March 30, 2014

Fun And Flamboyant Orange Radiates Warmth And Energy - (Color Theme For My Boy's Room)

Atlast I got his room done. I had promised my son that I would paint his room before his birthday. There you go I am way ahead. The tough part was to convince him (and convince myself) to refresh his (my) mind from his (my) very own vision of how he (I) wanted his room to be.
When we moved into the house, the first thing he said was mommy "I already have chosen which room I want for myself". Little did I know he would take me to the "Master Bedroom" and said "This is going to be my new room". I asked him why would he want to take the biggest room? Isn't that too big for just one person? I had to talk him out of it and he agreed only if I would promise that I will be sharing "The Master Bedroom" with his dad and not have the whole room for just myself. For some reason he thought we each (3 of us) would get our very own room and that mommy would take the biggest of all (Not a bad idea!).

So he picked out next biggest room that was available. I casually told him to "start thinking" about how he would want to decorate his room and blurt came the answer I want "Space Theme" and "Dinosaurs". Typical of boys that age I may guess. So I kind of knew what he would want but I did not expect that he had already been planning it. His answer to my question did not end there. He said - "I want my room in Orange Color (Wall and Ceiling), I want a bunk bed and I want the bed to be right in the middle of the room like an island!". Then he showed me where he wants his toys. There was no mention of school books or any desk. When I asked him about that he said - hmmm lets keep them in one of the shelves in the kitchen. Reason for that - Since he is going to need help for his homework most of the time, it will be easy for me to help him if its in the kitchen. Well thought! but I wasn't ready to share my kitchen at that time, now its a different story - I finally gave a cabinet for him in my kitchen.

Boy oh Boy! none of his idea resonate with me. I did not want to say "No", so I said - Lets think more about it and plan. Whenever we spoke/discussed we never were  able to reconcile. Finally I had to say "No to Orange color" and "No for Bunk bed" and " A definite No for keeping the bed in the center of the room".

My reasons for saying
"No" to bunk bed" - because he doesn't want to sleep on the higher one, I did not see a point in a bunk bed then (maybe later when he is ready for that I would trade his current bed for a bunk bed for sure).
"No for keeping the bed in the center of the room" - Come on need I care to give a reason!
"No to Orange color" - Well this is where the debating actually started. I knew Orange is my son's favorite color so I thought I would try to bring in some orange in the form of bedding, accessories etc. But he kept saying he wanted Orange on the walls. I did not want to enter a room that looked like furnace for sure. But for Seattle's weather I bet Orange is actually not a bad one to see on the wall. So the debate was actually in my mind rather than with my 6 year old.

I started to ransack the internet to find one inspiring pic that would make me say an affirmative "Yes" or even "Ok" for the "Orange" color. I couldn't wrap my head around this. One funny thing that happened in the mean time though is - One day G came to me and said - "Fine if you don't want to paint the walls Orange, Can you at least paint the closet Orange?!"...Poor guy, It appeared like he finally just want to get this over with and was haggling with me to at least get it done :)

After the scavenge hunt I eventually found one to which we were 100% onboard. Here is the inspiration pic.

Here is the final outcome of our attempt -

Even though the brain behind this is me the effort is a collaborative one that includes my husband and my little one (with clean up) - Thanks Sweetypie.

Few things that are noteworthy here are -
I bought some furniture legs from IKEA and used those to make this vertical self lay horizontal. The shelf is a typical IKEA one that I had in my apartment as a showcase near my TV cabinet. I asked my husband to remove the doors (Dear door please don't feel separated, I will upcycle you later).

Those black geometric pattern thing is from one of my favorite online shopping store They are actually sofa chair's seat cushions for outdoor furniture. I bought those as seating for my bay window. They did not fit so I had been using it as floor cushions in my prayer room. After I put my son's room together it just occured to me why don't I just stuck it in as headboard since his platform bed did not have headboard anyway.

I bought some shelf brackets ( and used them to hold his skating board. The skating board was gifted by one of our friends on his 4th birthday and I really don't think he will be ready for it until he is 8. So while we still hold on to it in the garage, I just thought I would use it as display shelf until then.

The unique car shaped lamp is from my another favorite online shopping store There were very few options for kids (Boy's) room . But the ones that I loved were a little expensive ranging from 210$ to 270$. I had a price watch on those for a long time and I found that one of the lamps had a huge price slash (just in time while I was planning to paint his room). I bought those using one of the gift cards that a friend of ours gave us as house warming gift (Thanks Swati and Saurabh).

The space theme stickers I bought from Sherwin William's paint store while I was shopping for paints. They were on sale for 10$. I had those on his walls when we moved in and since they are peel and stick it was easy for me to reuse those after I finished painting. Between, Venus is my son's favorite planet!. Thanks to Chitra Aunty who suggested that I should do some art on that black patch through out. I am not artist so I decided to go with these stickers.

