Quickly fix your sweet tooth

There are days when I plan a meal or a dessert elaborately, and then there are some desperate craving days when I simply assemble something interesting I find stored in my refrigerator and quicken the whole process! 😍

The outcome turns out palatable most of the times, but on rare occasions it both looks and tastes absolutely divine. 

Make layers of cake slices, fruits, sweet cream and chocolate sauce. Garnish with jam and coloured chocolate vermicelli. Voila! Your quick-fix dessert is ready! ☺

You would like to get a bite, wouldn’t you? 😉

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Colours on my plate

It would be a pity if I didn’t flaunt this creation of mine in the one place that has given me such lovely friends and truly makes me feel at home, isn’t it? So, here it is! 🙂

This homemade Pizza Paratha was made from a dough made out of mixed flour (Nachni, wheat and besan), grated paneer, onions, lots of coriander and the regular dry condiments.

Toppings change as per choice, as we know, but I tried to make my pizza healthy by using plenty of seasonal vegetables in it. It helps if you make a regular sabzi first and then top it with loads of cheese, so everything is cooked and difficult to separate. (Mom’s tip? 😉 )

Apart from the fact that the Pizza Paratha tasted awesome, I simply loved the way every colour got defined in it in it’s unique way (even the maroon Nachni lended its lovely shade to it)! 😍

I got a big heads up for this from A Jr, A kept looking at it romantically at length  and Angel learned to say and taste ‘Pizza’. :mrgreen: 😄 😄

If the guinea pigs are happy, the experiment can be deemed successful, yes? 😉 😉

Finding a new word

The other day I was writing an article and, as is my habit, was referring to the Dictionary app on my phone to be doubly sure about the context and usage of difficult and/or confusing words in it. 

A Jr was observing me closely and after waiting for an impressive five minutes his barrage of questions began.

A Jr: Mamma, why do you keep looking in the Dictionary? You don’t know the meaning of the word?

Me: I do, beta. But since this will get published, I have to be sure that there’s no room for mistake. Sometimes we use the wrong words in haste or overlooking.

A Jr: Yes, you are right. We should know the words we write. Like, when I write an essay I use the spellings I know. Marks get deducted for wrong spellings.

There’s a long pause after this. From the corner of my eye I notice him deeply in thought and am well aware that this is the ‘quiet before another question storm’. Me being at work and in need of silence has nothing to do with him. 

As expected, he starts again in some time.

A Jr: Mamma, how do you know which word to see in the Dictionary?

Me: *trying to choose the right words* Um, while writing something I try and remember a word which goes perfectly with the meaning I want to convey through a sentence. I don’t use Dictionary every time, just for words that I often don’t use.

A Jr: *confused as well as excited* But Mamma, if I want to see, how will I know new words which I can find in the Dictionary? 

Me: *pleased with his curiosity and the fact that I know the answer* That is simple, beta. You must read a lot, whether it is your course books, story books, your encyclopaedias or the newspaper. If you see or hear a new word, even in some cartoon or a movie you should try and find out what it means. You must be curious to explore and learn. Learning should never stop. See, I’m still learning too! 

From the look on his face I knew my point had gone across to him. Ever since he was a kid I’ve tried to instill good reading habits in him and, if not a lot, I’m happy he does it by choice now. 

I love that in his spare time he goes through his general knowledge books and encyclopaedia and asks me to explain whatever he doesn’t get on his own. I sincerely hope that his thirst for knowledge only grows with time.

Is it time for me to get him his first pocket Oxford Dictionary? ☺

The thin line

​Debates are a comparatively healthier way of exchanging ideas and opinions, because in case the parties aren’t prepared to concede others’ point of view and the atmosphere gets too heated up for comfort, the moderator can make them stop at any moment.

In case of informal groups though, discussions become rather tedious when someone not only considers himself well-informed about everything under the sun, but also isn’t willing to let others furnish their thoughts on a certain matter. Signs of a restrained mentality? Possibly.

I love talking to people a lot, online as well as offline. What I look forward to, even crave for, is a spirited conversation that takes a post or topic ahead and aids in exploring facets that weren’t obvious before. Interested ones can join in anytime and everyone has something to gain from it. 

However, people who disregard the presence and inclination of others in a group and continue with their banal chitchat with scant respect to others’ time and boredom are a big put-off for me, however educated or well-read they are. Flaunt your knowledge in your own time, please.

There’s a thin line between arrogance and confidence and one needs to be careful about keeping on the right side of it. You definitely have come across such people. How do you deal with them?

What’s cooking today?

What do you vegetarians eat everyday? You guys don’t have any choice!”

Many of my non-vegetarian friends have said, and still say, this to me sarcastically, sympathetically, dejectedly and even resignedly many a times, because they feel like a foodie like me is losing out on something precious due to my vegetarian food choice.

There was a time when I had heated discussions with them over this issue, but now I just shrug and let it go. I’m born and brought up in a Marwari family where even eggs were a big no-no in the kitchen. Eating chicken or other non-veg stuff was strictly out of question, although we were allowed to go out and eat eggs, if we wanted.

