Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011- The year that was

The year 2011, was indeed the most happening year of my life. The advanced yogic practices in the Sadhana Intensive at the beginning of this year changed me in profound ways, which I find hard to express in words.

Instead of my usual planning and doing things, I just went with the flow and enjoyed almost everything. I realized, the plan to not plan is working very well. I hope to stay unsettled in the coming year too. :)

Looking back at 2011 (I'm glad the good things outnumber the not so good) so it was a wonderful year!
  • I realized that I can actually sit in Padmasana (something I thought was impossible for me) I don't have a picture of me in Padmasana. This picture was taken by a friend without my knowledge and I found it on facebook. It was taken in February 2011 in Sivananda Ashram, Madurai.
No! this is not Padmasana
  • For the first time I got a chance to see my brother perform on stage. I’m looking forward to watching him perform in front of a larger crowd in the coming year. 
My brother playing  the guitar

  • My little sister got married and I realize that she is not little any more. This picture though not very clear is my favourite.
My sis and me - pic taken by my brother
  • I got admitted in the hospital for viral fever, worst few days of 2011. Then luckily I was at home with my parents to celebrate my birthday under their care.
 
  • Ranjit's unfortunate accident turned out to be a boon as we had to stay home. I started blogging in that short stay at home and it has been real fun.
  • I made my first clay pot using the wheel. This was something I wanted to do for a very long time.

  • The first Blogging contest I took part in Indiblogger, for the Surf Excel contest with the post - My Perfect Life received the runners up. :) I'm grateful to all the readers for the support.
  • We visited Gwalior, which was not on our list but actually I liked the Fort and the Palace. I found Taj Mahal mesmerizing even at my second visit after 5 years. We, my husband and I, started a blog to share our travel experiences. (the links are to the posts we have written about these places)
  • I started a food blog - Flavours to motivate me to cook more often and realized that no matter how hard I try, I love baking more than cooking. I visit the kitchen more often to bake and take pictures, than just to find what’s there to eat, which I think is a great improvement. 
  • Ranjit gifted me a DSLR camera on our Anniversary. I never knew I'll find photography to be such a hard thing to learn. Hoping 2012 will be better in terms of photography. Keeping my fingers crossed.
  • I baked and decorated a 12 inch 3 layered eggless pineapple cake for my Grandma's 87th birthday. It wasn't perfect in terms of decorations but I'm glad it tasted great. I'm looking forward to baking more and more in the coming year.
Eggless Pineapple cake with Vanilla Butter cream Frosting

I'm all excited for 2012... And I quote Neil Gaiman
"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful and don't forget to make some art - write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself"

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

BWW - Homemade Mascarpone Cheese

Homemade Mascarpone Cheese


I made this cheese at home to make the famous Italian dessert Tiramisu.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Acacia Scarf and Hat

Since last year, I'd been on the look out for a perfect pattern for a scarf that isn't too simple and not too understated to make for my Mom. I wanted to gift it to her on her birthday in November, which is right in time for the winters. I actually wanted to go home and give it to her in person but unfortunately it didn't work out.


I'm still not confident to venture into bigger projects yet. I made the acacia scarf and started thinking of doing a hat which matches it but couldn't find a similar pattern. Instead of doing a plain hat I took the risk and tried out the acacia pattern on a basic ribbed hat pattern. It worked great and I could finish it on time.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

# BWW- Vanilla Cake with Royal Icing

Vanilla Cake with Royal Icing

This is my first post for Black and White Wednesday - A Weekly Culinary Photo Event. I just started taking interest in photography and this event will challenge me to learn more.

I baked this cake for my husbands birthday, and this particular picture I found more attractive in Black and White than in Colour.
 

Friday, 11 November 2011

My Perfect Life

 This post won the runners up for the Indiblogger Get Smart Contest.

