Friday, October 28, 2011

Still Green :)

Here's a kitchen garden and composting update !

 My tiny saplings are now well-grown plants :). Though I know tomato is one of the easiest plants to grow, it is still a thrill to see so many tomatoes on the plants. Waiting eagerly for them to become a bit redder so they can be harvested. Lots of rasam and tomato chutneys in my future!

 The brinjal plants had some problems with worms on the leaves, but are doing well, and today we made sambhar with my first harvest :).
My first batch of nearly done compost - this is sieved and just about ready to use. Apparently the most brilliant thing to do is to put some earthworms in it and leave them in for a week to 10 days. I'm just bracing myself for this, as I have no excuses to NOT do it (feeling squeamish is not an excuse ;)) - have the earthworms in my pots/ground anyway and it would be crazy to not try it out. I have access to this wealth of information from so many veterans out there - thank you Facebook!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Krya Review

I have just started using this eco-friendly organic detergent called "Krya" - made out of soapberries. Ever since I jumped into the composting scene, I have wanted more and more to try green options for things like household cleaning activities (their site also has a great document about DIY household cleaners :)).

So here are my first impressions:

1. The quantity of the powder needed (1 tbsp = 10g) is much lesser than what we would use for any other powder like Surf Excel Washing Machine powder(60g). So the 400 gm pack should ideally last for 40 washes which seems a good deal for Rs. 290 :). I wondered if the amount is too less for a full 5 kg wash but seems to do fine :).

2. The cloth pouch provided is very handy for use in the washing machine. I was a bit concerned if it would be too flimsy or would open up too easily, but this is surely not the case.

3. Above all, the clothes get very effectively cleaned :). I should not have been doubtful about this since soapberries are older than detergent powders ;), but still there's always that hesitation factor for a new product. Now, the hesitation is all gone!
I have not yet tried with very badly soiled clothes, but it is already advised to soak clothes like these for a little while before running them in the machine. Overall I felt the clothes came out feeling softer than they do with my usual detergent, and I felt no strong odour that I would need to put an additional softening/perfuming agent for.

Great going Preethi and Srinivas - looking forward to the rest of your product list too !!

Click here to order Krya online.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cookies - my first go!

In my quest for a healthy baking recipe, I came across this very interesting looking Whole Wheat Cookie Recipe a little while ago and knew I had to try it out!


It's a Whole Wheat Oats Chocolate Chip Cookie and I was pretty happy with the results of my first try! Still needs a bit of tweaking - for e.g. I hardly had the patience to make 1 tbsp portions of dough for each cookie, but that would obviously make them smaller and therefore reduce the baking time to 12-15 minutes as mentioned in the recipe. As I made them slightly larger I had to keep them in for 20 minutes to get them to  this look. Another thing I sometimes have a problem with is that no recipe tells you the simple stuff - like which level of the oven you should put the tray in - I tried the first time with 2 trays, and the bottom one was very un-done and had to be put in again for a while. Putting just one tray in at a time (on the top level) limits the number of cookies I can make at one go (I have a small oven) so I have to do it multiple times to get through the quantity given in the recipe.

I was very happy with the ingredients (will try without the baking soda also to see how that changes things - that's one of my least favourite ingredients!) - not too much butter and sugar, LOTS of oats and  whole wheat (chocolate chips I didn't use as much as in the recipe but they do add a nice touch ;)) - need to find more recipes like this one !

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dove Says Hello !

I got an email through Indiblogger about a free gift hamper from Dove with products from their new Nourishing Oil Care Range. I clicked the given link, which asked to login to Indiblogger and then said "You will receive the hamper shortly". Did not expect anything to actually happen, but surprize surprize I received it yesterday!



If anyone of you is interested, and you are a member of Indiblogger, go to:

http://www.indiblogger.in/dove-says-hello.php

It seems to be really as easy as that! No strings attached, you don't have to review it, blog about it, publicize it ;). I'm only writing about it because I think my blogger friends could make use of it if they want to. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Say that again!

This morning while getting S ready for school:

I'm standing in front of a full-length mirror combing my hair. S who doesn't want to comb his hair before school is angry with me because I'm trying to coax him into it.

