4 steps to make a perfectly braided pastry

Whether sweet or savory filling, braided pastry serves as a gorgeous entrée for a party or easy dinner for those cold lazy winter. Crank up the oven, prep the frozen ready-to-use sheets, add fillings of your choice, make a fancy braid, and while you sit back and relax, watch the heat do its magic as crispy layered pastry is baked to perfection.
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Step 1: Prepping
Preheat the oven to 350 F or 180 C. Dust flour on working area, place the pastry sheet, apply oil/butter and egg wash. For Egg wash and its outcome see guidelines here. I used  1 egg whites diluted with 2 tbsp of water.
Step 2: Filling
Sweet: Apple Cinnamon puff pastry
Sliced apple, use green apple if you prefer the tart, sautéed to caramelize in medium heat with butter and cinnamon power. Add sugar/maple syrup or get creative and layer it with Nutella.
Savory: Spinach Ricotta Puff Pastry
Minced filling works best. A good vegetarian option is pan-fried onion, garlic with a bunch of spinach and a nice layer of ricotta/ feta cheese and seasoning.
puff pastry cinnamon
Step 3: Braid 
Add your filling to prepped pastry sheet, cut slices both side diagonally, like below. Begin braiding and coating with egg wash/water to hold the braid together.
apple puff pastry
Step 4: Baking
Once the oven is preheated to the desired temperature, slide the pastry sheet onto buttered baking tray or use a parchment baking paper. Pop it into the oven for 15-20 mins, watch pastry puff up and the top layer turns golden brown. Once done, set aside for 5 mins to cool down and serve immediately.
puff pastry
The ingredients for this recipe can be easily found at your local grocery store; for my Aussie reader, make a visit to Aldi or Coles.
You will need:
Puff pastry sheets
Egg white – 1
Flour & oil/butter for preparation
Sweet Filling – Apple – 2, cinnamon 1 tsp, Sugar -2 tbsp
Savory Filling – Chopped Spinach 1/2 a bunch, Onion – 1, garlic – 2 pods, Cheese(ricotta/feta) 1/2 cup and salt & seasoning as per taste.
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6 asymmetrical necklaces for a sassy look

There is nothing more glamourous  than a woman who can embrace her true self with all her perfect imperfections… after all even her reflection is chiral.  A friend once told me that my smile looks different in the mirror than real; Startled, I looked back at my reflection, only to see a mirror image of myself. We never see ourselves the same way that the rest of the world does, only mirror images.
Symmetry does not have a place in nature; every being is truly unique. Moved by the thought, asymmetry has come to be my muse in jewellery making. I enjoy designing two types of asymmetrical necklaces:
  •  Beaded necklaces,  dressy, grandiose and edgy
  • Filigree long neck chains are airy, light, bohemian & casual with layered chains
Earrings divinely mismatched for the flower child souls out there. Keep a watch for the asymmetrical earrings upcoming collection by Kaajewel
Beaded necklace with cluster pendant
Turquoise beaded necklace – Pastel aqua blue 8mm beads stringed with white imitation pearls on one side and pearl cluster silver pendent on another.

Turquoise necklace

Night black beaded necklace – Shiny black bead balanced by german silver bead crown with grey-black rhinestone studded in swirl for pendant with a dangling droplet on the side.

Black gem grey

Brown pearl necklace with bejeweled silver leaf pendant  sold with a matching pair of silver tone clasp earrings.

Maroon pearl leaf necklace

Sea Green turquoise strung with tarnished gem beads and fancy bow tie pendant with pearl and frills. Paired with sea green dangles.

