Sunday, September 1, 2013

Move over Greek Yogurt.

Last week my mother in law introduced me to a new yogurt she got from Trader Joes and I never thought I'd be so excited about yogurt.
No it's not Greek yogurt.
But speaking of…have you noticed the influx of it in todays grocery stores?  (It's right up there with all the coconut water craze).  They are thicker than the usual "American" yogurt and maybe a little tangier, but to be honest I don't understand why the sudden love for Greek style yogurt.  On the way home from work yesterday I noticed a billboard for Ben and Jerrys new Greek Frozen Yogurt.   Ben and Jerry are two smart fellas to cash in on this fad.

I'm not going to lie I am tempted to try these two flavors: Hmmm, though looking at this picture they look a bit strange.

It's not that I hate Greek Yogurt, but I don't necessarily prefer it or go out looking for it.
But I am now jumping on the yogurt bandwagon….not Greek yogurt, European Style Yogurt, as pictured above.  I have only seen this in Trader Joes so far, and I love it so much that I will make the special trip to TJ's to purchase this yogurt.
I use yogurt all the time: in meals and especially as a side for all the spicy curries that we have.  Indian restaurants and Americans refer to this side dish as "raita" (pronounced: rye-ta), I and everyone in my family have always referred to this dish as: yogurt salad.  Just to reiterate: I have NEVER heard anyone in India, or anyone in my Indian family refer to yogurt salad as raita.  Perhaps that makes me less authentic, but I'm ok with that.  I'll just carry around my birth certificate from Bombay (yes, Bombay, not Mumbai, get over it India) and show everyone just how authentic and qualified I am.
Wow, where did that rant come from?
Moving on….
When I was little we spent a lot of time in Sweden.  For breakfast the Swedes eat their cereal with yogurt instead of milk.  (Cereal like Corn Flakes, Muesli, or granola, not cereal like Cherrios, Captain Crunch or Trix)  I grew up eating cereal like that, with yogurt instead of milk, so even when I got older I preferred my Frosted Flakes with yogurt.  I would take a couple of scoops of yogurt and break it up with a spoon so it was smooth and not very thick and then add my cereal to it.  This may not be for everybody, but since I grew up eating it like this, I really enjoy it.  My husband on the other hand, refuses to even try it because it looks weird and is not what he is accustomed to.  But he is also a huge milk fan so that may have something to do with it.  
Even with the yogurt salad, I empty the contents of half a yogurt container and mix it up with a spoon till it's smooth and not solid before I add the cut up vegetables that make up yogurt salad.
The beauty of this European Style yogurt is it takes out the part of mixing the yogurt with a spoon till it's smooth.  The yogurt comes that way straight out of the container!! It's smooth and liquid-y from the beginning!   Go, try it.

UPDATE: So my sister in law (of informed me of the benefits of Greek yogurt that I'm sure if I spent a few minutes to actually do some research I would've figured out!  Greek yogurt is 2x the protein and half the fat of regular yogurt.  Now you know.  

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Things my mom says...

"Oh that chapati turned into a state, huh?  What you think, Florida, maybe?"

I looked down at the chapati in my pan.
Sure it wasn't round, but Florida?

A bit harsh mom.

(What's a chapati? Look here).

Monday, July 8, 2013

Coconut Water.

I love coconut water.  Not the coconut water craze that has hit the US, but the coconut water that I grew up with.  The picture above was taken from a recent trip to India and is a very normal sight on the streets there.  Fresh coconuts cut in front of your eyes, usually with a large machete, handed to you with a straw and you can savor its water directly from the source.  It is delicious.

A few years ago I noticed packaged coconut water start to pop up in grocery stores nationwide.  I was so excited to finally be able to have some of this childhood treat that I remember so well.

Until I actually tried one of them.

It did not taste like the sweet nectar I remember.  I tried a few different brands, and I was always left with the same feeling of disappointment.  So many people were in love with these and I couldn't understand why.  Perhaps they never had the chance to taste it straight from the coconut like I've had the privilege to, or perhaps I'm just extremely picky.  Either way it wasn't for me.