I wake up every morning with the sunlight, lighting up my bedroom through my window; the sound of birds chirping reaches my ears and my eyes open up to watch the leaves swinging in the wind. The sweet smell of freshly baked bread and coffee boiling in the tea pot tickles my senses, as I get out of bed. After breakfast I sit down to read in my balcony which overlooks a land of blossoming flowers and the smell of freshly ploughed mud always brings a smile to my face. Each night as I go to sleep I can see the moon lighting up the sky through my window. I close my eyes wondering how lucky I am to have a relaxed and peaceful life.

Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... Noooooooooooooooooooo.....

This is what I wished my life would be, not what it is. A typical day for me is one, where the music coming from the bedroom is like thunder and lightning over which the TV sounds like rain. A lot of loud noises is all I hear from the bedroom, over which my husband manages to call out to me. I find him sitting in front of the remaining pieces of a perfectly working radio scattered all over the floor. I sometimes wonder how he manages to create such a miracle, turning a perfectly working radio into a heap of junk. I ask him with a pitiful face, what he wants and as usual he is searching for the remote. What I wonder is, how in the hell is he watching TV and listening to music at the same time, maybe he has some special powers that I am not aware off. (Note to self... observe husband more thoroughly to find out his superpowers).

After all that, there is my father in law, who is very inquisitive to understand the working of each and everything. My god! How do I know how things work? I see an ON Button and an Off Button, nothing more.

When I finally sit down after all the questioning and after fulfilling all the request of my husband, I realize the dogs are barking and I need to feed them and bathe them. Sometimes I wish I had copies of me, to make things easier. Then there is the cooking, cleaning and watering the plants and so on, which will go on until I finally realise night crept up on me without me knowing about it.

When I finally get to bed, I wonder where all the time went, what all I missed on doing, what if I had a few hours extra. I close my eyes wondering what I would do those few hours.

I would love to learn pottery. I imagine myself sitting in front of the wheels spinning it around, dropping clay into the centre of the wheel, to mould it and to create beautiful pots and designs. It's like creating forms out of nothing, to mould clay with my fingers, feeling it growing into shapes, into a creation that I could display to the world. I love the calmness I get from creating objects and the peace I acquire from seeing the end product (Even if it is a hopelessly shapeless pot).

 

 

 

 

 

Too happy after creating my first pot
If only, I had two hours more, I am sure I would be enjoying life as a potter and my husband would end up crying because he would have to pay for all my classes.

Evil laugh at Ranjit, another course added to the list.

This post was written for Surf Excel Matic #GetSmart Contest on Indiblogger

If you enjoyed reading this post, you can vote for the post here.

I'm also sending it to the Weekly Story by Colours Dekor.


Saturday, 15 October 2011

Adenium

15th October 2011

This not a bonsai style as far as I have read, but we would like to see what it results into. I'm really happy the way it is coming along, and it just flowered. There were buds coming up many times but it never bloomed, this is the first flower. So, finally I can be relaxed that it is in good health.

October,2011

October, 2011

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

New Food Blog

It's been a few days I've been working on a separate blog. I decided to keep a different Food Blog, I have a number of reasons to do that
  • Out of 10 followers I have, 8 are food bloggers. Thank you guys to consider this site worth following. 
  • Food Blogging will keep me motivated to cook. Sounds weird, I know for most of you it is the other way around. 
  • Also I've been wanting to share the Nutrition stuff I'm studying. So it'll go well with Food Blogging.
Last but the most important reason for me to even consider food blogging an option is because of one of the Bloggers. I subscribed to Spicy chilly and Edible Garden  Food blogs, at a point where I didn't even know what blogging was all about. I loved checking out their pictures and recipes. Never really bothered to comment on any as I didn't really think it mattered. (Now that I blog, I guess a comment does matter)

Since this blog was created with the intention of just keeping records, and also sharing my life with family and friends, I blogged how to make Pizza base etc, with step by step recipe, it was actually me acting like one of the food bloggers. Never really had intention of sharing those. But as I was enjoying the process, I seriously started blogging recipes.