Filigree chain necklace

Antique silver leaf filigree pendant  with fine silver tone chain and asymmetrical grey beads and hanging chain earrings to go with it. Another, the purple one is funky and  my personal favorite with amethyst filigree flower with layers of looped links and silver tone chains.
Leaf chain
Asymmetrical necklace collection

Asymmetrical necklace collection

 

 

Wake up Cookie monster! Chocolate chip cookies

Making a comeback to blogging with the most popular recipe ever! Everyone wants to try it and a few have mastered it, yes…. the perfect chocolate chip cookie, crispy on the outside soft and chewy in the inside; the one that melts like butter when you take your first bite, shows you a taste of heaven.
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Served in morning its breakfast, served with milk its dessert. Who can possibly resist the bittersweet indulgence!
Of course this is adapted from various recipes and it worked out well for me. With the right sugar, always the brown baking sugar for the gooey bite and measured amount of chocolate chip to keep you wanting more. And just like that I coined my very own version of chocolaty goodness that I hope to pass on to my future family.
Psst… I hear it’s the fav kinda cookie that even the cookie monster craves.
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Recipe
Crispy on the outside chewy in the inside Chocolate Chip Cookie.
Often missed the gigantic convention oven that is a common place in  most apartments in US but a Samsung microwave/grill/convection oven in India worked just perfectly. My cousin and I had fun baking this recipe together while in India in a microwave oven using the convection oven setting.

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5 essentials of a perfect cheese platter

There’s a saying “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” must be true, so I thought to myself that good cheese in cozy ambiance should set the right mood for a romantic dinner. My husband loves cheese and he hoped to find a good restaurant that served a well-assembled cheese board. A homemade cheese platter was long overdue and this was my first time buying cheese for party platter.

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After some research on Google God, I learnt the 5 essentials of a cheese platter:

Good Cheese

Of Course!
Something smooth – Goat cheese or brie cheese
Something bitter – Blue cheese or pesto gouda
Something sharp – Double Gloucester spring onion or aged cheddar
Something crunchy – Provolone or parmesan
Make use of all farm animals, cheese make of cow, goat or sheep milk. Select cheese from a variety of family, texture and age.

The Vehicle

Cracker – Go for neutral cracker, salted cracker, I added some sesame sprinkled cracker
Bread – French bread or sourdough are great choices, keep it plain and simple here

Sides

Olives – Green and black olive soaked in extra virgin olive oil and red paprika
Fruits and juice – easy choice, OJ! Orange juice adding some tangy
Mixed nuts – Add some crunch, pistachios, roasted almond even cashew will do

Dips

Hummus dip – plain or flavored hummus; blends well with cracker and olives
Honey or fruit preserve – adding sweetness in palette

Plating

Yes Plating that’s the fifth essential! You may have the best ingredient in hand but an utterly wrong presentation will be an epic fail when it comes to cheese platter. Get creative, slice it dice it, leave a block cheese and serve it in room temperature. Place a few knives extra for your guests.
What more would  you need? Well, lots of food love, finesse and don’t forget to dress up your dinner table a little

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…and that’s my celebratory post, my 67th blog post on the third anniversary of my blogging experience.
Tip: Bangalore foodies can visit the cheese and produce section of Nature’s Basket or Gourmet Westside for most these ingredients. Have fun!

 

