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! 

October 4, 2017

Surviving Motherhood!

D is just six months away from turning two! I look at her and wonder how did time go by so quick!? The flashes of that day when she was born are still clear in my head. How the first glimpse of her made my heart melt. I won't lie but holding her for the first time also made me a little nervous. Doubting myself at the title of being a "mom" and whether or not I'd be able to keep up.

Today as I reflect back on the past one and a half year of my life, I don't know if I have been the "idol" mom but I can proudly say that I've learnt so much out of it. 

From testing my patience, to being more patient. Learning to love selflessly and turning out to be a stronger person both physically and mentally- it's been a joy ride! 

Enter a tiny little member and you bet how everything starts to revolve around them. It's easier to get caught up and lose yourself in the entire process. Life changed 360 degree for me and as demanding as motherhood got, I found more the need to stay connected to the older version of me. 

On the blog today- I'm sharing a few things that I made sure to do during my journey with D. It helped me sail beautifully through what I call the first two most demanding years with the baby. 

Prioritising myself:  As mommies we are not breaking rules of motherhood by taking time out to do things that make us happy. After a month of having D, I stepped out to get my hair colored. I would plan trips to the mall around D's nap time. Catch up on my favorite TV shows. Basically tried to do as many things that made me feel normal because believe it or not, feeling normal is like luxury postpartum! 

Taking time out for RJ:  Priorities do change once you have a baby. Its easier being parents than being partners! I've realised how D has become part of most of the conversations that RJ and me have. Everything is directly or indirectly related to her. But we do consciously try and take time out for one another. Whether its going out for dinner or watching a movie on Netflix its quality over quantity after you have a baby.

Hanging out with the BFF:  This has truly been a life saver and the biggest stress buster I could ask for. Catching up over brunch, dressing up to make sure we click good pictures together, talking about fashion endlessly or for that matter just speaking my heart out. Having a bestie around post pregnancy was like forgetting all the blues of motherhood and shifting focus from sleepless nights to a glass of wine!

Updating the blog: I started blogging even before I had D and this was something I never wanted to let go off. Writing keeps me connected to my inner self and I made sure that no matter what, I took time out for it. Making D a part of my blog (which earlier I was hestitant about) has helped me a great deal. Since the blog is all about my life here in the US, talking about how I'm raising my baby girl sure deserves a mention. 

Eating well: I had so many people advising me how to avoid "certain foods" and watch what I was eating (especially while breastfeeding) because it would directly go to my baby. But I cant be thankful enough to my mom, and mother in law for letting me eat whatever I craved for, in moderation of course. For a foodie like me, having any kind of limitations on the type of food I was eating would have been super frustrating. D was absolutely fine during the entire breast feeding process with no stomach issues and has developed an equal fondness for food ever since she started eating solids. 

Getting help:  I was lucky enough to have my mom and mother in law beside me during the first year with D. They took turns to come visit me and their experience really came handy. As a new parent we tend to panic at every cry of the baby but having them around was so comforting. From D's everyday maalish (body massage) sessions to making yummy recipes to feed her, these are things that I learnt from them and cannot even imagine sailing through this phase of my life without these two ladies! 

Mommy duties can been quite overwhelming and bittersweet but at the same time I can assure you its been worth every sleepless night. On top of that, practicing all of the above really helped keeping my sanity intact and I wish to continue doing so over the years to come.

September 26, 2017

Fall/Winter baby coats 2017

Summer is officially over, and I'm kinda looking forward to fall and winter. Little surprised at myself as I say this coz things weren't the same seven years back (when I moved to this country) I've dreaded the change in seasons especially the brutally cold winters on the east coast. But I guess with the passing of each year, I've learnt to appreciate the beauty and importance of every season in my life and embracing change. 

Fall always manages to play it's charm on me. Everything about it- leaves changing hues, the crisp cool breeze and of course the need to upgrade your wardrobe with fall fashion essentials! 

This year I'm super excited because I get to shop not just for me but also D. Though I've always enjoyed dressing up my baby girl, looking for tiny fur options to keep my little girl warm in the cold weather gives me so many more options! And you can trust me when I say so that baby clothes mean serious fashion!!! No kidding, I'm stunned by the gorgeousness of winter clothes being made for kids.

After browsing through all the baby gear available online, and having done my research promptly -  here is a list of my top 10 picks for baby girls: ( Available for sizes 6 months - 2 years and for Zara clothing up to 4 years)

Faux fur puffer jacket - Zara
Trench coat with faux fur hood - Zara
Denim jacket - Gap
Water repellent, reversible hooded jacket - North Face
Crepe mustard yellow jacket - Zara
Floral hooded vest - Zara
Checkered wool coat - Carters
Red puffer jacket - Gap
Faux fur vest - Gap
Military green jacket - Carters 

Now that I'm done updating D's wardrobe, I can hardly wait to start shopping for mine:) If you've read my previous posts you'd know how I went Twinning with D over the long weekend. Honestly I had so much fun matching my clothes with her's, I have a feeling I might pick up similar winter gear too!

September 14, 2017

Miranda Frye Ashleigh necklace

I rarely purchase jewelry online but for this particular Miranda Frye Ashleigh necklace, which also happens to be one of their bestsellers, I gave in to the temptation. And now that it's here I can't wait to share all about it. 

From hitting the "place your order" on my laptop screen, waiting for it to arrive and to the day it actually got delivered (it took a month!) was quite a journey.

Apparently I had entered the wrong apartment no. and USPS ended up shipping it back to Miranda Frye office. After endlessly tracking my parcel with USPS and exchanging emails with MF customer service ( they were so kind and prompt)  I finally had the chance to open my first Miranda Frye jewelry box last week! And I can safely say it was totally worth the wait. Though I couldn't stop thinking about how many times I could have worn it earlier had it arrived in time. 

