Thursday, December 1, 2016

Saying Good-Bye to Trolley

6 years ago, we landed in a new continent, a new place during winter, it was the coldest season we had ever experienced. With very less public transportation, there was great deal of help we received from friends but we had to have a car to commute. After all the online look-ups, talks with car dealers and friends, we chose her :)
She didn't have a name then, but had a gender 'she' She was a grey Hyundai Elantra Sedan
It was with her, we had our first drive of the beautiful place around, it was with her we learned to drive on the right (or the wrong side) of the road. She rode miles and miles with us like a great friend. She kept us warm on the coldest drives during winter and cool on the hotter days.

In all smiles inside Trolley

 My fondest memories were were driving her to the hospital appointments when i was carrying Aarav.
Aarav's first drive from the hospital to our home when he was just four days old!

Aarav was three years old when he decided to name her trolley, borrowed from the cartoon, Daniel tiger's neighborhood

When time had come to give her away, it felt like we had her just yesterday, it felt like we had her for a hundred years, Time, it has a magical way of mounting and subsiding at the same time..!

cars aren't people. They aren't even pets. They dont even die so much as we consent to kill them; barring catastrophic collision, almost any car problem can be fixed for the right price, but giving away trolley felt significant.
we mentioned to Aarav that Trolley would go away and he wasn't happy, there were times he threw a tantrum and cried we shouldn't give her away.

GoodBye Trolley, Dec-1-2016
The day had come and when they took her away, it felt intense.
Vinay or I, no one said anything. I cannot explain the gravity of that moment. it was everywhere in the air. Trolley's presence felt real, it was never alive but that didn't make death any easier.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Rich Fruit Cake


In my childhood days, during Christmas there would be a cake exhibition with some cool, fancy cake exhibits, we never missed going to. We’d buy the "oh-so-yumm" Christmas fruit cake and return home all happy!  Fruit cakes are a favorite with my family.

One of my favorite thing to do is bake. LIVE LOVE BAKE, right? :) 

However, it was my first time baking a fruit cake. Last year, 4 days before Christmas a friend of mine called and said, she’s hosting a pot-luck party for Christmas. This gave me an occasion to bake,  I was so excited! 

I pestered my sister, who is a Pro-baker, a sweet heart, a tough cookie, a hotel –management graduate, a rising sales professional and my honey bunch sugar plum to give me the best recipe.
I made the cake and oh’ my, that truly was one of my best cakes! This 1967 recipe, she shared was the best. She found it on Pinterest.  
With its two key ingredients, rum and butter--it ought to be a hit!
This morning I saw “100 days to Christmas” in more than a couple of places and I thought I must share this christmaseyy recipe on my blog!
Rich fruit cake (serves 12)
100 grams of fruit and peel mix (I used the Old English fruit and peel mix)
1 cup chopped raisins
1 cup Sultanas
1/3 cup chopped red glace’ Cherries
2/3 cup of blanched almonds, chopped
½ cup Brandy or Sherry
2 cups of plain flour
4 teaspoon of baking powder
½ teaspoon of ground cloves
½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1 cups of butter softened
1 1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon lemon essence or finely grated lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
4 large eggs at room temperature
Place currants, sultanas, raisins and mixed peel, glace cherries and almonds in a large bowl and mix well. Sprinkle with Sherry or brandy.
I used Brandy – Thanks to my friend Rashmi who gave me top shelf stuff!
Cover and set aside for 1 hour or overnight to macerate – I let it soak for 2 days.
Preheat oven to 320 Fahrenheit (160 Celsius)
Grease a deep cake/loaf pan and line base and side with two layers if brown paper and a payer of parchment/baking paper. Sift flour and spices.
Beat the butter, sugar and essences in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Add the egg one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately fold in fruit and flour mixtures until well combined. – the mixture should be stiff enough to support wooden spoon. Spoon mixture into prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake for 31/2 to 4 hours or until skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside in the pan to cool completely.
I received some flattering, rave reviews for my cake, the party was great and it was a Merry Christmas for us all!