Exotic Jaisalmer- the golden fort

“Sonar Killa” is a Hindi word for the golden fort, describes the beauty of this majestic site in the northwestern part of India. Jaisalmer meaning ‘the hill fort of Jaisal’ was once home to the Rajputs – a tribe of traders and warriors.
Located amidst the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, Jaisalmer fort was built in 1156 AD by the King Rawal Jaisal.
While France awed the world with Romanesque, Gothic architecture and had begun the construction of the renowned Notre Dame cathedral; the Rajputs created this extraordinary fort with high tower, elaborate turrets, temples and palace filled with Hindu and Jain sculptures, a cultural localization. Rising close to twenty-five floors from the desert floor, the tall fort walls built with yellow sand-stone shimmer a lovely honey gold at sundown.
Apart from the golden fort, the city is famous for its mesmerizing “haveli” or mansions that once housed the royal families in town. The beauty of this place is its ancient yet culturally outstanding architecture. The gates carved from rosewood, pillars containing beautiful dance poses, arches and gazebos bear elaborate sculpted details of flowers, chariot wheels and other rich Indian designs, which shows a significant part of history in itself. This place narrates the remains of its royal past and a glimpse of life in an unspoken medieval era. After all, ‘banjaras’ – the gypsy tribe originated here, later migrated Europe and suffered genocide.
Legends state that this site was chosen on the advice of a Hindu sage, for its golden glow of the desert, forming a perfect camouflage to protect the city’s accumulated wealth against the invaders. Situated on crossroads of business and trade routes, the kingdom flourished by levying taxes on the merchants, travelling between Persia, Egypt and India. The Rajputs stayed independent for centuries, until Mughals invaded the city, yet maintained a good relationship. The kingdom, later faced a major recession, during the British rule due to upcoming coastal regions in south India, that were the East India Company’s vantage points.
Jaisalmer is the last of living forts in India, inhabited by more than 2000 families and thriving even today. The city had its first boost of tourist back in 70’s, after being featured in an Indian cinema. Despite the extreme climatic and peculiar travel conditions, this place remains one of the most visited tourist destination and famous showplace for celebrity weddings and events.
My trip to Jaisalmer with my family was one of the most memorable and exotic vacations. We flew into Ahmedabad and planned a road trip for the rest of our way into Rajasthan. We were welcomed by a few drought struck villages with endless barren landscape of cracked clay beds and vast emptiness; the essence of this place sure comes in small and surprising doses. One after the other, the emotions evoked by this landscape was out of the world for someone from the tropical southern India. Late afternoon, the day was blazing hot, when the dunes appeared at a distance, the air-filled with excitement, for it was my first trip to a desert. Longing to feel the warmth of the sand against our feet while we watch the sunset, we took the camel safari (A must-do in Jaisalmer). After a short, bumpy, and thrilling camel ride deep into the desert, here we were at the desert national forest.
Wind blowing over the ocean of sand hills reshaped the dunes constantly.  Walking on the sand was an exciting challenge; we played and rolled down the steeps of a nature-made playground in fairy-tale proportions. Tired and exhausted, we gazed the never-ending desert while the colors of earth and sky changed during Sunset in the horizon.
The sound of melodious chiraka’s music in the air, with a view of local folk artists dancing and entertaining at a distance made it a fabulous evening.
A silhouette of camel ridden by men wearing turbans, walking on the sand dunes and against the crimson red-blue twilight at the background was a treat to our eyes.
Our evening ended with a grand dance show by the local woman wearing “ghagras”- colorful swirling skirts, luscious local cuisine as we sat around the warmth of a bon fire while the desert temperature dropped drastically. A camp out on the dunes on that cold December night watching the sky lit by arrays of sparkling stars seemed dreamy. With a genie and flying carpet, the whole experience was almost like a sleepover at the Agrabah, a Disney creation.
Next morning, we unveiled the beauty of golden fort, walked around the oldest inhabited citadel, took a boat ride in Gadisar Lake to better reach the pavilions in the water-body and visited two famous ‘havelis’. While we explore the labyrinth of narrow streets, I realized a striking aspect of this fort city. The place is frozen in time, soaked in art and culture that has been the very definition of this place.  The walls were filled with hand crafted cloth dolls, carved wall hangings, silk patchwork quilt bejeweled with stones and mirror work, vibrant rugs and unique home décor items. Not just the streets, the local vendors too staged themselves as actors that lived in the past, dressed in turbans made of tie-dye and yellow scarf and ancient attires.
Several photo worthy moments admiring the brilliant life-style and I walk past the four corners in the bazaar, when a young girl approached asking, “Would you buy some bangles?” Her kohl-lined eyes sparkled in eagerness, when she handed over a dozen mirrored red bangles from her tray. Too hard to resist this wearable souvenir, I purchased it to make both of us happy.
Are the ancient forts and palaces just a mere remain of the flourished past? Or may be a lesson from ancestors, a window into the primitive art, life and culture? Don’t you wonder?
Originally written for  Featuring Magazine and published in issue 2.
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Ear cuff, a raging spring fashion

