A Minimalist Diwali of 2017

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Pic 1 (from left): Flickriver

Remember my DIY, Minimalist Diwali of 2016? Well, Diwali of 2017 was no different; only happier, calmer and more fabulous.

When I met people before Diwali, they asked me if I had finished my Diwali shopping? I said “What shopping?” I can’t tell you how liberating that was. It’s the same feeling when people ask me what gift I bought or got for Birthdays or Anniversaries. I say “What gift? We don’t do gifts any more.”

The day I learned that we need not buy things to make ourselves happy, was the turning point of my life.

Pursuit of simple things in life and Minimalism have enriched our lives immensely. We no longer worry about what to buy before every festival or celebrations.

Since last year we decided that any celebration was not worthwhile if that comes with a lot of stress. Celebrations should be about love and togetherness; and not buying stuff to mark the celebrations. Happiness is within, remember? So, we stopped being crazy about things, we started finding value in having fun.

Things which were perfect this year:

  • Starting the preparations early. This helped us to relax on the day of Diwali (even though I was out of town for 10 days immediately before Diwali). I remember during all my earlier Diwalis, I used to be cleaning or doing something till the time we would be rushing to do Pooja, only to end the day in whirlwind without truly enjoying anything. Not any more.
  • Using tiny twinkling lights around the house. They look so lovely. It’s over a month since Diwali but I still switch them on once in a while to perk up my mood. They look so festive. We didn’t buy any, we just used what we already had.
  • Not buying new clothes. No clothes were bought for both the boys; and for me, I pulled out a really old (but seldom used) lehenga (skirt) and reinvented it by getting a new blouse stitched. Moreover that blouse can be worn with a saree, a skirt and even jeans!
  • No lights were purchased, no rangoli powder was purchased, only bought flowers for decoration. No crackers were purchased.
  • All the sweets etc were prepared at home because it is healthy and reminiscent of our own childhood.
  • We bought a small stainless steel container for Dhanteras and only because it was needed. [I need to do a post on my kitchen. I have removed all the non-stick and almost all aluminium cookwares. We use metals, glass or wood as much as possible. There’re still some plastic containers which are getting used till their life cycle. I have completely stopped getting any new plastic, non stick wares into my kitchen. ]

Learnings from this year:

  • I can stop buying the clay idols and use the silver ones that I already have.
  • We bought a very small quantity of sweets for Pooja (worshipping) because whatever was getting prepared at home was also simultaneously being eaten. But I know this can be managed. We can completely stop buying any kind of sweets because adulteration is rampant during festivals owing to the demand.
  • I would like to be more organized and focused during cleaning so that I can actually clear off things. Otherwise they just pile up on another corner to be given away later since we are caught up in so many things simultaneously.

I look around and find people doing so much. It’s inspiring. There’s still so much to learn and adopt but we have certainly come a long way. What inspires me in this journey is how it makes us better people.

 

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Happy 10th Anniversary

 

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10 Years!

We have come a long way, buddy!

When I met you, in 2003, 14 years back, I didn’t know we were meant to be together.

It was just the other day, I was driving you crazy and running pillar to post to find matching jewellery and footwear for my trousseau. I find it infinitely funny now. Ostentatious weddings are sheer waste of money. (Here’s my free advice to anyone who cares to pay heed – please spend more time and attention on making your wedding memorable rather than on your clothes and so-called candid photography.)

Folks used to warn against love marriage. It doesn’t work. But we went ahead anyway. I never thought much about it. I knew this was the person I wanted to spend my life with. Thank God! I was right. And I am always, always grateful for this.

Of course, we have had our challenges, we still do. Who doesn’t? It would be boring to agree on everything. But we have found harmony in being different, agreeing to disagree, arguing and reconciling because that’s how we discover more about life and about each other.

We are so different. You seek adventure, I find comfort in routine. You make friends easily, I appear unapproachable. You love beaches, I love hills. You love videos, I love to read. And yet we are so alike in our upbringing, in our values, in giving priority to happiness over materialism and in seeking simple pleasures of life.

And the most important thing of all, in this unequal patriarchal world, there is nothing I cherish more than being considered equal in every possible way. Equality and respect are undoubtedly the two most important pillars of marriage. I think I am just lucky to have found a partner who values that too.

10 years!