I had given up the whole idea of coconut water in the states until a few months ago.  A new coconut water caught my eye during a recent trip to Whole Foods.  The label claimed it was 100% Raw Coconut Water.  Surely 100% raw coconut water tastes like the real deal?  I had to give it a shot.

They were right.  It tasted just like fresh coconut water from India.  I got on the bandwagon.  Coconut water contains so many nutrients.  It is jam packed with electrolytes, which make it a great post workout drink.   I have been drinking it after my yoga and it is so refreshing and replaces the electrolytes I may have lost during Bikram…I'm sure of it.  Much better than the sugary Gatorades or any other sports drinks out there. This brand is different because they don't heat the coconut water to sterilize it.  They put thousands of pounds of pressure on it to keep any bacteria from growing.  There's more of a science involved here and you can read all about it on their website.

If you have never had coconut water directly from a coconut or if you have and miss that very distinct taste you should definitely check this out.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Family Vacations.

My friend Amie (from the David Sedaris story) recently went to Alaska on a family vacation.  I stole that very pretty picture of Alaska up there from her Facebook album.  I realize it's weird for me to:
A. Steal Amie's vacation picture and
B. Even talk about her family vacation when it has absolutely nothing to do with me.

HOWEVER, here I am doing just those two things.

I was looking at the rest of her pictures from her vacation and they were so pretty.  They were filled with fishing (as in putting on a special outfit- I had to look up the name of it-fishing bib,  going out into the water waist deep and standing around for hours "fishing"), going on little planes flown by her uncle, camping, hiking, beautiful scenery, etc.  The photos were emitting a very palpable feeling of serenity.

After I looked at her album I turned to Chad and said: "What a lovely white family vacation."

Let me explain…

Indians don't vacation like that.

Fine, that's a huge generalization.  I guess I can rephrase that:

MY Indian family didn't vacation like that.

I have been very fortunate to have parents that love to travel and have wanted to "show us the world" from a very young age.  They have taken us to many many places and have thousands of photos to document our trips.  After looking at our countless family vacation albums one would never, ever think, wow, just looking at those photos relaxed me.  In fact they may need a relaxing vacation after looking at all the touristy things we did in the photos.

Vacation was never lets relax by the water and read a book or meditate on the beauty of earth.  Vacation was let's go go go…we're in a new city with lots of exciting things to see and do, we gotta do them or the trip was a waste.

After two days of trying out the local restaurants and hitting up the closest McDonalds (always a big treat for us, thank goodness those golden arches were everywhere), my parents would scour the local grocery store to see what we could get our hands on to make some home cooked Indian food.  The easiest ingredients to find in almost any city, in any country, are rice and lentils, which luckily make up one of our greatest comfort foods.
"Dahl bhaat" (Rice and Dahl)
After my mom would figure out how to make it in our hotel room, my parents would always sit back and say: "Nothing like home cooked food."
And we'd go to bed because the next morning we'd have to wake up early to see the big attraction for that city.

Eventually a small rice cooker was always packed on road trips.

My parents visited us in Seattle a couple of times.  Each time they would feel so restless; needing something to do, something to see.
"So, this is what you people do here, huh?"  My dad said on day 2 of their visit.
And after a little prompting/insisting by my bored mom we drove to Buchart Gardens in Vancouver, Canada.
We drove 5 hours.
One way.
Into Canada.
In March… see some flowers.
March is not a sunny time in the Northwest.  It rained the entire time and we were cold, but at least they felt like they did something.

Amies vacation looks like it was a fun way to spend a few days with good friends, I don't think my family would've enjoyed it so much.  But then, maybe she wouldn't have enjoyed our family vacations that much either.

I guess it's all….relative.

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Things my mom says...

