Thursday, October 27, 2011

veggie salad?

The Mix Veggie Salad!

There are some people who love eating and dont ever hold themselves back...but never gain even a microgram of weight....(my younger sister, Safoora is a very good example)
These people can eat what they like, when they like and remain the same...always!
They are the objects of envy of everyone around them...
Then there are some people who though they like food, but have a naturally low appetite...and hence never put on weight...(my friends Bazma and Richa are the lucky ones that come to mind)
These lucky few are not extremely fond of food, they are not really passionate about what they eat-they eat what they get and are ok with it!
The above two examples are the ones who hate excercising -or probably have never excercised...
they dont need it!
The next lot are the people like my dear husband...he loves food, he loves to experiment with all kinds of cuisines but has a superb will soon as he thinks he is putting on weight...he just switches off, starts controlling his portions-maybe does a bit of excercise... and the pounds just shed like magic....
and he is back to his fit self again!! and I just watch in amazement and deep envy....
And then there are people like me....
Who love eating (in fact are passionate about it) but try very hard to hold themselves back...who have had a constant battle with the bulge since the time they can remember...
people like us who put on weight just by breathing the air we live in...
who have exercised like crazy, ran and walked and swam and done aerobics-you name it and we have done it all!!! ...but a svelte figure has somehow evaded us...
We have done dieting, had controlled portions...gone on a detox diets and everything, but to no avail!
Here in the U.S. its not difficult to lose weight... you are constantly on your feet, doing all the housework, lugging the children around everywhere, and especially in New York, where you have to walk a lot to reach most places!
All the help that you took for granted back home like the maid and the driver and the gardner and the are all that rolled in one!
and especially if you are cooking your own food, you can experiment with all the amazing ingredients, tastes and textures that are available here... and if you are careful with what goes into your can at least not put on weight! and I think thats whats been happening with me...
I havent lost weight (I am enjoying my gastronomical journey too much for that) but I havent gained weight as well...
especially as I love my salads (much to my husband's amazement-he cant relate to the fact the some people might actually enjoy salads), so at least three times a week my dinner is a salad...
so here is a rather scrumptious salad that I love which is filling and delicious!

whisk together-1 tbsp mustard sauce
            2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
pinch of salt and freshly crushed pepper
(I also sometimes add low fat hung curd to the dressing for a more creamy flavour)
you can try both ways!

1/2 a zuchchini (cut in slices)
1/2 yellow/red pepper (cut in small squares)
3 button mushrooms (sliced)
4-5 baby carrots-whole/ or normal carrots-cubed

heat a little olive oil to just coat the pan, add the above veggies and stir fry till slightly cooked but still crunchy!
add a pinch of salt and pepper 
In a salad bowl, take about 3-4 leaves of Romaine lettuce, torn into bite pieces
add cherry tomatoes (cut them in half if you so prefer)
add the stir fried veggies and sprinkle some crumbled feta cheese.
pour the dressing over it, and enjoy!!
simple and delicious....

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

halloween craft for school!

sorry about the quality of the photographs...I have to remember to use a proper camera rather than the iphone every time...

My older son's school has a couple of days holiday because they are celebrating U.N. Day  (its a U.N. school, so...)... and for me this means that no housework or no freelance work is going to be done...
I have to be constantly at his beck and call-from one hour of compulsory studying to endless rounds of snacks, a bit of craft to some reading and then of course lugging the two boys for Karate classes and back.
Its only now that I have allowed him an hour of T.V. that I can sit on the computer and at least visit my friends on the blogosphere...
so I thought why not update you on the crafty things that me and my two munchkins have been upto today...
He has a Halloween party in his school this Friday so we decided to make something "Halloweeny" for his friends in school...
And here is a step by step photo essay of Halloween Monster book marks for the 19 students in his class and the 20th one for his class teacher.
I didnt have the stiff heavy stock paper for the book marks so we had to make do with what we had at home...
the colored paper that I had were slightly flimsy so they needed a stiff back...hence we improvised by sticking them on a box of  Cheese-its and cutting them out.
then after making the goulish faces with the wiggly eyes, we stuck them on colorful craft sticks and voila.....!!!

all the stuff that is required to make these cute bookmarks!

my little two year old also made a tiny little owl of the remaining papers and was pleased as a punch about it!
And now they are waiting for their dad to come home so that they can surprise him with their creations...
there is one bookmark for dear dad too!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What the "*#@$" is Halloween???

A lot of my folks back home are wondering what is this "Halloween" that I keep on talking about all the time since the start of this month...(apart form the fact that it is all about ghosts and monsters)
and I know a lot of you are thinking... "oh no...there she goes again...she seems obsessed with this Halloween thing!!"