Undoubtedly, I am making it this year too, Happy Baking to you all!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Back to work!

One of my posts BreakFREEeee was me frustrated and putting into words those feelings, I missed my work life.
All of us need to vent and that one of my venting posts.

Now, I look back and that part of my life taught me a few things.
  • I learnt to be selfless, a better human being
  • To be patient
  • Learn how I was irreplaceable
  • Learnt to develop a new expertise, a new skill. Dancing or Baking!
  • Believe in Magic
  • Peace - Not be torn between home and work

I must say, I enjoyed and  cherished moments of being a full time mommy.

Now, our son Aarav grown up to be a fine 4 year old. I and my husband wonder, how is it possible that out of all the little boys in the whole world.. My husband and I got the best one?!
He never stops to amaze us! It is an absolute joy being his mother.

After a 4 year break, I did rejoin the corporate world.
The journey began March,2015 we filed for my H1 (work permit Visa for those on H4s).
I was picked through a lottery system , that was the first ray of hope!

My next step was face interviews, I started my study to groom myself for interviews, this time not as the interviewer but as the interviewee.
I say this because, 5 years ago, I free-lanced for a company and one weekend, I and a colleague of mine interviewed about 100+ candidates during a job fair. It was a long day!

May, June, July & Aug of 2014 were all about studying, Q&A, taking tests and may be a movie or two! October, I had my work permit, Hurray!
End of the year,  holiday mood was - "ON" and so there wasn’t much activity.

October 2014, I free-lanced as a Business Analyst for a Company, first paycheck was happiness!
I was thrilled to get a full time job in the start of 2015, for today it has been over 7 months and I feel like they went by so fast!
I enjoy my role at my company and love what I do!
Life is uncertain, it's full of surprises, priorities change and pursuing our dreams may not be possible.
I learnt to put them on hold, enjoyed what life had to give me.

Never forget to dream on and pursue them when there is a possibility!
I have been blessed with family who support me in my ventures and I am forever thankful!

                                                                                                                                                                     Signing off
                                                                                                                                                                           ~Happy me

Picture courtesy: Google :)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Aarav turns 4!

When I write this.. 4 seems to be a big number but visions of the first time I saw my son are so fresh!
It was like this.. I lay on the table and saw the most beautiful thing, pink lil hands, feet, with spiked black hair, crying out loud.. I wanted to look, keep looking but the nurses took him away so quick… 4 hours later, I held him for the first time! Wow, 4 years went rather fast!

It makes me so happy when he colors pictures, says his numbers, words, asks questions, shares toys… he makes me proud :)

Aarav and I were home on a rainy day, I was busy looking into my phone. He was playing, I murmured to myself " oh, I am so hungry" soon Aarav comes to me and says, "Mumma, I am sorry" I, very curiously ask him "why are you sorry?", He says… "b'coz, I don’t know how to make food for you."

I was touched.. My lil boy so sensitive, so thoughtful!

From soft toys - barn animals - play doh - dinosaurs - cars - super heroes, a month before his 4th birthday, his happening favorite was Dinosaurs. He would name 10-20 types of dinosaurs!
When asked what cake he would want when he turned 4, perceptibly he said DINOSAURS.

It was a chocolate mousse cake and a old fashioned sugar cake this time! I enjoyed baking all this from scratch and was overjoyed when it was all put together.
With friends, food  and fun it was a memorable celebration.

The chocolate mousse cake was 9*13 inch chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling, poured with generous amounts of chocolate ganache and bordered with pirouette cookies. I made 3 dinosaur fondant animals and placed it on the silky ganache.

The old fashioned sugar cake was two layered with 9 inch holding the 6 inch layers. The cake was frosted with butter cream and filled with Nutella and fresh cream. The decor on the cake was done with some tinted fondant. 

These memories are precious and writing or reading about them makes me revisit these beautiful moments!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Our Farm Birthday Story!

Aarav, my son loves barn animals and his favorite rhyme is "Old Mac Donald had a farm"
He loved watching this rhyme a 100 times and would be eager for more any time of the day!
For us it was Old Mac Donald overdose!

