Archive | September, 2015

Want not , Waste not

24 Sep

I feel awful saying this but here goes – I waste a good bit of food each week.

It all stems from the fact that I absolutely love grocery shopping. Well, I think its not just the act of going to the store to buy groceries itself but the whole planning recipes, looking up ingredients, going to different stores for the best deal, ordering in bulk. You would think maybe it was the whole getting a good deal thing that I enjoy – but no, I don’t get the same high from clothes shopping or furniture shopping. In fact, I often have buyer’s remorse after those, but with groceries I seldom do.

All this is okay if I actually utilize what I buy . Sadly, I think I get carried away in the idea of putting together a meal rather than the actual cooking itself – so I do end up wasting a good bit of what I buy. Produce that looks green, fresh and inviting at the store often meets its end in my fridge a few weeks later. I have millions of recipe pins on pinterest. I read a minimum of 6-7 food blogs every few days or so. My head is buzzing with ideas on what to cook and how to prevent wastage. I cringe every time I throw something in the trash but yet I follow the same cycle each week.

Part of this is the fact that the husbadoo has decreased his consumption of food in general in the  last year or so. Its not that he doesn’t like the food I make, he is just being careful about his portions , which I guess is good. But of course, I haven’t reduced my cooking quantities. I have tried – put away bigger utensils, forced myself to use the smallest ones, but the fact remains that I think its a waste of my time and effort to cook for just one meal. I make a mimumum of two meals worth in quantity. So if I make palak paneer  (PP) for 2 meals for 2 people, he will eat one small serving of it and I am left with 3 servings to put into the fridge. Then ,if it’s a weekend , we might go out for a meal or two. Oh and then maybe Bandar will ask for something specific – very rarely happens,  and I will spend time and effort shopping, prepping to make it for her and then make enough for all of us too. I will just want to eat a salad or just drink a green smoothie for the next meal after a carb overload from Bandar’s ask. So PP gets pushed out from Saturday when it was made to maybe Wednesday night to be finished . Saturday we ate too little of it, Sunday we ate out, Monday we ate Idlis – courtesy Bandar’s ask, salad on Tuesday – PP still left over on Wednesday.

Meanwhile , just because I had some PP in the fridge I did not reduce my food shopping or prep for the week this weekend. So I have stuff prepped for Sambhar, alu masala made for masala dosas, all the kale and spinach washed, ready, bagged for smoothies, 2-3 interesting desi vegetables from the Indian store to try out and so on…A good amount of these will end up in the trash in 10 days from now.

I really need to get better organized. Maybe actually writing out the menu instead of thinking of it will help. Limiting myself to 2 veggies a week maybe at the grocery store  is another tip I read somewhere. But then I hate reading a recipe that I don’t have ingredients for and being unable to make it when inspiration hits. Guess one extra visit to the grocery store never killed anyone.

Fresh produce is the one that’s wasted the most of course. My pantry is bursting at the seams too but its stuff that spoils less frequently usually has every staple you can think of. Bajra flour, ragi flour – I have. 4 types of pasta – Orzo, Fusilli, Spaghetti, elbow macaroni – have it. A wide selection of ntus and dry fruit – Apricots, cashews, almonds, pecans, walnuts, Chia, Flax, Hemp. But of course aged ingredients turn rancid sometimes – case in point Walnuts and I had to trash them and it broke my thrifty heart. All this inventory also requires immense organization and shelving astuteness and despite having a spacious kitchen in this apartment I struggle with this.

So this weekend, I am going to turn over a new leaf – plan a menu, avoid even seeing a grocery store, organize my kitchen shelves and get ahead of this wanting-wasting game as best as I can.

How do you fare on this front? Would love to hear how you manage this aspect of your lives.


Travel week

19 Sep

I traveled to Panama this week for work and as I wait several hours for my connecting flight, and have already eaten lunch, visited the restroom and gone window shopping at the airport stores a few times already, I might as well blog about my week!

