuts on the top. Sprinkle the seeds if required and bake for 40-45 minutes. Pour 1 cup of water in the broiler tray if using that method just before closing the oven door.

Phew!! Hope that all made sense, let me know if I missed out any details. In my oven I also use an aluminium foil over the top after the halfway mark as the loaves get blackened/burnt on top otherwise.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

How to teach your kids to be independent ;)

Does anyone out there feel like kids nowadays seem to get coddled and protected a whole lot more than we used to? I know I am guilty of this behaviour too, for example, I refuse to let my kids go "out" on the road in front of home - I have no trust in their road sense, and especially no trust in the driving sense of those on the road (Ok that's a whole new post, in fact I wrote one a while back about road rules)!!

In wondering about what all we can do to make our kids more confident and independent, I realized I'm already doing a little bit, here goes:
  1. D has been having her own bath since she was less than 5 years old. Started out not so efficient of course, but in a few months she started doing a very good job of it! My present task at 7 years, is to see if that shampoo wash can also be shifted off my shoulders ;).
  2. S insisted on having his bath nearly from the time he was 4, thanks to seeing his older sis do it. I protested initially, but then decided to try it out. So this means that some patches don't get washed on a daily basis, and I also get a call of "Amma! Has the soap gone from my back?" everyday, but I can live with that.
  3. I refuse to "do" any of my kid's homework, definitely not writing anything for them and even to the extent of not telling them any answers that they can work out for themselves. The occasional distress call for Hindi homework by D has to be answered though I try to push it to the limit by making her come up with as many words as possible before helping out.
  4. In the hope of teaching them to clean up, I will remind them 10 times(10th at the top of my voice of course!) but not put away their stuff myself. Of course hubby says I don't set a very good example as I don't put away even my own stuff, but that's a whole different story ;).
  5. D & S both started wearing their own clothes as early as they were able to, and now D's clothes are at her level so she can choose them herself. The part about not pulling out the one at the bottom of the pile to lead to an avalanche, she is yet to learn :). And I learnt how difficult it was to try to teach kids to wear underwear that doesn't have a design on the front of it - S holds it up and checks with me every time I give him one of these - "Is this correct?" - before putting it on.
  6. The eating category is a bit more of a challenge, with D starting to eat on her own around 4 years - she used to spend hours at it, but now she's quite a pro! S is definitely leading us more of a dance, with his response to "Let's see who finishes first!" being "I can't eat SO fast!" and opting out of the competition in the first place ;).
Hehehe.. so you see the trend - more independent kids -> More "ME" time ;). Any more "how to make them independent" ideas out there, do leave a comment and let me know!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The rest of the Goa Holiday

Yes, I titled it before starting, am determined to finish it off in this one ;).

Day 3 started with a visit to the Pascoale Spice Village. It is not really a plantation, more a tourist attraction of organically grown spices as a demonstration. We also had an organic meal here.

Here's a feni making arrangement:








This gentleman very smilingly climbed the trees to demonstrate, he actually leaped from one tree to the next amidst our holding our breaths :).












The famed peri-peri chilly which is supposed to a be a super-spicy variety. We had a papad made with this chilly for lunch and boy, was it hot!! I couldn't even finish a half papad.


I also visited their nursery (of course!) and picked up a couple of plants there.


Drove around a bit in the afternoon, and decided to try an early dinner with some relaxed beers at Martin's Corner, but found that the place opened only by 6:30. So instead of twiddling our thumbs, we got the car washed at this quaintly situated car wash in the middle of nowhere, who did a very efficient job at Rs. 150!

Some lovely tilework outside Martin's Corner
Day 4 started with a visit to Ancestral Goa also known as BigFoot at Loutolim, Goa. It is a museum that has illustrations of life in Goa in the early days, and is very well organized with recorded audio guides for each exhibit. Here's D  posing pretty:






Lunch was at a well recommended restaurant called Fernando's Nostalgia that was also in Loutolim, and then back to the resort for our last evening in Goa.




