Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How come we haven't said anything about Facebook yet?

I can't remember when exactly I joined Facebook but it must be around three years back.When my sister suggested that I join Facebook I was very skeptical and thought that it was an application only for teenagers or people in their early twenties.

However,after joining & reconnecting with old friends I am totally hooked!It is extremely useful for keeping in touch with people in this day and age when everyone is so busy .I am not suggesting that Facebooking can replace actual meeting with people but it is a great way to connect with friends & relatives who are living in different countries.Best thing is there are many options of staying in touch :you can play Scrabble with an old friend or send him a virtual gift or comment on his photos.Apart from keeping in touch with your friends and other people,in Facebook you can also join a cause,become a fan of a renowned personality or political figure or invite and get invited to events.I have seen people use Facebook for launching a book and promoting their products(including blogs)

Friends I haven't meet for years I have found in Facebook and I now know what they look like currently,how many kids they have & what they have been upto all these years.There is comfort in connecting with old friends who were a part of your childhood.

Facebook also has many applications such as Scrabulous (basically online scrabble) and other word games, books & movies application (where you can view reviews and write reviews).However, some of the applications such as "Friend of the Day","Enemy of the day" or "When will you die?" are silly & unrealistic.However, preteens and teenagers would probably like these applications.

Then there are the privacy issues.Even if you don't give photo access to all your "Friends" ,they will still be able to view them if a "common friend" comments on your photos. A recent rumour suggested that Facebook could use any of your photos for commercial purposes but later I heard that it was not true.

Another downside of Facebook is probably that it can be quite addictive! Many a mornings,after the kids have gone to their preschool,I would be Facebooking instead of doing the household chores and later would curse myself for wasting the precious time.
Inspite of the downsides,Facebook is loved by its users and nowadays older generations are also creating FB accounts to keep in touch with their children who are living abroad or to keep in touch with relatives. I haven't tried the other social networking sites yet but would love to hear from people who have used them.I have opened Tag and Orkut accounts but haven't been checking my account for a long long time.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Eid Mubarak!

Today is Eid-ul-Fitr,or Hari Raya Aidalfitre, the biggest festival for Muslims all over the world. It comes after Ramadan which is a month of abstinence when devoted muslims observe fast from dawn to dusk.

Yesterday I did my Eid shopping from Mustafa and bought packets of of vermicilli,Rasgollahs,mustard,ghee,chicken & spices (mace & nutmeg) .I did all the shopping during daytime so that I could concentrate on the cooking part in the evening. Shopping in Mustafa while fasting was tough and yesterday Mustafa was really really crowded.

From around seven o'clock in the evening my maid started cooking.I made "phirni" and my maid prepared everything else except "pulao" and vegetables which taste better when they are freshly prepared.We were expecting some of my hubby's colleagues for dinner on Eid night.

On Eid day we woke up early for all the preparations.Faisal wore a new punjabi set and went to say Eid prayers in Ang mo Kio mosque. But he was late and when he reached there the Eid prayers were over!

After he came back we sat together for a while and then had our breakfast.Breakfast was bread,fried eggs and tea-what I usually have everyday.After a while we had "shemai" which has been prepared especially for Eid.It is roasted vermicilli cooked in milk and is a delicious dessert.

We were invited for lunch at a friend's place and so we set off for their place in the afternoon along with the kids.It was a big Eid party with lots of guests.We had a great time and it came close to Eid,as we celebrate it in Bangladesh, with lots of hustle and bustle and delicious food.

We came back home and my daughter had a great time watching shows like "Tinkerbell" & "Little Mermaid" which Disney Channel was telecasting for Hari Raya.

Even with guests the evening was quiet.The dinner menu consisted of "pulao",chicken roast, mixed vegetable & mutton curry. The guests left early as they were all were newcomers in Singapore.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Facial Hair

I am very troubled with facial hair and not just upperlip but also chin,cheeks and jaws. I don't want to bleach because it is not really advisable for women living in sunny countries.I had threaded recently but threading also doesn't seem like a viable option as it is very painful (upperlip I can bear with because it is a small area). And also though my face was looking fresh and clear after the threading,in light I could see the thread marks on my face.
And about "shaving" I don't know.I have never tried it but I hear some women do it with excellent results. But my concern is what if it produces a stubble on my face and make the hair coarser?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ten foods to lift your mood

Below is an article from rediff.com

I read it and knew that I must share it with you all, because most of us who are mothers feel very tired and exhausted towards the end of the day and this in turn leads to feeling sad, and overwhelmed....so read on girls and rush to your kitchen for one of the food items listed below....milk, walnuts, dark chocolate...sounds good to me for now !!

