Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Update

lots to tell you all...so sit back, relax, get a cup of tea (Sonie), others can have coffee ;)

OK where do I begin?....hmmm....hmmm
I'll just write it as it comes to my mind, never mind the exact sequence of events...

First:
The Earth Hour - last Saturday at 8:30 PM.
I had made a mental note of the time and had also decided not to go out that evening, for the fear that if we were in a mall, and they switch off the lights !!!!
The day went by with the normal weekend activities and by evening I was aching to tidy up Aadi's toy room, actually the room was not in such a bad shape, but the book shelf was the messy part with paints, crayons, bubble-makers, craft paper, books, puzzles all mixed up and just cramped up in the shelves. I went in to tidy the room, and in about 15 minutes I realized that I had to switch off the lights....so off I went and switched off all the lights in the house...but.......I kept the toy-room light on as I just had to ...had to finish tidying it up. A little bit of cheating !!
Hubby dear was stuck to his laptop trying to finish off some work.
After I finished the room, I went about lighting some candles, so that my son gets used to what their purpose is other than blowing off on top of the birthday cake.
We then went to the window and sang some songs....it reminded me of the times when there were power cuts and we would all play 'antakshari'. We even had a game called 'dark-room' or something like that. In this game we (kids then) would gather in the terrace of our building and bring some sheets from home. Like in hide-and-seek, one person takes the den and the others hide under the sheets. The other person has to identify all hiders without moving the sheets.
Believe me it is very spooky for the den-person....but it was fun !!
OK back to the no-power time with Aadi. He enjoyed the candle light, and he did ask me if he could blow them off. Amol played a spoil-sport and went in the bedroom, switched on the light and continued to work away on the laptop. But he did come out 10 minutes before the Earth Hour ended.
In KL, the twin-tower also shut off their lights, many activities were taking place during the Earth Hour, and lots and lots of people did switch off their lights.

Last week I got the wonderful news that my brother was coming over for the F1. I have planned some outings with him, tidied up the house, asked the maid to come in daily etc etc...and so much more to do.

Sunday we finally bought an electric rice cooker, I had wanted a small one, 1-2 Liters, but they were out of stock!! We went to Jusco and not Carrefour, which I think was a mistake only for the cooker part, coz they (Carrefour) has a good stock. Anyways, along with the rice cooker, I bought some Disney T-shirts for Aadu and my cousin Atharva. I also found some very cute stuff for baby Arya.
After spending the first few hours in the Electrical and Clothes section, we headed to the food court for lunch. We had some amazing Thai red-chili Chicken and black-pepper chicken, followed by a fruit plate and another round of fried rice (I did not get to eat this as hubby gobbled it up).
There is an interesting story to the fried rice....listen....i mean read on....
After I bought the fruit plate, I headed to the 'small wok' stall for some chicken-rice. I selected a honey-vinegar chicken and rice, it cost me 8.79 RM. I waited and waited and waited...but the order would not come through, the Chinese lady behind the counter kept giving me apologetic smiles, but I ignored her only to enjoy the performance of the Tepanyaki chef in the next stall. He was juggling his knives around, and was adding the spices with great amount of animation. Now I was so engrossed in his performance, that I did not realise how long I was at that stall waiting for my chicken rice...I went back to our table to check on Aadu who was napping, since he was awake I decided to take him to the stall to collect the chicken-rice. We again waited for like 10 minutes, and finally the dish was out, but it looked nothing like the one in the picture on the menu....I did not bother to confront her as I knew hubby was already boiling with rage and hunger at the table. As soon as we dug into the dish we realized that it was horrible...hubby was super upset, and asked me to go and return the dish and ask for refund....I did not go...so off he went and got the fried rice in exchange.....and while he was there another person also came to complain about his dish. The lady apologised by saying that they were short on staff.

Anyways.....once the fried rice was on the table, Aadu decided that he had enough of the fruit-plate and pulled me to the 'dinosaur-shop', it is not a toy shop, but just one section of the mall above the 'Kidz-zone' is done up in the Dinosaur theme. There was a small party-shop with some lovely costumes and party essentials. We got ready to leave the shop and Amol came from the food court so I did not get to eat the rice :( :(

OK then we went down to the ground floor to the vegetable and market section of Jusco. We bought some stuff and were happy to see Aadi participate in selecting the tomatoes. He even picked up a pack of mushrooms and put it in the cart !!

All things bought...and at the payment-counter. Amol was paying the bill and the following conversation took place between me and Aadu.

Aadu: Mumma ha konta Khan ahe? = which Khan is this?
He asked pointing to a very handsome man in a red t-shirt.

Me not knowing what to say...and utterly shocked at his observation and question.
Me: I don't know....why don't you tell me which Khan he is.

Aadu: He is Aamir Khan.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Blog pick: My child is not eating

This is a new section "Blog Pick". This will have chosen posts from other blogs that we want our readers to read.

Today's Blog Pick is from Healthy & Tasty. This is an amazing blog, where ladies, moms write about health and nutrition, the recipes on this blog are simple, healthy and kid-friendly.
This post was written by PG (we need your real name!!), she lives in Germany and is of Indian origin.

My Child is not Eating


This is the same old story one hears so often in different versions, but, which I think every mother goes through. How easy is it to say "Don't worry!", but how difficult once it is you yourself as a mother who has to deal with it. I remember how long I was worried about my son's eating habits. But, it is always good to inform oneself about such things to know "Is my child really eating very little.... Is it so little that I need to worry? A lot of times the doctors measure the weight of the child and check his growth curve and say "All is well!" And you "Huh!...that's it?!.... It can't be?!".
Since I'm not a nutritionist I can only tell you what I have learned through experience as a mother and what I read and hear around me from others and which makes sense to me.

But, before I begin, one thing should be clear that the focus should always be the child and his well being and his physical and mental health rather than the (amount of) food. As, a lot of times despite worrying so much, a simple reason is that children's taste buds and sense of smell are much more sensitive and there being so many new tastes which they encounter day in day out that they need time to get used to all of them. Keep offering your child these fruits even if it refuses to eat them. But let it remain to that, let your child decide on its own what it wants.

Some tips which might help you deal with the situation better:
  1. An important rule, which applies to major number of everyday situations with children: "Give them Time". Keep trying, again and again.... and again.... and again.................. That is what motherhood means.
  2. Don't force feed. Do not feed him something which he refuses to eat and shows complete dislike for.
  3. I do want him to try and taste the food, but if he refuses to eat then I have to respect it. I can pester a lot, but he is even more stronger willed, thankfully!
  4. Once, I had read that one has to offer a child the particular food at least 32 times (or more; corresponds to the number of teeth an "ideal" human mouth can have) over a longer period of time before you know if your child really dislikes it. I like the idea a lot.
  5. Here, there is an old saying which is difficult to translate (Ein kind holt sich, was er braucht) but means something like "a child will come and get for himself / eat when its body needs it" - this will apply given the condition that you offer them a balanced diet, offer enough choice and a healthy meal is served on the table, the rest can / should be left to them. I'll be honest - I find it hard to follow this rule. But, it is surely a good line of thought to follow. Trust them a bit more in taking the right decisions on their own.
  6. Involve your child while preparing food, like cutting fruits or vegetables. Let them also lay the table get the spoons for example for them to realise that it is time for lunch or dinner.
  7. Eat together with your child. It is more fun for them. It applies to toddler age too, once they begin to eat with their spoon, however much they can.
  8. Encourage them to eat on their own, don't refuse. Take time to let them eat, It may mean 20 minutes more. Plan this time whenever possible , if not always. You'll be rewarded wit an independent and enthusiastic eater one day.
  9. With children 3 or 4 years onwards, go shopping with them and ask them what they would like to buy. Try and see how long will the child want to eat the same vegetable every day. One day he might come and say "mom...let's buy something else today.."
  10. One thing which I learned after becoming a mother was that a lot of times children quite often instinctively know what is not good for them and avoid eating it, like in case of allergies or intolerance. Now this may not necessarily be always the case, as in such cases you would also see physical signs of these most of the times. But, one does need to pay heed to it and also respect it.
  11. Don't feed babies and toddlers too many things in one go. Offer just one fruit at a time. Less variety is a much better choice at that age. The lesser number of fruits a child is exposed to at an early age, the better. Only after they reach the age when they start going to school, should one worry about offering them a variety of things.
If you want to start your baby with solids then, two important things one should keep in mind (see also this post on food allergy and intolerance):
  1. Choose one vegetable which is considered hypoallergenic, trust your instincts too in this matter and as to what your child would like.
  2. Do not give anything else for at least a week. Depending upon the age of the baby, you could either stay with this one vegetable for as long as you feel like (1, 2 or 3 months or even longer) and if the baby rejects it even after a week or you feel that it does not suit the baby - watch his stool and any physical reactions like rashes and redness, then try something else. Even if your child is not allergy prone, it may react to the food, as the body's immune system is developing at that age and it needs time to get to know its environment and overexposure is not good.
Good sites to go to for good tips regarding baby food:
Starting babies on solids
Introducing solids to babies and charts at Wholesomebabyfood.com
Recipes for babyfoods at Wholesomebabyfood.com
I highly recommend you to go to Wholesomebabyfood.com for any questions regarding baby foods. It is good guide. Many questions to which your paediatrician cannot give good answers to may be given here, or to questions which pop up in your mind.

