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 hair 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 a 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. 

November 13, 2017

Teaching South Asian Culture to my little one!


Being a stay at home mom to a growing and demanding toddler has been a constant struggle. I'm always falling short of ways to keep her occupied and match up to the energy levels! They seem to never get tired, I wonder how!? Anyway, coming to the point on what today's blog post is about I wanted to share my experience on how I'm coping up with educating D about South Asian culture. 

I want to give her maximum exposure to the Indian ways, hoping that she will grow up with a natural love and attachment towards it. 

As she spends the maximum time with me, I do realise that the responsibility
of giving her a taste of Indian culture rests solely upon me. Though I really miss having the elders of the family around. 

Last month when D's dada, dadi were here, it made such a huge difference to D's learning curve. I could see how quickly she picked up things from them. The way they kept her busy, I can possibly not imagine doing that. It almost felt like this is how D would grow up if she were in India. 

Now we're again back to the two of us and I constantly try and do my bit. Here are a few things that I've been practicing on a daily basis which have surly helped me come a long way. Sharing them on the blog here. 

1) Praying with her: 
We pray together every morning. By now, she knows that the mandir is where we join our hands together and do jai jai. After giving her a shower we both sit together and as I do my Puja she claps to the gayatri mantra being played on my phone. She knows it's a routine and I'm glad she likes it. We also try and visit the temple as often as we can. 


Diwali Puja- 2017

2) Listening to Indian rhymes/ Indian songs:
 

Ever since D was born, I've played Hindi bhajans to put her to sleep and calm her down. It helped a lot as she would just doze off to the tune of hey ram in the car seat or even at night. Also, when it comes to rhymes she has had equal exposure to both English and the Hindi ones. I can't forget her obsession with this one particular rhyme bandar mama pehen pajama. It was to the extent I had "bandar mama" on her 1st birthday cake. Sometimes I laugh at how silly the rhymes sound but I also know how important role are they playing in teaching her the language. 

D on her 1st birthday - devouring her very favorite bandar mama!

3) Speaking to her in Hindi all the time:
This is one of my biggest fear and concern of raising her here in America. I really want D to be able to communicate in her mother tongue. For that, RJ and me make sure that we speak to one another and to our little one in only Hindi all the time. Eventually we know she will learn to speak English but Hindi she will only learn with a conscious effort from us. Doing this has helped a great deal because I can see how she understands the language and responds when we speak to her in Hindi. Her first words now that she has started talking a little, are all Hindi!

4) Indian baby books: 
Since books are one of the bests ways to induce curiosity and learning in children, I've made sure to add ample of Indian books to D's library.  My personal favorites are - 
#Meet My Hindu Gods and 10 Noisy Rickshaws from Desi Babies. 
#Padmini is powerful and Harini & Padmini Say Namaste from Bharat Babies 
#The flash card set of Indian gods from Jai Jai Hooray
Every single day, we read from one of these books together and D has begun to recognise the contents of each book.



5) Celebrating festivals: 
This Diwali while I was decorating the house and prepping up for the festivities , I knew D could feel there is something special going around. Maybe she is too young, but I know that when she sees the celebration of festivals repeatedly year after year she will be able to associate with them as part of life. During Navratra, we took her for dandiya and she had so much fun dancing to the tune of garba songs while watching everyone else perform. 

Dressed up for our  1st Dandiya night together!

6) Indian home cooked meals:
 
I've been feeding D with ghar ka khana ever since she started eating solids. Initially it was upma , kichidi, and daals to go easy on her stomach. I was lucky to have my mom here when D had just begun eating solid food. Her guidance and experience made it really easy for me to not touch packet food and make everything fresh and home made.  Now that D can chew and has also started eating herself, she eats almost everything that I make for myself. Its saves me a lot of time and energy and I'm happy she relishes Indian food. 



All of this said and done, one thing that I'm really looking forward to, is a trip to India with my little one. Though it wont happen this year, RJ and me definitely plan on taking D next year around March/April. As she turns 2 in April, hopefully we can ring in her birthday with the entire family back home. I know for sure that spending time in India will give her an actual feel of her culture and I can hardly wait to share that experience together! 








October 16, 2017

DIY diya garland for Diwali


I love decorating the house for Diwali. Each year I go shopping looking for new candles, rangolis, hand painted diyas and anything new that I can lay my hands on. This year apart from decorating the home I also wanted to create something thoughtful and special in D's play area. And so I ended up making a diya garland. Not only does it look adorable hanging on the window but also adds the right amount of festive touch to our favorite area of the house.

Last week, a fellow blogger posted about how she made a diya garland at home. It was simple, easy to put together and such a unique idea for festive decor. Taking inspiration, I decided to create one of my own. 

Following is the step by step process on how I made it. Don't panic guys, it's really easy and hardly took me an hour to put together.


Things you'll need

1: Craft paper ( I used the ones I already had)
2:  A pair of scissors
3: Glue
4: Sparkle colors
5: A thread (to hold the garland together)

Since its a Diwali garland you can choose the craft paper in combination of red ( for the diya) and yellow (for the flame) The reason I chose different colors for mine is because it was for D's play area.



Using a pencil I traced out a diya on the blank side of the craft paper. It was fairly simple ( no artistic skills needed!) Then with a pair of scissors cutting it along the borders, my first diya cut out was ready. I used the cut out to trace diyas on the rest of the sheets


Once my diya cut outs were ready I used sparkle colors to brighten them up. The only thing to remember while using sparkles is that they take about 5-6 hours to dry but its totally worth the wait.


After they dried out completely I used a punching machine to make holes on both ends of every Dia. Then tied them all together with a jute thread thick enough to hold the weight of the diyas.


I had 16 diya cut outs and didn't want a very long garland so made a double layered one. You can choose how long you want yours to be and accordingly decide on the number of diyas.


It's really that easy and I had so much fun doing a diy activity this Diwali. Coincidently, it's a diya garland which also happens to by my daughters name! And so I feel like I'm going to let the garland stay hanging on the wall post Diwali too!