March 13, 2019

Let Fashion be Ethical!

Finally I'm surfacing back from my Social Media sabbatical and it feels so good to be back to blogging after the two month long detox. It feels even better knowing that this break was totally worth it for me. I had more time for relationships, to reflect on my lifestyle and not having to take a picture of every happy moment in my life was quite relaxing.

While a lot of new things took shape during my social media break, there are particularly two things that have changed something inside me. 

One of which, I'm going to share today in this blogpost. (while you'll will have to wait for another post to hear about the second)

 Love shopping, love dressing up, love to read about it....Fashion has always intrigued me in more ways than one! Until recently when I stumbled upon The True Cost - a documentary on Netflix about the Fashion Industry, that literally gave me goosebumps and a brand new perspective on the CLOTHES WE WEAR!!!!


Who makes our clothes?
In what conditions?
At what wage rate? 

These are questions I had never asked myself before buying clothes from stores like H&M, Zara or any other.  The"true cost" of a garment is not that comes with the tag attached. There is a cost of human life to it and that's exactly what this documentary highlights. 

Manufacturing of clothes being outsourced to China, Bangladesh and India because the cost of production is lower in these countries is one thing. But the woman who tailored those clothes had to work under poor factory conditions with a bare minimum wage was really upsetting.  

When I set myself up to gather more information on this topic, Google had a plethora of Fashion terms that I had never heard in my life before!

Fast Fashion 
versus
Slow and Sustainable Fashion

While its almost embarrassing to admit I did not know fast and slow were words associated with fashion, now that I do, let me break this down for you.

 We are rapidly getting engulfed by this constant need to update our wardrobes on a weekly basis with new and affordable clothes that we barely wish to wear again! That's leading to fast fashion where retailers want a quick turn around on garments even if that means compromising on the standards of how its made. 

 The good news is that there are brands who believe otherwise!

 Brands who look at fashion ethically, follow fair trade practices, treat their workers right and maintain transparency in the entire journey of how a cotton crop became a cotton top. Their idea is that consumers prioritize quality over quantity. Invest in clothes that may be a little expensive than fast fashion brands but will have longer sustainability.



In the past few weeks, whenever I've opened my wardrobe, my heart sank looking at the clothes that might have been stitched by the sweat and blood of a women working in what they call a "sweatshop"

I cannot abandon those clothes overnight and will continue to wear them, but I also know that within me a fashion revolution has ignited. And I do look at shopping for clothes in a changed way. Slowly and steadily the only additions to my wardrobe will be those that were made ethically.



I've started compiling a list of brands that make clothes prioritizing not just consumers but their makers too! And it makes me happy that there are so many:) Will share the list soon.

Lets #ShopResponsibly #MakeThatSwitch and #ChooseSlowOverFast

Sharing few Stats from the documentary but please do take time to watch The True Cost.





  








June 14, 2018

Reconnecting with myself again!



5 things that helped me connect to my younger self after having a baby.

At the start of 2018 - I set some personal goals for myself that I wanted to work towards. For the past two years (ever since I became a mommy to D)  mom duties took over every other important part of life. I got completely consumed in taking care of my little one and kind of lost touch with the person I was apart from being a mom.

Right before D was turning 2, it hit me that it was about time I made a few changes for myself.  I could have it both ways if I tried no matter how demanding motherhood got and so I decided to make an effort towards self development.

After all being a mom didn’t mean ignoring all the other things in life that made me a happier person right!? This realisation made me pen down everything that I thought I was missing out on. 

Once you write things down, it gets so much easier for the mind and body to start working towards those goals. That’s exactly what happened and I was comfortably able to allow things to make a come back into my life.

These are a few additions that have brought so much positivity along. There might be days when I do take a break and take it easy but only because it allows me to bounce back harder!


1)Exercising


This is something that I’d been running away from all my life. I lost my pregnancy weight because D kept me on toes.  Breastfeeding also worked in my favor allowing me to shed those extra pounds even though I ate so much without really having to hit the gym.

Then one fine day when I felt exhausted after climbing a few flight of stairs I realised how working out was not just to “lose weight” but essentially the best gift we can give to our body in order to stay fit and healthy.

Now I no longer have to drag myself to a workout. It’s nothing vigorous but just 30 minutes in the gym doing cardio that completely pumps me up and something I really look forward to!


2) Playing a sport:

Each time I took D to the nearby park, I couldn’t stop staring at the adjacent basket ball and tennis courts and remember my school days. Playing sport was a part of me back then. Coincidentally I found a tennis coach in the same building I stay at. I took it as a sign and started my tennis lessons with her a few weeks back. 