This is what my midwife, surely the age of my mother, once said and it impressed me a lot: "...Today's mothers always seem to be in too much of a hurry with their children.... want them to grow so fast ..... do everything and do everything fast...". It's true in different ways, isn't it? Maybe it has reasons, why we are like that, like external pressures, wanting our child to survive in today's speedy world where everybody is wanting to be better and faster than the other. But, for that very reason, we have to teach our children to stay healthy by having a healthy attitude towards food. To learn to enjoy food. And, honestly, do you like all the vegetables? An did this thought ever cross your mind that maybe had we had the chance to choose between eating this particular vegetable or leave it, that today we might actually react totally differently today than we do now, the moment we think of this vegetable. Vegetables are important, but we need to trust our children much more that they will choose to eat healthy if given enough options and time on the longer run. That they will still develop into healthy beings with an healthy mind.
We do need o tell them to keep trying a vegetable, find ways, force or motivation or tricks (fair ones - the child should not feel cheated, the are way smarter than we think, isn't it?),.......... but only to make them try it. Let it be a tiny piece only. Accept their "No, I didn't like it" and don't forget to tell them that you are proud of them that they at least tried it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Best loved toys in our home



With two kids to look after,a very busy spouse and a house to run,I don't get much time to keep my children's toys well-organised ( seriously need some tips on toy storage & management!). However,toys are an inseparable part of my life and I believe in its power and magic to enrich childhood.
Here are some of the best loved toys in our home at the moment:

  • Easel (double sided with black board on one side & whiteboard on the other side):This is popular with both my toddler (2+) and my preschooler (4). My toddler loves scribbling on the whiteboard and he talks while he scribbles.The only problem arises when he decides to use the walls as his canvas.......

  • Miniature taxis are very popular with my toddler....so much so that he doesn't leave home without them.He is always carrying atleast one in his hands when we go out.

  • Zunairah's pink scooter,tricycle and ride-on are also well-loved by both the kids. Since the ride-on accommodates two kids, a lot of pretend play is centred around it. They wheeze through traffic and go to the malls to do their weekly shopping!
  • Remote controlled car is Nayaz's favourite and keeps him busy.

  • Baking set:I mix flour with water & and let Zunairah play with the baking set.She enjoys cutting various shapes from the dough and Nayaz also joins in.
  • Breakfast set: Oh I just love this toy because my kids go crazy over this one...it contains toaster,playfoods such as bread,teacups and teapot.The toaster even has a timer and the set comes with a table and two tools.I use this table for their pretend baking play as well. My kids compel me to join in this game and they make toasts and tea for me.

  • Barbie playset with swimming pool: My kids adore this toy because playing with this involves water.They usually play with this this toys beside the pool because when they play it indoors it becomes quite messy.This toy really sparks their imagination and they bring along plastic fishes and other dolls to make the play more interesting.

  • Fingerpaints & other art & craft materials: Nayaz loves fingerpaints and I usually give him a big sheet of paper to paint.He seems very absorbed during fingerpainting and it seems to have a soothing effect on him. Zunairah now is into more complicated art and craft materials such as glitter glue (somehow the glitter ends up on Nayaz's eyelids) & sequins.
  • Legos & Blocks: I think Legos & blocks are perennial favourites of most kids & my children are no exception. I have the Duplo set which is for children in the age group 1.5-4 years old but I think Zunairah may be ready for the next level.

    My kids' play is however not limited to these toys...sometimes something as simple as a shoebox is also enough to spark their imagination.

Friday, March 20, 2009

we were in splits....

On seeing this advertisement, my son and I were in splits and laughed our heads off...and then of course we danced just like AB Jr. !!!

Enjoy and shake a leg ;)



The link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vx453hBHtfE&NR=1

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kitchen adventure

First of all I want to thank Swati, PG and The Knife, for visiting and leaving comments !! I hope this blog-hopping continues and we get to read all your great blogs !!
And Smita & Manali, how can I not thank you for all your support and great ideas!! Thanks a lot !!

OK so now back to the kitchen.

Swati asked for the recipe of 'Puran-poli' so here it is:
Mind you...like most Indians my measuring quantities are by 'andaaz' (guess).
I used 1 cup of chana daal. This i washed, and cooked in a pressure cooker till 2 whistles. Traditionally we cook it in an open pot. Only 2 whistles of the pressure cooker ensures that the daal does not over-cook. If you feel it needs more softening time, then cook it without the lid for 5-7 minutes more.
One the daal is soft, remove all the water (don't throw this water, it is used to make an amazing 'katachi-amti'; kat = the water of the boiled chana daal, amti = spicey curry.) Let the chana daal drain for 1-2 hours, we want it absolutely dry.
Then take the daal in a pan, and add 1 cup of the sweet agents ie.e equal parts of jaggery and sugar. I chose to use more of jaggery as I have some great organic one from India, and I used only 3 table spoons of brown sugar.
Heat this mixture on medium heat and mix well, it should form a solid mass or it should stick together in a ball. I added a bit of ghee at this stage just for the aroma. I also added some fresh pounded cardamom (elaichi).
Now let this mixture cool. This is your "Puran".

Now for the "Poli" part:
Use wheat flour to knead dough as you normally do; except that you have to add a good quantity of oil to this dough and one has to knead it very well so that it is absolutely soft. Some people add 'maida' (refined flour) in equal parts or the dough is entierly made of 'maida'.
I chose to use wheat flour and a tiny bit of maida.
Leave this dough to rest for a while before you start making the 'poli'.

Putting it together:
Take a small ball of the dough, and make a 'katori' like shape using your palm and fingers. Fill in one tablespoon or more of the 'puran', close the ends like a 'modak' and make a ball. Roll this like a normal Chapati. Roast it using oil or Ghee.

Your Puran Poli is ready.
Serve it with milk, or just with Ghee.

