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Monday, September 29, 2014

She got wheels

Ishita has a slight obsession with wheels. It probably started when she was not even one year old and had a toddler car to push around. It continued with her bicycle ( which is getting too small after 3 years of use). Then she immediately had eyes on roller skates, which prompted us to get her a pair of safe Fisher Price one for Christmas two years ago. Roller skates she managed to forget down in the garden and never saw again a few months ago. Last year she was all for a scooter, which Santa ended up giving her. Scooter which she uses a LOT and is far more practical for me to lug to the park than the cycle.


We thought she was pretty much set up in the wheel department. But she started asking us for a skateboard around the time the monsoon came. We obviously delayed looking into it. I even made a deal that she would have to earn it with our star reward chart system. That was until this weekend.
 
DH was in Dubai all last week, and he made it an habit to bring back something from each of his business trips for Ishita. Knowing that she already has way too many stuffed animals, he looked into something different this time. He ended up calling me on Friday to ask me if a skateboard would be ok. I assured him it was, and he bought a nice pink one for her. From the moment she saw it on Sunday morning, she wanted to be on it. We had to remind her it would have to wait until we could get out, and use it where there was no risk of running to furnitures and getting hurt. And when we finally could venture out in the evening, she just couldn't stop.
 
 
DH who never tried a skateboard turned to me knowing I had been on one a couple of time in my youth to try to explain to Ishita how it worked. I assured him she would figure it out on her own, but offered a demo. Demo that never went further than me putting one foot on it...darn I forgot how fast they are! I can't afford to break a leg, running around doing kid centric activities in a cast is really not something I want to experience. Meanwhile, Ishita jumped on it and as I predicted, figured it out all by herself.
DH was so impressed and curious to give it a try himself. But, like me, ended up chickening out with only one foot on it.
 
 
At that time, I had a Friends episode flashback. Namely the one in which Chandler is asked to find an advertisement idea for a pair of sneakers with wheels and comes up with the tag line : Not for adults.
I got a lot of bruises and scratches as a kid, due to my reckless use of my wheels. Ishita seems to have some of that blood in her system already. I grew up in the 80's, kids could play outdoor for hours without supervision, and knee pads was not something we used to roller skate and skateboard. And, while I admit there was a lot of fun in that, seeing her zoom on that board and keen on attempting the kind of stunts I attempted myself in the past, she is definitely going to get some protection gear in the course of this week.
 
Week which will see a VERY long weekend again with Gandhi Jayanti on Thursday, Dusshera on Friday and Bakri Eid on Monday.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Food Deliveries

 
Today, the picture of India is again not a landscape. It is something we see every Sunday in our newspaper here in Mumbai : take away restaurant menus. We get between 3 and 5 any given Sunday, and they usually aren't the ones from the regular franchises everyone know. In fact, thinking about it, I don't see the Pizza Giants bothering to send their menus around via paper regularly anymore. and I know for a fact they are all having a presence in my neighbourhood...every single one of them.
The menus I get are for smaller establishment that seem to be mushrooming in my area, every weeks I get new. Ends from different places. But, they might all be different joints, they are ALL serving the exact same fare, give or take a few items.
 
These are serving a hodgepodge of dishes from continental cuisine ( basically pasta, sandwich and pizza), to basic North Indian fare (Butter chicken, dal fry...) and Chinese (something Manchurian, something sechuan and Hakka noodles). The food is basic, chicken dishes come in two gravies with many variants "red gravy" and "white gravy", which means that basically almost every single meat dish is made with a butter chicken gravy to which they added more or less onions, and garnish. DH and I refer to it as a "Whatever Chicken" because it truly doesn't matter, the Butter Chicken taste the exact same as the Chicken 65 or Chicken Kadai or Chicken Do Piaza. These outlets are not doing in the gourmet cuisine. they cater to the hunger pang of stressed out Mumbaikars in need of a quick and reasonably priced meal.
 
And to be fair, none of the dishes we ordered from one place or another even really tasted bad at all, it is just that if you are into discovering the subtelties of Indian cuisine, these are definitely not the place to turn to. They totally do the trick when you are having a totally informal gathering of friends at home though. Any of these dishes usually feed 3-4 for people, especially since we end up ordering at least two different items ( not counting the naans we anyway will order). DH and I usually do one chicken dish, and one mutton dish, because as stated before, these places have a one size fit all gravy base, and if you want to have a different taste from one dish to the other, it is the type of meat that goes into it that need to change.
 