One fine day I got a comment on my Kalan recipe. To my surprise it was Bharathy who blogs at Spicy Chilly. I was so excited to know that she actually visited my blog. For me those two blogs were like out of my league. I wrote to her thanking her and letting her know how she made my day. And the same day I got a reply from her, with encouraging and kind words. I never expected that. I was really touched by the gesture.

Things I learned during the process of creating a new blog
  1. A gesture no matter how small, matters a lot to the person at the receiving end. 
  2. Adobe Photoshop is not so easy. I cannot learn it in a day or two. It needs patience or a loving husband who knows Photoshop. ;) to create a custom made header for your blog.
  3. Moving posts from the blog takes time unless you are actually moving the whole blog to a different domain. (And I thought of starting a new blog after having enough recipes)
  4. Well I knew this before but was reminded that if I learn CSS I could make my site look the way I want. I tried getting Ranjit on this one, but he said- "if I do everything for you when will you learn." So there are still few changes I'd love to do to the new blog which might happen sometime ( I seriously don't know if I'm ready to work that hard)
If you read so far without getting distracted, with all the links in between, please check out my new blog- Flavours. 

If you have been following this website just for the food part please join the other site, and you can stop following this one, if there is nothing interesting anymore.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

This Journey is Fun!

Disclaimer: This might turn out to be a rather long post. it's under blah blah blah so I don't mind if you choose not to read. I understand, coz even I don't read the whole stuff, if it doesn't really interest me. The pictures are some random pictures I picked out of the road trip albums ( The Taj Mahal was shot by the tourist guide with a flare for photography and the Khajuraho Temple was shot by my Ranjit)  .

Ranjit and I got married in November 2009, since then I've been away from home, either it is the Yoga courses and my teaching commitments or Ranjit and I, are just visiting places and at times visiting people.
Taj Mahal, Agra
After a year away from home, I was craving to stay home for a while. After all, like most girls, I also dreamed of creating a beautiful home and garden, to be like regular families around. But as time passed and we continued our traveling, I felt at home, when we were on the road, driving. I got used to waking up in a new city every few days. Tasting new flavors everyday. Sometimes craving to go back to the place where I had that awesome pasta or Dal Makhni, or just driving home to mom to have her everyday dal, chawal and subzi.

Now I've been home for almost a month at a stretch. It would have been one and a half months, if we wouldn't have had a few small trips in between. Initially, I was happy as I needed this time to study (Health and Nutrition). I registered for the course in January, but never got much time to study and I have exams in June, seems like I still have plenty of time, but actually I don't, as I have commitments starting from January, and time just flies. In between all the studying and tending to my garden and Bonsai plants, I started this blog. Started reading many blogs which are an inspiration and motivation for me to start painting again, doing things, that I always loved doing, but the catch is, I have to stay home to do all this.
Betaab Valley, Kashmir
Khajuraho Temple, MP
Sunflower fields, On the way to Pune from Kohlapur
A part of me is missing the road really bad. I miss the drives, I miss searching for a place to sleep at night, and not finding any place decent enough, so sleeping off in the car. I miss how we pull ourselves together, to drive through the night, coz the Police won't let us park and sleep at places. I miss trying to keep the driver awake talking, singing, dozing off and snoring away to glory. I miss that night we got lost in the jungle, with no one to give us directions for miles together, (all because a police man gave us wrong directions, Thank God we got a GPS now). I miss the joy of finally reaching the place we booked for our stay, just coz I can finally use the toilet after a long wait. I miss every bit of it.
On the way from Kochi to Jog falls
Traveling has changed me in ways that nothing else could. The teachings of Yoga Philosophy of non- attachment and living in the present is easy to practice when you are traveling. When you see new places you are more alert, and embracing every bit of the beauty around you, that is why vacations are so refreshing. Though you enjoy the place, you never get attached too much coz you know, you will move on. 

I do not know what life has in store for me, but I'm ready to flow where ever it takes me, coz so far This Journey has been Fun!