************************************************************************

Today morning I was posessed by Nigela Lawson !! Ha ha ha....I was actually feeling very creative in the kitchen today !!!
I made some strawberry ice-cream, more like a Gelato (I Think). I churned around some cream, fresh strawberries and a bit of sugar in the mixer, and then set it in the freezer. Idea is to churn it around once more before eating.
I also made some Spinach-dough. This was simply done by pureeing some blanched Spinach that was sitting in the fridge. I added some Jeera and a bit of salt to this and then threw in wheat flour into the dough-maker of my trusted food-processor. I did not add green chillies as I this was being tailor made for Aadi. I made some paratha's using this dough and served it with Yogurt.
One more thing I made was Ghee. I had two containers full of 'Malai' (cream) from all the milk that we have been consuming. Usually what I do is put in some curd into this malai, and let it ferment lightly for 8-10 hours (read overnight). Then I take plenty of cold water, and put in some amount of this fermented-malai into the blender along with some cold water. The result is some yummy white butter, that we Marathi people call 'Loni'. Once all the Loni is made, then it is heated in an open pot, until the Ghee floats on top and there is some residue at the bottom of the pan.
Now this is a long-ish method of making Ghee, and my neighbour told me another quick one...she simply heats the Malai in a pot and the result is same, ghee on top and residue at bottom.
I tried this method today, and to my dis-pleasure, the time that it took to finally get the Ghee was so huge, that I was constantly worried about my gas-bill !!
Another thing is that the amount of ghee that came out was far too less as compared to that what I get when I follow my method.
So all in all, I was not at all happy with the new method, and am still sulking over the loss of all that 'would-have-been' ghee :(

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Zunairah's first independent play date

Yesterday Zunairah,my energetic preschooler,had a play date with her friend Ashita & it was her first play date without me.Zunairah knows Ashita quite well & is also familiar with her parents who have become good friends of ours.I dropped her at Ashita's place around four o' clock in the afternoon and stayed for some time to see whether she was okay with me going away. I told her that I would come back exactly two hours later and her nanny would be with her. She smiled and seemed okay with the arrangement.

I later learnt from Archana (Ashita's mum) that they were a bit stiff with each other in the beginning but later they started enjoying themselves & started to play with puzzles & and toy kitchen sets.They then had snacks & went to the playground for outdoor play.After half an hour of outdoor play I was there to pick Zunairah up and take her home. I had a small chat with Ashita's mum and then Ashita's dad dropped all of us home.

Zunairah said that she had really enjoyed the playdate and she would want another very soon. I think play dates are great for kids of Zunairah's age because it teaches them social skills . Kids also learn that the environment & rules in each household is different.

Puran Poli - my first try at making them


The stuffed Puran-Poli



Yours' truly very busy and concentrating hard


The yummy sweet goodie - a well roasted puran-poli


The tempered-milk that we eat the puran-poli with


This Holi, I wanted to make it home-like for my son. Do everything (well most or better some things) that we did at home in India.
The day of Holi is a busy day, filled with the Puja, but before the Puja one has to make the 'Naivaidya' (offering) in the form of Puran-polis.
The puran-poli is offered to the Holi fire that is lighted in the evening.

Now the Puran-poli is basically a stuffed Chapati/paratha. The stuffing is made of Chana-daal, jaggery, and Elaichi (cardamom). The Poli/Chapati/Paratha is made using a dough mixture of wheat, refined flour, a bit of salt and lots of oil. Ofcourse water is the main thing in mixing the dough.

This Puran-poli is stuffed and roasted like any other stuffed paratha and some may choose to use 'ghee' (clarified butter) to roast them.

These are eaten with warm milk. This milk is tempered with 'saunf', 'elaichi' and even a clove. Jaggery is mixed in it once it is off the flame (or else the milk could curdle).

My favourite way of eating a Puran-poli is eating it the next morning, again heating it with a bit of 'ghee'. Yummmmmmmmmm ...I am already drooling :P

Well I made the Puran-polis all right, but we could not attend the Holi-fire and Puja at the Lakshminarayana Temple as the rain Gods decided to pay us a roaring visit.

Anyways, I am happy with the baby-step I took to make a Indian festival look authentic to my 3 year old. Maybe next year I will be able to make it more like the one back home.

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Visit to Preschool for Multiple Intelligences


I had read something about a preschool called PMI (www.pmi.com.sg) and so last Saturday I had set an appointment with Dr.Khoo Kim Choo who is the founder of the "Preschool for Multiple Intelligences" and a consultant in Early Childhood Education. Faisal & the kids were also with me & when we entered the school, the kids were made to sit in the play area while we were welcomed inside Dr.Khoo's office.Dr.Khoo told us that she would explain to us the school's curriculum in details.

Dr.Khoo said that the curriculum is based upon concept of the nine intelligences as introduced by Dr.Howard Gardner.Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences says that though the traditional method of education concentrates heavily on verbal & logical skills, there are other types of intelligences. The intelligences are:

verbal-linguistic ("word" smart like authors,teachers)
mathematical-logical ( "logic" smart like mathematicians & scientists)
visual-spatial (architects,sculptor)
bodily-kinaesthetic (dancers, athletes)
musical-rhythmic (composers,singers_
interpersonal (salespeople,counselors)
intrapersonal (researcher,entrepreneurs)
naturalistic (environmentalists,botanists)
existentialist (philosphers;In children this is manifested in terms of the types of questions they ask such as "Why do we die?")

Since the curriculum is based upon the nine intelligences,PMI's approach towards education is very "holistic". There are provisions for sand & water play and there is even a small garden to get children interested in and learn from nature. I feel that young children learn a lot from nature and so the idea of children having a garden of their own really appealed to me.

The school identifies & nurtures the child's unique multiple intelligences & works with parents to bring these intelligences into fruition.

After the discussion with Dr.Khoo we toured the school with her & I really liked what I saw.I felt that the school was a physical manifestation of my vision of a perfect preschool.The classrooms & the activity rooms were cheerful & bright with lots of interesting displays. There was an area for "pretend play" complete with props such as the firefighters hat etc. & also nice & cosy reading corners.

Overall,we really liked the school but the only issue is transportation.The school is far away from our place & there is no provision of a school bus. Also I felt that the full day program was too long (7.5 hours) whereas the half day program was too short (3 hrs) for my older kid.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Re-learning our eating habits

The 5 basic rules to increase nutrient intake

Alright, point noted: we should be eating in silence and while enjoying our own company. Now the next question is, what should we be eating?

By nutrients I mean carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and of course water. Of these, carbs, protein and fats are called macro nutrients because our body needs them in higher amounts and vitamins and minerals are called micro nutrients because they are needed in smaller amounts. Also, 70 percent of our body is water, so this is something that our body needs all the time.

1. Eat food that is prepared fresh. And consume it within 3 hours of cooking. That means you shouldn't be freezing any food for the next day. Don't deep freeze cooked food. I know for most of us who work regular hours, it is almost impossible to have fresh food for lunch. But you can stick to this rule for breakfast and dinner. And let's face it, most of us in India have maids who come home in the morning. We might as well use this luxury.

2. The smaller the number of people the food is prepared for, the better its nutrient level. More the people, the earlier you start to prepare the food and the greater the quantity of food cooked, the more oil and heat you use. That's why restaurant food can never be compared to home food. And that's why, instead of picking up a salad from your favourite salad bar, you should take a tomato and cucumber with you and eat it as your own on-the-go salad.

3. Eat your vegetables and fruits whole instead of cutting them into pieces, because you lose vitamins from their surface. The larger the exposed area, the more the loss of nutrients. So eat a full apple, pear or plum etc, and don't chop it into pieces. If it's a big fruit like melon or papaya which you simply have to cut, carve it into big pieces instead of pieces that you eat with your fork. So, hold the big piece in your hand and chew on it and literally let the juices flow. Messy but oh so satisfying. In the case of vegetables, don't store them cut. Never ever buy the pre-packed cut vegetables and fruits in the supermarkets. It's like buying food that's gone to rot. What's more, you're wasting all the packaging which comes along. (And please don't kill fruits in a juicer or mixer and pulp them into a juice. Not even if you retain the fibre.)