Are we getting old? I hope not. I just wish we get fitter with every passing day and live life to the fullest, in the present. I learned that from you, to live in the moment, to make the best of every single day and not wait for ‘the occasions’. I hope you also learn something from me ha ha!

Happy 10th Anniversary 🙂

 

5 Simple Ways to Make your Child’s day Special

Untitled_2Childhood is that time of your life when a small stone that you picked up from the road could mean so much more than an expensive toy.

I’m always amazed by the fact that it is so easy and simple to delight little kids. Ah! the innocence, the incredulity, the wide-eyed thrill! They don’t ask for much – a little note on a balloon, an unexpected new pencil, a favourite chocolate, even a small scribbling pad –  kids are the easiest to please. And I consciously look for ways that are experiences and inexpensive.

Here are 5 simple ways to make your child’s day special.

1. Be a ‘Yes’ Parent for the day: It is actually sad how much their lives are regimented, even though I have never sent my 6 year old to any after-school classes, but I always feel guilty about pushing him from one thing to another. We, as parents, feel the pressure of time. School hours are longer these days and there’s such little time spent at home. We have to ensure that they have rested well while also taking care of their daily nutrition and play (and your own responsibilities). And somewhere we start saying ‘No’ too often despite our best intentions. Nobody wants to be strict just for the heck of it.

But it is important to let go once in a while because that’s what the kids want. By being a ‘yes’ parent for a day, you can absolutely turn around the day for your child. So, for a day, say ‘yes’ to skipping afternoon nap, say ‘yes’ to cookies and chips, say ‘yes’ to a movie on your laptop, say ‘yes’ to his favourite chocolUntitled_1ate, say ‘yes’ to playing a board game with him, say ‘yes’ to extra time for play.

2. Go Hiking: Nature and time with parents are two of the most favourite things for any child. Combine them and go for a nature walk together. We always look for non-mall things to do with our son (as I’m writing this, my husband and my 6 year old are at a science exhibition). We recently went on a hill hike, and had so much fun. It was thrilling to take in the surroundings from the hill top and a cherished experience for our son. No wonder, he’s been asking us to do it again.

3. Cook something special: I am a self-confessed reluctant cook. I would rather clean than cook; but with a young child at home and with health featuring on my top 3 priorities, I end up cooking a lot! Cooking something that your child loves, can be another simple way to make his/her day. On Children’s day, I made nankhatai (Indian cookies) for him and kept it ready on his table. When he came back from school, he was excited to find them (also since he was allowed to eat as many as he wanted).

4. Surprise them: Little things surprise them. They go to school, open the lunchbox and find their favourite snack, or they open their pencil box and find a brand new pencil or they pull out clothes from the cupboard and a favourite candy falls with it; there can be several such tiny surprises that are easy to do as well as inexpensive. From last 2 birthdays we have been doing Treasure Hunts for him and those have been his most favourite birthday memories.

5. Let them Play: What can be more liberating than being allowed to play as much as they want, without any time constraints! Remember, how much we used to crave that ourselves as kids, and then we grew up and became our own parents. Certainly, once in a while we can let them play all they want. Moreover, isn’t it established now that play is essential for development and learning?

How do YOU make your child’s day special? I’m sure you have some exciting ideas too. Please share.

Revamp Branded Jute Bags

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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.

 

 

 

 

8 Questions to Ask yourself before buying New Clothes

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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.

  1. Do I absolutely love this? Am I so much in love with this that I can’t wait to wear it?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Do you also have any such tips to share?

Low-calorie, healthy Pasta recipe for weight watchers

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:

Ingredients:

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the Durum Wheat Pasta

Pasta: 1 cup (we used the one made of durum wheat suji)

Oil: 1/2 tsp

Salt: To Taste

Method:

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:

Ingredients:

Olive oil: 1 tsp (only enough to cook the garlic)

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the colorful veggies

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

Method:

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the Pasta ingredients

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:

Ingredients:

Whole wheat flour (Aata): 1/3 cup

Milk: 2 cups (boiled and cooled)

Salt: To taste

Pepper powder: To taste

Oregano: To taste

Method:

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.

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the healthy Pasta

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.

15 Tips for Effective Weight Loss

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  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.51muu-avppl-_sx319_bo1204203200_

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.

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