Never mind, it's here now and I can't stop wearing it over everything and anything. The shining silver adds the right amount of glam to otherwise such a delicate chain making it look super elegant and an everyday kind of jewelry to adorn.


The chain is 42" long.
It comes in sterling silver and gold filled. ( I ordered mine in sterling silver)
Gold filled is an actual layer of gold pressure bonded to another metal and has more gold compared to gold plated. 

I feel that this kind of jewelry is definitely a great and affordable alternative to solid gold jewelry without compromising on the quality. 

Care Instructions:
With just a little bit of effort you can make your jewelry last longer!

Store it in an air tight plastic bag to avoid contact with air. Humidity is an enemy! My MF necklace already came with a ziplock pouch perfect for its storage.  
Wear your jewelry at the last. Perfumes,  deodorants, lotions or hair sprays have harsh chemicals that will hamper the quality of your jewelry in the long run.
Lastly, avoid rough wear and handle your jewelry delicately to slow down the process of "wear and tear"

The coolest part for me was how this necklace can be worn in 9 different ways out of which I've listed my 5 favorite below.

The only downside is that you have to be very careful while you take it on and off your neck because it tangles very easily. 

Other than that I'm obsessed with this necklace, for that matter all of Miranda Frye designs. And now that I'm assured of the quality I know I'll be indulging in a few more of their stuff :))

Happy shopping! 

September 6, 2017

Twinning with D!

There is nothing more blissful then spending time with your loved ones and this long weekend was all about that. We rented a cabin in the woods at Poconos and I still can't get over the feeling of living right in the middle of lush green forests. 

The weather did play spoil sport and we couldn't do much of outdoorsy stuff, but what followed was a series of dumb charades and poker sessions, late night conversations with lots of chai and food and getting clicked in the lap of nature. 

D and me ended up twinning during our stay and I can't wait to share our pictures together. 

Outfit details:

D's Shirt Dress: Zara 
D's Shoes: UGG
My blouse: (old) similar- (1) (2)

August 25, 2017

My All-purpose bag!

If you ask me about my favorite fashion accessory, it's ought to be handbags! It's like there will always be a handbag on my wish list or at the back of my mind that I wanna buy, at any given point. 

For quite sometime now, I've had my eyes on Ted Baker handbags. Typically, their signature PVC tote bags. Last week I ordered one for myself and I have only good things to talk about the purchase. Therefore, I decided to share my arm candy details on the blog today!

Ever since I got this bag which was last week, I've been wearing it on every single outfit and each time I've stepped out. The design of the bag is just so simple and basic, that it effortlessly compliments both casual and a dressy look making it my current go-to bag. Another very important feature (that holds a lot of importance to me) is how roomy it is and accommodates all my essentials.

The PVC material makes it really light weight and super easy to clean. Love low maintenance bags, don't we!?

The tote is available in two different colors- black and beige. After sparing a few extra minutes in deciding the color, I opted for the beige. The neutral tone of the bag makes its look so chic and classy and I don't have to overthink about matching it. Plus i know the color wont betray me in any season, as I definitely plan on using it this fall and winter!

Coming to the price of the bag (which is my favorite part) I think it's a steal.  It's below a $100 bucks and worth every penny. I would even rate it by far THE best bag I've bought in that price range. Having already received a bunch of compliments over it, on how different it looks and where did I buy it, keep scrolling for all the details!

The bag is from Bloomingdales and here is the link. Ted Baker has a lot of options in PVC bags. They come in various colors, adorable prints and other sizes too.  If you do happen to shop for one of their pieces, do leave me a comment below on which one did you buy! I'd love to know.

Happy shopping and have a good weekend!

August 23, 2017

Story time!

It's 12 pm and while I'm busy prepping up for lunch in the kitchen, I'm interrupted by tiny fingers trying to reach out to me. It's D (my 16 month old daughter) She drags me to her play area and persuades me to take a seat. 

The next thing I know is she runs towards her pile of storybooks, grabs one and quietly comes and sits back into my lap. This is "our routine" Something we follow multiple times a day and so I know it's my turn now! I open the book and start reading out to her... soaking myself in satisfaction that D has developed a love for books at an early age! 

Being a parent in a technology dominated  world has not been easy, it comes with its pros and cons. While I have the convenience of handing D an iPad (which I do, and she loves her video time) I don't want her to miss out on the simplicity of learning from a book. Basically, even if not a 100 percent, exposing her through realms of the kind of technology-free childhood I had.

Talking about my childhood - I remind myself how I was born and raised in India, as against raising her here in the US. I realize that our desi culture won't come to her by default, and if I lack the effort to teach her about India or things back home on a daily basis, she might grow up to be completely ignorant of her Indian roots. 

Fortunately, I'm not the only South Asian mommy with a similar thought process! Reena Puri and Mital Telhan from Desi Babies have actually gone a step forward by designing baby books that teach kids about our culture. 

Their latest one being- 10 Noisy Rickshaws!

The book is a perfect way to introduce numbers to your little ones and what I absolutely love love love is how cute and Indian the illustrations in the book are.

D was absolutely thrilled to start exploring the pages as soon as the book arrived and watching her do so was priceless.

10 Noisy Rickshaws has become a very valuable addition to D's library of books and if you ask me- I couldn't have found a better way to get her to learn counting while she also learns about a few Indian things. 

You can buy the book here and also get a 10% discount using promo code: IGAW

Photo credit: Saumya- a dear friend and an amazing food blogger! Don't forget to check out her blog @upclosewithsaumya

The Tent is the latest addition to D's play area! Its not only our reading nook but also her secret hide out whenever she wants to run away from me!:)