Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Bye Bye 2014.....


2014 has been a roller coaster with deep plunging drops, unexpected turns and superb highs.

    • Family and friends visited and stayed with us in Singapore. We played hosts and we all rocked the party.
    • We had such wonderfully happy times with our dear friends in Singapore. At home and outdoors. Totally cherish the friendships and the memorable moments.
    • My best friend came over and we spent 3 magical days together. One of our best breaks, time just flew by.
    • I haven't painted as much this year. But I did paint a couple for my parents and my brother, totally fulfilling :)
    • We moved home. From one continent to another, across the pacific. It's been tough on all of us as a family. But we have survived. We are slowly settling and working at getting our lives back.
    • The new life has also brought along a lot of new friends. It's been overwhelming to be accepted wholeheartedly by so many people and get piping hot samosas for breakfast and missal pav for lunch.
    • I am learning to drive. Something I haven't felt the need to do in all these years. From feeling absolute helplessness, I have now moved to complete comfort behind the wheels. I hope to soon get my license. Freedom awaits me :)
    • I met two of my cousins with whom I have spent many summers as a child. Even after almost 15+ years, it seemed just like yesterday.
    • We have spent the last four days seeing San Francisco. From the bustling city to the quiet wine country it has been breathtaking. 
    We are embracing a new life with lots of plans to see the vast expanse of the new country we are in. I have set a few personal goals for myself in 2015. I am hoping to achieve more for myself in the coming year.

    Good health, new aspirations, high dreams to all in 2015.... Stay blessed !!!

    Thursday, 4 September 2014

    Ramblings

    Walking a known path in life is comfortable and convenient. There is a routine that feels good. And then there is us, me and H, who sometimes like to be super adventurous. We like turning our comfortable, predictable lives upside down :) We like to see how far we can push ourselves out of our comfort zones. That was just what we did when we decided to move our home across continents and time zones. 

    It's been two months since we left one home and are still trying to set it all up in another part of the world. When we are awake, all our loved ones are asleep in the other part of this world !!! All of you who I have not called after promising to, please blame the damn time difference.

    Ok, life is not that bad. We are not facing anything that we hadn't anticipated. We have already made one couple friend who will be with us for life.

    I am going to list the things I am most looking forward to :

    1. Get my Driver's License. 
    2. Paint like never before.
    3. Blog more often.
    4. Visit my cousin who I haven't met in close to 14 years. Our kids need to meet and bond too.
    5. Meet friends we couldn't have met if not for being here.
    6. Grand Canyon.
    7. Niagara Falls.
    8. Universal Studios / Disneyland.
    9. San Francisco / New York / Las Vegas.
    10. Trail-walks and Camping.

    There is so much more that I look forward to. Oh yes, I will also be complaining and cribbing, some days are tough with all the cleaning and cooking, but I will also be smiling - at the thrill of being able to see the sights that I have only seen pictures of. 

    Waiting for Friday when our shipment will hopefully be at our door step. The thrill of seeing all our familiar things around us has kept our spirits up the last few days. The mixer to make the dosa batter, my paintings to put up on the bare walls, carefully collected knick knacks waiting to be displayed, my favourite shirt, the Legos to be built again, the books waiting to be read...... 

    So much to look forward to :)


    Wednesday, 27 August 2014

    Homemade Crayons

    While we were in the midst of cleaning and clearing at Singapore, I realized that we have LOTS of crayons - all broken and in pieces.

    The hoarder that I am, I kept wondering what to do with it and did not have the heart to just throw it all in the bin. Pinterest, my new obsession, came to the rescue and I was amazed at the ideas that popped up. This looked interesting. I got the kids involved in the activity and it was a super success. 


    You Need:
    • Left over wax crayons
    • A muffin tray
    • Some oil / cooking spray / paper moulds

    Steps:
    • Chop all the crayons to smaller than a cm. You may need a sharp knife to do this.
    • Grease the muffin tray or line with paper moulds. Fill with the chopped crayon pieces.