I'm linking this to the Weekly Story by Colours Dekor!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Light Box

A month into blogging and I'm addicted. It's fun and a great learning experience. I've no natural talent for photography or writing, what the hell am I doing  here with a blog?

How I wish I could write beautifully, but that just seems like a very distant dream, I don't want to stress my little brain too much. I try to keep, the posts short but due to incessant chatter in my brain the post just keeps growing fat with words. It's photography that I decided to work on.

I have been most often asked, not to use the camera by my husband, brother and even a few friends. Seriously, I'm that bad, you can see that, don't you. A few pics might be just fine, but those are a few exceptions. The last post on Vegetable Fried Rice, I actually edited the pictures for the first time ever, so they might be, a bit better than the rest of the lot. That is because I've been reading up a bit.

One of the post's that I read, was about light box. I thought it would be great to have one, then I wouldn't have to bother too much about light, and cloudy days here, in Kerala. The project was on for the last week, but finished only today due to my laziness, a lot of reasons (I was supposed to buy the wires and CFL's as Ranjit can't drive for a while, due to a small accident). This was completely Ranjit's Project. He was actually excited to make this one as it required him to use his most prized possesions- Tools!


Two of the lamps were made using ply board, bulb holder and 18 Watts CFL. And you will need tools like the drilling machine, an electric wood saw, screws, nuts and bolts etc. Ranjit is a Tool man, he has a lot of stuff which I can't even name, But, being with him for just a year and a half,  I've learnt to use a few of them and I can fix a bunch of stuff on my own now. :)
Lamp

Screwed up! ;)

 The first picture I took in the light box (unedited)


.Outdoors, on a sunny day (unedited)


The trouble with the sunlight is that I struggle with shadows. The camera I use is Canon SX120 IS. I've no clue what all it can do, I've just started reading the manual after one and half years of buying the camera.

You might want to read a bit before you start making your own light box. These are excellent tutorials, and some easy stuff about improving the quality of your pictures.



Saturday, 24 September 2011

Cucumber Carrot Raita

I always serve my vegetable fried rice with this raita. Its super simple and easy.

Raita


Serves: 4
Preparation time: 10minutes

Ingredients:
  • 400gms thick set curd
  • Salt to taste
  • 1large Cucumber de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 large Carrot shredded
  • Few sprigs of Coriander leaves for garnish.


    Procedure:

    1. Add salt to the curd and mix using a wire whisk, just to get the curd soft and smooth.


    2. Add the shredded carrot and chopped cucumber. Mix well.


    3. Garnish with chopped coriender leaves.


     You can add onions and green chillies too if you like.


     

    Thursday, 22 September 2011

    DIY Bangle Box

    I googled for a Bangle box tutorial, hoping to find something I could link to my recycled bangle box. But couldn't really find anything quite similar to what I made. So here I am with a tutorial, if you want, you can make one for yourself. This also happens to be a recycle project for old boxes.

    Though the idea was mine. It's only coz of Ranjit that I could make it practical. The first time I started out, I had no clue what rod to use. I would have never thought about PVC pipes. We had a few of them lying around, it was Ranjit who suggested that I use it. He helped me make the first one. Today when I told him that I needed to make more of them and take a few pictures for my blog, he said he would help. It turned out that he did all the work, while I took all the pictures. I'm so lucky to have such a wonderful husband.;)


    Bangle Box Tutorial


    Things I used:

    • Shoe box or a similar box
    • An old box or cardboard piece
    • Medium sized PVC pipe of the same length of the box
    • Hacksaw blade or a very sharp knife to cut the PVC pipe
    • Masking Tape
    • Scissors
    • Above all a loving n helpful husband like mine
    How I did it:

    1. Firstly, if you would like to make your box look good, go ahead and wrap the box in some nice paper and decorate it the way you want. You can also wrap up the PVC pipe if you wish. the first one I made I used old rough PVC pipes, so I just wraped them up with masking tape, so that its smooth for the bangles. The boxes I used are good enough, I didn't feel the need to wrap them.