I love cooking a lot and try to ensure that my kids develop a taste for vegetarian home food, which is always healthier in terms of nutrition and freshness. Every ingredient has a different nutritive content and I believe vegetarian food has its own charm.

Like, I made Hakka noodles for dinner yesterday, Rawa dhokla for breakfast today and our lunch was this wholesome colourful plate full of mother’s love and a balanced mix of essential foods. Quite a varied menu for the boring vegetarian fare, isn’t it? 😉

I was truly not in cooking mood today, but nevertheless managed to create this tasty-looking spread for my family. Nothing beats healthy ‘maa ke haath ka’ home food, right? :)😍

Everyday beauty

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I wait with assured anticipation

Alone and hopeful

Stealing glances amid relaxed steps

For an opportune moment

The greyish sky at dusk

Lets the crimson emerge leisurely

Buying some time to catch up

With its love of all eternity

It slips in quietly, glorious

Playing hide and seek with me

Till with bated breath I witness, awestruck

Hope embodied in its morning beauty.

Painting with friends and Berger Paints at #BergerXp meet!

Permitting myself some snob value, I must admit that being part of an ‘Invite only’ blogmeet has a certain elitist ring to it and I was over the moon to receive a special invite to participate in one. The fact that Indiblogger was behind it made it all the more special. My association with them over the years has been immensely rewarding for me in terms of learning about blogging nuances from professional bloggers, while also getting something to pamper the shopoholic in me with every time. 🙂

The biggest dream of any Mumbaikar is to have his own comfortable place he can call home. The next, more important, dream is to find a way to tastefully decorate it with the (assumingly) minimal budget left after spending a bomb on the house itself. Knowing this well, I was particularly interested in this blogmeet by Berger Paints  since in a couple of months we’ll be handed over the keys to our brand new home and we’ll be faced with the big question ‘Which paint to use, and why?’

Once we registered we were given a Twitter badge with the #BergerXp hashtag. The agenda for the day sounded fun and I entered the event with the hope of getting refreshingly enlightened about different colours, textures and any information that would help us make the right paint choice.

The blogmeet was held at Taj Vivanta, Cuffe Parade and was attended by a group of successful bloggers with an enviable social media presence. The meet began with a sumptuous lunch. On one side bloggers treated their taste buds with the finger-licking fare, while on the other everyone looked and posed their best with the Instagram placard and the Berger Paints backdrop. Conversations flowed galore and everyone had a wonderful time catching up with their blog friends.

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Took multiple rounds of the yummy dessert 😉

As all bloggers settled at their tables post-lunch, the ever-affable Anoop took the stage and as always put us all through the routine of playing a game and unzombifying (not a word, I know!) us all after the hearty meal. This time it was a hilarious game of musical chairs where we had to do anything from Egyptian or self-invented freestyle dance and hopping on one leg when the music was on. Every table had one winner, so no one had a reason to complain. 🙂

Invigorated after this game, Chandranath Banerjee – Product Manager, Express Painting, joined us and began by sharing the interesting history of Berger Paints with us.

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Mr. Chandranath Banerjee

Only around 100 years old, they’ve managed to acquire second place in the paint market in India, behind only the market-leader Asian Paints. With consumer research and focus group discussions, they’ve constantly innovated painting methods and techniques in India.

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Historically, painting is a dreaded affair for any family, since it is time-consuming and discomfiting, leaves layers of allergy-inducing dust in the house and has an unavoidable risk of a less-than-perfect finish. Keeping this in mind, Berger has created their mantra ‘Faster. Cleaner. Better.’ which they ensure attaining with the help of various innovative Home Painting Tools.

The Q&A session with Mr. Banerjee was fascinating. I was particularly impressed with how well-informed he was and handled all the questions with the flair of an expert.

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Through various questions we realised that these tools were considerably noiseless and economical as per need.

The dangerous-looking tools

After this was the time to get dirty, literally. We were made into teams and were given a painted piece of wood which we had to clean with the help of sandpaper. We called our female-dominated team of nine ‘#PaintYourImagination’ and completed this task in less than ten seconds wearing gloves and facemasks (I had a coughing fit after that, hmpf!). Too bad we never knew who won it though.

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Masked!! Scared??

Next was the alluring activity of painting on a canvas on the theme given to the teams. We (and four others) chose ‘I Love Mumbai’. Before we began, Mr. Banerjee gave us a small tutorial to introduce us to the world of emulsions, thinners, stainers and how they were to be mixed for the desired shade and thickness and used in the palette. I was decidedly relieved that these were water colours and had no smell.

