2015: The Year of the Comic

Delightful Children's Books

The annual American Library Association (ALA) book awards were doled out yesterday, and, for those of you who missed the award show, the big winner was…. comics! For the first time, a comic — El Deafo by Cece Bell — garnered a Newbery. In addition, This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki received recognition from both the Caldecott and Printz committees. Last but not least, Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust received a Batchelder Honor.

The Year of the Comic

On one hand, I am thrilled that three ALA committees recognized the power and merit of comics as a medium for telling stories. I have not read This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki. But, both El Deafo and Hidden illustrate how effectively words and text can be used to tell moving, sophisticated stories.

On the other hand, this year’s awards have left me feeling more strongly than before that the American Library Association (ALA)…

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5 simple recipes on my list for Christmas

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With my renewed passion for baking and cooking, I am always on the lookout for new, interesting and easy to cook recipes. After a recent dinner with friends cooking Thai for all, followed by baking an apple n caramel upside down cake and chocolate chip cookies a few days later, I am all geared up to try these recipes for Christmas from some of my favorite chefs and cookbooks –

1. Devil’s Food Cake
My love for desserts and the simple recipe and easy to get ingredients make this my favorite dish.

2. Mexican Chicken Salad with Black bean Sauce
The original recipe with Turkey may taste even better, but I choose to make with chicken

3. Quick crispy chicken with tomatoes & asparagus –
Chicken with veggies … love it!

4. Crab cakes with dill mayonnaise –
A dish I’ve wanted to try for a very long time.

5. Big Soft Ginger Cookies
To go with that glass of Hot Chocolate!

Cheers to a Merry Christmas and a gastronomic 2014!

A trip to an Indian Vineyard -Sula Wines, Nashik

Sula Wines

Sula Wines

Our weekend break prior to the onset of monsoons in Mumbai led us to Beyond – a first of its kind vineyard resort of Sula Wines located in Nashik. It took us 3.5 hours to reach by car and it was a good drive thanks to the well maintained Mumbai-Nashik highway!

Sula_Beyond1Beyond Vineyard Resort is a great experience from the moment you enter. A little ahead of the Sula Vineyards, it is a beautifully landscaped property with a scenic driveway leading to the entrance.

With a wide selection of rooms, Beyond has a restaurant, a spa, gymnasium and a games room. Our package included a trip to the winery for a tour and some wine tasting! Needless to say the tour was well organized and we tasted a variety of Sula wines -as a result our favourite Sula wine now is the Sula Brut Rosé – a Rosé sparkling wine in a lovely pink colour .

Sula_Beyond2

Back at the resort, we relaxed and had a lovely time. Although the cuisine at their restaurant Cafe Rosé, is limited to Indian and Continental cuisine, the taste an variety of dishes can be better. With only one restaurant at the resort, we had the option of Soma or Little Italy at the Vineyard a few kms away.

We were given a complimentary Spa vouceer and I managed to get pampered with a 60 min Balinese massage, while my husband and little one caught up on the afternoon siesta. I wish I had more time to experience some of their signature spa treatments, organic spa facials or vinotherapy like the Red Wine Body Scrub or the Red Wine and Rose Facial. It was time to be happy with the one hour relaxation I got and leave the rest for the next visit!

What we liked about Sula:
– Tour of the winery and the wine tasting
– Comfortable stay at Beyond, with a co-operative and courteous staff
– A beautifully landscaped resort with entertainment options for children and adults
– Clean and well-maintained rooms
– Complimentary Spa therapy was an icing on the cake!
– Our favorite Sula Wines: Sula Brut Rosé , Dindori Reserve Viognier, Sula Zinfandel

What we did’nt enjoy:
– The map giving the driving directions was incorrect. The Hindustan Hardy Spicer is a T junction where we need to take a left and gollow the road till we reach another T junction of papaya nursery. After the papaya nursery, its the 2nd left after hotel Guru Krupa. After this turn there are Sula Vineyard signs leading the way till we reach the location.
– The towels provided were an anti-thesis to the ambience of the room and resort
– The food at Cafe Rosé did nothing to tantalize our taste buds. It can surely be better.

