The Scorpios

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Saturday, April 04, 2015

Homemade ghee

One of the attractions of buying Astra milk was to make home made ghee. It was the acid test of the milk fat content because aavin milk never yields ghee.

So with mom's able guidance I fumbled my way through the ghee making process.

I had malai or milk cream from 30l of milk collected. It was around 1kg

Take the cream in a large vessel and stir it with your hand for around five minutes

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Nashta Time



Have you seen the
link to https://www.facebook.com/anaajkanashta?

and https://www.youtube.com/user/kelloggindia.

You must. If you haven't already. Because the Gupta s have posted some yummy Kellogg's recipes there.
I especially liked the Sitaphal powered breakfast. Must try that at my end.

Any way I suppose better than trying them, one must just go to their home for Nashta party.

If I have to recall one such nashta party, I remember I had once gone for nashta to the house of a friend ironically called Ms D Gupta. We were little children and had never thought of a concept like having nashta at anyone's home except for parties.

So this aunty, my friend's mom invited us for a breakfast party of masala dosa, something that so far I had eaten only in restaurants.

My sister and I went to the friend's house and filled our tummies with multiple home cooked yummy and hot dosas filled with potatoes made using a yummy recipe.  We really savoured the dosas aNd I have lost count perhaps of the numbers we ate that day. Little did I imagine that years later I would be making dosas like a pro in my own home from my own batter though!


Cut to today we talk of healthy recipes and we are in dire straits when we think if how to make them. And if we have someone who makes these yummy Kellogg's healthy nashta we would love to go there and have a go at trying every recipe possible.

Ultimately if one has to lose weight I would recommend that we look at the Kellogg's philosophy and see how we can follow that to bring about weight loss.

The attempt should be to bring about a change in lifestyle rather than a short term change to last during the weight loss period only. If the aim is to restrict only during the weight loss phase, the tendency is to put back as much and more than what was lost. The overall idea is not to stop one from eating but educate and train the body to eat what is right and the right quantity.

1. Instead of 3 large meals, one should take 6 small meals.
-The body handles smaller amounts of food better than big meals at one go. If the quantity is limited, it is more likely to use the energy contained in the food, rather than store it as fat.
-Taking small meals provide fuel to keep the digestive system working and metabolism fired up throughout the day and prevents the body from slipping into fat storing mode
2. The objective is to get a good mix of carbs, protein, vitamins, fibre. A sample diet schedule -(for me- you need to check with your dietician)
Breakfast- cornflakes/ oats/ upma/ dosa without oil/ idly
Midmorning- tender coconut/ fruit/ vegetable juice
Lunch- 1-2 glasses of cold water, Cup of salad, 2 roti, vegetables, daal, buttermilk. The water, buttermilk and salad will help you control the food quantity to near ideal
Afternoon- milk/ coffee with 2 biscuits/ wheat rusk
Evening- fruit
Dinner- before 7.00- 7.30 pm- soup, salad, wheat bread- 2-3 slices/ roti & salad/ veggies/ oats

Ensure you take 12-15 glasses of water. Can also include the tender coconut, juice in the tally.

Non veg is restricted to twice a week and not in the night. Ayurveda mentions that non-veg takes 48 hours to digest. Also it has no fibre and high amount of fat. Proteins require much more energy than carbs to digest but since one sleeps after dinner the whole thing gets absorbed into the system as fat if eaten at night.

Fruits, salads, oats give fibre.
Sugar free/ cholesterol free does not necessarily mean fat free so be careful of such products.
Tetrapack juices are not always good- remember the sugar added
Everything counts- yes that small piece of chocolate too.
Attain your target and then allow yourself one treat day in the week- not before that.
Cut the vicious cycle – the more you weigh, the more you feel like eating junk food/ high fat food. The more you avoid fatty food, the faster you attain your target and the lesser you feel like eating junk food.






What Makes Me Happy




 Simple everyday happiness boosters.

It doesn't take too much to make me happy.

I list out some of the basic, simple, thrifty happiness boosters that I swear by.

Gardening- even watching every leaf and flower qualifies. Especially if a painstakingly readied plant takes root and thrives. I especially enjoyed figuring out how to root the mint in the pit. Simple. You prepare the roots in water first and then put in the soil when the fresh white roots emerge.

