Wednesday, December 9, 2015

December | small goals

It's been a while since I've written a post. Quiet honestly I've been pretty tired and feeling a bit uninspired. So in order to motivate myself back into the spirit of the holiday season, I figured let's focus on some small goals for December.


But before we get to December, let me do a quick recap on how I did in November. Here is how I did on my goals for last month:

1. Finish our yearly scrapbook. I'm so happy to report that I kept on track and completed our yearly scarpbook. It's actually on its way from Shutterfly and I can't wait to share it with everyone.
I think Shutterfly is one of the best sites if you're interesting in making a photo book. They have so many pre-made templates to choose from, plus their customization tool allows me a lot of freedom as well.

2. Start a new book. I started Beyond Religion - Ethics for the Whole World by HH Dalai Lama this month, but quiet honestly I have not been very inspired to finish it. I don't think it's the book's fault... I just haven't been in the mood lately.

3. Attend a photography class. I attended a 4-hour photography class by Sam Anise at Beaux Art Photography this month. I have to say, if you live near the Dallas area, I would highly recommend Sam's class. He is really a great teacher and I felt like he simplified a lot of the technicial aspects of photography. I learned a great deal and have already started playing around with my camera a lot more without being totally clueless.

4. Overhaul my closet for fall/winter and make a list of the holes in my closet. Unfortunately, this one just didn't get checked off my list! :( I think it had a lot to do with feeling tired and feeling quiet uninspired. I just wasn't even interested in shopping much this month, even with all the great Black Friday deals. This is on my list again for December, so I'm determined to get it done!

5. Be present. I will give myself a C this month. Sadly, I have to admit that I don't think I put as much effort into accomplishing this goal as I could have. I was doing better earlier in the month, but then just kind of fell off the bandwagon. My phone seems to be the biggest distraction.

Three out of 5, I guess that's not too bad. Although I would have loved to give me a 5 out of 5, I'm pretty happy with the progress I have made this month. Now on to the...


1. Host a holiday party.

2. Bake and decorate holiday cookies.

3. Create a gift idea to give to extended family.

4. Drink at least 48 fluid ounces of water a day.

5. Continue keep up with my gratitude journal.


What are some of your goals this December?  Be sure to link up with us over on Nicole's blog

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Packing Post: Fall Edition

This weekend we are off to Tennessee to spend some time with the in-laws. In addition to spending with the family, I'm also looking forward to enjoying the beautiful Fall weather and the colorful scenery of the Tennessee mountains.

I'm headed off for a total of six days. Packing for this trip has been especially challenging because the weather in Texas is quiet different. Here I'm still able to get away with a light cardigan on most days and haven't had to reach for a sweater quiet yet. However, the temperature in TN is going to in highs of 60s and the lows in the 40s.

So in packing for this trip my formula was quiet simple - leggings or jeans, a sweater, and a vest or jean jacket. I really wanted to pack as light as possible. Since we don't have any major plans or parties to attend (that's a first!), I was able to get away with just a single pair of shoes for my entire trip. Now, that's a first too! I also packed a basic long sleeve swing dress which is also going to be quiet versatile for a relaxing day at home or a night out with friends.

As I've mentioned before, taking outfit pictures as I pack my bag as been super helpful to me. It helps me remember any accessories or completer pieces I might be forgetting. Plus laying everything out together also helps me sees how all the pieces in my capsule wardrobe for the trip will easily go together. I'm learning that sticking to a color palette is key to minimizing the overall number of items packed.

                 
Express Dress | Style & Co. Booties | Jean Jacket from Khol's | F21 Necklace

I just purchased this Express dress last week and I can already tell it's going to be one of my favorites.  It's really comfy and flattering. Plus, it's a plain canvas that you can totally dress up or down with different accessories.

              
Left: Gap sweater | BP necklace | J.Crew Vest | Lou & Grey leggings | Style & Co. booties          
Right: Oversized sweater | Lou & Grey leggings | Style & Co. booties

These Lou & Grey leggings are so comfortable! I've gone through several different pair of black leggings and these are by far my favorite. They are thick enough to keep me warm and I never have to worry about any sheerness. They also wash and wear really well - an added bonus! 

This J.Crew vest was also a good purchase from last year. It can be layered on any of these outfits for little extra warmth. I considered more affordable options before pulling the trigger on this one, but for me the pattern of stitching on this version is much more flattering without adding too much bulk.


I wore this chambray shirt a lot last year. It's great to layer under sweaters, over dresses, or just with by itself. However, looks like I've gained a little weight since last year and it wasn't as loose over the leggings as I wanted. So in the end, I didn't pack it simply because I knew I wouldn't wear it. 

          
Left: Old Navy Sweater | Loft skinny jeans | Style & Co. booties      
Right: BR sweater |  Lou & Grey leggings | Style & Co. booties

TN tee | Jean Jacket from Khol's | Loft skinny jeans | Style & Co. booties

This last outfit is what I wore on the flight there. I was really proud of myself for managing to take only one pair of shoes to go coordinate with almost a week's worth of outfits. I purchased these booties last year and they are my favorite! I'm sorry that the exposure in some of these pictures isn't very good, but the first picture with the black dress shows the exact color of these booties. This color is no longer available, but I'm thinking of purchasing them in black as well because the heel height is perfect and they are super comfortable. 