I was leaning over my desk reaching for my pen when Chad asked me,
"What happened to your knee again? When was it you had surgery?"
"I'm sorry," I said. "What?" Turning around to face him.
"Knee surgery. When did you have it again?" He repeated.
"Knee surgery?" I was so confused.
"What makes you think I had knee surgery?  I fractured my patella in college, but I've never had knee surgery.  Why are you asking me this like its old news?"
"The scars. I see the scars on the back of your right knee."
"Babe, come here."
I went closer to him.
"These scars." He said as he pointed to scars on the back of my right knee.
Scars that I obviously couldn't see because they were on the back of my knee.
He grabbed my phone and took a picture of them for me.
I stared at them for a few seconds.  Without taking my eyes off the picture I raised my voice and said:
"Mooom, did I have knee surgery when I was young?"
My mom was in the next room and I went over to her and asked again,
"Did I have knee surgery and don't know about it somehow?"
"No.  Never." My mom said.
"Well then, look at the back of my knee, these look like scars."
After looking at them for a minute my mom looked at me and very seriously replied,
"That's just fat.  You know the marks that come when some one is fat? What's it called, I can't think right now"
"Really mom? The back of my knee is fat?"
"Cellulite!" She remembered.
"Cellulite? I have cellulite on the back of my knees??"
"Yes.  I'm sorry, but that's what it is."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Welcome to my home Bikram.

I started my at-home Bikram yoga practice this week.  Remember when I had that epiphany back in October? You can read all about it here.  
Don't focus on how it's taken 8 months for me to actually make it happen. There have been business trips, vacations, holidays, birthdays, lazy days…
Besides, I said DON'T focus on that.  
Instead, let's talk about my "studio" set up and mid-years resolution.  
I set it up in the bathroom, there's a little walkway between its entrance and the shower/toilet. It's a perfect area to enclose and get hot.  I just had to purchase two things: A humidifier, and a thermometer that gauges humidity levels and the room temperature.  Not a bad price, $50.33 total, just a fraction of what a month would cost anywhere else.
I already had a space heater, yoga mat/towels, and an audio version of the entire Bikram yoga class  taught by Mr. Bikram himself.  I was ready to start.  
The first day I attempted it, I only had one heater in there and the room was not getting hot enough.   I added another space heater and soon the humidity levels and the temperature were soaring.  As you can see above, the room got to 106*F!  Bikram studios are usually around 40% humidity and anywhere between 105-110* F.  My humidity levels were a little high, but I was ok with it.
I was sweating by the first posture, yay!  
I have completed a week in my "studio" and I couldn't be happier:  
  • I have the flexibility to practice whenever I want
  • There's no travel time (I do have to warm up the room for 30 minutes before, but at least I can do other things while its warming up)
  • I can wear or not wear whatever I want  (I'm very content doing yoga in a sports bra and bikini bottoms in this heat and the comfort of my home)
  • and I'm saving a couple hundred dollars each month
Of course there are some cons as well:
  • I don't have a trained professional to push or assist me in any postures.
  • I have to work that much harder to make sure I stay focused
  • and I do have a teeny tiny fear that if I pass out for some reason (due to the heat, or if I fall over in a pose and hit my head on the sink, who knows?) by the time Chad finds me it may be too late-I'd be a goner. I have made him promise me he'll check on me if I'm not out in 93 minutes. 
If you wanted to practice in your home, here's my warning label: please please please make sure you've had plenty of training in an actual studio with real certified trainers first before you attempt to do it on your own.  Though it has been many years since my Bellingham yoga days, I went 4-5 days a week for two years.  That is the only reason I feel I can do this by myself.  
When I do Bikram, I tend to get a little obsessed (again, you can read all about it here), so you'll probably be seeing more posts about yoga, just a heads up. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Gamble much?

I am not a huge basketball fan.  If I am in a place that has it on, I can appreciate the game and might even get into it, especially if its the finals.
With that being said, I made a very stupid STUPID bet last week.  I decided to make a bet with Chad's cousins on the Pacers vs Heat game.  They even let me pick the team I thought would win first.   After giving it a good 2 second thought, I chose the underdogs, the Pacers.  I didn't even know what their name was, I said: "Not the Heat."  This wasn't even the big championship finals, this was just the game deciding who was going to go to the championship from the east coast conference (is that a thing?).
I would like to tell you that I was bullied into this bet.  That they took advantage of my lack of sports knowledge.  But I really only have myself to blame.  We bet dinner at a restaurant that we have all been wanting to try.  Loser pays for the entire meal.