Having a loooooooong chat across continents with school friend. Just start off from where you last left and the best part is you can just be yourself- we both know what we were in school!! ;)

Morning Walk with the cool breeze hitting your face, smelling new smells, looking at new plants and vegetation, seeing the birds fly...everything

Also a clear night sky when every constellation is clear. I am especially enamoured by the sight of the Scorpio constellation that rises in the early morning hours

 Planning for and gearing up for the next projects - could be simple stuff like hosting dinner or revamping the garden or experimenting to perfect the cake or tough ones like clearing the kitchen shelves!!

Baking. Always. Especially the cup cakes in my cute silicone moulds that the children love. And watching them devour it is the larger part of the fun.

Playing badminton with the spouse or children or friends on weekend evenings. Especially rallies and especially watching the kids play better than me.

Being with the children and especially getting them to do non home work study. I love making them do puzzles or mathematical problems or write a creative page.

Reading late in bed or spending a holiday with lazy reading or managing to read the entire duration of the flight.

An Anuja Chauhan or a Moni Mohsin or a Sophie Kinsella book.

Writing after a long writer's block, that scene that was evading you or that concept that was not falling into place. Of course writing anytime is a happiness booster. Even the articles.

Hearing from publishers after a manuscript submission. The positive ones of course. I relish every phase of the book making including the edits believe me.

Shopping with free vouchers ;) ...can't even begin to express the pleasure that I feel

Plotting, planning and executing my next purchases. I have a bedsheet fetish!

Talking to mom.

Finding something interesting on the net.

Lots of sunlight

Rain, the variety that comes with a rainbow or in the early evening. Rain reminds me of the day we got our babies home. So it has a special. Place any case.
Reading impeccable English gives me the greatest pleasure. Especially the PG Wodehouse variety

Check happiness at http://cokeurl.com/96jnc

Monday, March 23, 2015

Green Initiatives of 2015

And when we think we can't be further greener, there come some more avenues to go green.
Some of the initiatives we managed to take 

- moved to LED lights in most places of the home 

- started more of gardening with attempts to grow basic herbs like greens, basil, mint. Whatever is possible in my sun less garden
 
Placed an aloe Vera plant on my desk to use as a moisturiser
Started composting using kitchen waste and house dust. Even making the kids pee in it so that I save the water that would go for flushing and also give nutrients for the compost.
Almost completely moved over to steel bottles, steel snack boxes . Closely reading the plastic container numbers
- less of microwaving more of induction or gas stove

- moved over to wooden cutting board

- moved over to iron tawa for dosa from nonstick tawa 

- separated potatoes and onions and using natural baskets


Moving over to cows milk from Astra if all goes well. Will try to make own ghee and paneer henceforth with better quality milk 
Glass containers for spices
More natural like kora grass mats and grass baskets plus more of plants all around

Other initiatives to take

Perhaps move to cloth bags for keeping veggies in the fridge

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Happiness Boosters











 Simple everyday happiness boosters.

It doesn't take too much to make me happy.

I list out some of the basic, simple, thrifty happiness boosters that I swear by.

Gardening- even watching every leaf and flower qualifies. Especially if a painstakingly readied plant takes root and thrives. I especially enjoyed figuring out how to root the mint in the pit. Simple. You prepare the roots in water first and then put in the soil when the fresh white roots emerge.

Having a loooooooong chat across continents with school friend. Just start off from where you last left and the best part is you can just be yourself- we both know what we were in school!! ;)

Morning Walk with the cool breeze hitting your face, smelling new smells, looking at new plants and vegetation, seeing the birds fly...everything

Also a clear night sky when every constellation is clear. I am especially enamoured by the sight of the Scorpio constellation that rises in the early morning hours

 Planning for and gearing up for the next projects - could be simple stuff like hosting dinner or revamping the garden or experimenting to perfect the cake or tough ones like clearing the kitchen shelves!!

Baking. Always. Especially the cup cakes in my cute silicone moulds that the children love. And watching them devour it is the larger part of the fun.

Playing badminton with the spouse or children or friends on weekend evenings. Especially rallies and especially watching the kids play better than me.

Being with the children and especially getting them to do non home work study. I love making them do puzzles or mathematical problems or write a creative page.