This is everything I took with me in my carry-on bag. I love my packing cubes and I don't know how I ever packed with out them. The only item not pictured is a compact blow-dryer. As you can see I also opted not to take brown my cross-body bag.  Instead, this black one was big enough for to carry my small make-up bag without being oversized. I also decided to leave my sunglasses at home and opted to take an umbrella instead since rain was in the forecast. I wore my jean jacket and jeans on the flight and packed my vest instead.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with everything I packed. I've come a long way from overpacking, being frustrated and unhappy once I've reached my destination. The only thing I plan to improve on next time is the amount of items I took in my toiletries bag. I guess it's like the saying goes, there is always room for improvement.  



What are you packing for your upcoming holiday?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November | small goals

I thought about waiting until January to finally join Nicole's monthly "small goals" link-up, but then again any month is just as good as January to start something positive, am I right?

I have been following Nicole's blog for sometime now and her monthly posts are my favorite. She is always super down to earth, open, and honest. I always feel inspired and motivated by reading Nicole's as well as other people's goals and aspirations. Just the fact that Nicole adds the word "small" in front of her monthly goals gives me hope that I too will be able to accomplish some small goals of my own.

Priya takes her monthly goals a step further and has been setting monthly one-word motto's for herself for almost a year now. I typically take a few moments after reading her post to self-reflect on word of the month. It's interesting how one small word can have such a profound impact on you life, if you only take the time to comprehend the true essence of it's meaning and then apply it to your daily life. I'm always eager to find out what her next one-word motto will be.

Both these ladies have inspired me to start setting monthly goals for myself. At least one these monthly goals will be focused on self-improvement (mind or body). I'm hoping that by documenting my goals, I will be motivated to hold myself accountable.

So without further ado, here are my small goals for the month of November!


1. Finish our yearly scrapbook.

I have been making a yearly scrapbook for us ever since we got married. It runs from August to July of the following year.... don't ask me why! I'm currently on my fourth one and I'm definitely starting to get a bit lazy. I know that if I drop the ball just one year, then it will only go downhill from there. These scrapbooks are very important to me so I really want to make sure to stay on top of it and get it done before Christmas.

2. Start a new book.

The last few books I read have been really good. I'm just now getting into reading and really enjoying it so far. I feel like one bad book and I may fall off my bandwagon. So, I being super selective about my next book in order to stay inspired and motivated to read more. I've been considering Beyond Religion - Ethics for the Whole World by HH Dalai Lama.

3. Attend a photography class.

I have already signed up for a 4-hour introductory course next Saturday, but I want to make sure that I actually follow through without any excuses. This has been a goal for mine for several months now, so this month I'm determined to get it done!

4. Overhaul my closet for fall/winter and make a list of the holes in my closet.

This was partly done over the weekend when I donated several of my old fall and winter clothes from last year. But I still need to go through my inventory and decide what pieces are I'd like to add this year. I always get overwhelmed with all the sales around the holiday season.  This year I want to be prepared so that I'm not distracted and filling my closet with absolutely nothing I actually wanted or need.

5. Be present.

Around the holiday season I forget to be truly present in the moment. I'm always trying to juggle too many projects, worried about the decorations, buying presents, wanting everything to be perfect and trying to attend too many events all at once. So even though I'm surrounded by people who are most important to me, I'm rarely paying much attention to them at all. This year, I want to make sure to be fully present with my all family and friends at each and every gathering. This may mean that I have to make some trade offs, but I think they will be well worth it.


I'm very excited to see how I do at the end of this month! Be sure to check out the Nicole's link-up and share your goals for the month!


Sunday, November 1, 2015

{Rewind} October 2015

{Rewind} posts have quickly became my favorite! This month was fully of visitors! Like I've mentioned before, I think October is really the best time to visit Dallas. The weather is absolutely perfect... just cool enough to where you don't really need a sweater quiet yet, but still sunny and warm enough to enjoy the outdoors.


The month started off with a very short visit from my cousin. I don't get to see her very often, so it was great catching up. Next up, were my parents, cousin, and my grandmother. Having them come for a visit was probably the best part of the entire month!

The next weekend we also had some visitors from California, Heena and B.D., followed by our good friend, Nihal from Atlanta. In the midst of his visit, Chirag and I also babysat Anand for the first time! I think my SIL was partly relieved that Nihal, who is also a father, would be present in order to supervise us. We actually ended up having an impromptu game night with some more friends that evening. It was nice to introduce an old friend to some of our closest friends here in Dallas. Baby Anand was so good during his entire stay and ended up being the life of the party!

In the midst of all the visitors, I also got some time to bond with my mother-in-law over her famous Khasta Kachori Chaat. It was fun cooking in the kitchen together and I can't wait to try the recipe out again soon.

One special evening during this moth was catching a free outdoor concert by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. I have always wanted to go see them perform, but this outdoor concert on a cool Fall night, under the string lights, cuddling up on the side of a bench with Chirag was really the best way to enjoy it.

Another highlight of the month was watching Aziz and Amy at the Oddball Comedy Fest. It wasn't quiet what I expected, but we had a few good laughs and it was a fun show to enjoy with our friends.

I finally ended the month going trick or treating with our cute neighbor, Radha. I don't really explore our neighborhood much. It was fun to meet some of our neighbors and see how much people really get into the spirit of Halloween here. She looked so cute in her Nemo outfit. Her mom dressed up as Darla, and her dad was the the Dentist. I didn't get the Nemo memo in time, so I went with the easiest outfit I could find at the Dollar Store. I think I was a pretty decent Fairy, wouldn't you say?