Let's face it, sometimes life can be tough. And managing your work and your personal life can be tough, and managing your weight and fitness, well, even tougher. No one can live a long and healthy life without the will to go on; sometimes mood swings can make us feel that life is too much to handle. But did you know, a bad mood not only gives you a gloomy outlook, it also lowers your immune function, leading the way to illness.

As it turns out though, what we eat is not only important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle; it can really make a difference on your outlook as well. The food you eat affects your physical as well as your mental well-being. This means a bad diet can be one of the causes of depression. On the other hand, a healthy diet may be enough to lift your spirits without the need for medication and counseling.

So, if it is true that food fuels your body and also fuels your mood then which are the foods that you should search for when you hit the blues? Well, here is a list of foods for your mood:

The carbs in oatmeal trigger the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that boosts mood and can even help you sleep better. Recent studies have shown that after consumption of high carbohydrate food, the hormone insulin is secreted, which lowers the blood levels of most amino acids, with the exception of tryptophan, which is a precursor to serotonin. When there are high blood levels of tryptophan in relation to other amino acids, it enters the brain at a higher rate, thus synthesising more serotonin. While all carbs will give you this kick, stick to whole-grains (complex carbs) as they are digested more slowly and will thus keep you feeling fuller for a longer period of time. Examples of whole grains include brown rice,
daliya and oatmeal. So if you want to have a good day, start the day with a bowl of oatmeal.

Well, as it turns out there a reason why you should add milk to your cereal. Milk is also a good source of tryptophan as so are other dairy products. Thus adding milk to your cereal or just having plain milk will have a happy and calming effect. Whey proteins have also been shown to decrease anxiety and frustration.

Your morning Java contains caffeine which is the world's most popular psychoactive drug. It boosts metabolism and energy levels, making you feel more alert. It also manipulates the channels in the brains, thus activating the brain's pleasure centers. However, too much caffeine can make you dependent and make you nervous, irritable, or bring on headaches. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid coffee and other caffeinated foods and beverages before bedtime.

According to a recent survey, many people suffering from depression felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan (although it's not one of the major sources, a medium banana still contains about 10.6 mg of tryptophan). Moreover, it also regulates your blood glucose levels with the Vitamin B6 and smooth your mood naturally. Vitamin B6 is needed to convert the phenylalanine to mood-enhancing dopamine. If you don't get enough vitamin B6, you'll probably feel low, and stress depletes your levels further.

The monosaturated fats in avocados help your brain be sensitive to serotonin levels. And there is more, these same fats will help lower blood pressure over time. So that's two kills with one stone. Moreover, avacados have one of the highest contents of Vitamin B6.

It's no secret that turkey contains tryptophan, but it also contains a chemical phenylalanine that the brain converts to dopamine. Dopamine is a neuro chemical that elevates mood and motivation.

When you're feeling down, cook up some fish. Their high levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to fight depression, moodiness and impulsiveness. They boost serotonin levels and the zinc present in fish enhances your brain's receptiveness to the neurotransmitter. The best fish are fatty fish such as salmon, herring and sardines. Salmon is also a natural source of Vitamin D which according to recent researches may increase the level of serotonin.

Walnuts have long been thought of as a "brain food" because of their wrinkled, bi-lobed (brainlike) appearance. Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids for vegetarians. They are also enriched with tryptophan, which is a precursor to serotonin -- mood enhancing chemicals.

This is one thing we all know that works! According to a recent study, moderate drinkers (two drinks a day for men, one for women) had fewer depressive symptoms, but alcohol in large quantities can be a devastating depressant.