Reading late in bed or spending a holiday with lazy reading or managing to read the entire duration of the flight.

An Anuja Chauhan or a Moni Mohsin or a Sophie Kinsella book.

Writing after a long writer's block, that scene that was evading you or that concept that was not falling into place. Of course writing anytime is a happiness booster. Even the articles.

Hearing from publishers after a manuscript submission. The positive ones of course. I relish every phase of the book making including the edits believe me.

Shopping with free vouchers ;) ...can't even begin to express the pleasure that I feel

Plotting, planning and executing my next purchases. I have a bedsheet fetish!

Talking to mom.

Finding something interesting on the net.

Lots of sunlight

Rain, the variety that comes with a rainbow or in the early evening. Rain reminds me of the day we got our babies home. So it has a special. Place any case.
Reading impeccable English gives me the greatest pleasure. Especially the PG Wodehouse variety

Check happiness at http://cokeurl.com/96jnc

Monday, March 16, 2015

Running to Win


It was sports day in school and my sons were ready to be winners in their team game.
The son had practiced for the race the entire weekend.
He would run up to the bandage, pick the bandage up and then run up to his doll and tie the bandage, slowly and laboriously to the podgy leg of the teddy bear and t hen pick himself and the teddy bear up and race to the finish line.
I whistled and clapped and nudged him to do it faster, however he focused on doing it right.
My ambidextrous child, who can write and colour with both hands was having immense problem with the simple act of tying a bandage because of orientation issues and confusion of the hands. Hence he focused more and more on getting it write while I played my part in nudging him to go faster. 
On the day of the sports day, the clouds were covering the sky owing to the long week of rains and the school was apprehensive about the sports day as anytime the rain gods could play spoil sport and shower us with their blessings that is the torrential sudden rains which would wet the grassy ground and spoil the sports day for us.
So with great apprehension and trepidation the sports day was declared open and the children started competing in their sports day event one by one.
The theme was profession and the race was based on various professions like pizza delivery for which Tejas' team got the first prize, brick house building, postman etc.
Ojas' class represented the medical guy who would put the bandage on an injured leg.
As he stood in line preparing for his race, my heart raced much more because the pressure of performance would be immense considering the twin had won his race.
The whistle blew and mys on rushed towards the bandage, picked it up and settled himself to tie the bandage to the leg of the teddy bear.
He struggled with both hands, and was all fingers yet focused on doing the bandage correctly. He did manage to secure it and rushed to the finish line. 
However he finished neither first nor second not third. But the school was nice enough to award him a participation medal.
My heart beat fast as I went up to his class to collect him back after the sports day, wondering what tears I will have to encounter. 
I prepared myself to hug his tears away and as he came out of the class he showed me his consolation prize medal and said simply, "Mamma, I won." 

The clouds parted and the sun shone bright and clear and with that it gave me a burst of pride optimism. My son had won because he had managed to tie the bandage well and truly. His race was only with himself and not with anyone else.
And when you are feeling down and wondering whether you will find your dream house at all, go on to https://housing.com/lookup

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Paranoia about Hygiene

While I always had a mild OCD about cleanliness I have taken it to the next level after reading up more on how much one must clean.

KITCHEN

I have separate colour coded towels for surface wiping, hand wiping and vessels wiping to prevent transfer of germs. I read that wiping with messy kitchen towels spread more germs on the counter than not wiping at all.
Also wet towels attract more germs than dry ones.
So every night I spread out and bin my used towels in a basket and leave them outside to dry. The same are washed with a little bit of synthetic vinegar added to hot water.

Kitchen surfaces are wiped down with dish soap to kill germs. I wonder if I need ISO Propyl alcohol to do a thorough job?

Meat is washed in the sink that is outside and I hope all germs run away somewhere.

NO WIPING HANDS ON THE DRESS!

Fridge deep cleaned every month.

Dish scrubs and sponge to be changed on the first of every month. I am trying to microwave thoroughly washed damp sponge every week to kill the germs but not happening regularly. However I insist that the sponges are kept separately and left on the outer sink to dry because the damp sponges harbour the germs. I hope it helps.


ROOMS

Bedsheets to be changed every 15 days

Towels to be washed twice a week.