Dear October, thank you for such a great kick start into the Holiday season!



What were some of your highlights this October?

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Gratitude Journal

The earliest memory I have of keeping a journal was probably when I was about 12 years old and I went to visit my grandparents in India for the first time after having moved to the states. I remember recording the food I ate, the sites I visited and the people I met.

I have journaled on and off again since that time. Most of the time I would mainly journal whenever I would go on trips. I remember journaling when I went to Washington D.C. for my 8th grade school trip and Europe when I was in high school. I wanted to remember everything I saw and experienced on these adventures. I also remember my senior year English teacher. She would write a quote on the board every morning and we were given just 10-15 minutes to reflect on the quote. We could write about something in our lives that was related to this quote or just about what the quote meant to us. I really enjoyed this exercise and always looked forward to it. This is my last recollection of journaling being something positive in life.

About a year ago, I remember flipping through the journal I had kept for several years now. The entries were few and far between. Somewhere along the way, journaling became more about venting and writing about my heartaches versus recording happier moments in my life. I wrote about the challenges and frustrations I faced as being a young adult trying to figure out the direction of my life. The only time I would really write in my journal was when I was feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, hurt, or depressed. Looking back I realize that the majority of these frustrations and heartaches were so trivial. So around the time of this realization I decided to start another book in which I would only write positive and inspirational quotes.


I still continue to write in my book of quotes when I hear or read some words of wisdom and inspiration. Although reflecting back on these quotes does make me feel quiet inspired and uplifted, I wasn't really connecting the wisdom these words had to offer to my life. When I was at the store recently,  I came across this book (pictured above from an old post). It was a blank book. I could write whatever I wanted to in it. I wasn't sure that I needed this book, but the phrase on the cover had really made me ponder. "Write Your Story". What did I want my story to be? Did I want it to be full of negative thoughts, frustrations, and heartache? Or did I want to it be positive and a reminder about the good things I am so fortunate to have in my life? I decided not to write anything in this book until I knew what I wanted my story to be.


Recently, I dedicated this book to be my gratitude journal. I was inspired by the two books I recently completed - What I Know For Sure and The Essentialism. Both authors of the book talk about the importance of keeping a journal and having gratitude. Oprah talks about how she had kept a gratitude journal for a whole decade and how writing down 5 things she was grateful each and every day has helped her bring positive energy into her life. Greg McKeown makes similar points in his book. He also goes on to talk about how a good journalist has to discern the true meaning and figure out the lead of the story. This made me think about the times when I would let one small negative experience consume my thoughts and feelings without consciously being aware and grateful for the many positive moments I had experienced in that very same day. We are all journalists of our lives and we must navigate through all the distractions and noise to discern the true meaning of our experiences.

It has been over a month now and I have been writing in this book every single night. I keep it on my nightstand right next to my bed. I take 5 minutes at the end of each day to write in it. I start with writing the date and then the following fragment: "Today I am thankful for (that)...." Then I simply make bullet points for things I'm grateful for. I don't limit myself to any number or pressure myself to meet a quota. Somedays, I find that I have several things to be thankful for and somedays it maybe just one or two. Yet, there has not be a single day thus far that I have not had at least one thing to be thankful for. Just a few days after starting this exercise, I was being more conscious of small things I was grateful for just so I could remember to record them at the end of the night. Little moments in my life that I would have otherwise overlooked and taken for granted.

I have experienced first hand how consciously having gratitude for all life has to offer has attracted more positive energy into my life. It has helped me decrease my stress, uplift my mood, and find the positive in any situation in my everyday life. If you are someone who is currently stuck in a rut with journaling, I would highly recommend writing your (positive) story by starting a gratitude journal.


What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Three Things Thursday: Book Edition


I'm not much of a reader and it's always been a secret goal of mine to change that. When I was in college and grad school I always used the excuse that I read huge textbooks all day long. So, when I had any downtime I was much more interested in catching up on Grey's Anatomy or One Tree Hill episodes. Reading wasn't something I considered a hobby.

It's been a long time since I completed by graduate degree, yet it wasn't until my Jamaica trip this past summer that I picked up a book and actually finished it! I've read one book and listened to three on my Audible app. And I really can't believe I'm about to type this, but I'll be starting my fifth book this week. Go me! :)

So for today's #3TT I thought I would share three books that have really inspired me over the past few months.


One: What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey


This book was recommended by Aileen from Lavendaire. I am so glad she introduced me to this book because it's so simple yet so inspiring. I listened to it on my Audible app and I have to say hearing Oprah read this book gives it a totally different feel versus if I had read it on my own. She has such a great way of telling stories. This book is sort of like a glimpse into her journal where she shares stories that have all taught her something that she now knows for sure. It's great advice that's not so much in your face, but just honest. I learned so much about myself from listening to this book. I've actually listened to certain parts of it multiple times now and every time it has lifted my spirit, inspired, and motivated me to be the best version of myself.


Two: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown


I picked this book up on a whim. At first it I thought that the book would be about buying less material items, but after listening to a short excerpt I realized this book was about much more than that. Greg McKeown talks about how in order to be the best in whatever we are trying to achieve and be great contributors to the world, we first need to decipher the essential from the non-essential. We live in a world where we are programmed to think that the more we do, the more successful we will be. But Greg goes on to explain how that's actually counter intuitive. He shares true stories of various highly successful people to explain how by doing less actually enabled them to achieve their goals and become so successful.