Thats right guys, it does seem that I am getting a bit obsessed with the whole concept of Halloween (or my husband certainly seems to think so!)
I don't know, I find the whole "Halloween" hoopla highly amusing and a lot of fun!
But before I go onto another rapturous monologue I'll just tell you a bit about what I gathered is Halloween…esp the Halloween in the U.S.!
The history is very unclear whether the festival has a celtic or a roman or a welsh origin…mostly its believed to be from a Celtic festival called Samhain…
In this Festival, which fell in the time when summer had ended and winter was fast approaching... People would light bonfires, and wear costumes to ward of evil spirits and ghosts!
The word Halloween is first attested in the 16th century and represents a Scottish variant of the fuller All-Hallows-Even ("evening"), that is, the night before All Hallows Day which is actually All Saints day to honor and pray for the souls of saints and martyrs!
So All Hallows Eve becomes "Halloween" and over time it loses its religious fervor and superstitions and becomes a more of a community based event with child friendly activities like trick or treat and hay rides and telling of ghost stories and having halloween parades and parties.
ok now we come to the symbols of Halloween…
For instance, the carving of jack-o'-lanterns springs from the souling custom of carving turnips into lanterns as a way of remembering the souls held in purgatory (or place between heaven and hell).The turnip has traditionally been used in Ireland and Scotland at Halloween,but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which are both readily available and much larger – making them easier to carve than turnips.
Halloween imagery includes themes of death, evil, the occult, or mythical monsters. Black and orange are the holiday's traditional colors and used in all the decorations around the house.
Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. 
Children go in costume from house to house, asking for treats such as candy or sometimes money, with the question, "Trick or treat?" The word "trick" refers to a (mostly idle) "threat" to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given. In some parts of Scotland children still go guising. In this custom the child performs some sort of trick, i.e. sings a song or tells a ghost story, to earn their treats.
The American Halloween tradition of "trick-or-treating" probably dates back to the early All Souls' Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called "soul cakes" in return for their promise to pray for the family's dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits
The tradition of dressing up in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.  
Halloween costumes are traditionally modeled after supernatural figures such as monsters, ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils. Over time, the costume selection extended to include popular characters from fiction, celebrities, and generic archetypes such as ninjas and princesses.
Halloween costume parties generally fall on, or around, 31 October, mostly celebrated on the Friday or Saturday prior to Halloween.
the Haunted attractions and Hoopla!!
They include haunted houses, corn mazes, and hayrides, and the level of sophistication of the effects has risen as the industry has grown. Haunted attractions in the United States bring in an estimate $300–500 million each year, and draw some 400,000 customers at the least!!
And the halloween industry on its own brings in about $6 billion annually in America which makes it the  country's second largest commercial holiday!
so I guess now you can understand my fascination of the ghoulishly fun festival?
i leave you with some images of how people all over America are decorating thier homes, gardens and front porches with pumpkins and ghosts, crows, bats and even spiders.... they are awesomely creative  :-)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

autumn inspiration...

Hey guys, its Friday morning here and the weekend is just around the corner!
But its that weather again...muddy...slushy... and we are enveloped in a constant cloud of drizzle (you know those tiny droplets that neither soak you nor keep you completely dry?)
The sun has disappeared once more after dazzling us the last few days and the weatherman( the rest of the U.S.... I follow the weather closely) says its not going to show its face again for the whole weekend!!..
And here I was thinking autumn means a lovely chill in the air and beautiful yellow orange leaves all around...
lots of hot cocoa and snuggling up in warm clothes and warmer people.... ;-)
Certainly not this wet weather where its neither cold nor warm...neither wet nor dry.....ugggghh!
So to cheer myself up in this grey weather, I went and bought a pair of bright red rain boots!
what can I say-I am a die hard believer of bright and gay colors elevating the mood...
and am also in the process of completing a couple of sketches inspired by the autumn that I have been picking up on my long walks!

The three outside our building
Another one! I can go back to sipping my hot cuppa tea and missing the piping hot yummy samosas that I left behind in India....or the onion pakodis that go so well with my tea!  :-)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Halloween Freebies!!

Hi there guys...
Sunday morning in this part of the world and I am feeling in a good mood!
The coming three months are festive months and here in good ol' America its the months of Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas...
I have been toying with a few halloween designs the last few days (for a few clients) so I thought why not make a few designs for my friends and followers on my blog....
I know in India, halloween is not such a big thing but this whole concept of dressing up and having costume parties...and becoming ghouls and monsters and children going out to houses with bags for "trick or treat" is so much fun..
My elder one is going to be a Vampire and the little one, a Pirate!  :-)
So here, to keep up with the spirit is a single Halloween concept...
Just click-copy, paste-print on a good card stock paper, cut and use!!!  easy...peasy!!

Halloween bookmarks

Halloween invites

sweets/muffin tags  (tape a toothpick behind the card and stick on individual muffins)!

Gift Tags

Menu card for the party!
Go on, have a rocking Halloween party whichever part of the world you are in!
These have got me sooooo excited that I am planning on making a few more free samples for you guys (any requests or specific ideas???)  and will definitely throw a Halloween party sooon!
Gotto use these ideas which are churning in my brain....  :-)

P.S. please remember that these images are for personal use only, and NOT for commercial purposes, thank you! and if you do mention/ use these images in yr blog/website please do add a link back to my blog...I would appreciate it!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dressing up Royally!!!