4. Remain loyal to your genes and eat what you have been eating since childhood. If you are a Punjabi eat your paratha, as a Tamilian eat your idli, etc. Right from the time you're in your mother's womb, your body is used to eating, digesting and assimilating certain foods. Almost everyone except a Punjabi will complain of a bad stomach after chole. There are two reasons for this:
a) non-Punjabis don't cook
chole as well and
b) they lack enzymes required for breaking down
chole. Most of us now eat food of all kinds, it's being part of our global village. But try and eat at least one meal daily that reflects your own genes. My editor is Bengali and has grown up on her maacher jhol and bhaat. Yet now she lives in Delhi and eats North Indian khana. I've told her she has to try and have more fish and rice because that's what her genes know and love.

5. As much as possible, eat local produce and seasonal food. Climate, altitude, humidity, wind, soil quality, etc influence our digestive system and foods that grow locally. Ayurveda recommends tweaking your diet, habits and lifestyle according to the ritu, or season. Kareena ate momos in Ladakh and they helped her lose weight because Ladakh is dry, windy, cold and at an altitude of 3,500 metres. If she ate the same momos in aamchi Mumbai which is humid, hot and at sea level, she would have become fat. Mangoes are great in the summer. Eat them just once a day as a mini-meal in themselves, and they will give you a season's supply of antioxidants. Store them in your fundu fridge for rains and you won't enjoy them as much; they won't taste half as good and would have lost most of their nutrients.

Guidelines:

Before eating:
  • Switch off your phone, TV and computer.
  • Wash your hands (use a soap).
  • Serve yourself half of what you usually eat, on a nice, clean plate.
  • Preferably adopt the crosslegged posture or sit at your usual dining place.

    While eating:

  • Drink a glass of water.
  • Start eating (preferably with your hands) and eat slowly.
  • Chew your food slowly and deliberately.
  • Use the entire mouth and don't just chew from one side of your jaw.
  • While you still have food in your mouth don't pick up the food from your plate (keeping food ready in your hands or on your spoon means you are eating fast and will ultimately overeat.)
  • Eat with all your senses and think about how the food is nourishing you from within.
  • Now if you want to eat some more, serve yourself a second helping from the other half that's left. But don't eat it all.

  • After Eating
  • Don't be in a rush to get up and get going. Stay where you are for a few minutes.
  • If you're clearing up yourself, pick up your plate and clean it with water before leaving it in the sink. (Food that dries up on the plate will sometimes stay on the plate even after washing, and can cause stomach discomfort at a later point.)

    Excerpted from Don't Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight, by celeb nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar.

  • Sunday, March 15, 2009

    Pirate Party




    Last year in December I decided to arrange a pirate theme for Nayaz's second birthday.Though Nayaz didn't understand much about pirates, Zunairah was very excited that she would get to wear an "eyepatch" & do treasure hunting.

    I set about to prepare for the party about ten days in advance. I ordered pirate hat,eye patch & hook hand from an online store. After hunting for cake designs in renowned bakeries like Bengawan Solo & Hans I decided to order from a woman called Myssaliana whose cake designs I found very unique & creative (check out her cakes in her website http://myssaliana.multiply.com/.) I organized three games called "pop the balloon","put the eyepatch on the pirate" & "treasure hunting" for the kids.

    For the treasure box I used a carton & colored it brown and cut three sides of it with a cutter so that it opened like a box.I then drew a lock & voila it did resemble a treasure box! I drew the treasure map on art paper & then soaked it into weak tea to make it look old and tore the sides.

    On the day of the party I placed Zunairah's blackboard at the door saying "Ahoy Mates!Welcome to my Pirate Party" & I stuck a pirate flag (which I borrowed from a friend) on the board. Faisal & I decorated our place with black balloons with golden threads tied to them which went very well with the theme.
    The birthday boy was dressed in a pirate dress complete with eyepatch & a bandanna which we had picked up from Early Learning Centre (ELC). However,our little pirate was not willing to keep the eyepatch & the bandanna and he took them off immediately.

    Leo,who is a very good friend of Zunairah,has had a pirate party before & so I asked her parents to help me out during the party and they agreed happily.When the kids came in Antony,Leo's father, drew pirate tattooes on their hands.We also provided them with pirate hats,hook hands & eye patches. Antony also conducted the treasure hunt in which we took the kids to the playground for an exciting hunt.

    I had decorated the table with gold coins & I made blue jell-o decorated with candy skulls. The food consisted of snacks & a main course of "pilau",mutton & veggies.

    The party was a major hit & the children had loads of fun! The child who enjoyed the least was ironically the birthday boy because I think he was too young to understand the pirate theme!

    Saturday, March 14, 2009

    6 Things You Didn’t Know About Belly Fat -- And How to Make it Scram

    I just had to share this article with you all, and while we are all on 'Fat' we can take one more informative article on it....right?

    (source: http://realage.typepad.com/youdocsdaily/2008/05/6-things-you-di.html)

    Politicians, gossip columnists, doctors, your best friend -- they’re all talking about the same thing: fat. Especially belly fat. The great thing about belly fat is that the better you get to know it, the easier it is to make it vanish (if only spam e-mail worked the same way!). Digest these stomach-flattening facts.


    1. All fat is not alike. Eat more calories than you burn and the extras get packed away in one of two places -- long-term storage depots beneath the skin (subcutaneous fat) or short-term bins deep in the abdomen (visceral fat). Visceral fat is what we call omental fat -- that is, fat in your omentum, a piece of webbing that hangs off your stomach just beneath your ab muscles, sort of like a mesh apron.


    2. The fat you don’t see is the most dangerous. The soft, superficial stuff that ripples your thighs and tummy may be a bikini spoiler, but if you can pinch it, it probably won’t kill you. However, if you have a solid “beer belly" . . . well, you’re likely headed for more trouble than a politician hooked up to a polygraph. That’s because too much deep fat churns out supersize amounts of hormones and proteins, which can lead to big hazards. Among them: lousy LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels; high blood sugar and blood pressure; insulin resistance; and widespread inflammation. All are instigators of many diseases -- including dementia, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. But often you can get a “do over,” and it doesn’t take that long and isn’t that hard, if you know what you’re doing. So don’t stop reading!

    First, don’t rely on your scale. As you start to reduce risky belly fat, your weight may temporarily go up. So ditch the scale in favor of the tape measure. If you’re a woman, your waist should be 32.5 inches; if you’re a man, 35 inches. Creep past 37 inches for women or 40 for men, and the health dangers increase.


    3. Stress makes you fat. Not only does stress lead you to eat Haagen-Dazs straight from the carton, but it also triggers the release of cortisol, a stress hormone. When stress becomes unrelenting, the omentum attempts to control cortisol flow by sucking it out of the bloodstream. Nice try, but cortisol fights back once it’s in the omentum and turbocharges fat there. That sets off other chemical reactions that leave you feeling hungry . . . and looking for the Haagen-Dazs again. Fortunately, any kind of stress reduction, especially exercise, will help short-circuit this stress/fat cycle. Feeling tense right now? Go for a walk the minute you finish this column.


    4. The fat you eat affects the fat you get. When monkeys munched on trans-fat laced diets for 6 years, they developed more deep-belly fat than those who went trans-fat-free, even though both ate the same number of calories. Physiologically, we’re close enough to monkeys to extrapolate that trans fat doesn’t do anything good for your waist or your arteries.