I lost.

Pacers 76 vs Heat 99

We went to dinner at Le Diplomate in DC last night, to pay my debt.  The food was good, the company was a little too "gloat-y" for my taste. They made it a point to get the most expensive appetizer, entree, and dessert on the menu.  Poor Chad, punished for my gambling, after all it's coming out of our joint bank account.  Again, I have no one but myself to blame.  I don't have a gambling problem, I enjoy the craps table, and maybe some scratchers now and then, but nothing serious.  It's not my vice.  Really.

Shrimp Salad and Dungeness crab for appetizers.  Jerks.

Oh man, that's a lot of money. Not to mention a nice tip on top of that.

NEVER AGAIN. So stupid.

At the end of the meal when they asked me who do I want to pick to bet on in the NBA Championship?
I should've laughed in their faces and said "No way Jose." Or something cheesy and innocent like that. Fool me once people!

But instead I replied: "Not the Heat".
And Chad just shook his head at me.
I sensed his disappointment.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Paintball, you suck.

Chad and I played paintball today.  Though neither of us really wanted to go, it was a belated 12th birthday celebration for my nephew Tarsus (on the left in the camo jacket) and he was really looking forward to having us there…or maybe they just needed an extra car for some of the kids because we somehow ended up with three of them. Three boys that we never met for a 3 hour round trip. (It's a good thing they were entertaining; I only had to tell them to stop hitting each other once. And one of them even offered to buy everyone in the car something off the dollar menu from McDonalds with his $8 if we swung by the drive-thru.  Score.)
When we first got to the Paintball Adventure Park, I was a little scared.  There were people in full camo gear, and their guns looked very real.  Some even had paintball machine guns.  Did they miss their calling in the military? Or perhaps weren't able to get in the military so they picked up paintball instead?  Luckily we didn't have to play with them since our group was big enough on our own.  
The problem with going with a bunch of little boys is that they are excited to shoot guns-at each other, at us, in the air, at the ground.  Anywhere.
We started the game and the kids went wild.  My gun stopped working after I fired once.  I tried to fix it with our guide, and got shot in the arm by some kid in the process.   
It hurt. A lot.
I wasn't even armed man.  I wasn't even armed. 
By the time the next game started, I had a new gun, but my mask started fogging up.  I couldn't see anything or anyone, I felt fear.  Rightfully so because I got shot again.  
It hurt. A lot.
And though I was out, I got shot AGAIN.  
I cursed.  A lot.  
Help me understand this.  Little paint pellets are fed into a gun, and you're encouraged to shoot them at people so it can burst all over their clothing and hurt like hell?
Why is this fun?  
Maybe if the shots felt like little bubbles when it made contact, then I'd be ok with it. 
While we were reloading the paintballs into our guns, all the kids couldn't wait to get back out to the field.  They loved it!  No one complained about how much the shots hurt, not even my older sister, and she likes to complain.  
I asked Chad if they hurt him.  He shrugged and said, 
"I mean, they stung..."
No.  They didn't just "sting" me.  It felt like it could've broken skin, in my eyes the yellow paint on my clothes might as well have been blood.  
Maybe I was a sissy.  Maybe I was being dramatic.  I wanted to try to call myself out and tell myself to toughen up, but I was distracted by my battle wounds on my injured arm.
I played one more game and found myself really scared that I would get hit in any, and all of my sensitive spots.  It was then that I decided that I was done.  Why am I subjecting myself to this?
After I got shot, again, I took my mask off, gave all the remaining paint pellets to the person closest to me and walked off the field. 
There was only one more game after that, and I watched it from the sidelines.
On the way home the kids kept saying things like:
"Next time…" or "When we come back…" or "That was soo fun!"
I'm glad they enjoyed themselves and the belated birthday celebration was a success, but Tarsus "next time" you're gonna need to find another ride because paintball, you suck.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Mini Strawberry Rhubarb Pies.

