Archive | July, 2014

#100HappyDays – Some recent happies

30 Jul

– We took Bandar to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens this last weekend and part from the long train ride , she had a blast. I really did not think  she would care for plants or flowers at this age and she didn’t.But she loved running on the green lawns, spotting fish in the huge koi pond and just being out of doors with her parents.
The husbadoo and I had a nice relaxing time sitting and lying on the grass as Bandar played around . Seriously need to do this more often as a family.

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She spent far too much time looking at this wall and asking why the baby was “nangu” ( naked) . My observant little monkey!

– Breakfast on weekdays with fruit, greek yogurt , whole wheat flakes and chia. Seriously delish!It keeps me full for ages too.

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– Making my own Greek yogurt at home!The cheapest Greek yogurt in NYC is seriously at Whole Foods! I know I was shocked too. And even here is is 7 bucks for 16 ounces! Robbery! Anyway my birthday gift to myself was a Greek yogurt maker. Considering I have been having issues with yogurt not setting in the winter months here, this machine is going to solve the regular yogurt which we need with Indian food issue and the Greek yogurt for breakfast issue. Two birds one stone and all that. So I have been putting this little guy to good use and have seriously decadent Greek yogurt each morning. Oh and the strainer in the equipment is perfect for washing quinoa and amaranth . So a lot of uses for this gadget.

– The husbadoo was traveling for work for a few days and Bandar displayed some golden behavior . I was dreading early morning rising as that is usually the husbadoo’s area but on Monday morning when I  handed her a bottle of milk at 5 am and told her to snuggle next to me, she did exactly that. We finally woke up at 8:30 am and had a late start but those 3 odd hours snoozing with my baby girl were amazingly refreshing.

– The after burn you get when you work out after ages! I am trying to start some sort of a fitness routine using my Jillian Michaels videos and I am sore in places I never knew I had muscles in. Anyway, they say this after burn burns some calories too so I will take that !

– Our fifth floor walk up! I never thought I will be putting this into a happy post but these 76 steps ( yes, I counted) that I climb twice every day and at least one of those times with 25 odd pounds of baby strapped to me are helping me not gain any more weight. I obviously need to do some toning but otherwise this and the 1 mile walk to drop and pick up Bandar is taking care of my daily cardio.

– Finishing a good book. Our book club is doing the – The amazing adventures of kavalier and clay and I loved every bit of this 685 page book. A longish read but a nice one after a while.

– I am catching up on Desi episodes of Masterchef India 2013. Omg! I love the challenges – a Desi pizza challenge, restaurant wars but in a dhaba..really fun to watch . I fast forward the silly songs and irritating TV celebrities who pop in though. 

– Some pretty perfect Pav Bhaji made by yours truly. I need to do a post on only food as I am in some sort of cooking rut . I came out of my hole to make one good dish after ages and am now going to go back into strike mode. Cooking has become boring and I need some fresh ideas so food post will definitely be done this week.

A glass of milk

24 Jul

My mom like other moms the world  around , worries about her kids. This worry is sometimes unfounded and over the top and manifests itself in many ways. I was always the girl whose mom called to check where we were even if i was a few minutes past curfew. I have written about some of this here before.
Off late, especially as I live a few continents away,  the worry is a series of instructions related to my health and well being . In my early 20s , I always classified this is nagging. But now that I have Bandar , I actually think I understand her concern more. I came to the conclusion in my postpartum recovery period that my mom probably cares for me more than anyone else in the world does. This to me was apparent when I had a long line of family visitors stay with us after my mom , from both sides and the care I received though not non existent was really minimal. Granted I was past my 6-8 week recovery phase too, but still.  I have had candid conversations with the husbadoo about this and  finally after a lot of persuading he phrased it as she cares for me ‘differently’ than anyone else does. In our relationship and marriage we have always considered each other strong and able and always think the other can shoulder the responsibilities we are dealt. In my mother’s eyes I am always her baby, her firstborn ( maybe the firstborn part makes no difference) and all she wants to do is mother me and ensure my well being. Its exactly what I feel for Bandar and I doubt I will think differently when she is almost 30. So it was during this postpartum phase that I stopped getting irritated with her instructions and stopped thinking of it as nagging.Of course , it did not mean I followed her advice.

When she was visiting us here in May, she was shocked to see I did not take heed any of her phone instructions. 
She made this list for us before she left and put it up on our fridge with our magnets.She addressed it to both the husbadoo and I.

Take a look.