Dark chocolate
So the best things always come the last. This sweet treat has a mild, temporary effect on your mood. In part, it's an emotional response. However, chocolate contains some caffeine, which acts as a stimulant, and the food's sugars and other compounds trigger the release of serotonin and endorphin. Moreover, cocoa and dark chocolate contain significant amounts of antioxidant flavanols, which improve blood flow in the brain.

There is one more thing that will help you lift your mood almost instantly. It's not a food, it's exercise. Research suggests that exercise may provide an immediate mood boost for people suffering from depression.

You deserve the best that this life has to offer for your body, mind and spirit. It all starts with how you treat yourself.

Let the good feelings flow!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Look what I found..an online free make-over site

Today as I glanced through my new issue of the Oprah Magazine, I saw a very interesting thing. It was a huge advertisement by Estee Lauder, and there was a small leaflet about this amazing thing that they created. It is a widget/tool/software program that allows you to make-over yourself by using all the products in their makeup range. You get to choose your photo, then you start with your basic foundation, concealer etc. Then you go on to choose the blush on, the bronzer (did not know what this was !! till now). Next you get to work on your lips, choosing various kinds of lipsticks, glosses in various finishes. You finish off with a lip liner. Next are the eyes, you choose your eye shadow, your liner and mascara.
You get to do all this after the tool has helped you to carefully measure your facial points.
The outcome is truly amazing, and one can spend hours n hours doing this....I am doing this since morning and have not stopped yet !!
Below are pictures of the three looks that I have tried so far...Have a look and go get yourself a make over too !!
The tool can be downloaded from: http://omagonline.com/esteelauder/
Have fun girls !! and send me ur pictures...



Personal Message:

my first trial with the Estee Lauder widget



Personal Message:

double wear lipstick one click look

Personal Message:


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A few of my favourite things...

What I want to do under this title, is to enlist my favourite things such as cosmetics, perfumes, handbags, shoes etc etc...all girly stuff basically.

So today I begin with my top-rated favourite things...and it is a Vitamin Enriched Face Base by Bobbi Brown.
I bought this thinking it to be a cream...a moisturising cream...and it turned out to be much more.
I love it for it's fragrance, it's super fresh and energising. The texture is as smooth as silk, it gets absorbed very easily into the skin, and most importantly it does not leave me looking oily.
The skin kind of just drinks up or soaks up all the goodness offered by this cream.
It has a host of great things for the skin like Shea butter, carrot extract, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, E etc.
It is a great way to start make up, and even if it's just a dab of powdered foundation or a loose tinted powder, all stays put on this base, and the finish is all smooth.
My current pot of goodness is almost coming to near finish....which reminds me I had better put this goody thing on my to-buy list ASAP !!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Julia Donaldson's books

Recently we read some picture books of Julia Donaldson's to my kids which they really liked.These include books like "The Gruffalo's Child" ,"The Snail and the Whale" and "Hippo has a Hat".

The first Julia Donaldson book that I read to my kids was "The Gruffalo" and they just fell in love with the book ( so did I). It is truly a modern classic and those mothers who haven't already read the book to their children,please do so....you will have great fun!This was a year back and then I bought "The Gruffalo" because it is worth having it in the house when I am reading a book that frequently because otherwise it is just renew,renew & renew from the library. I knew that "The Gruffalo" had a sequel but I could never find it in the library.I kept searching with the first letter of her first name,which is "J", instead of searching by the first letter of her surname!!!I don't know how I didn't realize it!

Then I went to "Kinokuniya" again last month and bought two books of Julia Donaldson called "The Gruffalo's Child" & "A Squash and a Squeeze". Both my kids became extremely fond of these books and I had to read the sequel of the Gruffalo to them almost everday!Then,fortunately,I found Julia's books in the library as well,after realizing that I should search under "D" and from there I borrowed "Hippo has a Hat" and "The Snail and the Whale".My daughter loved both the books and my son likes "Hippo has a Hat".I think that "The Snail and the Whale" might just be a little wordy and complicated for him.

Julia Donaldson's books are very enjoyable and most of them rhymes (probably because of her songwriting background). My kids can recite parts of her books because of the rhyming pattern.Books like "The Snail and the Whale" & "A Squash and a Squeeze" also has a lot of wisdom in them. For example, the "Squash and a Squeeze" tell us that we are never grateful for what we have and we only realize how lucky we were only when we lose privileges.