This book has already had a great impact on my life after just a few weeks of finishing it. It has made me ask myself, on multiple occasions throughout the day, what is important to me? And what is essential in order for me to accomplish this? It's not only helped me in my professional life, but also has had great impact on my personal life.


Three: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin 


Although I've mentioned this book in a previous post, I just had to include it here. I can't recall where I first heard about this book or why I was drawn to pick it up and determined to finish it on our trip, but I'm so glad I did. In this book, I saw a lot of similarities between Gretchen and I. She takes us through her methodical approach towards her Happiness Project. Each month she tackles a set of resolutions that helps her understand that there are many different layers and forms of happiness. This book made realize that although I thought that happiness was just something that should come naturally, it's also something that we have to consciously be aware of and sometimes have to work at. And that's ok! There is something positive that happens every day in my life, no matter how rough the day may be, and I need to make a conscious decision to focus on those positive moments. I believe that over time, doing so becomes natural and that's when happiness seems effortless.


I'm sure you can tell there has been a common theme among the types of books I've been reading/listening to. I tend to gravitate towards books on self-growth and self-improvement. This month, all three of these books (plus a few fellow bloggers) have inspired me to start a gratitude journal. I have already seen how taking 5 minutes at the end of each day to be thankful has had a positive impact in my life. [More on this later].

This month, I'm trying to decide between two completely different books: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari or I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. Although I've heard great things about how inspiring Malala's book is, I'm leaning more towards Aziz Ansari based on my current mood. Have you read either of these books? I'd love to hear about some of your favorites. #3TT is a great way to share anything and everything that's on currently on your mind. So be sure to check out SalmaRaj, or Nisha's blogs to find out more about how you can join the link-up.


What are you reading/listening to currently?




Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Rainy Day Flats

Rainy Day Outfits


I know booties are what's on everyone's mind this time of the year, but before it gets freezing cold... it typically starts to rain here in Texas.

I have a good 5-10 minute walk to my work from where I park my car. On rainy days those 10 minutes walking can be quiet dreadful. I've had a handful of miserable rainy days where I've stepped into a puddle of water and had to walk around in wet ballet flats all day. I've been the lookout for cute rain shoes for sometime now.  Although I love the look of Hunter boots, its not quiet practical for me to wear them at my place of work, neither am I willing to carry an extra pair of shoes with me to switch into once I get to work. So, when I saw these Chooka Rain Flats on sale, I thought that they would be a perfect option for me.

I really liked that these flats are neutral enough to go with most work outfits, yet still fun with the polkadots. The shoes seemed to be really great quality, but unfortunately I sized up and so  the ones I ordered were a little big for me. By the time I went to exchange them my size was sold out, but I found them online for full price at Zappos and other on-line retailers. I'm keeping these on my radar and hoping that they will on sale again soon (fingers crossed). If you're on a lookout for some rain flats these are a great option.


What are your go-to shoes on rainy day?


Monday, October 12, 2015

A Prefect Weekend

I was literally in heaven the past few days. My mom, dad, grandmother, and cousin sister came for a visit and we had such a great time with them. 

I am so thankful that the weather was absolutely perfect every single day they were here! I am also thankful that my grandmother was in high spirits and healthy during her entire stay. We have a lot of stairs in our townhouse and I was very worried about her. To all of our surprise, she slowly climbed the stairs at least twice a day and had no issues at all. 


We enjoyed a beautiful walk around our neighborhood park, explored the Perot museum, and enjoyed yummy panner tacos at our favorite taco joint - Velvet Taco. On Saturday, my mom taught me an eggplant recipe, which she learned from my grandmother very early into her marriage. It was pretty cool learning something that was being passed down from my grandmother. The dish was so delicious, it was gone before we knew it! Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to take pictures, but I plan on recreating it soon.



On their last day, we of course did a bit of outlet shopping and I scored the perfect cargo vest I have been on a hunt for. Since the weather was a bit cooler, I couldn't wait to wear it. 


We also visited the Hanuman Temple, enjoyed some chaat for lunch, and hung out at my sister-in-law's place playing with baby Anand on Sunday.

It was so good to have them all here this weekend. It felt like we did so much, but we also had plenty of downtime just enjoying each other's company. I know it maybe difficult for my grandmother to come back again for another visit, but I'm glad that she so strong and determined to make this trip at least once. I couldn't have asked for a better weekend. 


How was your weekend?

Monday, October 5, 2015

A Different Type of Chaat

My mother-in-law has been in town for a couple of months now to help with baby Anand. A huge side perk for all of us is that we get delicious home-made food on a daily basis. Every time we go over to my sister-in-law's place to visit baby Anand, we leave with bags full of yumminess.

I was first introduced to khasta kachori chaat when I was visiting Chirag's parents very early into our relationship. I love all types of chaats (Indian street food) - pani puri, dhai puri, bhel, etc. I had eaten round spicy kachoris before, but what was khasta kachori chaat? The fact that it ended is chaat, already told me that I was going to love whatever this dish was.

Khasta kachori is a spicy, flaky, puff pastry, which originated in Rajasthan. It's a perfect snack compliment to an afternoon tea, but I like it best when the kachori is made into a chaat (Indian street food). The kachoris are stuffed with a flavorful mixture of fennel seeds, sesame seeds, spices and chickpea flour. Once fired, the kachoris puff up, get golden brown and slightly crispy. I always thought that making these kachoris was very complicated, but this weekend my mother-in-law showed me just how simple it was. 