In case you didn’t hear, ear cuff are the hottest accessory this season. Chic and sassy, it’s been a raging fall trend in Hollywood and our Bollywood fashionista are showing off in style too!  Wearing ear bling will highlight your lady-like contour of earlobe beautifully. No painful piercing needed, affordable, just clip-on and go, who wouldn’t love it? It’s wearable runway trend this year, so go make a dramatic statement with lone-lobbed cuff.
Turquoise ear cuff
Turquoise ear cuff – Sterling silver
A whole bunch of styles of ear cuffs are out there. Accessorize with a studded and spiked punk-rock cuffs, delicate feathery chain wear, wire-wrapped danglers or the ultra-sophisticated ‘red carpet’ choice those bedazzled mega ear wraps.
Deccan Chronicle mentions Kaajewel
“Lend Me Your Ear”, I’m happy to share that “Golden butterfly ear cuff” from Kaajewel is mentioned in today’s newspaper. Check out Bangalore Deccan Chronicle Kiosk section (p.25). Kaajewel designs wire-wrapped ear-cuffs with either chains, crystal or a combination of both. For an everyday look, an airy mini wire-wrapped cuffs are a great choice! Trend yourself to beaded turquoise, crystal or chains ready.
Desi women aren’t new to loud ear accessories. May it be a 90’s Bollywood 3-tier chains jhumka or multiple ear piercing, ethnically, we have always portrayed grandeur in ear-wear. Although cuffed earrings may seem daunting but it is quite easy if you keep it minimalistic!
Easy ways to accessorize with ear cuffs:
Asymmetry is the key unless you are dressing up as an elf for a halloween party. Like those long feather earrings, you may go bare on the other ear or wear a stone stud or a pearl.
For an evening out, dress it up with a ponytail or pretty hair updo. You can also pair a beaded cuff with denim and a playful tee and a side-swept braid or messy bun to get an edgy look. Go easy on your make-up and spike those necklaces for today. It’s good to keep you curls tied and off your face to flaunt those ear cuffs!

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How to make a Ruffle bead bracelet

Cute little bow ribbons, fancy laces, flowing ruffles with a bit of bling is good to make a your outfit ooze femininity. With that in mind, I added a ruffle-y ribbon to my jewelry design. Quite simple, this design is almost viral on pinterest  do-it-yourself community. Tangy orange beads interweaved with navy blue ribbon, just like the LucidMemoirs logo! This is a slight variation form the usual pearl bracelet, finished with silver filigree spacer beads.
Ruffle bracelet

Pinspiration 

There are a whole bunch of ribbon pearl bracelet out there but I love how this Eileen has shared this DIY on YesMissy so perfectly! I followed these instructions and finished it in a jiffy.
Pssst… check out her gorgeous nail color, such a summery happy palette!
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…and now, here’s me, being a pretentious book reader. I’m just posing for the bracelet while my husband click a few interesting shots.Ribbon ruffle
Well, Is it just me or, are other people out there? I hardly ever read  books as much and I’m usually never ashamed to admit the fact that books, especially big fat novels are boring! Even the best-sellers. I think this holds good for most jewelry artists, we wouldn’t mind spending 6 straight hours cooped up in a corner with open boxes of beads, tools and messy table but something like reading is often considered taxing.
You can also find this bracelet on Kaajewel eStore.
Photo courtesy – Kiran @ f2infiniti

Women in New york – 2

Don’t you ever wonder why the fashion standards are so high?
All you fashionistas, let’s face it! No matter how you wish to be a trend-setter, you can’t always pull off a runway outfit on your day job. Unless of course, if you work in fashion or media industry.  
 I like to be fashionable yet keep it practical. This mean I don’t have to worry about any of these:
  • painful feet in gorgeous stilettos while shopping 
  • questionable dress length on first day of job
  • ditching those bottom shelf in a supermarket, thanks to plunging neckline and super low waist jeans
Floating dresss and long skirts in vibrant colors, cute wedges and Ooo laa laa… those knee high gladiators!  Aren’t those satchel,cross body bags are so realistic!  Not too bulky, doesn’t hinder your bus rides, just enough for a day out in the city. I wish they stay in fashion forever……
MobileGeeky or not, these smartphone are addictive…  The world around us can be bustling but we like to keep talking, texting, reading, posting and drifting away to a virtual world. We women live in a world of our own, reality is just a perception anyways!
Funny shot on the left with a statue trying to overhear….. Busy in phone while the street around is busier. Manhattan, the city by itself would kindle the artist in you. For a brief period, I was truly inspired to photography people and streets on Manhattan. Like they say, “outta sight, outta mind”, sadly I didn’t pursue it anymore.
Did you feel the same when you moved to Manhattan?