No eating in bedrooms or living rooms. Worms occur when one eats crumbs fallen on the bed because bed may house pin worms that explore at nighttime plus there is sweat, saliva and grime and other bodily fluids on the sheets!

TOILETS

To be as usual cleaned everyday and deep cleaned every week.

Shower cubicles and walls to be wiped down after shower.

GENERAL

All surfaces to be wiped everyday.

Windows and grills deep cleaned every alternate week.

In The Lap of Nature



A trip to Singapore perhaps was needed for me to feel extremely proud of my boys.

They were happy troopers, enjoying the nature and animals more than the artificial universal studios
 

The tulipmania was on and was a riot of colours with various tulip bulbs planted all over the garden which the kids loved. Who says boys don't do flowers?


SEA Aquarium
The kids lived the 800 species of marine animals across 49 different habitats that were displayed, each one as fascinating as the next, it was an experience they did nit forget in a hurry,
They squealed in delight walking across a floor of glass and watching the o red actors and other ocean creatures swim right beneath our feet.


We saw the hammer head shark which is an endangered species swim across the glass dome right above our head and the dance of the richly coloured translucent jelly fish
Giant stingrays slowly moved across the aquarium Of exotic coral reefs 

In Singapore Zoo we saw various Zones like Wild africa
Australian section, Tree tops trail, Primate kingdom and reptile garden

We saw the feeding of white tiger - the keeper Kumar threw giant chinks of meat and the tiger swam from across and catch them expertly and snacked on them.

We also saw the malayian tapir a lovely symmetrical  black and white animal who fed on greens

And we also watched the feeding of the tall necked giraffes and saw a few kangaroos darting across the path. 
The squirrel monkeys were free ranging and they jumped across fences and walls and were very enthusiastic


The fragile forest  was the most exciting section with flying foxes, butterflies that one could touch and other little animals that darted across the small covered dome. 


We then went to the River Safari- Asia's first and only river themed park highlighting aquatic life from  major rivers of the world like 

Missisipi, Ganges, Nile, congo, Murray, Mekong, Yangtze 

Also has Amazon flooded forest with simulation of amazon forest trees submerged during flood. 

We went for a boat safari and saw flaming red and pink flamingoes free ranging in the forest
and various ducks swimming nearby


Giant Panda Forest - China's gift to Singapore, giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia. Also sharing this climate-controlled biodome are the rare red pandas and elegant golden pheasants.

At the end of it all, I felt truly proud that my children love nature and observed each and every detail in the aquarium, river safari and the zoo. They read up each and every detail and watched. Each animal with interest.

It gives me a lot of hope and optimism that I am doing my parenting right as they preferred nature rather than anything artificial







Buy a home in style at https://housing.com/

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Revisiting the 40 point plan

http://itchingtowriteblogs.blogspot.in/2008/09/40-point-plan.html

Happened to chance upon this page from sept 2008 which was 6 years ago and turning forty seems a distant dream.
Let us see what I have achieved