For the past few weeks, every time I walk into Whole Foods, which is practically every morning for a bagel, I am greeted with a barrel of fresh rhubarb in the middle of a display of berries.
After two weeks of the rhubarbs staring at me, I had to buy some.   They looked so colorful and pretty.  I grabbed a container of strawberries as well and decided to tackle strawberry rhubarb pie. 
The only time I've made this pie was for my good friend Peter. It was a thank you pie for giving me a ride from the fair so I wouldn't be late for work. That was 8 years ago!  
I used three different recipes to make the pie: Smitten Kitchen, Post Punk Kitchen, and I dusted off my America's Test Kitchen cookbook.  I guess four if you count the crust recipe from good old Martha.  Best pie crust recipe I've made.  But then again, put a lot of butter in anything and it's bound to be good.
First things first, make your crust so that you can let it chill in the fridge while you make the filling.  
Then cut the rhubarb into 1 inch pieces and cook them on the stove with 1/4 cup sugar.  Americas Test Kitchen says you want them to release their liquid, but still remain firm.  
Look at that great color..and all the liquid releasing on the bottom left picture.   Let the rhubarb cool and in a bowl mix together the rest of the filling ingredients (written on the bottom) and the cooled rhubarb. 

Looks like a gooey mess.  
Set it aside and bring out your crust dough from the fridge.  I decided to make things complicated and make mini-pies.  Chad's not a fan of desserts, and I can't eat a whole pie by myself, or I shouldn't at least, so I made little ones that I could give away as treats or freeze for another day.  Definitely more time consuming to make mini pies than one big pie.  Making little lattice tops for them got tiring really quickly. 
But it was totally worth it because they turned out pretty cute. 
I think Peter would've really enjoyed them...
And because I will gladly admit I am not Martha 
Stewart, here are some of the not so pretty ones;
poor little guys.  However, their looks did not take 
away from the taste.  They were just as yummy
as their pretty siblings. 
What you'll need for the filling:
1 lb rhubarb
3 cups strawberries
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tblspn lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tblspn tapioca flour
2 Tblspn all purpose flour

Tuxedo Strawberries

I'm a sucker for chocolate covered strawberries.  They are oh-so-tasty, and simple to make as well that it's a perfect treat for any occasion.  In fact, last year,  I decided to hand out tins of chocolate covered strawberries instead of the traditional christmas cookies.  They were a big hit.  Who doesn't like strawberries dipped in chocolate? 
But today I realized I may have been doing this simple thing all wrong.
Did you know you have to "temper" your chocolate?  I had no idea what that meant. I had to look it up here
Turns out there's a science to melting chocolate. Chocolate usually comes tempered.  When you heat it up you are breaking the crystals in the chocolate and causing them to not align properly.  This is why you have to temper it by varying the temperature while melting it to make sure they come together nicely again to give you that nice snap and shine that Klondike bars usually have.  I also found that the chocolate that I've been using, Nestle chocolate chips, are all wrong.  Chocolate chips have additives in them to keep their shape when you're baking them in cookies.  They are nearly impossible to temper.  
Here is a photo tutorial to making little strawberry tuxedos for your next dinner party.  Try not to eat them all in the process! 

Temper your white chocolate
Wash and THOROUGHLY dry your strawberries
(Otherwise the chocolate won't stick to them)
Stick a skewer in there for easy handling and dunk strawberry

Let white chocolate completely dry (15 min..ish)

Temper dark chocolate
Dunk strawberries in an angle on both sides.  