Being at that court is like meditation. I’m not thinking about anything else, no distractions, and no concerns for that hour and a half. 

Taking time out for gym and tennis has worked wonders not just for my physical and mental health but taught me the most valuable lesson of self discipline.  No matter how busy I get at times- this is something I'd always want to prioritise.


3) Avoiding baby talk: 

As moms, its only natural that our kids tend to become the centre of our lives. Especially as a first time mom,  very often I find myself only discussing "children issues" with my other mommy friends or even the ones who haven't had babies yet. 

Now I make a conscious effort to talk about other things with every person I meet. Its no longer just about how I'm dealing with toddler tantrums, what she eats, what she doesn't or her recent milestones achieved. Suddenly there is so much more to talk about and listen to and it feels great not discussing about babies all the time!

4) Reading:

The more we read, the more we learn! It’s a habit that gives more meaning to life. I make it a point to read every single day. Sometimes it may be as little as half hour in an entire day just before bedtime but that’s okay.

Whether it’s news, a book, an article, vogue for my dose of bollywood news or reading others blogposts- it feels good to stay connected with what’s happening other than your own personal life.

It gives a broader perspective to my life and there is something new I get to learn everyday.


5) Self care: 

One thing that I’m guilty of ignoring totally are my hands. Just like every mom, they have overworked themselves in the past two years in the process of numerous diaper changes and doing dishes.

Forget getting a mani, I wouldn’t even bother to paint my nails knowing how they would start chipping off the very next day given all the soap exposure.  Even stopped wearing my rings with the fear of hurting D while changing her clothes or lifting her.

Getting back to pampering my hands by getting manicures,  wearing my rings again and in general taking care of my hair and skin feels so good. Now when it comes to self care routine, I don't procrastinate but just plan it better. 


Starting D’s day care definitely helped me find more time to do all of the above things but most importantly it was the willingness to bring these things back into my life that worked for me.

Now I can safely say that I’m in a happy place where there is a perfect balance between motherhood and my personal well being and that’s exactly where I wish to be!

Is there anything that you did too that helped you reconnect post motherhood? Would love to hear:)

February 21, 2018

Homemade COFFEE!




For a chai lover like me, coffee is a once in a while affair. So whenever I'm in mood to trade my chai for coffee (usually in the evenings) I make sure it’s something worth indulging into! 

Few of my favorites are: Peppermint mocha from Starbucks, Coffee from my Nespresso machine and home made hand beaten coffee, the recipe of which I'm sharing on the blog today.

 I’ve been making this coffee for years now. Its like making a cappuccino at home without using any fancy equipment. A lot of my friends who’ve tasted this coffee have vouched for its taste and how creamy it is. I don’t know any coffee lover who hasn’t liked the coffee this recipe generates.

In case you’re wondering if a homemade coffee really needs a recipe to be followed just stay with me and keep reading further. I promise I won’t disappoint. Its just a tad bit of a more effort than boiling milk and mixing it with coffee and sugar. But the result is truly worth every sip. 

Let’s start with ingredients:




  • Instant coffee powder (4 tablespoon)
  • Sugar (6 tablespoon)
  • Water ( to beat the coffee)
  • Milk (4 cups)

This recipe will yield four medium cups of coffee. I recommend making minimum of four because it gets easier and quicker to beat the coffee. 

Step1:

In a bowl, mix the coffee powder and sugar and start beating it with a spoon adding small amounts of water. 

Make sure not to add a lot of water instantly otherwise the texture will be slimy and not frothy as we want it to be. 

Step2:

Bring milk to boil in a saucepan. In the meantime layer the bottom of the cup with 1 tablespoon of the beaten mixture and then pour the boiling milk over it. 

Stir it very gently once or twice and in seconds you’ll see the coffee turn into a rich creamy frothy one. 




Step3:

Sprinkle some cocoa powder over it. It not only makes the coffee look dressy but the chocolate totally enhances the flavor too. 


This is my go-to recipe whenever I have guests or friends over and are in mood for a hot beverage. 

You can refrigerate the beaten mix for up-to a week so this is definitely a good make-ahead recipe if you are expecting some company over. 











January 12, 2018

First birthday celebration!


Dia is about to turn two in April, and I already cant hold my excitement of planning a birthday party for her. Last year on her first birthday both RJ and me had amicably agreed to a small celebration at home involving just family. I'm so glad we didn't plan anything huge because she was too young to remember or even enjoy an actual party. 

This year, we do want all our friends and extended family to be a part of her birthday. And as for D, she is more social and interactive now, recognises all friends and family so I feel that the probability of her enjoying has increased in the past one year. 