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Does any of this seem excessive? I don’t know – maybe 3 glasses of milk for 2 adults ??When she was writing it a few hours before she had to leave for the airport, I shrugged and thought as usual it was going to be advice we won’t follow but  let her continue writing it anyway.  I read it only after we got back from the airport and felt a few tears prick my eyelids as somehow I felt her love radiate from this piece of paper towards me. You see, my dad is the hugger in the family. We girls are very expressive with him but not with our mom. That is just how she was raised. My nine yards clad granny would have a fit if any of her girls tried to hug her ever and my mom though is of course a step better but only just. Our hugs and kisses are quick brushes of hands and lips and our “love yous” are scant at the end of phone calls. But this piece of paper somehow meant something to me. My cousin visited recently and saw this and burst out laughing at her aunt ( my mom). Somehow that really upset me and I got very defensive about the whole thing.
Anyway,for this first time on my almost 29 years I have tried to follow some of this. I see this list on the fridge and it makes me smile as I go about my chores. I might be putting away Bandar’s packed lunch box the night before and I see this note and pour myself a glass of milk and smile and think about my mom for a few minutes . And today I am writing this post sipping on my glass of milk .

Bandar’s Zoo

22 Jul

Bandar comes home from school around 5 pm each day and we have the whole evening of play ahead of us. How exactly do you entertain a 22 month old , finish the last bit of office work, manage dinner prep for her and rest of the family members,wash bottles for her bed time, and feed her a meal  – all between the hours of 5 – 8 pm?
I am forced to come up with new , creative games to play each day. We throw birthday parties for her toys, do some finger painting and of course play with her blocks. This kid loves building things – towers, castles, cities. Maybe the architecture gene from my in laws side of the house.
Anyway , after a zoo visit s few weeks ago it was but natural to build our own. With a mix of 2 different types of blocks and a medley of wild and domestic animals from Crawford Market, Mumbai , we are proud to present to you Bandar’s zoo.

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Of course you need a ticket to enter. The tissue strip being held by the dolls in the car is their huge ticket!
I am personally scared about the safety of the zebra and mule,in such close proximity to the lions and cheetah.
Also I doubt our bear cage meets bare minimum specifications- looks more than a little cramped for our lone bear.

I just had enough time to take a few pics before Bandar insisted on walking through the zoo and destroying it!

29

18 Jul

So the birthday dawned and is almost done too. I have 30 minutes left of the day as I write this.

The husbadoo kept bugging me for gift ideas and I told him I really didn’t want anything except Tiramisu from Whole Foods and dinner at some restaurant nearby.
And he agreed and did exactly that. So we had dinner at a nice, fusion place near here called Hampton Chutney that makes dosas with some American flair and I loved it. The best part was Bandar loved this little set up they had with loads of books by the window and she let us eat our simple meal in peace.

This year my facebook wishes have reduced from 70s to merely 30 and I am strangely glad.
My true friends texted or called which meant more than the fb wishes.

I went to the dentist and am glad to report that I have no cavities ( always good news, especially on your birthday) but do need a night guard as I have reduced me enamel by night grinding. I was also given the option to straighten my teeth and perfect my smile which my dentist advised will increase self esteem and confidence. Thank you doc but think I rather hire a trainer to shed the last few pounds and get some rock hard abs to boost my self esteem! My smile is well,  my smile and it is what it is at this point.

My in laws have sent me a fruit basket as a surprise which touched me and will be delivered tomorrow . I wish they hadn’t spent the $$ on this but nevertheless I am truly happy.

My parents wished me a grand total of 4 times through the course of the last 36 hours #transatlanticbdays

Overall,  I am a year older and none the wiser but a tad happier today and that is always a good thing!

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Morning Thoughts

16 Jul

Random thoughts in my head on a Wednesday morning-

What are we doing for dinner? I should plan the meal and do some prework but I am bored as hell to start. I should browse some food blogs next.

I should work out today and should do it NOW! I started some Jillian Michael’s videos after months and months this week but my stamina is so low that I can barely do a quarter of the workout before I  flop down exhausted .

Why am I hooked on this stupid show – Army Wives ?Even though my favorite cast members are out, I continue torturing myself watching it into the wee hours of the morning and I feel so sleepy now. This last season that I am watching on Netflix is really boring but I want to somehow get in done with and move on with my life.

Should I cancel dentist appointments that the husbadoo and I have for tomorrow? I accidently scheduled them on my birthday , like there were not 364 other days to get it done. Now it rules out any birthday lunch plans. But if I move it, when will we get our teeth checked? We are super busy with work next week and I really can’t keep postponing this. Birthday dinner should suffice – less calories and less spending on 1 meal versus 2. But on the other hand one nice meal together without Bandar and that too lunch ( my favorite meal) would be fun.What if dinner is ruined as our teeth might be over sensitive after the check up and cleaning.  Ughhh..decisions!