The Vineyard Resort

The Vineyard Resort

We would still recommend it to anyone who is keen on a vineyard visit and wants to experience Sula! It was surely a super relaxing getaway just a few hours from Mumbai-  just what a full time mommy needs to get a break from the daily chores!

Don’t jinx my workout!

Healthy living

Healthy living

I have attempted to have a ‘healthy lifestyle’ since I was 18! Annual gym memberships, early morning yoga or swimming sessions after work – all in vain because I never stuck to any of it.

After a point I started feeling my exercise regimen gets ‘jinxed’ the moment I mention it to anyone. Why does it feel like something in the universe  is testing my will power to exercise every time I feel the need to get into a workout schedule? Funnily I was discussing this with an old friend who had started going to the gym quite regularly but it got interrupted the moment her help at home mentioned it to someone when asked why her employer was not at home! It’s ironic that we had the same experience but it reaffirmed my belief on getting jinxed.

I have therefore decided not to say a word on my mode of workout or what I’m doing to lose weight! 😉 Wonder if anyone else has had a similar experience?

Birthday gift to self

Cupcakes to celebrate

Cupcakes to celebrate

I’ve always enjoyed planning soirees, surprise birthday parties for friends and coordinating any event from start to finish. However, when it comes to my own birthday I just wish I could disappear, not answer calls, not meet anyone and not have folks fuss about my birthday.

I recently managed to survive this day on May 17, and I’ve realized its not just the day but the week leading to my birthday and I get all wound up. Calling me short tempered will be an understatement and I’m like a woman ready to axe down anything that comes in my way! This year I came down with a flu so bad that I could hardly talk! Sadly, it’s been a few years since I’ve truly enjoyed my birthday with friends or family who I’d  really like to be with. So, here are some of the things I wish I could do instead:

1. Spend time with my dad (who passed away when I was 25). Would love to hear him or talk to him and say things I did’nt when I could have coz I was too busy doing other not so important things. That way I am blessed to have my mom with me on my birthday since her d-day is on May 15 and I make it a point to be with her no matter what.

2. Go off on a holiday to a place which has a lot of snow – I was blessed to celebrate it once in the Himalayas when I was 9. It was beautiful to be surrounded by snow capped mountains while cutting my birthday cake.

3. Take a meditative holiday to the Ananda Spa in Himalayas

4. Not hear from people who call for the sake of calling. Feel like telling them ‘i’m better off not hearing from you at all so please save both of us the trouble’ !

5. Disappear

Sometimes I feel its just the need to tell these people to stay away from me forever so I can move on with life and really start enjoying the things that I’ve always loved doing. These people who sap the energy out of anything I’ve wanted in life – are just there coz they need to be tolerated for someone else’s sake – I would not miss a thing if I dont meet them or see them or talk to them!

But the other line of thought I feel I need to explore is the art of ‘ignoring’. If they irritate me its my problem not theirs.If they are successful in getting to me its only because I let them,so I need to learn to let them be and tolerate them for the few hours I have to meet them once every few weeks and forget about them the other times. Its going to take a lot of practice and perseverance but its a path worth exploring . A gift I’ve promised to give my self this year for my birthday.

Journey towards Buddhahood

A collection of our Buddha idols from India and SEA

My Buddha Bar

It’s been a while since I got inspired to write something. With a whirlwind of activities from handling a toddler to household chores to getting creative with crochet 🙂 I have got introduced to practicing Buddhism and trying to maintain a regular schedule with it.

My husband and I have been collector’s of Buddha idols ever since we got married, but I never got a chance to understand the philosophy by meeting someone who actually practiced it. Learning about Gautama Buddha and the Noble Eight fold path orthe Four Noble Truths was all in context to academics many many years ago! Following it was a matter of great debate, given the political and competitive environment one has to deal with in our day to day life. My interest in the subject was purely from a point of meditation and not until I was introduced to it by a friend did I understand how it helps in living a balanced and fulfilled life.

My belief in the popular saying of “things happen when they are meant to” was further re-instated when I got introduced to Nichiren Buddhism which originated in Japan. Its quite surprising that living in India all this while so close to Bodhgaya I never got anywhere close to delving deeper into the subject. It’s better late than never! Nichiren Buddhism is based on the Lotus Sutra and works towards attaining a peaceful society while discovering Buddhahood.

Here’s to enlightenment!