My brain has already begun to process her preferences to decide on a party theme and all the other planning that I need to do. I will most certainly keep you posted on the details of D's 2nd but before that I wanted to share how and what we did for her 1st.

Though we didn't have a long list of guests, and a rather small celebration at home, I still wanted to make her milestone birthday special and the pictures worth looking back at.

One thing I've realised is that whether its a private celebration or a huge party, there is immense joy in throwing a birthday party for your little one. 


Keeping it minimal!


Following is a list of what we did for D's 1st - and a bunch of pictures along:)

1) Birthday Cake:

D was on a marathon of listening to hindi rhymes in that phase.  "bandar mama pehen pajama" being her favorite. The rhythm of that song would just light her up! When I was shortlisting options to customise D's birthday cake, out of all her other favorite things, bandar mama was a sure shot winner!

There is a local bakery here in our neighbourhood Sweet and Flour  She did an amazing job with the cake and customising a bandar (monkey) on it. We got a fruit cake with fresh cut strawberries. It had just the right amount of sweetness and everyone loved it. For D's second birthday, I at least know whom I'm outsourcing the cake too:)


All eyes on bandar mama!
More than the cake cutting, she was excited to get her hands on the monkey
 and bite into the poor guy.


2) Cake Smash:

Though D had tasted sugar/sweeter things before, I wanted to plan a cake smash anyway. Getting to see her reaction of having an entire cake to herself without any restrictions would be quite an experience.

It was priceless watching her eat that cake in the cutest way and I cant wait to share all the pictures and videos with her when she is old enough to make sense out of it.

I got a half pound cake with pink floral icing for her cake smash from the same bakery. Though D could barely come close to finishing it, the yummy mess was still pretty tempting to be eaten by her mom later. 

I'm sure she is thinking its the best day of her life! 


3) Decoration:

I kept the decor simple and minimal with a big number one balloon and few other colorful ones that RJ had picked a night before from Party City. We decorated her play area at night after she went to bed to surprise her on the birthday morning. 

April still happens to be a colder month and we couldn't plan an outdoor shoot but I did want to click some great pictures and add a special touch. Pinterest never fails me on the creative front. I got inspired by the idea to create a DIY hot air ballon.

Apart from that,  another website that came handy in ordering some unique stuff for the birthday decor was Etsy. I got a banner to display D's monthly birthday pictures which now beautifully hangs on our bedroom wall.

I also ordered a customised chalk board poster listing D's one year stats and a few of her favorite things from her first year. Its pinned right above her high chair and now when I look at it, it reminds me of how her preferences have changed in just another year. For instance, bandar mama is long forgotten and bollywood dance numbers have taken over!



Soaring high, hoping you touch the sky!
(Though I really wish I could plan an outdoor shoot for her)


Growing up way too fast!

4) Food:

We had the cake cutting at 11a.m followed by lunch. The cake smash was planned for later evening once D was up form her afternoon nap. 

We were about 10 people including family and few friends. I squeezed some time to make two easy-to-put together appetisers at home and ordered a lebanese food platter for the main course. The yummy cake made up for dessert.   

A good party has to have great food! Agree?

5) Outfits:

Believe it or not, D's spring inspired sunshine yellow dress is sourced from India. I follow a brand called Pa:paa on Instagram who make children's clothing and simply love their stuff. Fortunately, a friend of mine was returning from India so she was able to get it but they do ship worldwide. I wanted D to be comfortable in what she wears so she could play around and have fun. It was customised and giving them measurements over the phone made me a little unsure but t
he outfit turned out perfect and also fit her really well.

Here cake smash outfit was a very last minute thought and Amazon Prime came to the rescue.  



US<3

All in all, it turned out to be an awesome day for D as well as us. She wasn't cranky at all and actually ended up enjoying her first birthday, which as parents was super satisfying to watch!

With this throwback post on D's first birthday, I now feel super charged and excited to plan for her second. Stay tuned for more...


P.S. We didn't hire a professional photographer for the day but my friend's husband did a fab job! Anand, if you are reading this thank you once again:)

January 8, 2018

The best parenting advice I've received!

Summer of 2017


For those of you who are not parents and yet reading this post, I'm glad you took the initiative to click on the link to my blog and find out what's in it. And for the other category called "parents" to which I most certainly now belong, we all know that parenting can be a tricky and a tough job. What I'm about to share further is worth a read, parents or non parents. 

A week back, I woke up to a screen shot image of an article sent to me by my elder brother on whats app. The article threw some light upon parenting today as against the kind of parenting we received while growing up. 