To cheer his love for old Mac Donald and barn animals, weeks before his Third Birthday, my husband and I wanted to give him a farm themed Birthday party! We thought of farm themed goodie bags for guests, cake, cupcakes and cookies!

I love to bake and wanted everything "Mom-made" for my boy!

I derived inspiration form many sources online! With all those ideas bubbling in my head, I couldn't go to bed, every night I was imagining so many things, what, when and how it should be done.
It was a big project, hopefully a successful one!
 A week before his Birthday, I planned on making the fondant animals, Cows, A horse, sheep, chickens with a nest, ducks and they looked great! Everyday I got to work for 2-3 hours when my son napped. It was important to keep all this a “Shhhh”... Surprise! There was no way I wanted him to see those animals before his Birthday!
It was a joy making these cute animals! The more you work with fondant the more creative you get. As I put together the parts of the animals they looked great! These appealing, cute lil animals were ready to be placed on a cake. The cake!


 I also made about 48 fondant animal faces to be placed on the cupcakes! I enjoyed doing every bit of this. I was so thrilled when they all started looking great together. 
The day before his birthday, I planned on baking the cake and that night my thoughts took over my sleep and I was so restless. I hoped that the cake turns out well and nothing goes wrong! 
Next morning, I baked 5 layers pineapple sponge cake, 2 layers of chocolate magic cake, about 50 cupcakes and 5 dozens of sugar cookies with Aarav's name, flowers and the number 3!
Wow! I had turned my kitchen into a bakery! It was great, the sugary buttery perfume for days!
I primed 3 types of icing. A fresh cream icing with pineapple chunks to get into the layers of the sponge cake, Chocolate hazelnut fresh cream for the chocolate cake and the butter cream icing tinted in colors for decorating the cake.

So now was the BIG, important, final task, putting them all together to make those dramatic thoughts and imagination a reality.
The decorations were looking so fantastic! We used animal patterned balloons and colored paper, it was simple yet festive. My husband did a wonderful job!

It was about 4 pm, on 19th of May, Aarav was napping, I started my assembly, focused. I put them all together and here’s how it looked. It was the most complicated cake I had made till date and with the way it looked and tasted, I was proud of myself.

Aarav woke up and looked at the d├ęcor and the goodies and he said “This is for me! Thank you Mommy and daddy, I love you. I loved the surprise” He hugged us and that moment was pure bliss. It was worth all our efforts! That expression on his face and those precious words he said will always be in our heart forever!

We got ready for our guests and it was a great party with great food and wonderful people!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

My story of losing 30 pounds in 300 days!

So It's last year August 7, I started my first diet plan and Zumba. It's been 300 days since and yes I have lost 30 pounds!! 

After Aarav's birth I had lost all the pregnancy weight and was quite happy with the way I looked but it was when my sonny boy turned 7-8 months old that I had put on weight and just not happy with myself.
Then after he was about 15 months, i decided i do something about it and  That's when all this began, 

Initially my plan was to reduce abut 20- to 25 pounds and I thought I was doing the most difficult thing in the world but it was easy
Oh yes, i mean it... It was easy.
I can say it was easy because, of a few reasons specific to me.
1. I do not take coffee or tea and the extra sugar and calories that some with it.
2. I'm far far away from mom who makes the most delicious food and a threat to my willpower and this whole diet plan.
3. Have a super active son, I need to be running behind! Making me more active
4. Not a person with a sweet tooth 
5. Stubborn with a stubborn willpower :)

How I did it....Just a few things to keep in mind and keep out from ;)

Mainly it was two things that helped me achieve  this - Dancing and the GM diet plan.
Zumba was something that kept me physically fit.... It was awesome dancing and I love the idea of burning calories thru' dancing. Zumba was thrice a week for around 80 mins each class. High impact dancing for an hour and 20 minutes of abs and other exercises.

