Experiences, Family, Food, Gratitude, Uncategorized

Salads

I assemble four glass containers for Da and three for myself. I chop the veggies one after the other. Da’s container gets a generous helping of argula, while mine gets the bare minimum on purpose (can’t handle the greens in my salad!). I chop the yellow and red peppers, toss in clementines, and then the cherry tomatoes. Veggies done, I move on to nuts, cranberries and feta cheese. Some days I throw in some tofu or chickpeas and olives. Then I layer the quinoa. Not quite the rainbow colors that I aspire for in our salads, but somewhat there. All in all, it has taken me 45 mins. I stack them in my fridge, and heave a sigh of gratitude.

Preparing salads for the weekday lunches has been an integral and indispensable part of my weekend routine for the past several years. The satisfaction of having packed healthy food. The peace of mind from knowing that I don’t have to think about one out three meals for three to four week days. While salads are not comfort food for me, it is a staple for Da. He thrives on it. I don’t know what got me into this routine, but I am glad and thankful that it has stuck with us for all along.

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Experiences, Food, Gratitude, Uncategorized

Bakshanam

In all my years of being married, I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I have not made elaborate bakshanams for Deepavali. It just was not priority enough. Some years we did not celebrate, other years I did not plan ahead, and then there were some years when the mere thought of making the sweets and savories was daunting. This year, it’s a different story though. I have made bakshanams two full days ahead of Deepavali. So very uncharacteristic of me! What did I make you ask? Mullu murukku, diamond biscuits, besan laddu and badam barfi.

Today’s thanks goes to:

  • My amma. She labored in the kitchen all day making bakshanam for Janmashtmi when she was here. She has either done or assisted in making seedai atleast for the past four decades yet she did it with humility and did not just assume that they will turn out stellar. That taught me to take bakshanam making exercise with a little more respect instead of my rather brazen attitude because you know bakshanams are notorious for disasters.
  • Again amma. For writing the recipes for the bakshanams just before she left. It came in very handy and gave me the much needed starting point to plunge into the ordeal.
  • My patti for making bakshanam so very often in our early years of growing up. Thatha would always pop the bakshanam from his dabara into my mouth.  So whenever I eat a bakshanam, I think of thatha fondly. 
  • My friends for being on call and clarifying my novice bakshanam making related questions.
  • Last but not the least, bakshanams themselves for not turning out to be a disaster. Sarvam Shrikrishnarpanam!
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Experiences, Family, Food, Gratitude, Life, Little Moments

Little moments for the summer

I have been wanting to resurrect the Little Moments Thursday series. As the name implies, it attempts to celebrate the little moments in one’s life. I like the idea of dedicating a day of the week for this because as they say, anything that can be done at any time, seldom gets done. I have written a Little Moments post every now and then but not with the consistency that I used to at one point of time. 

LMT is a concept a dear friend came up with. The idea being we all get carried away with the day to day living or the curve balls that life throws at us that we forget to make note of the little moments that get sprinkled along the way.  To me, it’s one more reminder to be grateful for life’s blessings. It is not an attempt to see life through rose tinted glasses as much as it is about not allowing our lives to be defined by its challenges alone. Apart from taking my happiness quotient several notches higher, I like that in the process of writing about my little moments, I tend to journal the details of my life that otherwise tend to fade into the oblivion. 

Today, I am counting the little moments I have had this summer.