Take a pastry bag and with a #3 tip pipe bow ties and buttons
What do you mean you don't have a pastry bag and a #3 tip?  
Pour the chocolate in a ziploc bag and cut a small hole on the side.  
I put them in the strawberry container with mini 
strawberry rhubarb pies I made.  Super cute gift:

Saturday, May 11, 2013

David, I think it's time we met (Part 2)

I managed to wrangle some friends from New York to join Chad and I for David Sedaris's book signing. Johnny, the grinning gentlemen above, I have known since I was 15 years old, he is my brothers best friend and I consider him family. Jessica, the lady on the right, also someone I have known for at least 10 years now, also a close friend of my brothers, and also someone I consider family.  They just happen to be in a relationship as well, and graciously host us whenever we travel to the big city.  Amie, not Amy or Ami, (on the left, who kind of looks like she's jabbing her privates-sheesh Amie, try not to do that in public), I met when we both worked at Starbucks back in Bellingham in 2005.  She recently moved to New York with her boyfriend (Tim) and has New York adventures of her own that you can read all about on her blog:
Close to 5pm, the bookstore, McNally Jackson, had a small line going around the corner, nothing too long yet and I was finally beginning to accept that I was actually going to meet one of my favorite authors.  
After standing in line for ten minutes Amie and I realized that the rest of our gang ditched us.  There is still debate as to whether we were properly informed of their departure.  We were so close to meeting David, I just couldn't imagine who would just leave like that!  Fools I tell you! Fools. 
While waiting close to an hour in a very unorganized line, we noticed the store clerks had armfuls of the new book and just handing them out to people.  
Not selling them to people, giving them to people.
I looked down at the receipt of the three books I made Chad run in and purchase when we first got in line outside.  I was afraid of them running out, or me having to leave the line and lose my place to purchase it later.  $90 for three hardcover books, and here these people are handing them out.  Stupid, stupid, stupid!

When I finally found myself in front of David Sedaris, I was so nervous I was at a loss for words, which is very rare for me.
I wanted to tell him how my bangs were sticking to my forehead because of my nerves, how I wore a low-cut dress for him, though I know he is gay,  and in a relationship, and that my elbows were probably ashy and it was really distracting me from this moment.
Luckily, I didn't say any of that.
I found myself throwing Johnny, Jessica and Chad under the bus as an ice breaker with Mr. Sedaris.  I grabbed one of my three copies and had him address it to them.  I explained how they ditched us in search of food, and how in conclusion they must not like him. 

He politely chuckled and signed their book: To Jess, Johnny and Chad - I hope you're satisfied with yourselves.
The next book he signed was BFF Crystals, her inscription read: To Crystal- Your charming friend bedazzled me. 
ME! I bedazzled him. (Don't take it away from me, let me just have that).
My inscription read: To Meenal- My Abandoned friend.  And lastly, Amie he signed- To Amie, a slow and steady friend.   Amie got a drawing in her book, the lucky bastard.
He told us an interesting story of his time in Bellingham, never rushed us off, and all around was a pleasant man, as I just knew he would be. 

Our meeting did leave me with two regrets:
Being so star struck in front of him that I lost all eloquence, 
and not making him cupcakes or chicken curry. 
Ah well…next time.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

David, I think it's time we met.

I was introduced to David Sedaris' work on a road trip. It was an audiobook -Me talk pretty one day

I instantly became a fan. 

Since then I have only purchased the audio version of his books because I really enjoy hearing him narrate them. I wouldn't be able to replicate his deadpan delivery if I was reading it to myself.

He came to Bellingham once when I lived there and Crystal and I wanted to hear him but it was sold out.  We have tried to see him when he came to Seattle but it never worked out. We finally came to terms with probably never seeing him live.

I consoled myself by telling {me} that its stupid to pay lots of money to hear him read his book when I can just listen to the audiobook and it'll basically be the same thing.

I mean was he going to sing? Play an instrument? Do magic? Probably not.  

Oh man! What if he does magic?? I can't focus on that now I've already decided I'm not going to see him do a reading. 