    5. Blasting belly fat isn’t hard. If you’re not overweight but still have an oversized waist, the fastest way to shrink your omentum is by walking. Taking a brisk 30-minute walk each day will keep those fat cells from expanding. Pick up the pace some, walk a little longer, and you can give your omentum a makeover, turning a flabby apron of omental fat into sheer mesh again. After 30 days of walking, start doing resistance exercises as well to add muscle and lose inches -- otherwise you’ll hit a plateau. No dumbbells? No gym? No problem. You can get an excellent workout in 20 minutes by using your own body as a weight to stretch and strengthen all of your major muscle groups. Find examples at www.realage.com/ct/shape-up-slim-down/.


    6. Whole grains scare away belly fat. If you and a friend go on a diet but you eat whole grains (meaning brown rice, steel-cut oats, and whole-wheat pasta, not whole-grain Pop Tarts) and your friend eats processed grains (anything made with white/enriched grains and flours, cupcakes to noodles), you both might lose the same amount of weight, but you’ll shed more belly fat and lower your levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of damaging inflammation. And your food will taste better, and you’ll feel full longer. AND you’ll have a flat stomach!

    Friday, March 13, 2009

    Fats you should never eat -- and how to cheat on them


    This article has been specially written for me....that's what I felt when I read it first !!
    I like food with Fat in them, but I never knew I could cheat and eat them !!

    So if you are like me and like your biscuits, cakes, pizzas, mitahi, deep fried stuff....read on and know how you can indulge without the GUILT !!


    1. Fats you get from red and processed meat

    How to cheat on them:
    Eat them as your first meal or after your post-workout meal. Eat these once a week, provided you follow the four key principles (see next chapter) and exercise 3 hours a week. Never combine a bad fat with a high GI food; say rice and meat, or biryani. All biryani lovers, save your feast for Eid!

    2. Fat in deep-fried food (pakoras, samosas, bhujia etc)
    How to cheat on them:
    Eat first thing in the morning. Halve your first meal and have it along with this. Otherwise have as a meal by itself in the later afternoon, but restrict to only one. Do not eat a mithai with your snack! You can enjoy one of these, once a week, but only if you're eating correctly all six days and working out at least three hours a week. Don't reuse the oil once you have deep-fried with it.
    Tip: Avoid deep-fried food at large parties, because they are usually deep-fried twice.

    3. Mithai, especially made of nuts
    How to cheat on them:
    Eat as a meal by itself. Have it an hour and a half after your lunch. You could also have it first thing in the morning. But don't mix it with your regular food.

    4. Biscuits
    How to cheat on them:
    Eat them when you've done a very long, strenuous physical activity like trekking, 2 or more hours of shopping. In regular life, restrict to once a week!

    5. Cakes and pastries
    How to cheat on them:
    If you can't bear to give up your favourite chocolate pastry, you're in for good news. Have it first thing in the morning. Don't replace your nutritious meal with your pastry, but have it in addition to it. Croissant lovers go ahead. But don't indulge yourself more than once or twice a month.

    6. Pizzas
    How to cheat on them:
    1 slice (we're talking fast food pizza) and as a meal by itself. Perfect for after a long, boring meeting.

    Thursday, March 12, 2009

    Fat plays a big role in our body

    This is an excerpt from a book titled 'Don't Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight' written by Rujuta Diwekar.
    She is the fitness guru of stars like Kareena Kapoor and Konkana Sen Sharma.

    It is very interesting and critical to know about Fats and clear our conceptions or mis-conceptions about Fats.

    Should you be banning fats from your diet? Did you know that fat is the body's answer to bad times?

    All about fats

    'Look at me, from everywhere I am perfect. I just need to lose this', she said picking up flab from just above her low waist jeans and then pointing to the 'saddle bags' which bulged from under her butt, just at the top of her thighs. 'So many of us can empathise with what Radhika is saying,' Mahesh her husband said. 'My only problem is this,' pointing to his pot belly. 'I am also perfect, otherwise.'

    See we all are perfect just the way we are. But we are too occupied doing too many imperfect things. Just one of them is banning fats from our diet. Fat plays a big role in our body. Most importantly, it helps us survive during periods of prolonged mental and physical stresses, sickness, and prolonged starvation. Fat is stored as adipose tissue in the body from where energy can be used in these extreme cases. It's due to this ability that the human species has evolved and survived. So fat is our body's answer for bad times. It is the only nutrient that can help us survive through the toughest phases of our life. Thus your so-called lean times will actually make you fat. Corollary: fat or good times will make you lean. So eat fat to lose fat...

    How to eat fat

    For a lean, toned body, healthy heart, supple skin and lustrous hair, make fat a part of every meal -- or at least of three main meals. It's not just enough to eat food cooked in oil. Include nuts, cheese, or any other dairy product in your diet. Consuming healthy fats in healthy (read adequate) amounts will actually ensure proper functioning of the body and optimum fat burning. Fats, when eaten in combination with carbs and protein, work at reducing the glycemic index (refer to the section on carbs, earlier in this chapter) of food. So they actually work at slowly releasing sugar in the blood. This leads to effective fat burning, stable blood sugar, minimised hunger, a good mood and a glowing complexion. So of course use oil as a cooking medium for vegetables and dal, as most Indians do; don't try to cut it out. Preferably different kinds of oil.

    So if you cooked lunch in peanut oil, try soy or safflower oil for dinner. Include peanuts and cheese in your diet. They can often make up a mini meal by themselves.

    Including fats in our diet is also known to reduce mood swings and depression. Children who don't get enough omega-3 can develop learning disorders. Is your girlfriend giving you grief when she PMSes? Just buy her a flax seed supplement or gift her a monthly supply of nuts.


    Wednesday, March 11, 2009

    Sand is wonderful !






    I love sand because it keeps young children busy for a long time.Yesterday I took my kids to Bishan Park so that they could play in the sand pit.They don't get to play with sand very often because it is difficult to arrange sand play indoors & in their school also there is no provision for sand play (they do rice play, instead).

    My preschooler Zunairah was ecstatic to see the sand pit & she immediately set out to use her play set to built sand castles. Nayaz was also fascinated but he was more slow to plunge himself into sand play.He was more pensive & was more interested in touching & feeling the sand.However,after a while he acted energetic and started throwing sand at us.I made it clear that this is something that he could not do.

    I got down to play with them & out came my inner child.We made castles & roads & used twigs & leaves to decorate our creations. I was happy to see that my kids were enjoying themselves.I encouraged my preschooler to write letters in the sand with the help of a twig.

    Sand play can be very therapeutic for children (my kids slept very well yesterday) & it provides lots of learning opportunities. It stimulates imaginative play when different toys such as dinosaurs or cars are introduced & also promotes physical development (when they pour or sift sand or dig in the sand).Mathematical concepts can be introduced by parents during sand play by providing measuring cups & spoons & also by using terms such as "more","less","empty" or "full".

    On the whole I feel that sand play is a welcome break for modern kids are sadly so used to plastic store-bought toys.

    Special must-eat nutrient for women


    Make magnesium an important part of your diet.

    Here is Why:

    If you don't get enough magnesium (500 mg daily) you are going to suffer from chocolate cravings (since cocoa and chocolate are rich magnesium sources).

    Low magnesium also means you are:

  • Going to feel foul. It worsens PMS symptoms and cramps.
  • Leads to osteoporosis
  • Linked to kidney stones (it will allow thick deposits of calcium to deposit where we do not want it, like the kidney and take it away from where we want it, the bones).
  • Causes heart problems, high BP, diabetes, strokes -- scourges of Indian women world over.
  • Causes 'restless leg syndrome', muscle spasms.
  • Attention deficit, depression and other nerve-related ailments.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome, vomiting.
  • May cause early menopause and worsens normal menopausal symptoms.
  • Linked to infertility and other issues of the uro-genital system.
  • Poor nail growth.
  • Causes fast heart beats, leading to anxiety and panic attacks.