Picture a 3 year old, about 1/3rd my size, standing in between me and the mirror and saying:
"Then I won't let you see the mirror!"

So mood uplifting children can be at the beginning of a day :).

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Kerala - contd.


Hoped to do this immediately after the first part, but laziness intervened ;).

In my last post, I forgot to mention an amazing part of Day 2 - we watched a Kalaripayattu performance at a small theatre - it was the colosseum kind where you sit in high seats and look down on a central space. I was almost expecting lions and tigers and then this group of boys/men just leave you open-mouthed with their agility and amazing moves. Was trying to add a video as I didn't take any photos there, but blogger not co-operating right now, let me try to add that a little later.


Day 3 - The resort was offering a jungle jeep safari organized by Gavi Eco Tourism, and we decided to take it up though it was an early morning start. First a hitch - we shared the jeep with another family who arrived at 5:55 for a 5:30 am start :(. Our poor jeep driver who was thrilled to see us punctually there, was a bit taken aback at having the earliest and the latest families together I guess! I felt really guilty at rushing everyone out of the room, to make it on time, and then to sit and wait like idiots for nearly half an hour before starting off !! Ok now that rant is out of my system, let me get to the good part :). We travelled in an open jeep(co-o-o-old!) to Gavi which is about 40 kms away from the resort. Once you get there, they give you breakfast etc and set you up with a guide. We were lucky to get this marvellous gentleman called Ayyadurai who took us first on a "short" trek - this was because we had children along and were not too keen on going to the leech ridden thicker jungle zones.  The supposed to be one-hour trek took us first through the scenic route - up a mountain and to a viewpoint from where we could see the Sabarimala hills, and included so many other impromptu stops like visiting a cardamom factory that we made it back just a little before lunchtime!

After lunch we went on a boat ride, where our guide (very versatile!) rowed the boat and took us across the lake to this beautiful waterfall, such a wonderfully scenic spot. Then back for tea, and 40 kms back in the jeep to the resort.

For the benefit of someone who might go to Thekkady and attempt the same Gavi Safari, some stuff which was not apparent to us but you should be prepared for:
  1. It is quite cold - even though it's Kerala, it's a hill station and esp early mornings and late evenings are quite chill. If you want to attempt something like this jeep safari, definitely carry some warm clothing.
  2. Only the to and fro to Gavi is by the jeep. As it was a "Jeep" safari my idea was that we would be spending most of the time in the jeep, so that was my level of preparation. We managed to make do, but if the itinerary was clearer would have done better! There is an option of doing a further drive in the jeep once you reach there but the foot-trek is the preferred way to go :).
  3. If you are planning to trek, wear closed shoes. They even give you extra leech socks that you can put on over your shoes. Again - for young children no socks are available, so wear well covered shoes if you plan to trek.
Day 4 - As expected we were kind of flat from the previous day, so decided to chill out in the resort. Kids had been asking for the pool since the day we arrived, so today was the day for that. And of course some trampoline fun too :). We did a little shopping in the afternoon (how can you visit Thekkady without checking out the spices - I fell in love and bought loads of vanilla, now have to think of what all I can make with it ;)). Also managed to throw in a couple of massages for hubby and me in the Ayurveda centre.

Day 5 - Made an early start and drove 8.5 hrs to reach Bangalore by early evening ! Even though the vacation was lovely, it feels great to be back home :) And now it's back to school time already tomorrow!!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Kerala - Ah!


Back from a whirlwind vacation which started off with visiting relatives - my grand-uncle and family in Sreerangam, Hubby's relatives in Kochi and Trivandrum and then finally relaxing in Thekkady for the last 4 days - and yes that means a LOT of driving, all by hubby, with navigation by yours truly :).

And I have to elaborate first of all about the navigation - I really mean it in the Amazing Race style of sitting on the backseat and saying turn left, right and so on! I was completely awe-struck by the use of Google maps on the iPad with 3G. Except for some local gyaan on state of roads and traffic and so on, we never had to ask the way even to find our hotels in all the places we stayed in!