Muggie swirl – Bloggersary II

Cafe au lait cake
What’s that smell?  Mmmmmm, it’s soooo good… draws you to grab a bite of that creamy oven-fresh Cinnamon roll, while you walk past the store at a mall…..
Molten hot chocolate sauce flowing out while you cut a piece of lava cake….  That mouth watering juicy bite of softy chewy rasagulla you can’t resist…..
Sweet Tooth? Don’t be surprised! We are wired to perceive sweetness as happiness and blissful contentment.

It’s a true yardstick of all pleasures! 

Also, a thing to share on all those happy occasion. Thankfully, I’m a part of the most sugar-loving unhealthiest culture on earth that fills every month of a given year with reason to make sweets. Keeping up the culture,  I share something sweet, to mark a milestone of happiness.
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That’s my cake bouquet celebrating the 2nd Bloggersary with a Muggie swirl and a cuppie side kick. *Ting*
If you have been a foodie scouting for easy-peasy recipes online, I’m pretty sure you stumbled upon the most dangerous cake in a mug recipe. Quite a few versions online, this merry post full of ‘do-not-proceed’ request caught my attention.
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Like a little child who is asked to hold back the gift box until birthday morning, we, as grown up, always have an urge to grab the forbidden. Oh Nutella, that’s enough to get me going…. How could I resist? Despite all the warning, I went ahead with reading it…. Thanks to my curiosity!
So gleeful and filled with color, check out the adapted recipe by Novice Housewife. She’s super cool, I can’t beat that! 🙂
For Swirl cake – Make a plain cake batter, divide into half, add coffee/sugar and chocolate/nutella separately and layer the batter. It’s almost a quarter pound cake in the cafe au lait mug with a little bit of milk, coffee and a lot of chocolate.
Café latté – Nutella Chocolate cake
  • Pretty-pretty mugs
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp espresso coffee
  • 1 tsp instant coffee
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp cocoa
  • 3 tbsp nutella
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 3 tbsp butter unsalted
  • Dab of salt
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Scrumptious swirl cake with a crusty dome top and soft chewing insides made it a great side for evening coffee. It’s a bit of cultural thing at Lucid memoirs to share a cake recipe every anniversary. Hellopalz Blogiversary cupcake, the first year.
Alright, you go try it out now or just grab a spoon and dig in virtually!

How did I come about making this pearl necklace?

Something that she wish she had, Something that she longs for….Perhaps something that she mentioned, while they window shop?
An elegant cascading pearl necklace draping her beautiful neckline!
A loving husband meticulously planning a surprise anniversary gift for his wife approached with his raw idea… Oh! Did I mention  that Kaajewel sells in India via ItsHandMade also check out the latest design in Kaajewel eStore! My exciting new venture brought in this interesting request. Moved by the love they shared and an opportunity to make it much special, I responded to his email.
Pearl necklace made to order

Pearl necklace made to order

This gentleman  actually took the time out to sketch out a design that was in his mind. “The dots are pearl, the line are chains, linked to layer one below the other”, he describes. Instantly, I could visualize the design in my mind and yes that’s a cascading  or multi-layered necklace.His idea is on paper, the vision is in my mind  and to solve the confusion I presented these two sample designs. One with pearl droplets attached to chain and the other with pearls linked to the chain…. and the answer? A right mix of both pearl links with pretty pearl danglers.
Individually wire wrapped for durability and constructed with utmost care is this pearl necklace made with white metal and chain. To compliment this piece are these various earrings. The choice is yours…
  • Just a drop of pearl- to balance out the necklace well.
  • Cluster earrings – follow the droplet theme
  • White stone embellished – for those grand occasion
He placed the order, I made the necklace and earrings over the weekend. The color of love has always been RED and thats why I chose a pretty red velvet jewelry box, added a matching 2-strand pearl bracelet as a freebie. Something to make the happy couple, happier… Glad to be a part this journey…Happy Anniversary!!!
…..And that’s how I came to make this 3 strand cascading pearl necklace.