These menus are also something I haven't seen. I have outside Mumbai. In Navi Mumbai we used to get none, in Bangalore we only really got Pizza Hut and Dominos Pizza. Not that people don't order that kind of food at all, but the advertising used to go by word of mouth more than it went in prints.
 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Conversation Starter

So what do you do? Do you work?

These are the question Stay at home moms find themselves in a pickle answering. Answer by the obvious: "I am a SAHM" and people will find themselves at loss for words, and probably a bit sorry for you too. Some might, after  processing your answer, continue by asking something as inspired as : "Do you plan to go back to work one day?"
That one is the one that frankly irk me more than a sorry look. Because going BACK to work is a very ridiculous notion to have when facing a SAHM. It implies we do nothing, nothing but sitting in a comfy chair, sipping cocktails and relaxing. That our lives are easy, laid back, carefree...
Let me tell you that it sure feels peachy when you spent every single nights in an week waking up in the dead of the night because a monster lurked into your child's life, or you've been puked on, or peed on if they sleep in your bed. It sure feels smooth and relaxing when your toddler throws a temper tantrum because you rolled their French pancake instead of folding it (or the other way round). It is the absolute dream job when you realised Junior took an interest in their own poop and is smearing it all over the bathroom in glee.

A whole lot of nothing if you ask me. Yes, we indeed do nothing if the above doesnt count as work.

You see, the problem, is that society only see work as something you do in exchange of money. Hugs and kisses arent a currency. The long term gratification of having raised a child into a decent gown human being doesn't qualify as even remotely productive either. You can try to beat it, correct people, fight against the system, explain how cleaning play dough off the windows is indeed truly work, people are conditioned to think less of it.
And so, there is usually one more question that pops after you tried to explain that you work 24/7 as a SAHM and that no you have no intention of ever going "back" to work, because you  in fact never ever stopped working in the first place. That question usually go along the line of "But then, what do you do when she is in school?"

Aha! That is a fine question! A very pertinent one indeed, thanks for asking!
In my case, the answer is usually: I paint, craft, and write, indulge in a hobby. This usually spark people's curiosity, they are showing an interest about these. Hobbies rank higher than unclogging the toilet, or removing namkeens from every possible nook and cranies, it is more socially acceptable to have a hobby if you dont have a paid work.
And I generally put emphasis on my artistic talent more than the fact that I write a blog. Because, you see, my blog is that thing I always felt special about, but too shy, too private to mention. Mentionning it would indeed admit to others, and to myself that my main hobby, the ultimate one, is writing. And, I never really felt or actually feel qualified to call myself a blogger or a writer.
The irony, is that this is who I am, and I have kept this very blog for 10 years now. It evolved, it changed name, it went from being an outlet for my thought, to being something I ended up spending more and more time working on. Heck, I even get paid writing it from time to time, and I love writing it.
In the past few weeks, I have been deliberating with myself about it. On how serious I was about introducing myself as someone other than the SAHM who has many crafty hobbies. I figured out that if I was going to start telling people I write a blog in my free time and be proud of it, I might as well be prepared to give the URL in a way people would remember it. Jotting that kind of thing on a scrap of paper or a napkin being the surest way to forget about it. So, after a lot of thinking, and researching, and designing, I came up with this :


My first grown up business card. I say grown up, because as a teen I had a card, they were suddenly all the rage among my peers, thanks to automated machines that could design them in minutes at the supermarket.  Teenagers loved them, because we could even have little cartoon logos and feel very sophisticated handing them out to friends so they would remember to send us a postcard from their holiday destinations. Interesting to note that we were practicing the art of networking at a young age, without mobile phones, Facebook, Twitter and whatnot.
But. this business card is different, it is the first one that introduces who I am, and what I do (when I am not cleaning markers off the walls, or zapping monsters away).
It just took 10 years of blogging, a few guest articles for the Times of India, a few interviews for online communities, a few paid gigs and thousands and thousands of page hits to come up with the idea to promote myself as...well...a blogger.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pumpkin Cupcakes

 
Recently, I shared my pumpkin spice mix with you, and how I stock up on pumpkin purée to make pies and cakes with it later on. You can go back and read it here.
 