  • Time flies! Bandar was exactly 1 year old when I last traveled to Panama and it was the first time I was ever away from her. So Panama trips always take me back to that time : feeling awful leaving my 1 year old behind, skyping with her and feeling a little upset that she didn’t appear to miss me, trying to figure out how to transport pumped milk across international borders and then just giving up with the whole idea and pumping – dumping instead, having a drink or two after years of abstaining (hence the above pumping and dumping) and hugging Bandar close once I was home. Now exactly 2 years later, things are so different in every way. I have had several work trips away from Bandar and the hubsadoo in this time, and though I miss them like crazy I do enjoy the break from the routine and make the most of my time away.
  • The work part of the trip was extremely draining this time around. Another change in two years – my responsibilities have increased ten fold, I am having more strategic conversations, I am altogether more knowledgeable in my area of work then I was then. That is saying something. With the responsibilities though, comes the fact that I feel I am doing two jobs when I am traveling – the one I have been sent for and my regular one which is done in the evenings from the hotel room. At no point is my regular work load reduced in lieu of my travel and its fairly exhausting. So I typically finished up dinner with my colleagues around 10 pm and started a few hours of work. I usually stopped at 1:30 am for a shower for the next day and turned into bed with Netflix on to awake again at 6 am. Exhausting when you do this for 5 days straight.Also 3 hours of work doesn’t make up for the week away and I have plenty of deliverables for Monday that I will get to this weekend sometime.
  • The food was surprisingly good this time around. The last time, a lot of the meals were catered and a collegue told me to pick out the bacon bits from my salad which was the only “vegetarian” thing ordered .Anyway,  I ended up losing a good 5 lbs in a week during my last visit with the lack of vegetarian options. This time however, everyone knows I am vegetarian and with the exception of one meal when I made do with a granola bar from home, I ate and overate. Really good veggie burgers , risotto that was chicken broth free and had a unique little bean-lentil mix, crazy good onion rings, an amazing salad at a BBQ place(!) that I am dying to replicate at home , yucca chips with guac, quisitoes – delivious cheese rolls dusted with sugar warm from the oven, desserts galore – I had a week of overeating and not working out and feel considerably bloated than before I left. I almost too scared to look at the weighing scale before I spend a week or two getting back on track. Oh and to this add the drinking. I am not a big drinker at all – but the social drinking aspect is something I have started in recent years. So I had one- two drinks a night – mostly sangrias and mojitos , for three days straight with my team and though I guess it is okay once in a while, it makes me feel more unfit and bloated than ever. Anyway, just need to pull up my socks and get back to some clean eating and working out.
  • Reading and TV watching – I picked up two Jane Green books before I left on my trip from the library and am happy to say I am done with both. I love chicklit when traveling alone, nothing relaxes me more. I am quite a fast reader and apart from these two books that I devoured on my way over, I finished Clover, the final book in the sequel series to “What Katy Did” this morning on my journey home. Can’t believe I did not read it all these years! Now I just need something to read on my way home for this last leg and I am all set. Regarding TV watching, I was browsing Netflix and was going to skip past Friends thinking I had seen every damn episode maybe 5 times , but chanced upon some episodes in season 9 that I had somehow missed! Yeah! These are the episodes where Chandler is jobless and Mike and Phoebe are together. How did I miss those before? Anyway, I went to bed watching an episode or two of Friends each night.
  • Bath tub fun – Somehow as a rule, I am wary of hotel bath tues. My thoughts are always who the hell soaked in this before me, eww is that stray hair from me or some one else and the like. At home, a relaxing bath seems to be out of question. Anyway, on my last night in Panama , despite my multiple hang ups, I did soak in the tub for around 30 minutes or so and relaxed completely. My last bath must have been in 2012? Wow! I really need to do this more often and invest in some bath salts and bubbles.
  • People watching – My favorite activity takes on a new light when I travel. I had one or two meals alone where I got to sit down with a book , some good food and people watching galore. Another interesting evening was spent at a lounge with my team and to learn that the lounge was also frequented by upscale hookers. Enough said – It made for some interesting people watching!
  • One day of the trip I left my cell phone behind in the car on the way to work. The transportation contracted by my company also serves other companies and I was told there was little hope of recovering my phone. My heart dropped – it was only last week that I had briefly told the husbadoo that for a change we both had decent phones at the same time and had not yet lost or re broken them(mine has had expensive screen replacements twice now totaling double the cost of the phone itself). Anyway, two hours later I found out that the driver had located the phone and returned it to my office. Yeah! There are honest people in the world.