The GM diet is a seven day diet plan and really really worked for me, thanks to my friend. Nishal for introducing me to this diet plan!
It's a week of just fruits on first day, veggies on the second, veggies and fruits on the third, banana and milk on the fourth, chicken on the fifth and sixth (my most awaited days of the diet week) and some brown rice and veggies on the last day. For more details on the GM diet, click here

On the other days of the month, I ate we'll, rice, sambar, chapatis all the curries
However, There were some rules we made and followed, well mostly...
  • No frying 
  • only skimmed milk
  • No buying snacks, sweets and stuff that's irresistibly yum
  • Stack the fridge with fruits and veggies. 
  • Whole grains
  • Chicken and fish in place of prawns and lamb.
  • Reduce salt and spices (just go on a low salt or no salt diet as you'll be amazed at how much weight you'd have lost and inches thinner you'd have gotten)
Well, at parties and gatherings, just about anything, even the deep fried, dangerously high calorific chocolate mousses, desserts and other prohibited irresistible stuff.
It's okay to crazily eat occasionally and control yourself for the next couple of days. I mean I did this and it worked for me.
 Never starve, eat fruits, raw veggies at regular intervals.

My husband helped me tremendously through out those weeks of few carbs no fat, whiny, mood swingy weeks. My friends, Dipali and Shanthi....they are adorable, they never forgot to compliment even if I lost an inch and keeping me up! Here's my story because Dipali wanted me to write it and  kept reminding me I should..

With each passing week, I was smiling at the weighing machine :)
What keeps you going is, the result you can see after a successful completion week of the GM diet. With a high impact physical routine, it is amazing how much we can lose. 
It's also flattering at how beautiful you feel about yourself. It is definitely worth a try!

Picture courtesy: Google Images

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Happy hands, happier feet and happiest times!

Life is exciting, it's full of surprises and living each day hoping  and making efforts for the better is really the best way to live.A few days are the happiest, a few the luckiest, then there are those days you never want to have again, the sad ones, the tiring ones, the normals and so on...There would be times you need to make sacrifices for the loved ones and put their needs ahead of ours, there is something I learnt about sacrifices put in words here it is quote unquote:"There are days that make the sacrifices seem worthwhile. And then there are the days where everything feels like a sacrifice. And then there are the sacrifices that you cant even figure out why you're making"
My post "breakfreeee" was more when I was going through the not so happiest days, but like I said we chase life hoping for more sunshine, more excitement and more happiness.
Well now here it is and so I write with Happy hands, happier feet about the happiest times :)

Happy hands because I have loved art and crafts and appreciate them immensely and I am getting to create a few. A friend of mine is immensely talented and is coaching me on this creative side.  I have finished my first painting and makes me feel happy to have  it on my wall, a simple one but elegant. I also have been long chasing the dream of making a Tanjore painting. It is a grand, incredibly beautiful  and detailed artwork.

I almost started taking lessons and didn't really get started like about three times and fortunately, now I have begun and it feels great, I am just loving it!! Thanks to my friend and teacher for this, my hands are in All smiles, when I am working on my board!

Here is my first work,  a simple but special one!

My feet are happier because of the dancing tunes and the fitness workout - Zumba
Dancing is my passion and when I am at it, it's just ecstatic. I have the most enthusiastic and talented instructor and she takes us on this incredible musical dancing joy for an hour and half and it is addictive and absolutely enjoyable. 

My son is now a year and a half and he is chasing butterflies, jumping, climbing, saying or rather trying to say all that he sees and it is pure fun watching him and see how much he has grown! He is just never tired and is always full of energy, that's something i wish i could have :)

 It's like, when you are happy and have your hands full, it feels great! My friends, they are an awesome bunch, always planning for some fun!! We Women know, time with girlfriends are super fun and much needed ;)
My man, my son, the Skype and phone time with my family far far away, those long conversations with my old precious friends, the company of my new friends, new people, the long drives, interesting conversations, delicious food and simply the  start of everyday all make my time fulfilling and happy!

Signing off with a smile :)

Wishing you all Dozens of happiness - Happy 12-12-12!

Pictures Courtesy: Google images