I realized that 4 days at a resort is a good time-frame especially when kids are around (we've usually done 3).. plus with all the driving around that we did, we pretty much didn't want to do any walking/looking around the first day though we reached in the afternoon.


Day 1 - Chilling in the room, checking out the local resort activities like Housie.. won back the price of our tickets between D and me so pretty happy with that :).

Day 2 - We came across a local guide by chance while reaching the resort, so decided to try out the sights.  Did the "standard" elephant ride - this was mainly for S's sake as our last memory of our elephant ride in Munnar was not so pleasant (nothing drastic, just a dislike of the feel of the elephant's moving backbone along with feeling sorry for the poor fellow). So now that's done, and no more until the kids grow up and want to take one on their own maybe :).


Also visited a spice plantation near the elephant park - came across interesting facts like the number of lines on the petal of the flower of the cardamom plant is equal to the number of pods in the cardamom :). First time for me to see a cardamom plant too!








Yet another amazing experience was getting to see a grape farm - this was across the border (which is pretty close by) into Tamilnadu and downhill from Thekkady. Felt on this vacation for the first time that I was such a "city-dweller" but it was worth it as it only added more excitement and wonder :).



Most of the afternoon was spent in getting tickets for and going for a 2 hour boat ride on Periyar Lake. This is the same lake where there was a boating accident about 2 years back, but they seem to have put railings and safeguards in place since then and except for the fact that the lifejackets provided seem bedraggled and in fact none were provided for the children, it was a nice and picturesque experience.

If you are going with children I would advocate the 1 hour ride, as the absence of seeing animals during long stretches of time becomes a bit of a drag, especially when you have loud interrogations of "When are we getting back, this is so boring, there are no animals!" in the background ;). The animals are in fact clearer in my photos than to the naked eye thanks to the wonderful zoom of my Nikon S9100 (and of course my steady hand, but i'm not taking all the credit ;)).



As usual my vacation post gets longer and longer ;).. and I'm tired of uploading photos for the day, so rest in Part 2 coming soon!

Monday, October 03, 2011

Judgmental? Me?...

I have always been the "non-advice giving" type.. Having been on the receiving side of all the usual "No baby yet?", "No second one yet?" and of course all the in-between stuff on how to raise your child (!) I always hold myself back from telling anyone what to do in situations unless explicitly asked about it!

But during my recent vacation I found myself sitting in judgement a wee bit (ok maybe quite a lot) on other parents in the resort. Still no advice of course, but LOTS of judgement :). Maybe I feel 6+ years as a parent has made me wise or maybe I do pride myself just a little on some parenting philosophies, but whatever the reason, it really bothers me that in the name of being "nice" or not wounding the confidence of the child, this child can get away with nearly any kind of behaviour in a public place.

In one family I found that when the child knocked down a glass, there was not even a gentle mention of "Oh you've knocked it down!". Instead the immediate reaction seemed to be "Oh don't worry someone will clean it up!". This without even an actual request to the staff to do the actual cleaning, they were supposed to just seamlessly do it because that was their function! I was quite horrified because I would have definitely added a bit to the child about being careful, in fact on our table we keep pushing the glasses inside if they are on the edge (are we completely crazy?!). Ok this was not really an example of bad behaviour on the part of the child, only on the part of the parents(!). But so many other instances of kids running around, knocking others chairs, getting in the way and generally being annoying, with the parents seemingly turning a blind eye. Not sure if they were embarassed to react, or if this is the way the children are brought up generally!!

While I am on a rant anyway, the other thing that really gets to me is kids being overweight/obese at a young age. I know in many families the focus is on "healthy looking", and that is the parents' choice as long as the child is healthy and active, but when I see kids actually labouring to move around I think someone should be doing a better job of watching out! This is why I literally bristle if anyone tells me my kids are thin - I would not have it any other way!! With my personal experience of being "thin" for most of my early life, I still had to deal with all the post-pregnancy weight/tummy fat and body image issues, and I can not even imagine already starting off on the wrong side of this at the age of <5 years!!

And I'm done for the day! Actual vacation post coming up soon, I'm still in trying to straighten out the house mode, hope you all are having lovely holidays/festive times at home :).