It was so relatable that I couldn't resist sharing it here on the blog. Whether or not we agree/follow what it has to offer is a matter of personal choice. All I can say is its definitely worth a read and some food for thought.

The article is by John Rosemomd, who's a renowned family psychologist. Here's his piece of advice:

I recently asked a married couple who have three kids, none of whom are yet teens, "Who are the most important people in your family?"

Like all good moms and dads of this brave millennium, they answered, "Our kids!"

"Why?" I then asked. "What is it about your kids that gives them that status?"

And like all good moms and dads of this brave new millennium, they couldn't answer the question other than to fumble with appeals of emotion. 

So, I answered the question for them: "There is no reasonable thing that that  gives your children that status."

I went on to point out that many if not most of the problems they're having with their kids - typical stuff, these days - are the result of treating their children as if they, their marriage, and their family exist because of the kids when it is, in fact, the other way around. Their kids exist because of them and their marriage and thrive because they have created a stable family. 

Furthermore, without them, their kids wouldn't eat well, have the nice clothing they wear, live in the nice home in which they live, enjoy the great vacations they enjoy, and so on. 

This issue is  really the heart of the matter. People my age know it's the heart of the matter because when we were kids it was clear to us that our parents were the most important people in our families. And that, right there, is why we respected our parents and that, right there, is why we looked up to adults in general. Yes, Virginia, once upon a time in theUnited States Of America, children were second-class citizens, to their advantage.

It was clear to us - I speak, of course, in general terms, albeit accurate - that our parents marriages were more important to them than their relationships with us. Therefore, we did not sleep in their beds or interrupt their conversations. The family meal, at home, was regarded as more important than after school activities. Mom and Dad talked more - a lot more - with one another than they talked to you. For lack of pedestals, we emancipated earlier and much more successfully than have children since. 

The most important person in an army is the general. The most important person in a corporation is the CEO. The most important person in a classroom is the teacher. And the most important person in a family are the parents.

"Our child is the most important in our family" is the first step towards raising a child who feels entitled.

You don't want that. Unbeknownst to your child, he doesn't need that. And neither does America.


You can email any questions to John Rosemond at questions@rosemond.com. To find out more about him visit his website here








January 2, 2018

5 healthy Indian baby snacks!




As a mom I feel like I'm always on a guilt trip for one reason or the other. One day it could be because I've exceeded my little ones screen time and the next day could be the result of an overdose of cookies! But then I've also realised that I don't need to get so overwhelmed and give this feeling of guilt inside me a break. A lot of credit for this positivity goes to social media. There are so many moms just like me sharing their motherhood experiences through their personal blogs and Instagram. Trust me it's a relief to know that you're not the only one sailing in the boat of motherhood. Everyone goes through good and bad days but in the end it's all a learning process. 

In today's blogpost I'm going to share a few healthy Indian snack options that are tried and tested on D. Since RJ and me both are chocolate lovers and can't keep are hands off fried stuff, it's no surprise to me that D already has her taste buds leaning towards cookies and chips! 

There came a point when she started asking for it on a daily basis and I had to stop. I started saying NO to her each time she asked for a cookie or chips but  also hated that feeling of refusing to her that often. 

I'm trying to be a #yesmom ( inspired from a fellow mom blogger)  because using the word NO too often for things that our kids ask or want can have a negative impact on them and make them rebels. So instead I decided to take a different route and look for healthier substitutes that would satisfy her cravings and also be healthy.  

The following foods have worked amazingly well for me plus I can't get over all the benefits they come with.  

While compiling this blogpost I realised how coincidentally all these snacking items are of Indian origin😊




1) Roasted Chana: 
This power snack packed with proteins and fiber is just as good for our kiddos as it is for us.  So feel free to let them munch on it as much as they want. D loves them and even the mention of the word "chana" cheers her up. They come so handy especially when I have to keep her glued to the car seat or avoid giving her screen time while dining at restaurants. Seriously these are a life saver for me and I always keep them stocked up. You can find them at any local Indian grocery store. 



2)Rajgiri ki chikki: 
Yet another power house of nutrients that's a big hit in our house when it comes to snacking. Rajgira (English name: Amaranth) is not just a good source of calcium, proteins, amino acids but also rich in iron, magnesium and vitamins A,B & C. 

So many benefits in one and tastes way too yummy for your little one to not get hooked. Because of its  sweet taste it serves as a great alternative every time D craves for cookies or something on the sweeter side.  You can buy them at any local Indian grocery store. 



3)Makhana (Fox nuts): 
This particular Indian snack comes handy each time D craves for chips. It has a similar crunchy taste and can be quite addictive just like a regular bag of chips but the good part is how much of a healthier option this is. 

