My son recently started going to the big school. He was supposed to carry a Library Bag made of cloth or paper. I had this small Jute bag with me for many years now. It was one of those branded bags that companies use for marketing.
Now because of it’s size, I never got around to using it.This need for a Library bag for books gave me an opportunity to revamp this branded bag.
I was lucky to find another Jute bag at home which had also never been used because it was too big; and luckily, it had a pocket which could easily be taken off. It was in bright green color which perfectly matched my little cream colored jute bag.
I used patches of green Jute to cover the company names on both sides. I used Yellow thread to write ‘Books’ on one side and my son’s name on the other.
It was fun to make use of my embroidery skills after at least 20 years; and my little boy was thrilled and proud to show it off!
I’m gravitating more and more towards making things these days. More things will follow here soon.
You have a wardrobe full of clothes and yet you often feel that you don’t have anything to wear.
You have several pieces which do not have repeat value and are too expensive to give away.
You have several pieces which have been worn once or twice and sometimes never.
You have several pieces which looked good in store but not on you.
You have several pieces which don’t go with anything else in your wardrobe.
You spend too much time managing your huge collection of clothes, most of which you don’t even wear often.
And if you are okay with all these, this post is NOT for you.
But if it bothers you that there is something fundamentally wrong in how you are buying clothes, you need to ask yourself a few questions.
Do you know that 80 / 20 rule is actually true? Most of us wear only 20% of our clothes for 80% of the time. Then, why hoard so much?
I haven’t shopped for clothes for more than a year now. I have lost weight, been on vacations, attended weddings; and celebrated birthdays, anniversaries and festivals, without buying new clothes. Aren’t those always the excuses to shop?
The last time I bought clothes I spent several hours looking through a number of stores with a specific list in my hand and a few questions on my mind. It made me focus on what I really needed. It is important to ask these questions for mindful shopping and buying only those clothes which will add value to your wardrobe.
Do I absolutely love this? Am I so much in love with this that I can’t wait to wear it?
Am I buying this because the price is attractive? Never buy a piece only because it is cheap. You must absolutely love it. In fact, it is worth investing in a good piece which you can wear for years, rather than buying something on a huge discount which will just take your wardrobe space.
Will this go with other pieces in my wardrobe? I still have a trouser and a skirt which I otherwise love, but I could never find anything that would go perfectly with those.
Is the cloth durable? Or will it start losing color with every wash? It is disheartening to see something you love wither away within a couple of washes.
Does it fit you perfectly? Many times we buy something because it is looking good even if it isn’t in our size. We always plan that we will lose a bit of weight. Never happens.
Do I have enough opportunities to wear this? Last year, my husband got me a formal party dress which I liked but I knew I would never find any opportunity to wear it. I never go to parties, forget about any formal ones.
Is it in tune with my personal style? There’s nothing wrong in trying different kinds of clothes but admit it, you will always prefer certain styles over others. I always fancy buying skirts but I’m never very comfortable in those. I’m a jeans and shirt person. Period.
And finally, give it time. Don’t buy it immediately, mull over it. If you still feel the same way, by all means, go back and buy it.
These questions help me stay focused and avert any unmindful purchase, which I may regret later.
I had shared a white Pasta recipe in my other blog. My husband adapted the same recipe to make it healthier and less calorific. I was skeptical about the taste but we loved it so much that we make it at least once a week.
FOR COOKING PASTA:
Pasta: 1 cup (we used the one made of durum wheat suji)
Oil: 1/2 tsp
Salt: To Taste
Put water to boil in a container (enough to soak the pasta and more). Add some salt and ½ tsp oil. The oil will avoid Pasta from sticking. When the water starts boiling, add Pasta to it. Cook the Pasta till it is soft but firm. Drain the hot water, and immediately add cold water to it. Remove the cooked Pasta from the water. Put it aside.