Signing off with a photo at our resort beach on our last evening at Goa:

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Goa Holiday - Part II


So it was Day 2 at Goa, and I found to my surprise that most things we wanted to see were faaar away! Yes my research wasn't perfect it seems, I had looked for places to see, but left the google maps part for later so that was a bit of a bummer. We were in the Club Mahindra Varca Beach resort which is nearly as south as it goes in Goa, and a lot of the sightseeing and beaches were in North Goa.





We set out with Apple maps for support (not much help!) but finally managed to be on our way to the Basilica of Bom Jesus that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Very picturesque and lovely architecture, it is also famous as it holds the remains of St. Francis Xavier.






Candles lit with wishes and prayers and thanksgiving













The lovely view of the outside of the basilica






Lunch was at a restaurant called O Coqueiro which is famous as the place the notorious Charles Sobhraj used to frequent and got arrested at! We tried a couple of Goan specialties, but it was the kid's sizzler that was the best of the lot :)!












Fascinated by the ceiling fixtures once more ;)


Next stop was the Fort Aguada, of Dil Chahta Hai fame, which was every bit as picturesque as I remembered. Going up the steep (though short flight of) steps reminded me of how much I needed exercise, but the view after climbing was totally worth it!

We quickly touched upon a couple of North Goa beaches as I was getting very doubtful of heading back in that direction in the next couple of days. The first was Anjuna, which was a rocky beach (unless we missed some part of it). We missed the famous Anjuna flea market though I had been looking forward to it, as when I was browsing around I found that it was only on Wednesday evenings (and to expect to drive that additional 40+ kms when we had just arrived in Goa was definitely overkill). D was not happy with the climbing over rocks bit, and complaining about "why we had to go to a rocky beach, why not a normal beach?!" :).

And then she was happy to reach Calangute! Picturesque all right, though quite crowded as expected in holiday season.

And that was the end of a long Day 2 :).

Monday, October 29, 2012

The long awaited Goa holiday!

 After trying to book our resort of choice at Goa in the last couple of years, we finally made it happen this year, thanks to making our bookings 6 months in advance :O !! And well, it was quite a lovely holiday, so all that planning effort was quite worth it.

In our hotel room
First decision, we wanted to drive down, which means hubby had to be geared up to a LOT of driving, as I don't drive much on the highway. As we were not sure of how long the kids could take in the car, we decided to take a break at Hubli along the way. It was my first try booking a hotel completely based on online feedback, and it was a pleasant surprize. Ananth Residency at Hubli was a lovely hotel, with nice rooms and very decent food. We pretty much lazed around for the rest of the day, after reaching there in time for a late lunch.

What an awesome location for a house!




We left from Hubli at a leisurely pace as we had a check-in time of 2 pm at our resort in Goa. Though we underestimated the ghat roads a bit, and reached closer to 3 pm.











We were received by a gentleman with a guitar strumming and playing our songs of choice, which the kids were greatly impressed by of course. We slowly started getting an idea of the distances involved in going anywhere in Goa, and decided to spend the first evening at the resort beach and not try too much adventurous stuff.




Starfish on the beach





The kids had a blast on the beach, as it is not an ordinary experience for them in landlocked Bangalore. It is so wonderful to see such enthusiasm from children, as otherwise it feels like we have become quite jaded with "just going to a beach" type of fun!










Back to our suite for some cleaning up and horsing around :).














Catch of the day at the Dune Shack which was our resort's beachside restaurant. You had to buy one whole fish, which they would then prepare in whichever style you wanted it to be. We chose a Kingfish and had it partly fried, and partly in a coconut based gravy.












What a bad foodie I am.. found the pattern of the lamps more interesting to click ;). Though the food was really good too - easily our best meal in Goa. Breaking the suspense already!






And of course with my enthusiasm for photos, this one is getting too long ;). Parts 2, 3 and how many ever more needed to follow soon!