The book that I least liked of all the Julia Donaldson's books is probably the "Postman Bear" but my son likes it because it is a "lift the flap" book and he gets very excited about lifting the flap and seeing what's inside.

Now I am planning to borrow or buy other Julia Donaldson's books which we haven't read yet.Her picture books are great for "read aloud" sessions with young children.

Dressing for the occasion

I was watching the new reality/talk show hosted by Farah Khan, called Tere Mere Beech Mein. I liked the format of the show, I hate the set, and hate the entire over-the-top drama.
What I also did not like the way some lady guests on the show dressed up. As watched them, I kept wondering if they had never heard of the term 'dressing for the occasions'..
The ladies were tugging up their neck lines, as they struggled to sit down and have a decent conversation. They were pulling down their hem lines....trying to look decent as they sat legs crosses (knee over the other)...they were constantly pulling up and or pulling down....
I felt they were too distracted with what they were wearing. They should have just worn clothes with a more forgiving neck line, and a hemline that stayed at a decent length even when one sat down....I am not asking them to be fully covered in a salwar suit etc; but a little dress sense goes a long way. Point in case Genelia ....who I love a lot...Shilpa and Bipasha also turned out in short dresses but I liked their classy dress sense. Kareena was super in a animal print shirt and blue jeans.
I also know that such shows are times when they wish to show off their wonderful figures and look like million dollars...but I ask...all this at what expense?
You can't complete one line without your hand wandering either up or down...what does that say about you? It shows you're not comfortable with what your wearing.
I am an ardent fan of the Oprah show, and have seen ample number of celebrities on her show, but I always found them to be very decently dressed (save a minute number of them who turned up in their kids clothes !!).
Why even go that far.....check the men on the same show, they turned out fully covered, decent, and yes looking good. I did not like Salman's shirt though :(
Shahrukh, John Abraham, Riteish Deshmukh, Vivek Oberoi, Karan Johar, Shreesanth, Irfaan Pathan, Yusuf Pathan...all looked good in full clothes.

Ladies please, you can still look 'wow' minus all those skimpy clothes....save them for some party please.......

Friday, September 11, 2009

Artist in my house

Aaditya got the above star from his Mamaji for the following work.
The first one is a drawing depicting where we currently live, the boy is Aaditya who is looking out of the window, and he's looking at his friend "no-no" (moon). He used to call the moon as "no-no" when he was little.

This is his first attempt at writing number without the tracing sheets. He wrote them independently without help. His 7 and 9 are typical of a left handed person, so have to still work on them.
This picture shows Aadu's Mamaji's house, the building is tall, it has spiral or rounded finishes along some parts of its exterior, there is a hill to the right, the sun shines over the mountain.
On the other side of the building is a tall tree ..

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chicken Biryani - my style

I love making this Biryani, not only is it yummy, it is gratifying and satisfying to see friends and family enjoy it. The process to some may seem tedious and long, but believe me the outcome is absolutely fantastic.

What you need:
Chicken 1 Kg
Basmati Rice 1 Kg
Onions 7 medium ones or 5 large ones
Ginger - Garlic paste 2 tablespoons each
Green chilli - 4-5
Tomato - 3
Yogurt - 1 cup
Lemon juice - juice of one lemon
Red chilli powder - 2 teaspoons
Chicken Masala - 3 teaspoons
Turmeric powder
Tej Patta - 2-3
Cardamom - 4-5
Black pepper - 1 teaspoon
Cloves - 4-5
Cinnamon - 1 stick
Mint leaves
Fresh Coriander
Salt (obviously !!)

Mix together the curds, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of ginger paste, 1 teaspoon of garlic paste, turmeric 1/2 teaspoon, chicken masala, red chilli powder, salt.
Meanwhile wash and drain the chicken pieces; poke them with a fork.
Dip each piece in the marinade and place in a bowl; after completing all pieces, pour the remaining marinade over the chicken.
Leave this in the fridge over night for best results or atleast for a couple of hours.