Hey guys..its a glorious Saturday morning and the sun is out...yaaaaaay!!
Why the excited "yaaay" is because for the past two-three weekends we have been missing the sun...
Its been cloudy and muggy and drizzling most of the time-and if not drizzling then it would be tooooo cold and windy!
      Normally that wouldnt have stopped me if I was alone and I would have made sure to enjoy what ever time is left before one gets cooped up inside because of the snow...but hauling a two year old around in the rain is not a chance I was wanting to take..
so for the past couple of weekends..not much has been happening.
But we did sneak out for a fantastic festival last weekend (inspite of the threatening grey clouds)
and thankfully the rain gods did not play spoilsport with us till the very end of the evening!
        Like I told you Halloween is at the end of October but I think this whole October is the month of dressing up!!
And so when I came to know that there was a Medieval Festival in Manhatten, I had to really convince my brood to take me there...
My dear husband was in the mood for a long drive to the countryside(not another festival, he says)
My elder son was in the mood for cycling and Karate and the thought of all the people dressed up as kings and queens did not really appeal to him...  :-)
The younger one of course had no say (I thank god for that-till it lasts.....)
but as usual...I had my way (hah!!!)
and boy did we have fun!!!
Everyone was dressed up...from Viking kings to Mongolian Kings(Ghenghis Khan type) to English
Kings and Queens and Ladies of the court to Jesters and we even had the Merry Band of Robin Hood!
There were all kinds of roguishly handsome pirates and my very own Captain Jack Sparrow (oh how I wish I could have mustered up the courage to take a photo with him!) and he was selling silver cute is that!
There were street plays and Magicians and puppeteers and vendors selling exotic costumes, to fairy art, to tattoos, to beautiful silver trinkets!
Children were dressed as Knights and there was mock sword play fights....and dances and we even had a bard with a guitar singing Irish songs...
I was soo wanting to get a Knight's costume for my elder one-but just couldnt get the right size...he was either too big or too small for the sizes available!
The Park where the Medieval Festival took place was wonderfully located...middle of Manhattan but surrounded by lush greenery so that you dont feel you are in the middle of a big city-and overlooking the Hudson River!
The evening Finale was the Joust tournament..
here you have seven to eight handsome Knights who are riding on horses  and they have those long poles with which they have to attack each other and the one unseated is the one who loses...
It was exhilarating to watch and there was lots of booing and cheering and the Mayor dressed up as King stood up to clap in enthusiasm a number of times.....and just as it was finishing-there was a crack of thunder and down came the the rain....absolutely perfect timing!!!
Its an annual Festival thing and next year I dont think I will have any convincing to do to get them to go again and who knows....I might even get the three men in my life to dress up and go for the Medieval Festival!!!
what do you say?....go as a pirate family or a royal family??

Enjoy a few pictures....  :-)


A very entertaining street play

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Here in the U.S. Halloween is everywhere-in all shops and all malls and all online stores and even my elder son's school's websites!
And back home in India-there must be Diwali hoopla everywhere...
and its such a fun time-lots of festive color and lights and sweets and all markets are dressed up...
there are freebies everywhere... candles and Diyas...and rangoli and crackers...
how I miss it!!
but here are some ideas that I have collected just for my friends and followers of
 my blog...
lots of ideas of how you can dress up a plain and simple candle or a tealight for the Diwali decorations..
they can even be an inspiration or a starting point for a lovely dinner party(hint for my fauji friends)...
these are all ideas that you can do yourself with simple T-lights and pillar candles and some glass vases!
dressing up a simple wine glass with a lovely paper shade and a t- light!! 

you can add these pillar candles in old earthenware vessels(matkas)...dress then up or give them an old distressed look!

lovely ways to dress up a pillar candle with flowers or a simple high ball glasses with floating t-lights

stick dry flowers in simple candles to dress them up or if you too lazy-then get them from  Fab India and stick then on empty wine bottles!

here simple Mason jars (or old Jam/Pickle Jars) have been given a lift-filled with acorn but you can fill them with small stones or even cofee beans with a candle votive in between

pillar candle surrounded by fall leaves(you can also use fake leaves and acorns/stones and lots of twigs... nice and earthy feel!

this is such a lovely idea of upturned wine glasses with a beautiful flower and a candle on top!

salt and cherries/raspberries-you can use different colored marbles/stones  with a pillar candle on a bed of fresh leaves/foliage!

hahhaa-here its old colored bulbs but smooth stones/pebbles will also work well! you can even color them to match your pillar candle!

this one is beautiful-pillar candle in a vase on a bed of gravel,succulent plants and some simple and pretty!

dry flowers with a twine with candle glass on a bed of wooden ...earthy!

lace covered jam/pickle jars with T- lights....awesome and simple...
you can do it,right?

candles look very pretty surrounded by smooth pebbles and glass...

HAPPY DIWALI  everyone!!  and do tell me if any of these ideas inspired you enough and if you plan on using any of them this Diwali!

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