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Thinning process

Even by the time others had started staining their canvases, our team was undecided on what to do with ours. Few disagreements later, two of us simply started on our own and others joined in quickly. Thankfully, too many talented painters didn’t spoil our canvas and we created what looked like a well thought-out professional painting. The cherry on the cake was that we won! Yay! Team #PaintYourImagination rocked! 😀

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Our creation! ❤

Team  #PaintYourImagination

By the time we wrapped up it was early evening. By now I know that we never leave an Indiblogger meet empty-handed, and this time was no exception. We got this lovely goody bag as a takeaway, and boy, was I overjoyed! Been sifting through glossy magazines and websites, but these beautiful illusions and combinations rendered me speechless.

Our takeaways

We bid adieu to all our old and new-found blogger friends, but not before ensuring we all had each other’s social media details. Such events allow us to meet and know the faces behind their blogs and are an absolute delight to be part of. Hope we get to meet each other again at some other meet, soon.

Indiblogger, are you listening? 😉

The 30s conundrum

As I have said on my blog before, as a woman the trend ‘30s is the new 20s’ fills me with immense joy and pride. Not just me, I can assure you that there are millions of women worldwide in different stages of their personal and professional lives who would welcome this second phase of hope and opportunity with renewed zest.

Having said that, while doing this are we subjecting ourselves to the same challenges and prejudice that people in their 20s face from our same-aged peers and colleagues too? May be, may be not. It is a personal and subjective matter.

More often than not women face prejudice with respect to choices they haven’t made. Lets say, a kickass career woman with an impressive career would get judged for her lack of owning up to family responsibilities and an overqualified homemaker like me would (and does) get ridiculed for sacrificing that very career and opting to look after her family instead.

Men, whether they are 20 or 50 don’t have to face the jabs of body shaming like we do, at any age. Ofcourse, there are exceptions. If in 20s it is peer pressure, in 30s more than for ourselves it is about ‘how good we look with our partner’. The hormonal changes that come with childbirth are conveniently ignored at our expense.

If we let go and keep company with the left side of the weighing machine, we’re careless, and if we sweat it out regularly to keep fit and dress stylishly, we’re trying too hard to hold on to the last few strings of youth. Our choice of colours and attire is always under scrutiny, irrespective of how many years we’ve clocked.

Let me share something with you. Few days ago I was sharing my workout regime and healthy-eating ritual with a friendly guy I met at a friend’s place and who was seemingly interested to know about it. He heard me out completely, looked me from head to toe and then quipped sarcastically, “You’re sure you’re talking about yourself?”

The jibe was directed at the fact that I don’t have the ideal hour-glass figure, which my workout should presumably help me achieve (whether my intent or not). Never mind that this guy weighs more than a 100 kgs himself and sits at his desk all day collecting more of it.

Any right he had done till then got washed out with that one retort of his, for which I replied only with a line, “You do look at yourself in the mirror, right?” No matter how educated or well-to-do, it is the basic behaviour of a person that shows how ‘cultured’ he or she really is.

Interestingly, the other day I met a girl who refused to buy that I was married, let alone being a mother of two. I was ecstatic to say the least, more because I felt comforted that I was doing something right with myself.

I apologise if this became a rant post and am sincerely grateful if you read it till the end. I had to get this off my chest and believe that in all seriousness I’ve spoken for many more women who face such people and situations at some or the other point in life.

Do leave a comment, would love to know your thoughts about this.

Be a talker..and a listener

Forwarding as received:

We, as a society, really have no idea how *suffocated* people are in their emotions. Most people have *nobody* to express themselves entirely to. Everyone is holding back their *vulnerabilities* to maintain the *social image* of a confident and happy person.

Heart-to-heart conversations have become *rare, artificial and shallow*. And most hearts are filled with *empty defences*. 

Most people can’t even talk to their *life-partners openly* for the fear of being judged or rejected. Emotions await just a release. Social images make sure weakness is not glorified. 

Children have *bottled up* stress. Young people suffer anxiety and depression. 

It is just lack of social support. It is *lack of non-judgmental* friendships. It is result of *fast and busy lives* where nobody has time to just sit and watch someone cry. 

It is result of *instant and impatient lifestyle* practices, that *emotions have started feeling like waste of time*. 

We have *WhatsApp and Facetime and social media* – and we also have *stress and anxiety and depression*.

Our forefathers had neither. Because they talked to each other. Because talking helps.

The *face-to-face* type talking, the *just-listen-to-me* type talking, the *hold-my-hand-and-let-me-cry* type talking, the *sit-next-to-me-and-listen-to-my-silence* type talking… the talking where *the person can be themselves and say anything they feel without the fear of any judgement or loss or rejection*. 

Today, we don’t like that type of talking. Those conversations when someone begins to undress one’s mind. In fact we *avoid people*. And so, mental illness is epidemic. Naturally.

There is not much we can do. But we can offer a *listening* !

Let’s let people talk without any fear. Let’s create conversations. 

*Let’s start talking again*.

Get the cue

Expression isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes all it takes is mere acknowledgement, acceptance or display of the fact that someone means something to you. Is it really that difficult?

Guys/men, we can be an absolute delight or the most horrid nightmare to be around, depending upon how well or how badly you take our cues.

Can you blame us for being difficult to take when you’re ignorant enough to be lame? 😉 😁