Canyons of Utah – Zion

UtahZiCertain things that happen in our lives are impressionable, memories of our road trip to Utah was one such thing. We were out for the thanksgiving holiday and  this was our first landing-place all the way from California. Zion, Bryce and Death Valley, a national park tour with an overload of surreal landscape and nature.
Rated the top national park in US, Zion Canyon is nature’s sculpture with deep sandstone walls carved by water and wind. The park offer endless options of hiking and canyoning for all difficultly level.

Riverside trail

Our day started with one of the easiest trail, yet an enchanting one. Zion was oozing autumn with crisp orange foliage against dark tree bark, gleaming golden in  sunlight. Our footsteps crushing leaves and the sound of river racing down was truly vivid on that silent morning, where the 4 of us were the only people deep in the valley.

river walk

Canyon overlook trail

Cutting the river-walk trail short after our reluctance to cross the ice-cold waters to head to narrows, we went to our next stop, Canyon overlook trail. This is a steep one but all worth it, you see, for it offers the valley view. One of the top things to do in one-day visit to Zion, I would say.

Canyon overlook trail

Way to Emerald Pool 

After about half a day in the park, we grabbed a bite and headed to emerald pool hiking trail. Although the water fall was not as expected around that time of the year, the trail is an interesting one. The rocky skull face narrows, slippery path caving into the mountain wall and waterfall trickling from above, made it enthralling and photo-worthy.
Narrows

Narrows

At the lower emerald pool, a drizzling stream of water creates this deep green rock that looks like precious stone. Thanks to my Leica camera for capturing all the beautiful colors, some of us were disappointed with a thin shower-like falls and the overhyped algae on rocks promoted as emerald pool.
Emerald pool

Emerald pool

One full day in the park, we were able to cover about 3 easy trails and spent some time at the community center. The true beauty of Zion is unravelled after hiking miles inside the canyon. It’s definitely a place that needs at least a week-long stay but for a lazy tourist like me who like to pose for photos and click a few, this was just perfect!

Easy cooking with Frozen Veggie

“Eat Your Veggies!”

Doctors say so.  Our moms force feed us all the time yet we grown-ups just don’t listen, do we? fresh_vegetables2
But, why?? Stubborn, Adamant…or may be just Lazy.
We know that its crucial to maintain a balanced diet for a healthy living, but we just don’t follow….
Well, to begin with, it takes a lot of preparation time before it ends up on your dinner plate. All the deseeding, peeling, dicing, slicing, blanching, sautéing, seasoning…. takes forever! I admit it, I’m not strong-willed, mostly after a long day’s work.
Center of Disease Control suggests such easy ways to intake the recommended serving but I like it to be faster and easier. So here’s my life-hack….

Frozen stir fry veggies

Looks vibrant, isn’t it? and tastes even better when seasoned with the right spices. I would resort to a pack of frozen Stir-fry veggies from Costco, back in California, but I miss the luxury of fast cooking here in India. Stocked up milk for the week, frozen coconut, uncooked whole-wheat roti/tortillas, falafel and burger patties definitely made cooking easier.
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While missing these silly comforts, I stumbled upon this super useful post on DIY: Stir-fry Vegetable Freezer Packages on Simple Bites, just in time before my new job began. On this weekday afternoon, I began the veggie routine, peeling, dicing, slicing, chopping and all set!
Ready to speed blanch in salt water,  I adapted the recipe and blanching time mentioned on Simple bites as follows:
  • Bell peppers – 1 minute
  • Zucchini  – 1 minute
  • Broccoli, cauliflower- 2 minutes
  • Carrots – 2 minutes
  • Baby corn and beans :: 90 seconds
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It’s also a good idea to keep the veggies separated per your taste preference. Bell pepper/Capsicum goes in one while carrot, beans and corn packed in another. I drained the water, let them dry out and nicely packed airtight in freezer ziploc covers.
Stir-fry veggie frozen.
Apart from stir fry, these frozen veggies came in handy while making Thai curry, noodles, Indian veg korma, Chinese fried rice and also for Biriyani. It lasted for about 3 weeks, consumed faster than we expected.
Now I don’t miss Costco so much and feel happier that my family can maintain a healthy diet on busy weekdays…

Soar – Art journaling

Mysterious and filled with charismatic events, our days to decades are interesting for the way we live it. Towards the end, our destination is not all that matters, after all we are all born to die one day. Cherishing the journey of life is nothing but enjoying the present, the process of living without worrying about future. Seize the day, live to the fullest.

