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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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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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.

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” 🙂

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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.

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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.

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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….

Hundred “Likes”, Hundred Hands

Days have pass by unremembered, it’s a milestone that marks an ordinary day in the pages of history.
Needless to say, my blogging has taken a backstage when life needs a great deal of attention. It’s time I start using social media from promoting my blog and create a network within the craft lover community. It involved a hard-earned first 30 likes on my fresh new Facebook page,insisting friends to promote my page which allowed me to view the Facebook insight. A few months later thirty turned fifty and in no time Kaajewel page has reached its first hundred likes and counting! Yes, it may be small insignificant number in comparison but I’m glad that I’m here!
100 Hands – a handmade collective
Shopping scene has a fresh new approach here in Urban India. Gone are the days when the fashion meant branded product that’s factory-made bulk and an exact replica. It’s refreshing to see people appreciate art and uniqueness with a whole new revolution going on in here. Often time, your home town become foreign when you return after almost half a decade. With shopping fairs and sunday markets, artists and crafters have a lot of scope, an arena to spread the word  and sell themselves.
                            
One such event happened in the heart of the city, A Hundred Hands at Brigade-MG Road. Homey, ethnic setup housing talented artists and NGO from all over India, this was my first experience visiting a cozy bazaar back home. We walked past the commercial street and caught a glimpse of the dressed up street for the festive season in November here in India.
Apparently, events like these are called ‘flea market’ colloquially , which should really be selling products at a bargained price. Instead, they have hourly workshops,  renowned artists selling designer one-of-a-kind products with upmarket pricing and branding strategy. It’s a lot of fun attending an art exhibition cum fair with much more to offer than my words can express.
Hundred likes and counting…..
If you have enjoyed reading this post and love to see more of these art fair do leave me a message and don’t forget to follow my Facebook page Kaajewel. Thanks for making it all a happy success. Good day!

Hellopalz Blogiversary!!!

50 posts, 6 topics, 4 cities, 3 blogger awards, 1 wonderful year!
Candle is lit, cupcake is ready and a reason to celebrate? Not just one…Its my first Blogiversary falling on this special day. 
People often ask, why this name for my blog. Months ago I answered it on my ‘about’ page and today’s kinda like an affirmation.
Why Hellopalz? 
I say…What better way to invite everyone to my place online. This name has been my fav since the internet age and a need for a “unique” usernames.
Happy friendship day!
Cant believe a year has passed since I hit publish on my first post reluctantly. Its been one hell of a journey! So much has changed, so much to learn…Started out as an art/jewelry blog, now I can’t get enough with categories.
Blogger Awards
It’s such a surprise and a great pleasure to receive them. Isn’t it? Three of them in the last few months! Why wouldn’t I be happy?!
Glad my readers thought that I/hellopalz was worth it. If you are a blogger you would know. And for the rest, let me make it clear, this ain’t a big deal. Blogger awards are more like chain letters. When you receive it,  you nominate  10 others along with a brief on yourself. It’s really a tool to increase traffic, visibility and appreciate one another.
I would like to change things a bit…. Lets first meet the people who have nominated my blog.
  • Rosie Scribblah – I’m awed by this  talented artist who sketches figure drawing and everyday scene on daily basis for this inspiring blog.  Thanks for seeing the versatility in me. I’m more of a “Jack of all….” kinda person.
  • Catbirdinoman – Identifies herself as a Nomad or a wanderer. She is an English teacher who travels the world and shares her beautiful journey with the rest of us through this blog. Thanks, for you recognize my work here is genuine. 🙂
  • mynycphotography – Meet Jem, moved by the beauty the city has to offer, he hosts this blog full of stills. Thankful to my short stay and this blog acquaintance who nominated hellopalz  as one lovely blog.
Exceptional talents, awe-inspiring people tie in with each other for one common interest. Love for art of various forms. Grateful to all my family,  friends and followers who have shown their love and support to keep this blog alive. 
As a token of thanks, I  humbly request all my reader to visit these interesting blogs.
                                       
What’s new and exciting in your life?  
Share it here and celebrate friendship day with me…. Don’t forget to  find and “Like” me on Facebook 
Tutti Fruiti Cupcake
If you’ve lived in Karnataka, I bet you would know this very Indian flavor of cupcake. My school evenings were filled with joyous moments of fun when I get my hands on a couple of delicious tutti-fruiti cupcake for snacks. Strangely I’ve never been able to find these cupcakes anywhere else. The first time I found tutti-frutti in Wal-Mart, I picked it up without second thoughts.  Every once in a while I make it to feed my nostalgia.
In a mood to bake??? Head over to your kitchen, try out this recipe and feed your sweet tooth! 
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Yarn accessories

Designer bags, fashion watches, chic outfits. Have you shopped your spring collection yet???
Find them at the canal street knock off or at the high end 5th ave stores… living by the city does have its perks!

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With the warm ‘n humid weather its time to really pack away those cute hats and scarf making space for the fun & colorful spring summery clothes.
As for me, its not just a time to spring clean my home. Its time to move…. AGAIN!!!!
And this time its much more exciting, ‘coz its where I belong! 🙂
My blue crochet hat and scarf made with chain stitch zig zag pattern came in so handy this winter but its time to hibernate while I enjoy the warm tropical Sun!
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The travel and relocation may be stressful, but my blog has a lot more variety and flavor than usual! Keep coming back for more, from yet another exciting location!