The white shelf where the casio is resting is a spice rack that I bought from IKEA.
The panel curtains are from IKEA. Shamefully it took 2 hours for me and my husband to hang this.
The monogram is my self creation of my son's initial 'G'. I used nail/thumb tacks to create this.

I bought those orange metal baskets from dollar store for storage purpose.

My reward - After the paint was all coming through while I was doing some clean up, my son came running to me and gave me a loving hug and said - I Love it so much mommy, thanks for listening to me! LOL.

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March 20, 2014

Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness...True, But For Sure It's Next To Happiness

It's not new that most who ever visits our house has a comment about how do I manage to keep everything tidy? In one recent dinner invite (who was visiting us for the very 1st time ever) one of the invitee just casually asked - Do you guys live always this clean!?  But what surprised me is  that they were in disbelief that someone could live this way. On the contrary I couldn't imagine how else one should live?

I can't keep the board hanging for too long that says "Please excuse the mess my kid(s) is(are) making memories". And I definitely DO NOT AGREE to the quote that says "Good moms have sticky floors, messy kitchens, laundry piles and dirty ovens and happy kids" (Please don't title anyone "Good" or "Bad" based on this). Come on that's just a poor excuse for your filthyness!. I can't fathom that how can one be happy in a place like that.

I must also say it's not one man's/woman's job in my case. We (have to) share our chores and we get it done most of the time in timely manner. This "WE" includes my son. Which means that I don't have to pick up after my son (or my husband). Since keeping it clean is so important to me (us) I had to inculcate this in my now 6 year old too. With the new home its kind of taken that if we don't share and care we would never be able to live happy.

I read a quote that said - "I get more cleaning done in the 20 min before someone comes over than during the whole week." Well my motto is to take out few min (most) everyday for cleaning so that its much easier to do it than turmoil once a few months.

I know you wouldn't believe if I say my son helps me out tidying, dusting and wiping the areas/spots that he can reach if he knows someone is visiting us. To add on to that if I say that I don' have to ever ask for help and offers to help by himself. The incentive (that he asks for) is that he gets to mop the floor with a sprayer and stick mop and he loves that. Yes, the incentive for cleaning the other areas is yet another cleaning activity. It's too good to be true (but that is indeed true). I am so proud of you sweetie and I am lucky to have you as my son! Of course we reward him for his good deeds.

This may sound finicky to most of you. But, before you all get judgmental let me say that I am not patronizing in any way.  All I am trying to say is that's just how I (we) live. As much as I would like to live in "Utopia" city, there are some days when I sulk and hate doing any cleaning, but I just get back to it sooner than later.

This also doesn't mean I am in any way judging others who don't spend as much time tidying or organizing. As a matter of fact I am now practicing to let go (a little bit) of my OCD and learning to live in a way where I can say - My house is clean enough to be healthy and messy enough that I could still stay happy.

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March 16, 2014

Shahi Gobi - A Different Take On Cooking Cauliflower

Last night we had Amit's MBA school friends team over for dinner. Typical Indian cuisine was on the cards by popular demand. I had to keep it the restaurant style (known dishes). Even then I wanted to bring something different at the table. So, I thought I would make Shahi Gobi if I find time and energy. Well I eventually did. In my household everyone loves this Shahi gobi preparation especially on hot Nan (Including my boy).
I first tried this out on New Year's day and since then I have made this at least 5 times (not that it took me 5 attempts to perfect the dish but we loved it so much that we wanted more of it.). With every new try I would tweak the recipe a little though.

The best part of this recipe is using a whole cauliflower as opposed to making florets.
The gravy for the dish I would say whatever you are comfortable with but I am going to provide my version here that I think was the best tasting.  It looks absolutely fantastic when the dish is served (If you manage to keep the cauliflower in wholesome).

So, here it goes -
1)  Wash your cauliflower and take the extra leaves off of the flower.
2)  Take a deep cooking dish and place the cauliflower upside down (flower side down).
3)  Fill water only up to the point where it covers the flower portion and leave the stem out of the water.
4)  Add the following in the pot of water-
       Haldi (Turmeric pwd 1 tsp)
       Mirchi Powder (Paprika pwd 1 tsp)
       Dhania+Jeera Powder (Corriander+Cummin pwd 1 tsp)
       Salt - just enough to get absorbed into the flowers.
5) Start your stove and blanch the Cauliflower for just about 10 min on the flower side down and about 3 min after flipping it upside.
  Tip: I wouldn't recommend covering the dish after you flip the cauliflower.
6) Turn off the stove and let it cool for bit .
   Tip: If you have a hot plate/coil please remove it off the stove.

While that is cooling, lets get started with the gravy.