    Foods rich in magnesium:

    Tofu, legumes, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, wheat bran, soybean flour, almonds, cashews, blackstrap molasses, pumpkin and squash seeds, pistachio, walnuts, peanuts, whole wheat flour, oat flour, beet greens, spinach, bran cereals, oatmeal, bananas, and baked potatoes (with skin) and most herbs and spices.

  • ******************************************************************
    After reading this article on rediff, I realised a few facts about my craving for chocolate especially before my chums; and once I looked at what can happen with a magnesium deficiency, I realised I did suffer from some of them like foul mood, horrid PMS symptoms, cramps, restless leg syndrome, cramps in my leg muscles.
    I also had hair loss, it was caused due to iron deficiency.

    I consulted my doctor, and she put me on a multivitamin and vit-e tablet daily and an iron capsule on alternate days. Since starting this course, all the symptoms listed away have vanished and I feel energetic, in good mood :)
    The hair fall is also in check.

    I do eat one banana daily in the morning. I know a lot of ladies who do not eat banana due to it's high calorie count, but I think if you look at the mineral and vitamin content it is a must for all ladies to have one. Also having it in the morning along with your wheat-flakes and skimmed milk makes it easier to burn off the calories during the day.

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009

    Are you a mother and do you eat healthy?

    Being a stay at home mom (SAHM) myself, I have seen people assume that I have all the time in the world for me. Which is absolutely not true. It is rather the exact opposite of their assumption. Stay at home moms never have time for themselves. How many SAHMs you know spend time on themselves, indulge in activities far from their babies and homes, go for a walk when they please, spend hours at a mall...none right...

    If this is the scenario for stuff that a SAHM does or does not do outside of the circle of the family, then it is often true even for the food she eats. I often do not cook especially for me, if A has a lunch meeting and does not need a lunch-pack, I raid the fridge looking for leftovers, just so that I don't cook for myself. I diligently make sure my son has eaten well, healthy food, fruits, juices, his multivitamin, his 'Chavanprash'....for him I am very careful.

    But when it comes to me I am lazy or more accurately, I am exhausted by the time it comes to doing something for me.

    But with all the health awakening going around us it is hard to ignore the facts that we mothers ignore for us. It is very important to take care of our health. We as mothers always give to our kids, husband, family etc. If we keep on giving and don't take anything for us, very soon we will have an empty well inside us. This could lead to a lot of health issues. If we are healthy, eat healthy, exercise, do activities outside the home like running in the park, playing a high energy sport, our children see us do it all and they will also take up that lifestyle.

    It is necessary to take care of yourself before taking care of another; because if we are not healthy, how can we take care of another person?

    I found this article on rediff, and it voices my concern about my health, my want of a healthier life for me.

    Fulfilling multiple roles coupled with a lack of time leads young women to neglect their own diet and health. The fairer sex in particular is predisposed to developing iron deficiency anaemia, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. Early lifestyle and dietary changes mentioned below can go a long way in preserving the working woman's health and protecting her from these preventable diseases:

    • A balanced diet comprising of three main meals and two small snacks are good to keep up energy levels and metabolism through the day. The body needs a variety of essential nutrients. For a moderately active woman, six-seven servings of wholegrain cereals, five-six servings of vegetables and fruit, two servings of milk and three servings of lean proteins are ideal.

      Snacks can consist of nuts, high-fibre biscuits, chana and fibrous fruit.

    • Women must consume iron-rich foods like green leafy vegetables, jaggery, eggs, organ meats, beans, lentils, figs and dates to compensate for loss of blood during menstruation or increased requirements during pregnancy. Vitamin C aids iron absorption, so plenty of citrus fruit like kiwi, strawberries, oranges and tomatoes must be included.
    • Women are at a much higher risk of developing osteoporosis as compared to their male counterparts. Calcium is the most important mineral for healthy bones. High activity levels, weight-bearing exercises and consumption of calcium-rich foods like milk and its products, green leafy vegetables, beans and dry fruit can offer long term protection by improving bone density.
    • Your diet must include plenty of omega 3 fatty acids found in fish, which help to keep cholesterol levels under control. Saturated fats often found in prepared or ready-to-eat foods should be kept to a minimum and trans fats should be completely avoided.
    • Drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water daily prevents fatigue, headache and poor concentration. It flushes out toxins from the body and keeps the skin looking fresh.
    • Women with sedentary jobs must get active. Joining evening salsa classes with a partner or simply taking a brisk walk or a refreshing swim four to five times a week for 30 minutes is enough to compensate for lack of movement at work.
    • Most importantly, women must keep themselves updated on health issues

    Sunday, March 8, 2009

    What is in your face cream?

    Have you ever wondered what exactly is in your face cream, why do you prefer some cream over another? What is best for your skin type? etc etc...
    I have these questions all the time...every cream/lotion brand seems to say the same thing...but we have to really try the brands to know which one suits us best...but how do we short list a few and then perhaps try...as trying brands can be expensive.

    I stumbled upon this article at the RealAge site, and found it very useful in knowing what ingredients are really good for our skin and which are harmful.
    This way when I am going to buy a cream/lotion the next time around, I will know what those ingredients mean and what I should buy and better still what I should not.



    8 Ingredients Your Skin Will Love and 9 It Might Hate

    Skin Winners

    There are hundreds of skin care ingredients, including many with fancy names and expensive price tags. But there’s very little science to most of them, and no science to many of them. The list of ingredients that really can make a difference in the skin is small. These eight are examples of some that you can slather on with solid scientific backing:

    * Vitamin A
    * Vitamin C
    * Vitamin B3 (niacin, or nicotinamide)
    * Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
    * Vitamin E
    * Alpha-hydroxy acids
    * Ubiquinone (small-molecule antioxidant)
    * Ferulic acid (small-molecule antioxidant)


    Possible Enemies
    One of the tricks to using skin products is to not only find the ingredients that will help you but also avoid the ones that may damage or irritate your skin. Some ingredients you should think about avoiding:

    • Imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea: They’re used as preservatives to prevent bacterial growth (not fungi), but they’re also a relatively common cause of contact dermatitis.
    • Fragrances: They may smell good, but these little molecules are responsible for allergic reactions in as much as 14% of the population. Most skin care products don’t really need added fragrances. But without the added fragrance, some -- like soap -- simply smell like the fats they are made from.
    • Sodium lauryl sulfate: It’s commonly used in shampoos and cleaners to create suds and is relatively safe, but longer contact time can cause irritation and dryness because the detergent strips the skin of lipids.
    • Mineral oil: Used as a base in some products, it may interfere with perspiration.
    • Monoethanolamine (MEA) and triethanolamine (TEA): They’re common pH stabilizers, but when they’re exposed to air, they form potentially irritating substances called nitrosamines. And they have a tendency to clog pores and create blackheads.
    • Toluene: This chemical solvent, which the EPA designates as hazardous waste, is found in fingernail polish. Toluene can cause headaches, eye irritation, and memory loss. Those won’t kill you, but if you don’t feel good, it’s worth experimenting to see if beauty products could be the source of your general blahness.
    • Dimethylethanolamine (DMAE): This common “instant facelift” ingredient in wrinkle creams actually does its work by causing cell damage and swelling. Sure, the wrinkles will go away temporarily (they also will if you’re slapped in the face), but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

    Saturday, March 7, 2009

    How to Give a Great Foot Massage

    A good foot rub works for body and mind

    * It elevates levels of oxytocin, which is the hormone that makes you feel warm and fuzzy (it’s the same hormone that a mother’s brain secretes when she’s breastfeeding).

    * It causes arousal, as the foot contains its own set of sexual nerves.

    * It stimulates lymphatic drainage. Massage helps drain waste material out of your system.