This room is freaking hot. Two fans aren’t helping. I should go to the bedroom and switch on the AC. But our electricity bill is going to go through the roof if I have it on all day .

Greek yogurt is so awesome for breakfast . Seriously makes me feel so full. Maybe I shouldn’t work out now as I just ate.

1 hour before my next conference call. I should shower – now. But what about that workout? I am going to be sweaty anyway afterwards. Maybe shower then!

Needless to say, the day is going to go by without a workout…

#100HappyDays – Some Weekend Happy

16 Jul

This weekend was like all others – full of park visits, over indulging in food and general rest.
Here are some happy moments –
– Friday evening we decided to meet one of our few friends in this area for dinner. There is a street full of Indian restaurants here ( 28th and Lex) and that is where we went. We went to Kaliash Parbat and ordered and ate far too much. Of course , in typical NYC fashion everything was over priced and too meager in quantity. But it all tasted oh so good.I was transported to eating at the Mumbai branch of Kailash Parbat with my parents as a teenager. We have enjoyed many a meal in that restaurant together and I have so many happy memories of that place. Now I am here creating new memories at the NYC location with my new family!
– Our friend was going to head back to NJ after dinner but as Bandar kept insisting he come home to play, he did! Bandar has become so close to this guy who she calls kaka(uncle). The husbadoo himself met kaka only in November through a common friend and invited himself to stay with him while he found an apartment in NYC. Kaka is from the same college as us in Bombay but we never met then. The husbadoo and I always thought it was going to be hard to make true friends in this stage of our lives – somehow we are no longer the same people we were in our teens and early 20s when friendships were formed easily and ones friends were really ones world. Anyway, there are some really nice and genuine people in this world and kaka is one of them.He hosted the husbadoo for several weeks in Nov -Dec, and also helped us move in. He visits frequently and has a soft corner for Bandar that is mutual apparently. He spent the night in our guest room this Friday just to play with Bandar!
– So Bandar played till 10 pm and finally went to bed! Then the 3 of us sat down to play Settlers of Catan. I know I have written here before about how much the husbadoo and I miss our Austin friends who played board games. We very rarely get to play here and we made the most off that evening.
– Saturday morning , the husbadoo left for his cricket game and I made some rava idlis. Thank God for the several random packets of MTR mixes my parents got for me. Every visit of theirs I tell them I can buy these things locally here for a few dollars and they still is it on carrying a suitcase full of food to make my life easier. Anyway, as childcare duties and kitchen work don’t go together these packets came in mighty handy.
– Saturday was spent with some skyping with my folks and taking Bandar to the park for a playdate with her classmate from school. Bandar loved playing in the sprinklers and sand box in this playground we frequent at Central Park. Just seeing her laugh and dance around in the water is a treat.
– Then husbadoo returned late in the evening in a great mood as he had taken 4 wickets and was the Man of the Match! He immediately took over childcare duties from me which really made me less resentful about the whole day of cricket. He also made us yummy sandwiches for dinner.  I realize now that he was bone tired himself but took over to give me at least a few hours of rest. I am blessed to have this man.
– Sunday morning we again started with some Skype time with my in laws. We took Bandar to the park in the evening and met a new ( to us) Indian family there with 2 girls and started a conversation and exchanged numbers. Prospective friends ? Maybe . We picked up some groceries and returned home. Bandar is in her stroller on the way to the park and it gives the husbadoo and I to have some conversations on careers and others things. We think Bandar can’t hear us but she surprises us sometimes with some funny semi- relevant input from the stroller !
– I made Thai Pineapple fried rice for dinner and it was pretty awesome .So it was an overall good way to wrap up the weekend.

Note : I have been blogging fairly irregularly over the last month or so and really need to get my groove back . No commitments here but I am hoping to blog more frequently this week, being my birthday week and all. Let’s see how it goes!