PREPARING THE VEGETABLES:
Olive oil: 1 tsp (only enough to cook the garlic)
Garlic: 1 tbsp (finely chopped)
Broccoli, Yellow Pepper, Mushroom, Basil: 1 and 1/2 cup
Note – You may use any combination of vegetables as per your choice and may increase or decrease the quantity according to how you like your Pasta. I like it with a lot of veggies. We also use Red Pepper often.
Pepper powder: To taste
Salt: To taste
Oregano: To taste
Heat oil in a pan. Add garlic and sauté till golden. Then add all vegetables. Cook uncovered for a while but do not overcook. Let the vegetables have a little crunchiness. Add salt, pepper powder and oregano to taste.
Note – You could totally avoid this step by just half boiling the vegetables, and using it as it is in making Pasta.
PREPARATION OF PASTA:
Whole wheat flour (Aata): 1/3 cup
Milk: 2 cups (boiled and cooled)
Salt: To taste
Pepper powder: To taste
Oregano: To taste
roasting the whole wheat flour
the roasted flour
after adding milk to the flour
Put Whole wheat flour in a pan and roast it till it is slightly brownish. Add 1/2 cup of milk and stir continuously to prevent formation of lumps. When it starts thickening, add the remaining milk gradually, stirring continuously with the whisk. When it thickens, add the boiled Pasta from Step A and Vegetables from Step B.
Mix the whole thing well; add salt, pepper powder and oregano to taste.
This recipe completely avoids cheese, cornflour, butter; and minimizes the use of oil. I add a bit of cheese sometimes, especially when I’m giving it to my 5 year old.
Don’t believe in shortcuts: If you want to lose weight and keep it off for good, never go for crash diets or slimming capsules kind of things. When it comes to weight loss, there is no gain without pain!
Exercise: Though weight loss is 80% diet, physical activity of any kind is absolutely essential to improve your metabolism, tone up and maintain your weight. There are so many things one can choose from, you don’t necessarily need to go to a gym. You can walk, run, cycle, swim, or choose from a wide array of exercise options. And most importantly, just because you exercise does not mean that you can eat everything unless you have everything measured to last calorie – in loss and gain.
Don’t do this alone: Try to get other people in your family into your weight loss or fitness journey. Any diet plan or exercise routine has more chances of success if someone else is doing it with you.
Change the way you cook / eat: There are several small changes in your daily food habits which can have significant impact on overall weight loss like cook your daily food in less oil, boil your rice the conventional way and strain the starchy water, etc.
Avoid eating out: As much as possible avoid eating out because as long as we eat at home, we eat less and eat healthy but whenever we eat out or go to a party, everything goes for a toss.
No oily / fried food and sweets: In the beginning, completely stop eating fried food and sweets (including those with jaggery and honey). You can certainly have these things once in a while once you have reached your target weight.
Eat complex carbohydrates: Eat more of complex carbohydrates because they take longer to digest and therefore make you feel full for a longer duration of time. Examples of complex carbohydrate food are wheat roti, rava upma, idli, boiled potatoes, etc.
Eat in small portions: Gradually reduce quantity of food that you eat. If you were eating 3 rotis, reduce to 2 and then to 1. Have more of pulses, vegetables and salad. Replace your plate with a smaller one. It helps.
Snack healthy: Usually the main meals are sorted and healthy, we all falter in our in-between meals. That’s the time we end up eating junk food. So always keep healthy snacks ready like roasted peanuts, roasted chickpeas, sprouts, murmure bhel, nutri biscuits, etc.
Say No often: When you are eating with other people, be open to say ‘No’ firmly. Indians are famous for forcing each other to eat more. Don’t eat out of compulsion, you will feel bad anyways by overeating.
Eat frequently: It is now a common knowledge that we should eat every two hours, so that our blood sugar is normal at all times. We are never too much hungry and neither does the body store too much fat.