    How to do it:

    1. Clean up. To make your partner comfortable, clean his or her feet in a shallow basin of warm water or with a warm washcloth.

    2. Use the right lotion. That’s one scented with lavender, which is perceived as an aphrodisiac by both men and women.

    3. Do the whole foot. In reflexology (which shares some philosophical roots with acupuncture), the foot is seen as a metaphor for the body. The big toe is seen as the top of the head, and the sensitive area at the base of the toes represents the neck. The inner sole of the foot is the belly, while the outer sole is the spine. If an area is bothering your partner, spend some time there to get the good vibes flowing.

    4. Work your way up. We store a lot of tension in our ankles, so move the foot around passively to help relax the joint. Start with the heel and push up toward the leg; pull the heel down and work it side to side. On the bottoms of the feet, use firm pressure with your thumbs (too light and it’ll be ticklish). Use slow, deep pressure, and work the whole foot, including between the toes. Pull each toe for 10 seconds. Rub the calves from the ankle toward the knee. Since the calves and feet are furthest from the heart and fighting gravity, it is challenging for them to move lymphatic waste along. You want to be moving in that direction anyway, and now you have an excuse.

    Source: RealAge

    Friday, March 6, 2009

    Vijay Mallya buys Gandhi's belongings for $1.8 million

    I just had to share this news with you all, I can't believe it for myself!!
    Here's what happened: Yesterday while I was going through the news, I was pondering over the story about Mahatma Gandhi's belongings....somewhere in my mind....or to put it more accurately...my instinct told me that Vijay Mallya will buy it off. I don't know how I got this thought, but it lingered on throughout the day, and then I was thinking that somehow Vijay Mallya will be linked to this sale/auction.
    And here it is in today's news that Vijay Mallya has bought all of them !!!

    I am so surprised at what has happened !!!!

    I knew I had a strong sixth strength, but this episode was too much for me to even believe !!

    Here is the news for all to read.

    New York
    : After a high drama, Mahatma Gandhi's five personal items, including the iconic round eye glasses, finally went under the hammer and were bought for 1.8 million US dollars by Indian businessman Vijay Mallya.

    The auction went off despite the owner of Gandhi's prized memorabilia, James Otis, saying he has decided not to sell the items in the light of controversy.

    The items which went under the hammer also included a pocket watch, a pair of sandals and a plate and bowl besides the rimmed glasses used by Mahatma Gandhi.

    The prized memorabilia of the Father of Nation is expected to return to the country soon as the Antiquorum Auctioneers will handover the articles to Mallya within two weeks.

    Earlier, speaking to reporters here, Otis said: "In the last few hours, I have decided, in the light of the controversy, not to sell Gandhi's personal items."

    Otis' move came after intense negotiations between him and Indian diplomats at the Indian Consulate in New York.

    Otis earlier in the day set new conditions including that India shift priorities from military spending to health care especially for the poor if he has to call off the auction.


    source of news: Expressindia.com

    Press Trust of India

    Posted: Mar 05, 2009 at 0232 hrs IST

    Thursday, March 5, 2009

    Test post

    sorry this is not a regular post,
    this is just a test blog or rather a confirmation post for technorati, for which I am trying to sign up...
    apologies !!!

    Technorati Profile

    Not just another home...mind you..

    This is the bachelor pad of my good friend Jeevan.
    Jeevan is an Enginner from PICT and an MBA from SIBM. He currently lives in Bangalore, and has recently taken it upon himself to making his home his shrine.
    When he told me this, I was not expecting what I saw in the photographs that he sent me. I was/am super impressed at his neatness, his choice of colours, his attention to detail.
    Don't believe me? Well see for yourself...

    This is the living room. Notice the colour coordinated sheet and cushion covers, the brown sofa and rug goes so well with the orange. It looks warm and inviting to me.





    Here is his bedroom. It is neat, can you actually believe the guys' shelf being so nicely stacked? Mine starts off like that and ends up all topsy-turvey!! Well getting back to Jeevan's home. I loves the green pillow & the matching sheets. Also notice the nicely folded blanket at the foot of the bed.





    Jeevan is a health conscious guy, so you get to see the gym-ball near the bed and the white board.
    I wonder what he writes on the white board though .....


    In this photo you get the full view of the shelf area. You can also see the curtain at the entrance to this room....green ain't it? How cool is that!!! And I could get used to man who can make a bed that nice ;) I meant the crease-less bed sheet ladies.....how naughty are we!!





    The room with a view... That is somehow very common to anyone from the green (well it used to be) city of Pune. We (from Pune) need our greenery, and some view. Again the window curtain is also green. I just love this tinge of green, it's just so fresh and cool.


    Way to go Jeevan boy!!!

    For all those who want details of Jeevan, you know where to mail me. If there is enough demand, I will put up a photo of Jeevan, and let me warn you he is GOOD LOOKING!!
    So all you married girls will have to send off husband darlings to office and then drool over my friend ;)

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009

    Steps to Finding Your Passion

    I was browsing the Oprah website and came across this. I have been following Oprah closely for quite some time now, and am very impressed. I have discovered things about myself, that I never knew you can even think about !!

    Some months back, I started working on myself. I started thinking about "what is my passion?"

    I'll tell you why I started this quest.
    Through a lot of reading, and numerous Oprah Shows later, I came to the understanding that if you do what you are passionate about, first of all the work becomes an amazing experience every day, you are self-driven to do it, you just love everything about it; and best part is that success comes and it comes BIG time !!

    There are lots of examples around of people who followed their passion and are successful in their endeavour. There are people who love cooking and they followed it up and became super chefs, there are people who like acting and are great actors...you pick any field, famous or not famous and you will see examples of people who just followed their passion.

    Being brought up in a typical middle-class family in India, I never was told about knowing your passion or taking up subjects that really interest you. I today can tell you all that I would have loved to study Architecture, Arts, Archeology or even loved to be a Doctor. I have missed out on all these things as an education, but I do follow each one on my own level. One decision A and I have made about our son (and future children) is that we will help him/them to discover their passion, and help in every way to follow it.

    OK, now back to discovering my passion. I found this article by life coach Cheryl Rishardson, and was amazed at how simply she has explained the discovery process in easy steps. I have to share these with you all, so that it helps you in discovering your true passions.

    Step One: Get Quiet.
    For most people, the road to connecting with passion begins with practicing good self-care. This means slowing down, spending time with yourself, taking good care of your body and mind, nurturing your spirit, and engaging in activities that will move you out of your head and into your body. Once you become passionate about your self-care, you'll know you're on the right track.
    This step is about, first of all appreciating yourself, realising your self-worth and discovering the little joys that are hidden in a manicure, or a new hair cut. Get to know your body, what creams you like, what scent puts you in what mood, etc. Don't you come across some people who know themselves so well that they can absolutely pick up the most accurate lipstick shade, give clear instructions to the hair stylist. These people are in-tune with themselves and know things about the self. The bottom line is that you have to love yourself first in order to do something that you love.

    Step Two: Become Sensitive to Your Environment.
    Once you're more connected to your feelings, you'll be ready to do a little exploring to discover the specific, personal things that best ignite your passions. Spend one week paying close attention to what excites you, touches you, inspires you to think in a whole new way, or even frustrates you. Watch for clues. Stories in newspapers, programs on television or conversations with friends may give you an indication of those things that will lead you to your passions

    Often times, you maybe reading the same kind of blogs, news, like reading about the latest trend in furniture, the tiger conservation project in your country, the political scenario in the country or elsewhere etc. Gather such information about yourself, better still write it down.