    2. Now that the box is ready, lets get to work. Take the cardboard or the rough old box and cut two pieces out of it.Each piece should have the same width of the box and twice the height. 
    3. Fold each piece into half, length wise and try and fit it into the sides of the box. If it's not fitting right, you might want to chop off a little bit from one of  the sides and bottom.
    4. Now take two 1inch wide and the length same as the width of the above pieces.


    5. Now stick this in between the folded pieces with a masking tape like this.



    6. Now tape the bottom of the pieces, and cut two slots at the top center to fit in the PVC pipe. Tape the extra piece, we don't want to cut it coz it adds support to the pipe.



    7. Now simply place the two slotted cardboard pieces onto the sides of the box and fit in the pipe.


    8.  Now you can hang your collection of bangles to turn the shoe box into the bangle box.
    We made two, now all together I have three of them. And I know I'll need more! ;)

    PS: I've tried my best to write the procedure clearly, and I hope the pictures would prove helpful. Still if you are confused about anything feel free to ask. Otherwise it's a very simple and quick project.

    Wednesday, 21 September 2011

    DIY Pond

    The space between the circular sit out and the drawing room was turned to a fish pond by Ranjit. I really love the utilization of the space and its fun to just sit there and watch the fishes. After we returned from our trip to Mysore/ Bangalore, we found the whole pond infested with more than a thousand tadpoles, small slimy black rounds with a tiny tail. They’d been feeding on from the scales of the fishes. It was surprisingly sad to see Angel babies to die. Surprising because it is very hard for the Angels to breed, sad as it was a very wrong timing when we were away. We could barely rescues four or five of the babies.

    So we had to clean the whole pond inside out, and I got a chance to take pictures.


    First, layer the floor with stones and pebbles. This helps the dirt and fish poop to settle in between and looks natural.
    Arrange the tree trunks, pots and rocks (some of them on and around the tree trunks to hold them in place). Most of these things you’ll find in the back yard. The centerpiece was assembled clay pots that you find being sold on the roadside.

    This is important. Place a few pots upside down and leaving space underneath to let the fishes in, this serves as a good place for them to lay eggs.


    Finally place the plants, and start filling water and add the fishes. Add rock salt on a regular basis to keep the snails off the pond plants.

    Gold Fish and Angel reaching out for food

    Check out the ripples at the other end, that's coz we let the pipe drip a little water everyday for sometime, to keep the pond fresh.
    PS: The last pic might look a lot different from the actual plan coz it was taken yesterday for the blog, the others were taken a while back.

    Monday, 19 September 2011

    DIY Wine bottle label

    Homemade grape wine is a big hit amongst my family and friends. I had been planning to gift one bottle to a friend. Of course I have to make it look good, so here's what I did. And I just realised it is also recycling the wine bottle and the old visiting cards.

    Things I used: 

    • Empty Wine bottle and cork, washed and sterilized
    • White paper A4 size
    • Poster Colour- Chrome yellow and black
    • Paint brushes 
    • Glue
    • Old visiting cards
    • Small piece of ribbon.
    • A pair of scissors
    How I did it:

    1. Take the A4 size paper and cut it into half lengthwise. And Lightly brush it using the poster colour.
    2. Let it dry. Now use the black paint to draw something on it. I really didn't think too much and ended up with this.
    3. While you let this dry. Join two of the visiting cards using glue so you get both sides as unprinted. Now paint one side and if you like you can draw something on it or write. I drew exactly the same thing on it.
    wrap it around the bottle and stick it with glue.

     4. If you want you can round the edges of the card using scissors, and punch a hole at the top left. Use a thin ribbon to tie it to the neck of the bottle.

    5. Fill in the wine, just till the beginning of the neck. And its ready to be gifted.

    It just took me 30 minutes to finish this whole project. But if you have a lot of bottles to label then there are many print out verisons available on the internet.

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