Avoid tea-coffee or minimize quantity: Tea and Coffee are the biggest source of sugar on daily basis. So, the best thing is to remove sugar from your tea and coffee, and next best thing would be to quit them completely or atleast minimize because let’s admit they are bad for health. People who know me are surprised that I have quit tea and I drink only a half cup of filter coffee now. That’s it.
Make meal plan: Making weekly meal plan is an excellent way to be prepared for the week ahead. If you know what exactly you are going to eat and when, you will be prepared and everything will be ready. When we are fire fighting from meal to meal, there are high chances of eating junk food or eating outside food.
Write down everything that you eat: It helps to write down every single thing that you are eating, even 1 cashewnut. You can download a calorie counting App. Such Apps keep you informed about how many calories you are eating and I can tell you, I was scared to eat even one cashewnut or 2 dates because I knew they were too many calories. Once you get an idea about the calories, you can plan your food accordingly.
Have cheat days: And of course, eat something fried, something sweet once in a while or you will completely quit following any sort of diet plan. But eat wisely. If you are having a sweet, eat one and on its own; not as a dessert after lunch or dinner. Eat how celebrities eat. They take tiny bites and savour it slowly.
And if you haven’t read it already, read Rujuta Diwekar’s Don’t Lose your Mind, Lose your Weight.’ If you are going to read only one book on food and nutrition, this has to be it because it talks about Indian and local food. The biggest point is that she never asks you to give up anything, she just gives you pointers on how to eat your food wisely and still lose weight.
While my parents started school with Class 1, my brother and I did two years prior to that with LKG or Lower / Junior Kindergarten. My son started with Playschool at 2.5 years of age. He was already reading his books at the age I started learning alphabets!
In retrospect, it was a mistake. I should have waited some more. Enough research floats on the internet that proves when it comes to formal education, the earlier is not the better.
I admire people who homeschool or unschool. In fact, I’m in awe of them. But in my child’s current circumstances – that he is an only child and that he has a socially awkward mother – I believe he needs the social experience and exposure that a school provides.
Now, what is a good school? Are their 100% results or world-class infrastructure or focus on making every child an all-rounder make them good? It depends upon your own expectations from the school. Are you expecting the school to do everything for you? Personally, I see school as a place which complements learning that happens at home and in the outside world.
You cannot stop learning. It happens all the time; unless we create an environment that doesn’t give time and space to the child to pursue his curiosities and instead expects him to know a whole lot of other things. When learning becomes a chore, it puts off the child.
My expectation from the school is to create a stress-free environment for learning, to stop hurrying up, to focus on fundamentals and not encourage rote learning just to ‘know’ a lot of things, to not give so much importance to home works, to let them be free to pursue their interests, to encourage responsibility and independence, to be fearless to question authority, to nurture individuality over uniformity, to nurture their unique talents.
I’m willing to take risks. I’m willing to give alternate schools a chance. I was clear I don’t want the conventional schooling for my son, and I don’t think alternate schools are for slow learners. I listened to a lot of other parents. Many dream of a different kind of schooling for their kids but when it comes to taking decisions everyone gets afraid of going against the tide. Why are we so afraid? Why don’t we have confidence in our kids? Kids are exceptional learners. If a school teaches them numbers till 100, what will stop them from learning beyond?
Which Board is the best? Which schools have classes till Grade 10 and 12? What will my child pursue when he grows up? Those are least of my concerns right now. My priority right now is to encourage him to learn and be curious like he has always been. It will be a nightmare for me to make him sit down and ‘study’ because we have never done that, and have no intentions of doing that. Home works are also his responsibilities; I neither volunteer nor get involved in those.
We can keep dreaming about the change in education system but if we don’t take some necessary steps ourselves, things will never change.
I used to suffer from sore throat all the time. Always the change in weather would be blamed but the real issue was low immunity. I decided to do something about it, and incorporated some lifestyle changes which helped in my recurring sore throat issues and improving my immunity in general.