    Step Three: Answer a Series of Questions.
    • What interest, passion or desire are you most afraid of admitting to yourself and others?
    • What do you love about yourself?
    • Who do you know that's doing something you'd like to do? Describe yourself doing it.
    • How could you make the world a better place for yourself and others?
    • What's stopping you from moving forward with exploring your passion?
    Believe me the above questions are not simple. You have to dig DEEP to answer them truthfully. You could have some sobby moments, you could need to talk to your friend, your mom who ever you think can understand what you are trying to achieve, and someone who can help you find those dots to join in to make the picture perfect.

    Step Four: Go on a Treasure Hunt.
    Go on a treasure hunt in your own home. The things you hold onto can provide clues to your interests and passions.Do you make connections to old pictures? A special memento from a memory that means something to you? How does what you find make you feel about yourself and your dreams?

    Oh this was fun for me, because I realised that I love collecting artifacts, quaint pieces and put them together. I often get compliments on the little collections I have in my home. I love small pottery items, older the better. I love books, reading them. I love stationary items, pens, pencils of every kind. I love cooking the 'not-everyday-stuff' like paav-bhaji, chole, biryani, cakes, etc. I love being 'in-touch' with friends, knowing what is going on at their end. I love giving advice!! ha ha ha I know a lot of times it may seem like an unwanted or un-solicited advice; but hey I'm working on it; coz I've now learnt that 'knowledge speaks and wisdom listens' !!
    I have also realised that I love to write, and it brings back memories from school days when my teachers would love all my essays and biographies. I remember once I had done a biography of a road !! Gosh my imagination sure was running wild on the road !! But you know what, I love that about myself, being able to imagine, empathise, and actually put it down on paper. One big Muaaahhhh to myself !!

    Step Five: Take a Risk.
    Stop thinking about your passions and start doing something. Take a risk, and step out to try something new. By challenging your fear with action, you'll not only raise your self-esteem, you'll expand your comfort zone. If you're not sure of what to do, ask a trusted friend or partner for ideas. Remember that good luck happens when you're in action. And, if you try something new (even if you're not sure of the outcome), you may discover a passionate interest by accident!

    I have yet to do something drastic or not-in-my-comfort-zone kind of activity. But will keep you all posted.

    Happy discovery!!

    Do let me know when you find your passion, and if you need any help along the way, just drop me a line at: neelum@gmail.com


    Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    Where is my green hill?




    The above photo is of the construction work going on on my living-room side.

    This used to be a lovely green hill.


    This photo just shows 1/3rd of the ex-hill. It used to be so nice, full of birds of different kinds flying by so often. It was much cooler also, least of all or rather the most important feature of all was that the green hill was a soothing sight.

    Now since the construction is ON, there is noise from 8 in the morning up to 5 or at times 6 in the evening, Monday- to Saturday!! There is just no escaping the noise.
    It has become quite hot, and we can actually experience heat-waves when it has not rained for a couple of days.

    They are building luxury homes here, individual units, each costing around 3.5 Million RM.
    Talking of recession, I was thinking that maybe...just maybe they would halt or go slow on the construction, but No !! they seem to have enough funds to keep it going !! Actually I heard that this project was sold out in the first 3 months itself !!

    One more thing I discovered about myself from this episode is that I love greenery, hills and peace & quiet. This has also strengthened my resolve for environment conservation.



    Monday, March 2, 2009

    Vegetable Pattice

    I made some Vegetable Pattice:
    What you basically need: puff-pastry sheets (frozen), vegetable filling of your choice, a little butter and you are ready to go.
    What I did for the filling was: boiled some potatoes, and made a basic potato-bhaji (dry vegetable) with some boiled peas, and a bit of Chaat Masala to add that surprise element.
    Then you have to cut squares out of the pastry sheets, and then mark the diagonal, then place the filling close to the diagonal, then close in the square, forming a triangle. You may need to brush a little water along the edges just to seal off the Pattice. (I did not as I wanted a closed and open kind of pattice).

    Bake it in the oven at 200 C for 25-30 minutes (go according to the temperature stated on your frozen puff-pastry sheet box). You may want to brush some butter on to the pattice before you set them in the oven. I did not do this as I was trying to not add more calories!!
    But my pattice were quite nice on top, crisp, crunchy, actually just nice.

    Here are some pictures to make you drool ;)










    Finally writing in

    Just thought i would write a list of things that i have been upto while i havent been writing:
    1. reading the blogs regularly - must say just love all the stuff Neelum writes about - i want to so meet up - hopefully it will be soon... and yes those paper clips are gorgeous.
    2. taking driving lessons - the pass rate in London is the lowest in the country - so trying to get as many lessons before the test day.
    3. managed to take on a part-time job - i just got a payslip in the mail - after three years it felt really nice to find something else other than bills in the mail - and ofcourse promptly spent some of my earnings on some interesting new toys for Mihir.
    4. trying to play badminton - i must say i am finding it harder to get into the swing of things - have been battling stiff muscles - and well participated in the local badminton tournament and lost (so was disappointed in myself - not practising enough and zero fitness levels can only mean one thing).
    5. had a long vacation in India - seven weeks - attended two weddings - that was pretty special - so now trying to shift all those extra kilos off my waist.
    6. Trying to sort out various child care options - like baby sitters, nursery, friends, and hopefully i will manage to sort it all out.
    Well it feels good to finally write in - the weather is getting better and i have finally got a well deserved night-in with Shrirang out to participate in a quiz and Mihir in his bed and work out of the way. Now i am just going to sip on some refreshing cool water and read a magazine and have an early night. And hope to write in more regularly now that i have got some elements of daily routine sorted out.

    Sunday, March 1, 2009

    Some old promised stuff

    I had told you about our past Sunday when we were mall hopping etc etc.
    Well to begin with we parked at Tesco, then hopped into The Curve and then to Ikea and back to Tesco. All are located in Mutiara Damansara and are linked so one is not zipping in and out, it's more like gliding from one to the other !!

    Here is what we did:
    Tesco 1: only parked the car, then went into The Curve.
    The Curve: we checked out Daiso (I have written about this already, click here to read it again). At Daiso Aadu picked up a very cute red bucket, he wants to fill it with sand !!
    After Daiso we went into the Yamaha Music Store to get some Guitar string for A's guitar (funny thing is we could not remember if it was the second string from top or from the bottom!!) so we did not buy any !!

    Ikea: first stop was the restaurant, where we ate, drank, and rested our tired feet. Then we were off to the Children's Section, where the little brat that is my son, picked up a sheep/dog (soft toy), and a shovel. A picked up some white board markers for Aadu's board. Someone has to help me out on this one, my son always forgets to cap the pens, hence within a week we are left with dry markers..
    Then it was off to some wandering in the show-area, where Aadu admired the kitchens, living rooms, some kiddy furniture, and let out exclamations like 'wow'..'so cool na' etc. I was pretty amazed at how he liked and soaked in the designs and I was more amazed at his taste. I predict here and now that my son is going to have one amazing house.
    We then cut short the route to enter the 'market-place'. Glanced around, and I remember picking up an ice cream scooper but it was not there in the cart by the time we were at the check-out counter. Oh yes below is the picture of my the 18-piece dinner set I picked up. I love the blue colour ...




    Then we re-traced our steps to The Curve to get back to Tesco. On the way Aadu found these battery operated animal rides, so we enjoyed ourselves on this Elephant-cum-dog ride.



    Then I saw some stuff put out by Metrojaya, so stopped to check it out, and ended up buying two night dresses, what I liked about them (besides the price ;)) was the soft hosiery-cotton material and amazing softness. Both pieces were very well priced at 20 and 24 Ringgit.

    Tesco 2: this was majorly grocery-shopping, so our cart was full of vegetables and fruits. I also picked up some 'potato bread' this time, as I have always seen locals buy this hot off the shelf. I must say when we came home and tried it...I was amazed at how yummm it was..it was very-slightly sweet, and had the texture of a 'paav' from back in India.