FIRST STEP:

Like most people, when I first learnt about Art Journaling, I was all at sea. The beautiful layers of colors, quotes and patterns left me dumbfounded.  Where do I start, how do I finish?  After a little bit of internet reading, I found out that Art-journaling is a way of self-expression. Most artists and scientist had a journal filled with thoughts, ideas, expression of mood and random daily clipping. If you have fear of working with colors, this will prove to be a good exercise.

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EXPERIENCE:

Without worrying about how crappy my work would turn out to be,  I grabbed a couple of things and sat down in front of a plain white acrylic painting paper.  It took some time to cleanse my racing thoughts about daily life, allowing me to visualize my first step. My mind  travelled decades ago when I first learnt how to string paint in notebook using ink pen and a piece of thread. Trying to wile away time in a boring class, those days in middle school, I used to be amused by the beautiful pattern a string of inked thread could create.  I hardly recollect, trying out all those silly little school day crafts.

art journalingYOU WILL NEED:

Just about anything!

The “you-will-need” list has endless options. Not something I can tell, I aint Derren Brown to read your state of mind. Listen to your inner self and you will know it.

Here’s a list of things (ignoring the basics) I ended up using during a distorted process of color layering.  Time to get some paint on your palm and smudge some of your face and PJs. 😉

  • Spaghetti sticks
  • String of thread
  • Glitter glue
  • Heart stickers
  • Floral pattern printers

…and while I write this post, I find myself singing “Listen to your heart….”

Painting, layering, patterning… Absorbing the uneven colors and shades, I somehow placed the words SOAR, reliving the moment from my dreams. how I used to have exhilarating flying dreams. Good part is they are mostly lucid and have an inner meaning indicating happiness on its way.

soar

INTERPRETATION:

Are you a believer of signs and listen to the intentions of your true inner self?  Sharing a part of me, I can say that the state of mind I was in while I worked on this painting was considerably depressing. Couple of months later, when I sit back and write a post about the process, I realize something amazing. Probably a crappy work of art through which my sub conscious mind tried to signal me. Totally unintentional but tell me if you agree….
The dark stick on red and violet flower are almost like being caged, aloof and blue… The shades of yellow sunshine and a burst of sparkling hearts wants to break away and Soar.
Yes, in the course of few months I realized that “Now is the time” and opened my heart, trusted my broken wings, Took a giant leap of faith…letting my worry stay caged behind and Soar up in the skies seeking happiness. 🙂

What your friends didn’t tell you about Goa

Sunglass,  Flip flops, Summer hat,  Floral tops and my “twisted pink” nail color! Packed and ready, on a mid-week morning, I grabbed my back-pack along with my laptop bag and headed out to work.
Oh! Dont be jealous now, this ain’t a post about my cool new Goan beach job as a snorkeling instructor. I’m just gonna catch a bus to Goa after the 9-5 grind. Yay!!!
Ask a teen or a 20 something and you will hear…” GOA means “Masti” ! Its party time, this beach vacation is all about fun.

               The Sun and the sand, with a drink in my hand, 

                                                                 No shirt, No shoes, but a tattoo on my arm!

The town shows a different face to different people, I’ve been to Goa over 8 times and experienced it newly every time. There is lets-go-beach-hopping Goa, Goan church architecture,  Goa for watersport adventure,  Tirth-yatra-temples tour and the ironic “I-hate-fish” vegetarian family trip to Goa in 90s.
You could just endup beach hopping with a buzz throughout your trip and return with a major hangover. Steering clear from the tourist-y hustle bustle, this time I had other plans. Discovering the quieter part and be with the one person I love the most, “Myself” 🙂

GOA 2012-002

Solo Travel …. Have you ever done that?
Up to this point, I used to think that people who travel alone are lonely introverts.  It puzzled me, but things change, people change. Or may be I just grew up a little more….Bold enough to explore the world alone and gather not-to-be-forgotten life experiences.
So, I’m just gonna…. Take a bus, hit the beach, listen to music and gawk at people (or dogs)
Two days before the trip, I logged online for travel deals. Of course! everything was sold out…  With long weekend just around the corder,  I found the only seat left in a sleeper bus from Bangalore to Goa.