The next day, you will need to do the following...

The Rice:
Soak the rice in water for 20-30 mins, then in a deep and thick bottom pan pour some oil or ghee, and add the Tej Patta, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper - let this fry till the spices release their aroma. Be careful not to burn them. Then add in the rice (after draining the water); saute the rice for a couple of minutes, coating the rice with the oil/ghee and spices.
Add salt to taste; then add water (I usually add twice the number of cups as that of the rice, so for every 1 cup of rice I add 2 cups of water) in this case we have to cook the rice till 3/4th done, and also drain the excess water; so use all reasoning to add as per ur 'Andaaz'.

Other things that you will need:
Fried Onions:
Cut about 4 of the large onions into thin slices; add a bit of salt to them and leave aside for 1/2 an hour. After that drain off all the water, and sprinkle the onions with corn-flour. In a pan/kadhai heat oil, and deep fry the coated onions, trying not to form clumps. Fry till golden brown. Drain them on some kitchen paper.

Mint & Coriander:
Wash and cut mint leaves and fresh coriander. Leave aside. This should be done at the last minute just before you actually assemble the biryani.

The Chicken:
Heat oil in a large pan, add in the chicken pieces and fry them till they turn golden.
Once they leave the side of the pan (they are not sticking any more), put on the lid and let the chicken cook in it's own juices. Remember you will have some excess marinade left in your bowl; do not throw it, we are going to use it up.

The Gravy:
In a pan heat some oil, add onion; once onions are golden add ginger garlic paste, then add tomatoes (coarsely shopped), green chilli, then add in the excess marinade from the chicken cooking step. Cook this till the tomatoes are soft and the marinade is cooked down. Add fresh coriander.
Let this cool, then using a hand mixer make it into a medium coarse gravy.

Assembly time:
Take a deep and thick bottom pan, cut a piece of butter paper of the size of the pan's bottom. Put this paper in the pan, this is a self discovered trick which avoids the biryani from sticking to the bottom of the pan !!
You can totally avoid this step if butter paper is not in the house. BTW butter paper is available where you get your baking supplies or even near the aluminum foil racks.

The first layer is a thick layer of rice, top it up with fried onion, the gravy, and then chicken pieces, on top of this add the mint-coriander leaves, then add some ghee along the edges of the pan and also in the center.
Repeat this layering process till you are finished with all your chicken & Rice.
The topmost layer should be rice - gravy.

Let this sit on the stove for a good 30 minutes or more, on a low flame, shut the lid tightly over this layered biryani. If you are worried of some steam leakages, make a dough of simple wheat flour and seal the lid along the outer edges. If you want to keep it warm, just place a 'tava' below the pan, and leave the gas on low flame.

Serve the Biryani with:
Boondi Raita
Onion Salad
Cucumber slices that have been chilled in the fridge.

My way of making Onion Salad:
Thinly slice 2-3 medium onions, sprinkle salt, red chilli powder, a bit of black pepper and juice of one lemon. Mix well and keep in fridge.
When it's time to serve this, the onions will have turned soft, sweet and the entire combination works very well with any non-veg dish.

Do try.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Of this and that...

I have done numerous things in the past days that I was not blogging....there was this...and there was that ....
Ha ha ha...
Anyways...I would like to share the little snippets of 'gyan' that I gained during those days.

I read many new blogs, found a few very good ones pertaining to Interior Decoration, Photography, and everything colorful in general. Want to see for yourself? Please visit Rang Decor

Another thing on my mind of late is silver jewellery and traditional Indian patters....I feasted my eyes on Maya Bazaar and Sukra Jewellery
There was another one... Amrapali
I spent an entire afternoon on these sites, figuring one which one I liked most...and it turned out that I loved the traditional patterns by a huge margin over the modern designs....
So I am a traditional girl by choice.

I made some Gajar Ka Halwa, there was even the humble but superbly turned out double-layered sponge cake, then there was the star of the Sunday lunch: Chicken Biryani; that turned out the best it has ever...I did do a few things differently this time...so I am going to stick to the new-found modifications.

I will put up the entire preparation of the Chicken Biryani in the next post...so just hang on