For gravy:
Shallots - (2 to 3) or Red Onion (1) - Sliced/Diced
Roma Tomatoes - (3 to 4) -Sliced/Diced
    Tip: you can use 1 can of Diced Tomatoes, I love the gravy color when I use this.
Thai Green Chili - 2 (Slit)
Turmeric pwder (1/2 tsp)
Garam Masala Powder (2 tsp) (Its an Indian spice mixture available in Indian grocery store)
 Tip: Add more if you like it spicy .
 Tip: Alternatively you can mix whatever (Indian based) spices you have at home. I love it that way.
Garlic Cloves - 3 (Just crushed with a flat knife after pealing)
Roasted Unsalted Peanuts  (about 10)
   Tip: Using 3 to 4 cashews will make it ever more "Shahi" (rich).
Sour Cream or Whipping Cream or Coconut Milk  - For quantity I will leave at your discretion.
   Tip: I have used 1/2 tblsp Organic Greek Yogurt and 2 full tblsp of 2% milk. 
         Using Whipping cream develops better flavor though
         Not using any cream also gives a gratifying flavor.

1) In a sauce pan add 2 Tblsp oil and keep it on medium heat.
2) Add Onions and saute them until its soft.
3) Add Turmeric Powder, Garam Masala and Salt (according to taste) and saute it
4) Add the tomatoes in and cook until tender (not very mushy).
5) Add the Peanuts and saute for another 2 more min
6) Turn off the heat and let it cool down a bit.

Preheat oven at 400 degrees.
After preheat your cooking time should be around 40-45 min if you are serving it immediately.

In the meanwhile lets go back to our cauliflower-

1) Grease deep dish baking pan generously
2) Carefully take it out of the water (we won't use all the water, but save some for the Gravy)
3) Place the Cauliflower in a deep baking dish (Flower side up).
4) Placed the crushed Garlic and the Green Chili's at the bottom of the baking tray

In a blender get the Gravy ingredients that is in the saute pan.
Add your Sour Cream or Whipping Cream or Coconut Milk or Organic Greek Yogurt.
Blend it to almost puree consistency.
Add the Cauliflower blanched water according to your need to thin or thick gravy.
Pour some of the blended gravy at the bottom of the baking pan.
Pour some of it on top of the Cauliflower.
Let the extra gravy fall below at the bottom of the pan
Put a cover on the dish let it cook.
Tip: Preferably don't leave the cooked dish in the oven heat (especially if you plan to re-heat it before serving)

Garnish with cilantro and (may be) grated Paneer (Indian cottage cheese) looks inviting.

Tip: Transfer the cooked dish into a large plate with curved edge (ensuring the flower is wholesome). You can see the whole cauliflower this way while serving and make it a center piece at your dinner serving table.

This weekend's cookout also included these items (including my shahi gobi at the top right corner)

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March 10, 2014

Something For The Wall

For a very long time I have been wondering what could I do to dress-up my family room Mantel area. I couldn't come to terms with the idea of buying something from the store and having it placed. But I am no artist to do a canvas painting. I even thought of doing some abstract painting but I was reluctant to buy that big piece of a canvas (costs quiet a bit) only to find that oh well there it goes in the pooper!

One of these days while I was doing my usual browsing on the internet (Pinterest specifically) I came across a picture with no description or anything. Here is the picture below. WOW, that is it, that should be an easy one to make, big enough for a mantel. But I had no idea where to start, what to look for.  I tried various combination of search words for the candle holders but nothing I could find that I liked or that could drive the effort.

                  Months went by and had totally forgotten about this until.........

One day I was starting to read about Terrarium and saw this pic in one of the related blog. I immediately knew this is what I have been looking for! So its not candle holders but its a Terrarium globe that I need to look for. I was absolutely thrilled and my brain seemed like it had already planned how I want to make it a reality.
I knew I had to buy nails to hang them, I was going to go with wooden board for the back, both of which I knew I could get in Home Depot. I was going to do my little staining project on the wooden board.
But I din't have to go that far. While we were shopping at Home Depot my husband was able to find a pre-cut black chalkboard (made of thick cardboard) that was more or less the size that I was looking for.
From here on my effort ended and I was more of a project manager than the hands on worker. That's right once again ladies and gentlemen introducing my husband :). I explained him how I wanted it to be placed/hung and he diligently measured and drilled holes on the board and screwed in the nails. I painted (black) around the nail drill area that had exposed the cardboard particles.
To hang it my husband drilled some hooks on the fireplace crown molding and used a sort of invisible wire (That is not actually invisible) that could hold the weight up without any issue.
After we hung the board and the globes we felt like it din't pop like I was expecting it to. I had this feeling like "Something is missing". So I decided to buy something shiny that would give it the dimension that we were looking for.
I bought a 10 yard ribbon of rhinestone and decided to stick them as border. While I was using a superglue to stick that I made a blooper! In my defense I did not notice it to be "super" glue, I thought it was just another craft glue. Yes, I got it on my fingers and it was terrible to get it off. I even cried thinking its going to be permanent  and in that 20 min window and out in my frustration my mind was racing with million thoughts  - How am I ever going to get my finger prints back and they won't let me back in the country without my original finger prints!  - OK ...there is nothing to laugh about it. It can happen to anybody.
Diffusing away from the scene above, here is the end result(some pics below). Thanks to my husband once again for calming my nerves down and asking me to soak my hand in warm soapy water (and that helped).

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