So that’s how I spent my week.  Hope everyone is all set for a good weekend. What plans, do share?

Thoughts on a Friday

5 Sep

I am usually not one for putting down life lessons on my blog.That said, something this brought on a lot of introspection on this week so I thought I would share. So here goes.

Bandar’s preschool class focuses on a different theme each week and focuses all their reading and activities on a particular topic.This week the theme all about – “I love me”. They read books about how nice it is to be unique , how you can be your own best friend, how it is most important to love yourself no matter how you are physically. They looked at a mirror and blew kisses to and  called out a cheery greeting of – “Hey Beautiful” to their own reflections , they discussed the origin of their names and the special significance each one had, they sang modified versions of songs around – “I love me”. It’s been really interesting to read the detailed emails from her teacher talking about these activities and hearing Bandar sing fragments of these songs at home and best of all proclaim happily that apart from one other little girl at school, she likes herself the most! What great lessons for three year olds or thirty year olds for that matter! I cannot help but think that I would have benefitted greatly from this lesson growing up. As an adult I still have body image issues, still do not like my different sounding name and struggle to fit in with new groups of people.

I was always like this too growing up. In lieu of my dad’s transferrable job, I always found myself in new schools and remember distinctly asking other girls to “be my friend” and being rebuked and being sad. I still feel bad about not being able to fit into groups in the playground now. Bandar though doesn’t seem to mind much – she is quite happy playing imaginary games with imaginary friends in the play area imagining she is in a castle or ship. A few weeks ago with a  lot of pushing and prodding form me, she asked a little girl to play with and was unfazed when the girl promptly replied with a clear “No”. She simply went back to her imaginary game. Sometimes she asks to go back home to play with her toys saying she is bored. But she is definitely not running behind anyone asking them to play with her. I need to change the way I view myself and prevent my issues transferring to her. Take the case of body image : I realize I am raising a sharp little girl who is quick to catch on and I have stopped using the FAT word to describe myself in front of her. I simply tell her I go to the gym to be healthy and that’s that. Of course, she still sees me looking at my rear end in the mirror a few times a day and might even catch the critical note in my voice when I am discussing my physical appearance with the husbadoo and that is something I need to work hard on putting an end too. But all in small steps, I will get there!

Not to say that these little preschoolers won’t grow up to forget these lessons and become like a lot of the adults around them, but I can hold onto some hope here for Bandar and remind herself and I of these lessons  any time insecurity and low self esteem raise their ugly head through the years.

Anyway, enough heavy food for thought for a Friday!

Here are some random fun tidbits from our lives –

  • The long weekend is upon us and we are staying home. But its Bandar’s birthday tomorrow so we hope to do some local fun stuff and make the weekend all about her . Most weekends are about her but this one should be even more so if we can help it.
  • We are in the market for a new couch . Our old couch and love seat were so badly stained and damaged in the storage unit that we decided to replace them. I have no idea what is in and what is not. What is the deal with sectionals? In or out? I like the idea of one piece but won’t we need an extra single seater recliner or something too if we do a sectional. Do we go back to the old idea of a couch and loveseat – 5 seats in all and 2 pieces of furniture? The only clear thought I have on the purchase are that I absolutely do not want leather and do not want light colors. Apart from that I am fairly open and can’t wait to actually get to the store to look around this weekend.
  • One more point on the couch – we didn’t know how to get rid of our old set. The apartment complex we lived in told us we would probably have to pay to have some one take it to the city dumpster a few miles away. I casually asked the maintenance guys who came to our apartment for some work if they knew anyone who would want it and one guy happily agreed. He looked it over and said he would take it. What’s more he thanked me profusely which I was surprised about as I felt both pieces were awfully shabby at this point – well used for 6 years. So I in turn thanked him for taking it and said I was happy he was going to find use for it. Feels nice to know someone is hopefully actually going to use it.
  • We still have to get our license and car registration changed to the new state. So irritating. Both require time off from work and physical presence to get done. Ughh – not much choice.
  • I am having a decent Friday so far at work – maybe too soon to talk about it, I have a good 4 working hours left and things can change. I really like those week endings when all nagging little emails and issues have been resolved and you can go into the next week on a clean slate. And next week is a short one and I am travelling the week after, so I am feeling more relaxed than usual.
  • I am grocery hound – I love buying groceries, produce and then worrying about them going bad and being unable to execute meals using them in their fresh state. This weekend I have decided I am going to use my pantry and fridge to its fullest and not buy anything if I can help it. A little hard as I am totally out of yogurt which is like super important in our household but we will see. I might last the weekend.