Of long weekends at home, sick babies and cooking disasters

8 Jul

The husbadoo and I like to think back to our favorite vacation trips together and play vacation themed fun memory games from time to time.  These include sharing a random picture and making the other person guess where it was taken, list our top 5 burgers eaten on holiday and top 5 sunsets seen etc. It makes us count our blessings for the wonderful memories we have built and the carefree travel splurges we have had in these 5 years of marriage. As we always saved our annual 2 weeks of vacation days for a yearly India trip , a lot of these trips were made during the long weekends. We traveled domestically without missing a single one. I love the latter half of the year- May onwards where there is a long weekend almost every month and a grand week of vacation in December. This year however, we found ourselves in a slightly tight position financially , having moved to NYC and we didn’t want to spend $$$ flying anywhere . We booked and canceled a Jersey shore vacation when we realized our car rental from the city would cost more than our stay! How I miss are car parked safely away in Texas! Anyway, we found ourselves in the city for this long weekend and decided to make the most of it by taking Bandar to zoo and planning other local activities through the 3 days. However, Bandar had her own plans of course and decided to come down with a high fever right on dot , Thursday afternoon!
So out the window went our city exploration plans and instead we spent every minute at home with our monkey.
– Bandar’s daycare was closed on Thursday. I am getting tired of these extended breaks they keep giving the teachers. As it was a full working day for me with conference calls galore, the husbadoo decided to work from home to watch Bandar. She woke up from an afternoon nap with a slight temperature. That was the start.
– She insisted on going to the park, instead I told her I would take her to the library ( we had fines due and books to return)
– She usually loves going to the library. Her favorite part is picking a few books and reading them there while we sit on the small chairs . That day however, she was so distracted and kept saying she wanted to go the park.
– We left and as it was thundering already ,rushed home. Her fever went up slowly but surely.
– I had sun dried and goat cheese ravioli from Trader Joes but needed to make a sauce. I used a half opened bottle of white wine to make a sauce and it was strictly okay. Anyway, we were both worried about Bandar by then that the food didn’t really matter too much.
– Her temperature went up to 103 and we treated it with meds and took turns sleeping.
– Friday was miserable at home with Bandar sick. We skyped with both sets of grandparents morning and evening , let her watch more than her fair share of videos and ate sandwiches with hummus and veggies.
– We debated about trying to watch fireworks from our terrace but as Bandar had been shivering that day we decided not to.
– My cousin and her family were visiting us the next day , so I decided to precook some stuff. I settled on making ragda (dried green peas/vatana), minus the patties and to serve that with rice. I made my ragda into the wee hours of the night, let it cool, put in the fridge and went to bed.
– We had an early morning Saturday appointment with a doctor in the other end of town. So we took 2 buses and spent a good 2 hours at the doc, testing for strep ( negative ) .
– I had exactly 30 minutes to clean house and finish cooking for the guests. I made a jeera rice with brown rice  and a lemon sevai( rice vermicelli ) for the kids as I knew they wouldn’t touch anything else. I also pulled out the ragda to heat .
– I overheated the ragda and burnt it. It was now extremely smokey in taste! I made a quick raita that I under salted! And a sticky vermicelli dish for the kids. I had preboiled some potatoes to make a quick potato curry for the kids but realized that 4 tiny potatoes yield a miniscule amount of curry. I made it nevertheless.
– When the guests entered I was just fighting major fumes from burnt chillies in the kitchen and everyone started coughing. Bandar was in her worst mood with the morning trek to the doc and cried loads seeing a bunch of strange faces.
– I put the badly cooked meal on the table – sticky, clumpy lemon sevai, burnt ragda, brown jeera rice ( this was tasty but apparently my brother in law and  cousin sister don’t eat brown rice, while her brother and my sister in law do! Whatever ! You can’t make everyone happy) , an undersalted  raita and thawed theplas( my mom got me 200 theplas from India that I freeze and use when needed). I turned my back to see, my well meaning sister in law had put the tiny , tiny amount of potato curry in its kadai and all on the table. I was mortified as I had never intended to serve it. Anyway , I was the last to eat that badly cooked meal and apart from a joke about a BBQ flavored ragda, no one said anything else. Maybe the sick child card worked.
– The husbadoo of course sadly said it was awful and when he says awful,I guess it really was .
– I snuck down to the stores to buy some awfully sugary chocolate cake and ice cream as I had not baked a thing or planned dessert.
– They all left to site see and we napped.
– I woke up and welcomed them back with ginger tea and bhel with homemade chiutneies. I semi redeemed myself and my cooking skills.
– They left around 8 pm and we again skyped with both sets of grandparents.
– Sunday was again extremely boring. I was sulking about yet another Skype conversation and then realized that it was the best way to keep Bandar occupied. She really does love seeing her grandparents.
– I made chocolate chip pancakes for brunch and that counts as my only  succeasfully cooked meal that weekend,
–  I spent the afternoon trying to make a specific salsa . You see, our favorite taco place in Austin served this famous salsa that is so perfect and lot of food bloggers have tried to put together a recipe for it. I think I  either added too much garlic or burnt the jalapenos and garlic a tad too much in the broiler , but the end result was not close to what i expected. Sigh! Need to retry and perfect it. I also roasted tons of veggies for tacos.
– I went to Whole Foods for some milk for Bandar and ended up picking up 2 other salsas for good measure.
– We ate tacos for dinner of course but despite 3 salsa options, we missed the mark. Oh well!
– We skyped some more and called it a long weekend!