GOA 2012-001

Now the accommodation…. Something I was very selective about on this trip. An affordable, beach accessible and mainly a safe place to stay.
While I browse online for last minute deals, I stumbled upon Cuponation – India’s largest online coupon portal. I usually find it hard to use a consolidator website but the user interface with Top-20 section on this site made this a cake walk. Reserved a stay with a half off coupon at Whispering Woods by the Verda, a 3-star resort with pool to lounge.
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Hangin’out at the calm shores of Anjunas, Tantra hut was my spot to watch the sunset and crimson glow of the beach sands. Soon I realized that solo travelers are never lonely, you will find a companion,  be it a beach or a local commute. A shack owner sharing stories of an evening with high tide at the beach , or an age old hair braider who saw the city change within a decade…..And sometimes,  its fascinating how people trust stranger with their personal stories too.

GOA 2012

Talking about history, reminds me of my last stop before nightfall. Situated in the heart of hippie town, the “original” German Bakery. Mellow music, low lying seats, this place served a scrumptious dinner for vegetarian traveler like me who like the enjoy a picturesque ambiance and friendly crowd.
Next day, I took a local bus to South goa, making more memories to share. Travelling alone in India is usually belived to be a dicey but this trip proved otherwise. To stay connected and assure my family, I tweeted all along under #iTravelSolo.
If you are looking for answers in life, just be with yourself. I found mine, you may find your answer within yourself too….

Shuffle pourri – Earrings swap party

An abode for artisan, a backyard of art connoisseur,  the Queen of e-bazaars. They say… She is a beauty!
There’s a new buzz in town. It’s delightful and every jewelry-maker’s muse. ItsHandMade.in is throwing a swap party – Shuffle Pourri for all jewelry artist. Yay!
It’s no news to my Facebook followers, how much I rave about my awesome new workplace but I never mentioned why. Bangalore is the entrepreneurial hub of India and this shift is ought to happen. Long story short, tired of dead-end  role at a corporate giant in this new age India, my focus turned to startup jobs and found my place at ItsHandMade. Well, I must say the reverse migration was such an ordeal to begin with, however, it has been a fascinating episode in my existence. Working with young minds who are forerunners in business is just exhilarating.
That’s the chalk talk… let’s get down to “chai-pani-binness” business.
red velvet pearl low
packet
The rulebook is shared on ItsHandMade Blog…..It’s simple, here’s is how it goes:
  • Cook up your bead pourri , Snap a pretty picture…Bundle up to let fly!
  • Prepare for airdrop,  Buckle up peeps…Its time to get busy beading…
  • Design a gorgeous pair of earring and Share, Share, Share!
Psst, they have some really cool DIY post. This is a closed event accepting participants who sell on the website. {Meeeeee….me..me}
Right on! Registered and waiting to see who is gonna be my shuffle partner. Now I’ve dealt with beaded, wire wrapping and fabric jewelry, suddenly, I’m inquisitive about  paper quilling or terra-cotta jewelry…. Guess why? Okay, here’s the deal
clusterlow
Apart from selling as Kaajewel – Krafted and Artisan Jewelry exclusively on ItsHandMade, I love this website for the wide artist and all the community building activity.
“Can you tell, those are paper filigree jewelry?” now that’s an attention grabber, right there.  Isn’t it awesome?
Swaati, the artist behind QuillKaari, makes these fabulous paper-quilled jewelry that’s long-lasting and finished to perfection! She calls these earrings “Fireworks on a Moonlit Night” Makes me wanna be there gazing at the sky. Aaaahhh…I’m such a big fan. Hmm….I know you can tell. 🙂
Jewelry 2011
I couldn’t resist shopping for these funky creations. Here’s another one….
Neither I’m high maintenance nor do I treat my man like an ATM, yet we think this Hubby-Wifey coaster  an über cool rest stop for our evening cuppa-coffee and jibber jabber. (Te-he-he…Dr.Cooper!)
Do check back on Kaajewel Facebook page for my shuffle partner and our hybrid creations.
Check out Kaajewel eStore for latest design