How is your Friday going?What plans, people?Do share.

Weekend fun

1 Sep

Friday evening started with some green smoothie at home. The slightly old, bitter walnuts I had thrown in threw the husbadoo and Bandar off and guess who drank maybe 45 ounces of heavy smoothie so as not to waste the organic veggies and fruits. Yes,no prizes for guessing –  trash can tummy mama bear! We then took Bandar to the mall’s play area and ate some more junk outside just because the food smell near the play area was too tempting. Yes, trash can tummy indeed and I wonder why I can’t seem to lose weight. We have been avoiding the play area in the apartment complex since early last week – not really intentionally , but something or another has been coming up. Bandar has not really been asking to go there which helps. Instead , I took her to another park on Thursday and this mall play are on Friday and she seemed to have fun

Saturday was such a glorious day. Its days like this that make me feel we absolutely took the right decision to move here. After morning skype sessions with the grandies we decided to hit the beach. The H and I have been to SD for a vacay around out first wedding anniversary about 5 years ago! We had spent 3 days in the city and had very specific memories of our trip. We had stayed on Coronado island and thought it would be fun to go back there with Bandar in tow. Since we have moved here, the H has insisted we do sunset beach activities which is nice and all but I do not like sitting with a wrap or cardi at the beach. A beach is supposed to be sunny and warm, isn’t it? So I had been pushing for a morning-afternoon at the beach instead and today was the day we did it my way. I think Bandar enjoys the idea of the beach more than the beach itself, if you know what I mean. We had found our little beach tent from our moving mess, but sharp eyed Bandar spotted some bugs taking refuge from the sun inside our tent and refused to set foot inside. Oh well, more shade for me. She also refused to go into the water – new random fears which we have to tackle with swimming classes. The worst part was she refused to let the husbadoo leave her and go into the water. So much for his surfing dreams here. Shell hunting and sand castle building were the only two beach activities she enjoyed. Anyway, I had a random book to read on child rearing of all rotten topics as I couldn’t access any other book from our unopened boxes. But I got through one or two chapters as I enjoyed the sun at the beach and am maybe a better parent for it? Ha-ha , we shall put it into practice and see!  My favorite moment at the beach was towards the end when Bandar, who was by then a little sleepy and tired, came and sat on my lap for some cuddles. She hardly asks for hugs nowadays, so this was a lovely few minutes cuddling my little monkey .I don’t have any pictures of the day as all of them prominently show our faces but you get the general idea. We then packed up and packed around to have burgers. We had eaten maybe the best veggie burger ever years ago on this island, but sadly the shop had shut down since. So we settled for some other random burger which wasn’t terrible. Bandar drank a Vanilla shake and ate some fries. Food has been on and off with her off late but I am trying to let go and let her decide what ,when, how she eats as she’s almost 3. So hard to do! Anyway, she dozed off in her stroller as we walked back to the car. The stretch of shops and restraints that run parallel to the beach is exactly the kind of walk the H and I love and the few hours we spent on this island were perfectly relaxing and fun in every way.

Sunday was clean, unpack, organize day and we got a large chunk of the unpacking done. Our guest room still looks like clothes explosion central but the living room and master bedroom are livable. We took a breather for some tapioca tea in the afternoon but that was it. One person has to spend time with B while the other can do some work, but we somehow made the arrangement work and got some stuff done. Of course, it meant I didn’t have the grocery shopping or cooking done for the week , but I will figure that out somehow. All in all, a productive day and fun weekend. Couldn’t have asked for more.