Here are 8 tips to combat sore throat issues:
Switch to regular tap water showers (all seasons, throughout the year): I am the sort of person who wears sweaters and uses blankets 70% of the year and yet I take regular tap water showers; even during winters, even when I am unwell. I have been doing this for last 3 years now. Bathing with regular tap water makes you less susceptible to cold. As soon as you have taken bath, the body quickly warms up to the normal temperature. This is supposed to burn fat too (though I wouldn’t give it that much weightage).
Start your day with a glass of lukewarm water with honey and lemon: I don’t know if lemon-honey-water is actually the magical concoction that helps you burn fat but it certainly works wonders in keeping cough, cold and sore throat at bay. I have been drinking this first thing in the morning for over 2 years now, and found it useful.
Add Exercise to your routine: Regular Exercise has 2 major benefits: improving immunity and improving metabolism. So, walk, run, cycle, swim, do yoga, do body weight exercises or Zumba; there are several options to choose from even if you cannot go to a gym.
Seek natural / alternative cure: I have been consciously moving towards natural or homemade things as the first preference for everything. For example, I never use any face wash or anti-aging cream. I always use the home-made face packs whenever I can and use Almond oil to massage my face. Similarly, as soon as I feel the onset of sore throat, I immediately start Sitopaladi (easily available in medical stores in India), which is an Ayurvedic medicine; and also start homeopathy medicine. I avoid taking antibiotics as much as possible. With a young child around, I aim for faster recovery in a healthier way. Of course, there are times when you don’t have any option but to go for allopathic medicines.
If you get sore throat:
Immediately start saline water gargles several times a day.
Drink lukewarm water throughout the day.
Take fresh ginger extracts mixed with honey. You may also add lemon drops to it.
Drink Turmeric Milk. Turmeric naturally kills germs and warms up the body which helps in faster recovery.
It is not that I never get throat infection now but the frequency is far less and recovery is faster.
I recently lost 2 years in pictures. I don’t even have the heart to recall what all I have lost. I was unable to manage the overwhelming amount of pictures. My entire laptop space was of pictures (talk about digital clutter!). Most of those were of my son, doing all sorts of things, on all sorts of occasions. I have lost all those pictures. Now, I have nothing. In a way, I lost part of my son’s childhood, which I do not have precise memory of because I was too busy clicking the perfect shots.
My first reaction was of denial. I thought we will be able to recover it but recovery is very, very expensive. I decided to let go. What really came out of clicking insane number of pictures! I could have ‘lived’ those moments better, not interfering with the natural flow of things by taking out camera to click those moments.
It is akin to the habit of taking notes during lectures. When you are caught up in documenting every single thing that the lecturer is saying, you postpone understanding. You think you can always understand it later. But that’s a huge mistake.
And how can I not mention our wedding, or any wedding for that matter. The whole occasion is a massive photo opportunity, clicking so-called ‘candid’ moments. Why? Because you will have those pictures all your lives to relive those moments! All I remember of my wedding is the photography. I remember nothing else. I do remember the time when I was leaving for my in-laws’ place because at that time nobody was bothering me for pictures neither was I thinking about pictures. I was in the moment, feeling the emotional turmoil of how things were going to change forever.
In capturing every small thing in pictures, I was thinking I was keeping perfect memories. But if I go by this research, I have been wrong all along. It says “When people rely on technology to remember for them – counting on the camera to record the event and thus not needing to attend to it fully themselves – it can have a negative impact on how well they remember their experiences.”
Honestly, you don’t require any research to understand that when you are just happy in the moment, not bothering about whether you are clicking perfect pictures of those happy moments; you cherish the times more.
Last year, we spent an afternoon chasing butterflies and finding ladybugs. We never bothered to click pictures. And I still remember how wonderful that time was.
So, it makes sense to take fewer pictures. Experience the moments. Capture the beauty of lovely sunrises through your eyes. Feel the thrill of your child’s gestures through your heart. Definitely take some pictures, but not 30 shots of the same frame because it never gets pared down. It just becomes a monstrous data which you just cannot backup. Ask me!