    • Bake in a preheated oven at 275degrees F / 135degrees C.
    • In about 10-13 minutes, the crayons will all melt.
    • Take the tray out of the oven and allow them to cool completely before you take them out.



    Notes:
    • You can put hues of a similar colour in each cup or mix colors for a multi coloured block.
    • My kids, especially my daughter, were super thrilled with their new possession and had a great time colouring with these blocks.
    • Great for a party give-away. 

    Tuesday, 22 July 2014

    A Trans Continental Move

    Home is where the heart is and Singapore was where our heart has been the last three years. We made some great friends and had some absolutely memorable times. But like all things, this too was destined to change.

    The husband spoke of a change of location, to the United States of America, for his career. After the initial resentment and anger, lots and lots of deliberations with friends and family, we finally decided to take the plunge. Then began the long journey to plan such a big move. We had not just ourselves to prepare, but also the children. My older one, who is almost 8, was totally against it. My 4 year old also followed suit. After a lot of convincing and dangling Disneyland and Universal Studios, we managed to at least get the constant disagreement to stop.

    Then came the Herculean task of packing the home. What to ship and what not to !!! It is at such moments that we realize how much of unnecessary stuff we accumulate. Appalling !!! It was a back-breaking task but it finally did get all done. 

    I can't even thank my friends enough for all their help in the last few days, from making sure we had meals to eat and entertaining the kids. I feel bad at not being able to meet everyone and say my goodbyes in the last minute rush. Maybe there is another reason, (I would like to believe that), that we will meet again soon :)

    Finally we were at Changi Airport. A beginning of another long tedious journey..... The long long flights with two children. First halt at Narita Airport and then a direct flight to Minneapolis. Thankfully the kids were well behaved and we also managed to get some sleep. Then came the shocker... A long queue at the immigration counter and we missed our connecting flight to our final destination, Bentonville, in Arkansas. A blessing in disguise, it was a well needed break for us. We were exhausted and the kids were more than us. We were impressed with the airline and airport staff for going out of their way to help us out and get us checked into a hotel for the night.

    Finally, the next morning we flew into Bentonville via Atlanta. Bright sunshine greeted us. The vast expanse of this country amazed the kids and me. It was a different experience altogether for us to have strangers just stop and chat with us :)

    A new country, a new home, a new life all over again. There are a multitude of challenges we need to overcome, but we are looking forward to it. Family and friends have rallied around to help us get settled. It's been two weeks now, we have had our moments when we have questioned our decision to leave the luxuries of Singapore to move here with the kids, but I am sure this country will treat us well. We will build a whole lot of new memories for ourselves and for the children. 

    Cheers to another new beginning for us :)


    Saturday, 1 February 2014

    Creamy Broccoli Soup

    January has been an eventful month. My aunt visited us. Since it was her first time in Singapore, some major sight seeing happened. And we all got to eat some awesome sambhar, avial and some great southie goodies. She left for Bombay last week and now its back to regular routine and catching up with things at school, painting and blogging.

    Though getting my kids to eat a majority of the vegetables has never been a problem, I always try and find new ways to get good stuff in. And sometimes certain circumstances also force you to try new recipes :) The circumstance here being that my hubby has had his wisdom tooth extracted. As he is on semi solid diet, I thought a soup would be a great idea.

    Broccoli is one vegetable that we all love and usually we do roasted or boiled broccoli. But this time thought I could do the classic cheese sprinkled broccoli soup.



    Here is a quick way to get it done.

    You need:
    • 2 heads broccoli cut into flowerets
    • 1 large onion diced
    • 1 medium carrot diced
    • 2 sticks celery diced
    • 1 pod garlic coarsely chopped
    • 1 cup full fat milk
    • 300 ml water
    • 2 tbsps. olive oil
    • Salt to taste
    • Pepper to taste
       
    Steps:
    • Take the olive oil in a thick bottom pot and add the garlic and onion. 
    • Saute for a few minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and water. Allow it to come to a boil.
    • Season with salt and pepper as per taste.
    • Cook for 5-10 minutes until the broccoli is tender.
    • Allow it to cool slightly for about 15-20 minutes.
    • Add the milk and using a hand mixer or a blender, puree the contents.
    • Check seasoning and reheat if required. 
    • Serve warm or at room temperature with a generous sprinkling of cheese.
     
