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 :)


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.


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. 


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?