  • Seeing my parents as grandparents. It’s true that they have been grandparents for 13 years but given that our India visits tend to be very brief, that side of them tends to get overshadowed. I have enjoyed seeing my kids hugging and kissing them, Ram playing UNO with amma, Hari calling amma the goddess of dosai, and appa teaching Ram how to apply butter on his bread.  I have enjoyed the videos that my sis-in-law Wini sent, of my parents reading and playing with my niece and nephew,  during their stay with them. 
  • After searching far and wide for sari blouses that fit me, turns out my mom’s fit me well. My mom is leaving her kalamkari blouses for me…!! I love love kalamkari, have always loved it, even when it used to be designs on bedsheets and diwan sets.
  • Sharing kitchen duties with amma. Most of the time, amma takes over the kitchen making simple delicious food for us to devour. I enjoy cooking for them too. So we split our duties, taking turns so one person is not getting burnt out. Who does not like a break from kitchen duties?
  • Taking my dad for shopping. I not only like his choices but admire his keen eye for details. The rest of the boys in the household run a mile a minute should I mention the word shopping or will roll up their sleeves to buy what we call as Ramarajan t-shirts (the polyester ones that sports folks around the world wear – this is a term we coined at home after the tamizh movie actor who tends to wear colorful attire on screen) in our household.
  • Watching Da lavish affection on my dad – it’s genuine, spontaneous, and very child like. Pure as white. 
  • Watching my mom take delight in gardening and our garden getting a facelift.
  • Oh speaking of garden, love the three little rose bushes we have planted in the front yard. The yard has graduated from being despicable to being tolerable to the eye, thanks to amma and Da’s toiling.
  • Watching Sherlock Holmes with Hari. The first time I watched, it was with Da, and turns out I ended up sleeping for most episodes as we would watch it on ipads in the comfort of our bed. Hari is not hooked (the child does not like mystery) but doesn’t mind because it would mean he gets TV time which he would not otherwise get. And just like that I have started watching R rated shows with my offspring!
  • Exchanging food with my dear friend V. When I cook something on insta pot, I share it with her so she gets a kitchen break. When she cooks something delicious (which is often), she spares some for me. 
  • The kids hopping and skipping to V’s house for milkshake every Wednesday. V’s son S coming to our house to bake cake. I love being part of his growing up. 
  • Reading Hari’s journal entries during vacation. The child is not a big fan of writing but writing is a fundamental skill, can’t afford to be sloppy in it. So the deal is to write a little paragraph every day. The child always had a ending that had a nugget of wisdom like “If you have hit rock bottom after all, the only way to go is up”, or “My biggest learning for seventh grade is to not judge a book by its cover.” I enjoyed getting a glimpse into his teen brain.
  • Sleepovers with Ram. I love love sleeping next to him, squished in the twin mattress, his legs resting on my body and his head laid on my arm.  Love cannot get any more primal than this. 
  • Watching Ram read, read, and read like there is no tomorrow. My greatest fear is the child will run out of books of his liking at the library. 
  • Speaking of reading, I have been reading quite a bit this summer, and loving every minute of it. I learnt a little trick from my sis-in-law Aaru. She has this amazing ability to stop whatever she is doing, and grab a book to read. She can read when there is a crowd surrounding her, she can read when she has had a tiff with someone, she can ready just about anywhere at anytime. Reading is her sanctuary. Watching her read that compulsively did tickle my instincts to read. The trick that I learnt from her is to not wait for the perfect moment to grab a book because in this phase and stage of life, that is not going to happen.  It also makes reading a way of life. So gold star to her…!!! 

There were some challenges too this summer but I am deeply grateful for the little moments that made it a memorable one.

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Experiences, Family, Food, Gratitude, Hari Katha, Uncategorized

Weekend updates

Just like the prior week and the week ahead, the weekend was full. This is how it is expected to be for the next few months. No complaints. Just have to learn to be focused, efficient and budget R&R to avoid the burn out.

  • On Friday, my childhood friend came with homemade pickles and besan ladoo. We decided to have dinner together impromptu. She is the best when it comes to rolling rotis, so that had to be part of the menu. Much fun was had cooking together and gorging on simple home cooked dinner. Beats take outs and eat outs any day. Could not have asked for a better start to the weekend!
  • Most of Saturday and Sunday was spent out of the house. Can’t tell you what a relief it was to be home in the evenings, even if it was filled with chores. When I am doing chores, I am either listening to podcasts or catching up on phone with family or friends, both of which are the sounds of relaxation for me. 
  • Hari and I watched 60 minutes today. There was a segment that interviewed the student activists from the Florida school. Oh God, my heart weighed a ton and my eyes were streaming with tears as I watched them speak. I have no words but deep deep admiration for their convictions. Like one of the moms said, I wish we were not behind, but in front of them. These kids shouldn’t have to do it. We should not be thrusting this burden on their shoulders. But really what choice do they have after their lives have been so profound affected and changed forever?
  • Last week Hari participated in the Walk Out against gun violence. He is aware, has been following the updates, and has been forming strong opinions. 

Time to hit the sack even though there are gazillion thoughts waiting to be written down. Adios amigos. Have a good week.

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Experiences, Experiments, Food, Health and fitness, Intentions, Me, Uncategorized

January Reflections

I did the monthly reflections post last year for a couple of months and abandoned it after. Let’s see how far this year takes me.

January has been a slow and steady month.This is the time of the year I normally tend to push myself to build new habits. But this year, I am just going with the flow without any grand goals or lofty ambitions. Just making sure to put in small consistent steps every day. This month I focused on infusing some discipline into my eating habits and imbibing 15 to 20 mins workout. It is not a lot but it has helped me get some of my stamina back. I also worked on one of my very annoying habits – I often leave my handbag unzipped (yikes!) and forget where I leave my keys (I never lose them but always misplace them as a result spend a lot of time searching). I can’t say I have conquered the clumsiness (I doubt I ever will) but have certainly been more mindful.