Like most Indian mom's, when I asked about the proportions of the ingredients for the recipe, I got a reply back like "a fist full of dough, a little of spices, and a few tablespoons of oil". So, I tried my best to make a note of exactly how much of ingredient we used during the learning process. Here is the recipe - plus or minus a teaspoonful.

mom-in-law supervising me carefully :)

Dough:

1 cup all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup wheat flour
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
4 tablespoons of oil
1/2 cup warm water

Mix all the dry ingredients together first. Then add the oil and start kneading the dough. Slowly start adding the water and continue to knead the dough. It will be slightly sticky. The dough should be slightly tougher then what you use to make roti (chapattis). Once you're done, roll up the dough in a ball, cover it and set it aside.


Filling:

1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1 - 1 1/2 teaspoon of red chili powder
3 teaspoon of cumin and coriander powder mixture (dhana-jeeru)
1/2 teaspoon of garam masala
1 teaspoon of fennel and sesame mixture - coarsely ground
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon of oil

Heat oil in a small skillet and add chick pea flour. Cook the flour in the oil over low heat until the flour is lightly cooked and golden brown. Turn off the heat and mix the remaining ingredients. 

Kachori:

Take some dough, about the size of your palm and roll it into a ball. Then using a rolling pin roll out the dough into a small tortilla. Add about 3/4 teaspoon of the fill mixture and place it in the middle of the tortilla. Fold the dough over and seal all the edges. Continue to fold the dough and roll it back into a ball. This part was a little tricky for me at first as the seal kept opening up. Just be patient and very gentle. Once again use the rolling pin to gently roll out the dough into a tortilla. Keep it slightly thick so that the filling is sealed inside. Next, heat some oil on medium high heat to start frying. Use the back of the spatula to slowly press on the tortillas to help them puff up. Turn two to three time until it's lightly golden brown on both sides. Strain off the excess oil and lay out the kachoris on paper towel to soak up the extra oil. 


Khasta Kachori Chaat:

Now comes the fun part! Once the kachoris have cooled off, peel the top layer off to expose the filling and create a little vessel for you to add all the toppings for the chaat. You can add or subtract as many ingredients as you want to customize your chaat. I like mine with boil potatoes cut into small pieces, red onions, tomatoes, sautéed rice puffs, and crispy sev. An Indian chaat would not be complete without a spicy coriander chutney and the sweet tamarind chutney. I also like to make some sweet yogurt sauce by mixing regular yogurt with a bit of sugar and water to drill it right on top.


This khasta kachori chaat is bursting with all kinds types of flavors and textures. It's a satisfying, yet refreshing chaat... perfect for lunch, dinner, or a snack anytime of the day. 


What's your favorite Indian chaat?

Friday, October 2, 2015

{Rewind} September 2015

Another month down! I can feel Fall just waiting to make it's big debut as it has been cooling down a tiny bit in Dallas this week. I always tell my family and friends that October is the best time to visit us here. The temperatures drop just enough to enjoy a light breeze and still look up at sunny skies.
But before I get too excited about October and say so long to September, I wanted to take some time to reflect on what a great month it's been.


September is marked by both my grand father's birthdays. Although my Bapuji (Dad's father) is no longer with us, I think it brought my grand mother lots of joy to get phone calls from all her grandkids to remember him on his birthday. We all miss him dearly. My Nana (Mom's father) celebrated his birthday the following week. Although he is millions of miles away, I'm so grateful for the technology we have these days that allowed us to video chat with him and feel like we were a part of his birthday celebration in India. 

We also started the month of with an amazing sushi party hosted by our friends Munira and Ali. Munira, who is a self taught sushi chef, made over 28 rolls for everyone all by herself! They not only looked, but tasted absolutely delicious. She even went on to make her own veggie version of the volcano roll. I could have seriously eaten them all myself!


Speaking of delicious food, thanks to my mother-in-law, I was able to check off having a Pani-Puri Party off my Summer Bucket List! I love having pani puri parties pretty much any time of the year, but especially in the summer. The water is always so refreshing in the heat and you don't realize how stuffed you are until you're about 20-30 puris down... or is that just me? The yogurt version, called Dhai Puri, is equally delicious. Trying to choose between the two is almost impossible!


This year Ganesh Chaturthi fell on the same day as our little nephew, Ananda's 1 month birthday. So we headed to a local temple where they had a huge statue of Ganesh with tons of people singing loudly - "Ganpati Bapa Morya!" Growing up in a very small town, where the Indian community was pretty much non-existent, I rarely got a chance to celebrate religious holidays like these. I'm really grateful to now be living in a city that gives me such privileges. However, I don't take nearly as much advantage of opportunities like this as I should. Point noted.

Going back to all the yummy food we ate in September, we also tried out a brand new restaurant here in Addison, called Ida Claire, with our friends K&V. It's new concept restaurant and the menu is quiet unique. Although I was a bit disappointed in the lack of veggie options, I have to say, their side dishes were quiet de-lish!  They also have this hippy bus on their back porch that you can reserve for an intimate private party. The cheerful bus was just screaming for Kruti and I to get our picture taken in it. 


We ended the month celebrating #NationalPancakeDay on Saturday and doing a bit of home updates. I finally decided on these white curtains from JCPenny for our living room and found the grey rug we were hunting for over a year at Home Goods. Although I'm a little worried about all the grey on grey in the living room now, I think I have a plan to break it up and make it work. I hope. Chirag took some precious time away from watching the Tennessee game to set everything up this weekend. I think bribing him with the pancakes might have helped. ;)

October is going to be filled with visitors - friends and family. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone, but I'm most excited to have my grandmother visit our home for the very first time! I'm decided that October is going to be less about working and more about spending time with the people who matter the most to me. 