I already made one big batch of Pumpkin cupcake, and these are the type that freeze really well, so don't be afraid to make a lot. I put them in ziploc bags and toss them in the freezer, then take as many as I need out, at room temperature, they will take about an hour to thaw completely. They are adapted from a recipe I found at "mybakingaddiction.com" last year. The original recipe calls for a lot lot more sugar than I use in my take on it, and I dont do the cinnamon cream cheese frosting on top. I am sure the frosting would be great for a special occasion, or an afternoon tea with friends, but otherwise it is really heading for a sugar overkill.
 
Here is how I made them instead
 
2 cups flour (maida)
1tsp baking soda
1tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp dry ginger powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1tsp pumpkin spice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 cup salted butter (if using unsalted, add 1tsp of salt to the batter)
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
 
 
1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices) in a bowl and set aside.
 
2) In a large mixing bowl whisk the butter and sugar together until you obtain a creamy texture (much faster if you use an electric beater). Add the eggs and continue beating to get a smooth batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix in with a big spoon or a baking spatula until everything is mixed together. Add the pumpkin purée and mix again to combine.
 
3) Line a muffin tray with cupcake paper liners and fill them with the batter until they are filled a little over the half way mark (do not fill to the brim, they will rise while cooking). Bake them for about 20-25 minutes, you can test them to see if they are baked to the centre by inserting a toothpick in the middle, if the toothpick comes out clean, your cupcakes are cooked. Transfer to a wire rack to cook completely.
 
That recipe makes about 22-24 cupcakes depending on how large your muffin trays and paper liners are. As I said they freeze really well too, so just put 4-5 of them in a small ziploc bag once they have cooled down and put them in the freezer. Don't microwave them to bring them back to room temperature, it will like all cakes make them feel rubbery in texture, simply leave the cupcakes to thaw at room temperature for an hour and they will be tasting as fresh and moist as when freshly baked.
 
 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Life changing...

If your Facebook feeds look anything like mine, you probably see a lot of family pictures from your loved ones, selfies, restaurant meal food, Huffington Post shares, silly videos, random stupid news you wished you never read (wait no actually they are fun), and countless memes. Memes of all kind: quirky, outrageous, silly, cryptic, plain old dumb and a few inspirational ones, like this one:
 
 
This one got me thinking. I am a firm believer in the power of positive thinking, and I am sure I did mention that fact a couple of time on this blog in the past decade (yes the blog is THAT old). But, despite this belief, I do complain, and crib and scream, and get angry, and annoyed, probably like just about any human being on the planet (some are more negative than others, but we all have our bad moments).
I saw this meme as a challenge, could I go 24 hours WITHOUT a single complain? I have been trying for a while now, and let me tell you, it's harder than you think it is.
 
No complaining is something I equal to not loose my nerves when something go wrong, not just the obvious voicing of disagreement. And it also applies to every single one of my thoughts in a day. At least that is how I interpret it.
That is why I failed the challenge very early on some days. Being woken up at an ungodly hour in the morning after a night that always remain too short and not even having a negative thought about it is hard. It doesn't matter that I kept myself from voicing it, I thought it, and that is therefore a complaint. On other days I did better, but then just tripping and stubbing my toe had me thinking "freaking effing stupid table" and BAM the possibility of 24 hours without a complaint was gone again.
Whether it is possible or not to really truly go 24 hours without complaining is left to debate. I think it is possible, if one is super self disciplined. That said, it doesn't mean that just because it seems so hard to attain, one should not aspire to reach that goal.
It is a great goal, and the less you give in to negativity, the better off your life will be anyway. And one bad moment doesn't negate a hundred good thoughts. I see it more like an empty scale, with one side tallying the positive, and the other the negative. At the end of the day, the amount of positive you have will be what prevent the amount the negative from tipping the scale. I have been practicing the art of counting my blessings for a long time, and whenever I suddenly find myself cribbing about something, I introspect as soon as I am back to my senses.
Yes, I hit my head on an open cupboard, I have a right to be irritated, and calling the door stupid felt warranted in the heat of the moment. But, will that ruin my entire day? No. Is the cabinet door really at fault? Of course not! Will my head hurt? Sure it will, but I am not going to die from it. The world will not end, and I might as well counteract this moment of crap with several awesome little things : a cup of tea, a cookie, a funny joke read somewhere, a moment to list my blessings and loose count of them, a hug and a kiss, a deep breath, a moment of quiet...
 
Has any of you tried this challenge? How well did you do?