For workout, I wanted to share the youtube video series called Jessica Smith TV. It works well given the weather outside. There are many styles to choose from setting you free from monotony. They are for different chunks of time ranging from 10 mins to 30 mins, so lack of time cannot be used as an excuse. There are different levels to choose from. And the person who does it, keeps reiterating that something is better than nothing, which is kind of a great slogan when it comes to workout because you don’t have to do a lot, just a little something everyday. Some days that pushes you to do more and on other days, atleast you know you did a little something.

How quickly one month has gone by, isn’t it? Where are you with your new year goals?

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Detox, Experiences, Experiments, Family, Food, Gratitude, Inspiration, Intentions, Introspection, Kids, Life, Me, Us

Word of the Year

How did I do? Is it worth continuing with the word of the year? Is it a meaningful exercise?

I did ok with Mindfulness  although I forgot  it was THE word a few times. Setting intentions in the beginning of the year did unintentionally influence my everyday actions. I am able to sense tension, tightness and panic when things don’t go my way. I don’t become zen or calm about the situation right away. But I have learnt that the place to start is relaxing my jaws and facial muscles. Paying attention to that tactical action, settles me a bit even when there is restlessness raging within. I talk myself into getting some alone time and engage in some productive work so I am not being disruptive to the ones around me. It works a few times even if not always. I have also learnt to drift back to sleeping when I wake up in the morning. This is worth a mention because it is part of my effort to not to be a slave to my To Do or routine.

Mindfulness like Discipline and Detox (my Word for the prior years) is a lifelong practice. So this year was just the beginning. I did not move mountains or boil the ocean but I have made incremental progress as a person. So I see value in pursuing this practice.

For this year, I am choosing the word “Us”.  Hari has five to six years with us before he takes full responsibility for himself. There are so many interesting things to do with him. There are so many things that he needs guidance on. I want to be fully present for him in this critical phase of growing up. Ram is still young and he needs me differently. I want to do all the things that I enjoy doing with him – reading, cooking, playing, coloring and what not. And with Da, I will be a little nicer, kinder and compassionate instead of using him as my punching bag. As rudimentary all these aspects sound to you or may come naturally to many of the moms that I know of, they are hard for me. I tend to oversee these finer aspects as there are so many things I want to dip my tips in. 

While the “Us” does not preclude my parents, siblings and families, I am doing pretty ok on that front, which is why I am narrowing the focus to the immediate concentric circle around me. 

This does not mean I will abandon pursuits outside home. Far from it, I want to do my bit, so they are not going away. But I will be deliberate about what I take on and make sure that I balance between what gives me intrinsic and extrinsic joys. I missed out on reading, writing, cooking experiments, and connecting with friends this year and I hope to pick up the slackness there.  I will strive to be more consistent with eating clean and healthy and working out.

These are the intentions I am setting for the year. What are yours?

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Detox, Food, Gratitude, Health and fitness, Introspection, Us

Fitness Diary – Day 11 and Day 12

Day 11

I was half asleep yesterday before I realized that I had forgotten the journal entry for the day. It was too late to turnaround and make amends.

Eats – so so. Dark chocolate is my vice. Thank God for this workshop because yesterday would have been one of those days I would have indulged in gluttony but good sense prevailed and the damage was minimized. 

Workout – 17 mins jogging. Meditation – 9 mins. Hydration – so so.  

Gratitude – thankful that I did not go overboard with the eating, thankful that I was able to take the day off to catch up on some household projects, thankful that I had a partially productive day.

Focus in the workshop was exercise – aerobics, anaerobics and flexibility. It is recommended that aerobics be done for not more than 3 days per week. High Intensity Interval Training, a form of anaerobic exercise is the most efficient way to lose excess fat. Personally, I tend to focus only on aerobic exercise. I have weights at home, time to dust them out. I also want to spend one day recovering by doing  yoga, perhaps surya namskar.

Day 12

Today was spent reflecting on random things. I was getting a little frustrated about a certain paperwork that was taking longer than I had hoped for. But I am proud of myself for not letting the frustration get the better of me, I kept chugging along.

Eats – so so. Besan chila for breakfast, ragi dosai for lunch, tacos and veggie rice bowl for dinner. So so because of the raisin toast and the extra dark chocolates that I had.

Workout – 17 mins of running. Meditation – 9 mins. Hydration – bad, did not even attempt. Sleep – so so.

Gratitude – 1. Thankful that I kept reframing and refocusing today and channeled my frustration to productive work. 2. Thankful that although the odds were not in my favor, I managed to pay my monthly visit to the parlor. 3. Thankful for the healing power of space and time – sickness, disappointments, frustrations, squabbles – we have a tendency to hasten the healing in an attempt to make ourselves better sooner than later. But healing takes space and time. Space to experience the unpleasantness and the time to put the suffering in perspective.  

Today’s focus was on eating seasonal and local foods. Eat what’s in season, and eat what’s local. This makes a lot of sense to me.  Here’s a useful link – http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=faq&dbid=28

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