What were some of the highlights for you this month?

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Veggie Inspired Baked Goodness

Ever since I read this post on Parita's blog at the beginning of this month, I have been telling myself that I need to make this!

So, after writing the Confessions to Self post, I decided to follow through on my intentions.  I craved out some time for myself Monday evening to relax and make Parita's Famous Chocolate Chip Zucchini Banana Bread

When I started to gather all the ingredients for the recipe, I realized I had a slight problem. You see, the only thing I had picked up from the grocery store was merely one zucchini. I figured we always have bananas on hand and I pretty much forgot to read the recipe for rest of the ingredients. 

I was determined not to let this stop me from following through. I started going down the list of healthy ingredients and ended up having to make several swaps. For example,

-all purpose flour instead of white whole wheat flour
-regular sugar instead of raw cane sugar
-olive oil instead of coconut oil
-pistachios instead of walnuts

**Sorry, this photo does not do this bread justice**

Almonds would have been my first choice to substitute for the walnuts, but this time my reasoning was quiet simple... zucchini is green and pistachios are kinda green. I told myself, I think that'll work! I tend to over think a little too much and worry about every little detail. I tired to remind myself to keep it simple and easy, and just enjoy the process of doing something I loved to do. It was actually quiet therapeutic. 

Since I still wanted a bit of that woodsiness from walnuts in my bread, I decided to use a trick I learned from my sister-in-law. She always adds a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg when making bread, pancakes or waffles, so I decided to do just that. I have never incorporated any veggies into baked goods before, but let me tell you... After trying this bread I am a changed woman! 

This bread was so soft and moist. It wasn't overly sweet like some banana breads I've made previously, but still enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. You can barely taste the zucchini in the bread, but when I really savored the bite, it's actually quiet refreshing to realize what's in it. 

This bread has inspired me to try more recipes incorporating veggies to make healthier versions of my favorite baked goods. For example, my husband is a huge fan of red velvet cake and I've read about using beets to make a healthier version. I was too skeptical to try it before, but not anymore!

This is what I love about the blogosphere! Connecting with amazing people, like Parita, and being inspired to try something new. Although my version is probably not quiet as healthy as Parita's, I'm still so happy that I followed through on my intentions and have been introduced to this new world of baking. Her blog is full of many more delicious and healthy recipes like this one, plus great tips and ideas about personal growth. Be sure to check out her blog, My Inner Shakti and give this bread a try... I promise, you won't be disappointed!



Have you tried a veggie inspired baked goodness?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Three Things Thursday: My DVR Line-Up

Here we are again... almost at the end of another week! I really can't believe how fast this month is just flying by.

Unless you've been living without a tv for the past few weeks, you know that this week is all about the season premieres for some of our favorite TV shows for the Fall.

So for this week's #3TT, I thought I'd share the top three shows I will be watching. Just FYI: I tend to stick with what I know... so these aren't the newest shows this season, but I know these are a few from my tried and tested bunch.

Let's set the DVR, shall we?


One: Modern Family

This one has almost become a classic show for me. It's like Friends from back in the end... I can pretty much watch each and every episode over and over again and not be bored. Just like Friends, it's also very hard for me to pick my favorite character... Chandler or Ross? I may have to go with Phil or Cam here... but it's just too hard to decide! This season I can't wait to see what happens with Haley and Andy. I call him mini-Phil. Each and every character is so unique and I love that the show always demonstrates that it's ok (if not great) to be different. It screams, be different and own your true self!



Two: Scandal

I'll be honest, I didn't watch this show when it first started and didn't think I could get into it. But after watching one of the very first episodes one evening, I was totally hooked... Chirag and I pretty much binged watched all the episodes on the weekends and last Fall it was so hard to wait a whole week for the new episodes. Towards the end of last season, when I wasn't sure I'd be interested in the show anymore, Shonda Rhimes pulled me in again. I think this season is going to be filled with unexpected surprises! 




Three: Big Bang Theory

So, I know I'm late to this party... as I always am, but I've been watching old re-runs of this show lately and I think it's really funny. Sometimes, you just don't have a whole hour to devote to watching a show. I haven't caught up with all the episodes yet, but I'm still looking forward to the newer ones coming up. I love how my nerdy, star trek-y side can totally relate to this show. But honestly, it's a great show for anyone to watch. I'm slowly seeing Chirag get into the show too. He is anything but scientific! 



Three + 1: Game of Thrones

What can I say? I'm a rebel at heart, but I just couldn't leave Game of Thrones out. Does this one even need an explanation? Peter Dinklage is seriously one of my favorites and I was so excited to see him win his second Emmy this week!


I really wish I had the time to watch so many other great shows I've been hearing about. How to Get Away with Murder is definitely on my list and I'd love to read about some of your favorites. So be sure to check out SalmaRaj, or Nisha's blogs to find out more about how you can link-up and share your top Threes (or Three + 1) this Thursday. ;)


What show will you be seeing your DVR to record?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Confessions To Self

As the title indicates this post is about a few confessions I need to make to myself regarding the past few weeks.


Part of the reason I started blogging was to hold myself accountable and lately I haven't doing such a good job. 