They are a great source of proteins, fiber, magnesium, zinc and iron and are even considered superior to other nuts like almonds and walnuts.

I Sauté them in a pan with some ghee on medium flame for a minute and then finish off with a sprinkle of salt and black pepper. Once it cools down they are ready to eat. Super quick and a yummy snack option pre approved by my toddler😝Find it at any Indian local grocery store. 



4)Nagli/ Ragi papad: 
Rich in calcium and protein this grain has many health benefits. When D was younger and only eating food in puréed form, I fed her porridges made out of ragi flour and she really enjoyed eating them until the last bite. 

Now my mother in law gets these tiny papads made out of the grain. Good thing is that deep frying them is optional. You can instead bake it in the microwave for a minute and just like that a crunchy and healthy snack is ready to be served.  This too is a great substitute for chips. 


5)Home made potato chips:  
Though not exactly a healthy option it's at least a better option then a store bought bag of chips. My mom use to make chips at home and fry them for us. I remember how they were my favorite food while growing up.
                                                                                                                                                                   
So I asked my mom to make a batch for me and have it sent from India. They are merely washed and peeled potato slices that are sun dried for few days until they get completely dehydrated. And then you can just deep fry. Two important advantages over store bought chips is the oil that we use for frying and the quality of the potatoes. 

I'm not sure if these are available at the Indian grocery store but as I mentioned above the process of making them is quite simple. 

All of these snacks options have immensely helped me in cutting down my 20 month old toddlers intake of unhealthy stuff. 

Occasionally I do let D indulge in an actual bag of potato chips and real cookies because I truly feel that motherhood also deserves the right to spoiling our kids once in a while! No guilt attached😊

December 1, 2017

Famous Fridays : Rupa Parekh

Almost a month back, I received one of the sweetest gesture in my mail. It was a Flash Card set from Rupa - the owner of Jai Jai Hooray. She sent it out for D as a Diwali gift,  along with a handwritten note hoping that we enjoy exploring it. Today, I am sharing all about whats inside this bright and colorful box- here on the blog!

Flash cards is one of the most popular and playful means to introduce kids to any new words, concepts and images. I'm so glad that Rupa came up with the idea to design a set of cards that introduces all the Gods and Goddesses from the Hindu religion to our kids. 

 Each flash card has an animated drawing of the god in the front and a small description about them on the back. Such a great idea to get our kids to learn about Hindu mythology from an early age. Its been a month that D and me have been using the set and she can now point out the Gods correctly when I take their names.



When a mom is determined to teach her kids about her own culture, creativity flows and products like Jai Jai Hooray are born! I connected with Rupa to thank her for creating such a beautiful way of educating our kids and heres what she had to say about the brand. 


1) What prompted you to start Jai Jai Hooray?

The feeling of wanting to bottle up my mom! As a first-generation Indian American, I love my culture but always feel a little shaky on customs and traditions. When you have kids you want to be able to pass on your heritage and I just couldn't find tools that were beautifully simple. By the time we had our second child, I was ready to do something about it.


2) We love the flash card set and the building tower, any new products in the pipeline for Jai Jai Hooray?

Of course! We're working away now, mostly doing design research with our biggest fans but also people who haven't interacted with our brand at all. South Asians and non. We're looking forward to working on products for older kids as well.


3) As a mom what's your biggest challenge while you try to educate your kids about Indian culture?

Making it ever-present. We don't want our culture to be something they only think about once a month or on holidays. We do our best to incorporate words, ideas, places, foods, and people into everyday. 


4) Tell us about your favorite Indian festival, and how you celebrate it with your kids.

Well, I'm Gujarati so Navratri is a favorite. We love garba but I've always been inspired about the meaning of the festival. It's a celebration of female strength, power and motherhood. It inspired our latest creation the Goddess power Tower.


5) Being a mom is a 24/7 job. How do you strike the work life balance? 

I'm never really sure how to answer this question. It's usually a question we only ask women and moms, right? My life is my family, my work and my community. It always has been. But that's a personal choice. Am I balanced. Nope. Work in progress.


6)  Share a childhood memory with us that connects you to the Indian culture.


Falling in love with Mumbai with my parents as my guides. They left in their early twenties and each time they return it's as though time froze. We ride the trains, hop through the markets, crash weddings on Juhu beach and always visit the Churchgate area for a little calm. They taught me about humanity, heart and soaking in all the experiences we can on those trips. 






You can buy the flash card set here. Use promo code HOLIDAY10 for a 10 percent off the order.