     
     
     
    Notes:
    • You can use low fat milk as an alternative.
    • It is a thick soup. If you would like it thinner, add more water or milk as per your taste.
    • You can use vegetable broth instead of the water.
     

    Monday, 30 December 2013

    2013 - The Magical Year that flew by.

    The year 2013 seems to have flown past. So much has happened that has filled my life with lots of happiness and given it a completely new meaning.

    1. I picked up my paints and brushes this year again, after almost 15 odd years. It's been a very colour-full year. I completed close to 20 paintings. I made my first 'made to order' painting. I know I have a very long way to go, but I am happy with the tiny baby steps I have taken.

    2. I finally started blogging. I baked like never before. I have a long list of recipes to tick off in this coming year. So much more to try and learn.

    3. My friends have been my life line. They have criticized, praised, pushed me on to do more and do better. I cannot image a day without my chats and emails exchanged with them. Thank you all for the faith you show in me.

    4. I am amazed at how fast my children are growing. There are moments I wish where I could just shrink them back a little and hold them forever in my arms.

    5. We holidayed and indulged in a lot of out door activities as a family this year. It has been loads of fun.

    6. I crossed a milestone in my life, where life has begun all over again for me. I am just raring to go :)

    7. I had the chance to share many happy family moments. They were some of the best of the year. The laughter, joy, feeling of being loved unconditionally is just unparalleled. 

    8. I got inked. Painful while it was being done, but I now cherish it. Maybe another one in the coming year, who knows. I have always been known to be impulsive :)

    9. And I sat beside a tiger and touched it. The 'awesome-est' thing I did during the year !!!

    A few not so happy times too, but all these happy moments have helped me to tide over them.

    Thank you all for your love and support in 2013. I look forward to 2014 with a lot of energy. I also promise to be more visible in this space.

    Eat well, sleep well and laugh more :)

    Tuesday, 8 October 2013

    Garlic, Olives and Dried Mixed Herbs Focaccia

    An old recipe rehashed to make a new one.  That's what this one is. We were having soup for dinner and I wanted to make a simple bread to go with it.

    I decided to try my Tomato Rosemary Focaccia recipe but with garlic, olives and dried herbs. It did not take me too long and the result was yum. I am reposting the recipe here with the changes.




    You need:
    • 1.5 cups lukewarm water
    • 3 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 1/4 tsp salt
    • 3.5 cups bread flour
    • 1 tbsp yeast
    • A large handful of sliced black olives
    • 2 cloves of garlic coarsely chopped
    • Less 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
    • More olive oil
    • 2-3 pinches coarse salt

    Steps:
    • Add the first five ingredients into a bowl.
    • Beat it for about one minute till it all comes together into a sticky dough.
    • Line a 11" x 9" tray with parchment paper and coat it liberally with olive oil.
    • Scoop the dough into the tray.
    •  Spread the dough into all four corners. Make small indents on the surface with your fingers.
    • Cover the tray with cling wrap and set aside for about 1 hour for it to rise.
    • After it has risen, arrange the olive slices on the dough.
    • Sprinkle the chopped garlic, herbs and coarse salt. Drizzle with olive oil on top.


    • Preheat the oven to 190degrees C. Place the tray in the middle rack and bake for 30 minutes.
    • Let it cool for 5 minutes and then turn it out into a wire rack to cool.
    • Enjoy it warm or at room temperature.



    Notes:
    • I cut 2" x 1" thin slices of the left over focaccia and toasted it in the oven till crisp. The kids loved to dip it in their soup and crunch on it.