1. I have not gone to sleep before 11pm on any given day in the past month.
2. I have not been my own happy and turned to my husband to make me feel better.
3. I have not gone on a run in the past two weeks... or worked out for that matter.
4. I have not been patient or understanding this past week.
5. I have not counted my blessings recently.

What have I been doing? Working and worrying... a lot! I do love my job very much, but sometimes I  put added pressure on myself to constantly push myself.  Although it does make me feel quiet accomplished at the end of the day, I also start to feel very worn out and obviously there are trade offs I have to make in other parts of my life.

I am also a notorious worrier. I tend to worry about problem even before it occurs. It's my type A personality and need for always have a plan B. I not only stress myself out, but also those around me... or more precisely, the person who spends the most amount of time around me, my husband. In turn, this puts a strain on our day to day relationship.

Pretty much every single point above has bee due a trade off I have made in the past few weeks. I have made excuses for why I need to stay up to finish one more project or why I have let my emotions overwhelmed me instead of staying calm and patient. Majority of my worrier has also been due to the fact that I have failed to appreciate the positive in any given situation. I have failed to give gratitude and count my many blessings.

My hope in writing this post, is to confess these shortcomings to myself and to grow from here. For example, I did go for a jog this morning and I'm already in bed ready to turn off the lights as soon as the clock strikes 11!

Just like everyone else, I'm a work in progress and I'm getting there.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Desert Pizza

Recently, Chirag and I were invited to our neighbors', Shri & VJ's, place for some home-made pizza and drinks. We love hanging out with them because both of them are probably the most relaxed and practical couple I have ever met.

Shri made an amazing Indian-style pizza on naan with fresh home-made paneer (cheese) for me and with chicken for the everyone else. The paneer was honestly the best I had ever tasted. It was so fresh and looked almost like mozzarella balls on the pizza. The sauce for the pizza is similar to butter paneer masala dish by Vahcef. My mouth is watering just thinking about it as I type.



To stick with the home-made pizza theme for the night, I decided to whip up my quick fruit pizza for desert. There are several recipes online with slight variations. Here is my super quick and easy version.


Ingredients:

1/2 roll of Pillsbury Sugar Cookie dough
4 oz of Philadelphia Cream Cheese Spread (original)
2 TBSP of sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extra
fruit of your choice

I just roll out a thin layer of the sugar cookie dough on a round sheet pan. Keep the layer fairly thin otherwise it will be too thick for your pizza. Depending on the size of your pan you may need more or less cookie dough. I bake it as per the instructions (approximately 15 minutes) and then let it cool at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Do not move on to the next step before your cookie has completely cooled down. Or else the cheese cream will just melt and you'll end up with a soggy pizza! I learned this lesson the hard way. :( Sometimes, I find it helps to stick it in the fridge for a few minutes after it is at room temperature.

Next, whisk the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract together. The cream cheese will become slightly thinner and easier to work with. I do a quick taste test here. Add more sugar or vanilla to suit your taste. I find that adding more vanilla compensates for using less sugar. Then spread the cream cheese over the big sugar cookie.

Finally, pile on the fruit of your choice. You can stop here or if you want to add another layer of flavor add an orange glaze on top. This is especially helpful when using bananas because the acid from the o.j. helps keep the bananas from browning.

For the Glaze:
1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/2 tsp of lemon juice
2 TSP sugar
1 TSP corn starch

Bring the orange juice, lemon juice, and sugar to a shimmer in a small pot. Next, mix the corn starch in a little bit of orange juice in a small bowl first before adding it to the o.j. on the stove. This helps prevent the corn starch from clumping up when added to the warm juice. Bring it all to a low boil for a few minutes and then turn off the stove. The sauce will slowly start to thicken as it cools. Adjust the sugar to your taste. Let it cool for about 10-15 minutes. Brush the glaze over the fruit and you're ready to eat!

I typically prefer to use fresh bananas, strawberries, and kiwi for this fruit pizza. Unfortunately, the strawberries had gone bad in the fridge so I had to improvise. I just used a can of mandarin orange and bananas at first, but it was missing something. I sent my mom and quick text and she came up with the idea of using maraschino cherries that I had in the fridge. Mom's always come to the rescue, don't they? Now, it was perfect and tasted delicious!


Have you had pizza for desert before?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Floral Skirt

The Floral Skirt




When I saw this floral skirt, I knew that I was attracted to the print right away. It has some of my favorite colors. When I started to play with how I would pair this skirt, I'm drawn to it even more! However, I have few reservations: the cost (although it's 50% off currently), the fit (cotton + spandex, doesn't always work well for my figure), and the shipping/returning. The closest J.Crew Factory store a little out of the way for me and I don't make it there quiet often. 

Although I haven't made up my mind about this skirt completely, I thought I'd still share some of the outfit ideas I came up with. I'm glad I experimented with tops that were anything but bright pink, which is what I would have gone to first. I love how all three looks turned out. The stripped sweater top is way outside of my comfort zone and inspired by this dress worn by Cassie. Ironically, it's also my favorite look. 

I hope I get a chance to try this skirt out in person. If you've been on a hunt for a floral skirt, I think this might be a great one to try, especially with the current sale. Happy (early) Labor Day! :)

LinkUp: #HowISummer


What are you eyeing this Labor Day?