1. Lose excess kilos- I know it is not a SMART goal but then we don't want to announce our weight in public right! NOT
2. Travel - atleast 1 country in each continent, Europe  Managed Europe 
3. Try my hand at entrepreneurship- culminating the ideas I have in mind like .....*****censored**** NO
4. Write a book/ story/ publish something atleast and make money out of it YES two children's books, 1 anthology and three counting so far.
5. Drive something other than a small car, like, err, a bigger car YES Innova 
6. Become an ace interior decorator for my home and change it's look from its current state of storm ravaged wasteland homely look and get the garden shipshape YES. Not the ace interior decorator but the home and garden dream achieved
7. Teach/atleast do guest lectures NO 
8. Take a sabbatical NO. Decided that I can't 
9. Highlight/ Streak my hair NO, no hair left to experiment 
10. Take a holiday with my husband (yes, it is a rarity for me- only 1 so far and I am in the 5th year of my marriage) (sob) NO . And I do not mind doing it with kids, 
11. Become an expert cook rather than a random, tentative, no frills cook- develop a fairly extensive repertoire of recipes and menu items (again goal not SMART enough because I really don't know how many I can do but I will know when I am fairly equipped to cross out this item from my list) NO, hired s cook! Never thought six years ago I would do that,
12. Experiment with different cuisines and continue to make them on a regular basis rather than one off kinds NO. The cook makes it
13. Visit my birth place (Scotland) NO, 
14. Start celebrating festivals the way it has to be done setting a good example to the kids . NOT so much. no pressure
15. Buy jewelry for myself (on a regular basis instead of just doing gold coins). YES. Too many
16. Start wearing sari on a regular basis to work. NO. No blouses  fit.
17. Go to theatre/ concert (never done it) (shame). NO. 
18. Learn Western dance NO
19. Re start music lessons (?) YES. Keyboard
20. Have our own house rather than a poky flat. NO but the house got bigger, so ok. 
21. Change my furniture YES
22. Institute 5-S in my home - already started the Seiri (Sort & Throw) YES . Almost
23. Go to atleast 1 or 2 non English speaking country after learning the (basic/ functional) language. Went but never learned the language.
24. Go in a helicopter. NO
25. Learn to Control my Temper. Oh yes. A lot
26. Job related ******censored******. Yes yes 
27. See the Himalayas. No
28. Go for a couple massage with Hubby off course . No. 
29. Send my parents abroad.  They are going on their own, they are too independent to be be sent 
30. See the Taj with Hubby & Kids. No
31. Travel in Palace on Wheels. no
32. Learn to bake 5 - 10 varieties of cakes. A few yes.
33. Learn 5 different chicken recipes and make them on a regular basis. Yes but the cook makes it, 
34. Restart playing kalaeidoscope. Did a bit, but stopped again
35. Do combined puzzles with the kids (as soon as they are old enough- incl crossword, jumble, kalaiedoscope, jigsaw). Not so much. 
36. Start playing Monopoly & Scrabble with the kids also Carrom (though I am lousy at it). The kids do.
37. Read more authors than the usual (already started). Yes.
38. Visit all the Indian States esp North East, and North- done with Bihar, UP, MP, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Gujarat, Orissa, West Bengal, Andhra, Goa...a loooong way to go but kya kare bad luck hi kharab hai. no but took holidays 
digression- I always though I would be taking annual dream holidays post marriage but that has never happened!
39. Get a makeover done and do it regularly- basically be an aunty "maal" - learn how to do a proper make up - get funky glasses, multiple ear rings, no made up look, hair style, eye shadows, eye liners, the works added to my just lipstick look.. Eye liner yes, 
40. Turn 40 in style. Let us see. Doesn't seem to be so much on the agenda now, 

A Bold Decision







Everyday he would come home late as he was working for his employer till late in the night. He would be up at odd hours because he was working for markets that were in different time zones. He would work so hard that everyone thought he had a partnership in the company or a lot of shares, but no, he was a mere employee. But he was the face of the company and every customer he met would treat him as the ultimate authority.

He brought in new clients and helped the company grow but did they appreciate him a little more than everyone else? No. Because he was a mere employee doing his duty.

His wife would tell him. Leave the job. Start on your own. If you are so good and if you have such a good network, you will manage.

But he was waiting until he gained enough confidence to start on his own. For it required guts. It required one to be present all the time for the customers. And it meant never again looking back to never again leaving work at the office. 

It meant being responsible for the people whom he would hire and for the people who would trust him enough to leave their cushy jobs and join him. 

Yes it needed guts and a great deal of money to fund his venture.

One find day he sat himself down and thought hard. Was he happy doing this? Was he happy working so hard for someone else?
Was he happy having his hands tied down and not being able to take the bold step that he always wanted to take?
Was he happy being treated like a second class citizen because no matter how much ever he worked and how many new businesses he got, he would always be an employee never the owner, never the partner.

He never had the freedom to decide. He never could take the risks he wanted to because the decisions were governed by the establishment.

That day he decided. He would take the bold step. He would take the risk and he would start out on his own. He would take loans, empty his bank account, offer shares and probably mortgage his home that was so lovingly bought. But the risk he would take because the benefits and the lay offs would be far greater than the risk he would take now. He would be what he always dreamt to be all his life, an entrepreneur.

With a resolute nod to himself, he took out his laptop and typed out his resignation letter. 

Meet the husband, my husband, who took the bold step because he dared to dream. 

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