Saturday, September 5, 2015

{Rewind} August 2015

August was a month all about family and friends! At the beginning of the month, we had an early celebration for Chirag's 30th. birthday and took a trip to Georgia to see my entire family.  This also gave us an opportunity to celebrate Raksha Bandhan together. My mom doesn't get to see her brother  very often since he lives abroad, so it was a little extra special that she got a chance to personally tie the rakhi on my uncle's wrist this year. We also saw my grand mother, our old friends with their growing families, and visited my sister in her brand new place. The morning of our flight back, we got the call we had all been so anxiously waiting for... it was time!! And thankfully, we made it back just in time for the arrival of our cute little nephew, Anand.


Having this little guy in our lives has changed us all so much! Anand means joy or happiness in Gujarati and this little guy has definitely brought so much joy in our lives. We are always eagerly awaiting to see him smile, burp, fart, or even cry.... anything and everything he does fills our hearts with joy. My in-laws also flew into town to spend time with the little guy and so it's been a great month to see both sets of parents.

Chirag and I always try to make time for our friends and family. Living so far away from them, it's not always easy, but I'm grateful for every chance I get to see them. It's also comforting to know that we are surrounded by some incredible people here, in Texas, as well. Seeing everyone at Chirag's surprise party really made us both feel so loved. Towards the end of the month we celebrated our friend, Omar's, graduation from a medical program. Plus, enjoyed a relaxing evening with some delicious tandoori paneer pizza at our neighbor's, Sri & VJ's. I also improvised and made my fruit pizza/tart for desert, which I will share here soon.... it was Radha's favorite, I think! ;)

Such an wonderful way to end the last month of Summer! Thank you, August! :)



Thursday, September 3, 2015

Three Things Thursday: Tech Edition

Hello, September! :) I don't really consider myself a Fall/Winter girl... I tend to gravitate more towards warmer weather, but this year I'm excited for Fall. I'm ready for a change. It's time pumpkin spiced lattes, layering up with cozy sweaters, and feasting around the dinner table with family and friends. I think every season is a great time to re-boot and freshen things up a bit...from my home, to my closet, and even my computer.

This #3ThingsThursday, I thought I would share some ideas to freshen up the technology in your life.




One: Re-format & Re-organize

I have had my Macbook Pro for over 7 years now. It was the first major purchase I made for myself after graduating pharmacy school. I absolutely love it. It has never once crashed on me and has severed me well. However, last year I did notice that it was starting to get a bit slower. So, I decided to back-up all my important files, purge my pictures, and get rid of any and all files or applications that I had never used. Then I totally re-formated my hard drive. 

It was a nice clean slate and my computer felt like new! It was running faster, smoother and I was able to stretch it out for another year. However, last week Chirag surprised me with my brand new Macbook Pro and I'm so excited. Right now there are some great deals for students looking for a new computer or laptop. I also recommend looking for coupons you can stack on to make the most of the savings available.


I already have a new game plan for organizing my files, pictures, etc. I also spent a few hours the first day and went through all my contacts. I deleted people I hadn't spoken to in years or couldn't even remember, merged additional profiles I had on the same person, and also added notes and categories for groups of people. For example, for my in-laws, I added notes like husband's/kid's names, addresses, and birthdays! Sneaky ways to impress the in-laws. ;) I also recommend making it a point to review your photos. I love taking pictures and just in the last 10 days I have a ridiculous number of pictures of my little nephew. So, I've been deleting duplicates and being very selective on keeping just a few. I also synced my google calendar, photos, and in-boxes. This way I can keep track of everything, no matter wether I was updating it on my phone or on my laptop. 

If you are not in the position to purchase a new laptop, I think re-formating and re-organizing your computer is a great idea for a fresh new start. 


Two: Mint

I can almost remember the day I was first introduced to Mint. It was like angles were singing in the background. It wasn't very well-known then and I was very nervous about entering all my information in one place. Since college, I have been very good about documenting my spending habits and keeping track of student loans, etc. I would do this by using an Excel file on my laptop, but it was a very tedious job and yes, I would get lazy and not always keep up with it like I should. That was until Mint. 



I absolutely love Mint. I like how you can set budgets for different categories, roll over your savings or spending, and have a safe place to track all your finances. Every quarter, I like to re-visit my budget categories and make adjustments for upcoming events (i.e. Christmas shopping). 

I would highly encourage any college student to start their school year using Mint. It's a great tool to learn and take charge of your finances as well as your future.  It's also a great way for couples to have everything tracked in one place so that both parties can be involved in their finances together. 

Tip: The best advice I can give when using any sort of on-line program like this is to keep your password complicated and change it frequently!


Three: Unroll.Me

Speaking of Christmas shopping... I'm sure many of us having our email boxes flooding with Labor Day sale notifications from our favorite stores. I use to get very overwhelmed with the amount of emails I would get from stores. There have been times in the past where I have unsubscribed from all of them, but only to resubscribe when I needed a coupon or needed to know when something on my wish list was coming on sale. 


Un-roll.me as totally solved my problem. I have been using it for a few weeks now and I think it's a genius service. It basically takes all your subscriptions and rolls them up in one easy to navigate newsletter.  You can choose the at the exact time you would like to receive your Rollup each day. When you're done you just have to one email to delete. It keeps my in-box looking clean! If I need to re-visit an email or newsletter I just log on to Unroll.me and search my archive for that email. It's so easy and convenient! 


Although I'm still burning up in this Dallas heat, I hope you're having a wonderfully cool Thursday where ever you are! Be sure to checkout SalmaRaj, or Nisha's for blogs to find out more about how you can link-up and share what's on your mind this Thursday.


What's your favorite tech tool or app?