Being a fan of his on Facebook I found that he was going on tour again this year, but before that, he was doing book signings in random cities promoting his new book -Lets Explore Diabetes with Owls. I quickly scanned the events page to see if he would be making a stop in DC. 
He wasn't. 
And then, instinctually, I checked if he was doing a book signing in Seattle. I don't know why; to feel sorry for myself that I wouldn't be able to go I guess?  
Lucky for my feelings he wasn't stopping in Seattle either.  I did notice that he would be signing books in New York City.  I AM always looking for an excuse to visit New York...

I am so fascinated with the city. I think I'm in love with her.  I get completely swept up in her grandeur.  But we ll only have brief flings, after all my heart is spoken for.

I wasn't sure if Chad would be up for driving to New York to meet David Sedaris, so I dismissed the idea. But as the date got closer I decided to casually run it by him.  Because my car was riding on a spare, I decided that it may be smarter to take the megabus. The megabus goes from DC to NYC for $20 one way. You don't have to pay tolls, worry about parking, or have to stay awake while driving. ...Or at least that was the spiel I gave Chad. 

I think almost 3 years into our marriage he is accepting that I often come up with crazy ideas that I think are completely logical. 

"You want to ride 4 1/2 hours to New York on a bus... to get a book signed?"
And then shaking his head and with a smile I'm sure I didn't fabricate he said, "...Sure, honey."
It was settled then, I was going to meet David. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Saturday, May 4th, The Surprise Anniversary Party.

I wasn't sure if we would be able to pull it off, but we did.  My mom was in tears she was so surprised. Mission. Accomplished. 
The completed centerpieces...I put a few drops of food coloring in each vase. Saturday-Centerpieces 

The banner made by the Silhouette Cameo machine, It was so windy I thought it would fly away, along with the tablecloths.  Monday-Banner

The big 40 on the punch/dessert table, (with niece Liv in the back and pregnant cousin Diana on the side) Wednesday-The big 4-0 and Friday-Last prep day

My mom's surprised reaction.

An outfit change:

40 years.

In case you missed any of the days in the prep week not listed above:

Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday-Last prep day.

I have almost everything done, except the cardboard 40.  I have waited till the very last minute and now I want to throw it in the garbage.  I think I'm tired.  
I can't get it to look pretty like Oh Happy Day's tutorial.  I don't have the crepe paper to make the fancy decoration, and I've come so far that I can't just stop and not follow through, or can I?  Chad's asleep and I am very jealous.
I decided to switch up the decorations and cover it up in scrapbook paper and pictures instead.
My floor at the moment:
There's still the sides to do and a few more pictures to put on.  
Hopefully I will be able to get done and still have some time to rest before the big party tomorrow.  

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Thursday-Cutting chicken.

In order to lighten my cooking and work load tomorrow, I cut and cleaned 11 pounds of chicken tonight for the chicken curry.  
It took me three hours. 
That's a lot of chicken.  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wednesday-A big 4-0.

Today, I am making a big 4-0 out of cardboard for my parents 40th Anniversary.
 I saw this on Pinterest:
It is on Oh Happy Day's blog.  She tells you in great detail how to make this which leaves you believing that it actually might be possible to pull it off.   I mean just look how fun that looks!  This 25 is supposed to be a pinata.  I wasn't sure if that was where I wanted to go with it, but I knew it would be a great addition to the decor.   Pinterest has a way of thinking you can do anything.

I found scrap cardboard from Costco, it wasn't as big as the picture from Oh Happy Day, but I got over it, reluctantly.
I left the rest up to Chad.  I would enter the scene again for the decorating part.

Gotta love him.  I will decorate either tomorrow or Friday.  

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Today, is day 4 of the party prepping.  I have decided to devote it to pictures.  
My dad has always been a huge fan of enlarging photos.  One visit to my parents house and you will notice the poster size pictures that are hung around the entire house.  I went around his house and counted the number of photos my dad has enlarged.  As of today,  April 30th 2013, he has 41 enlarged framed poster size photographs. 
F O R T Y - O N E !!
Normally when you frame photos for hanging around the house, you pick the best one.  If you're going to enlarge a photo to 24" x 36", the photo is better than the best, otherwise why make it gigantic?
My dad does not agree with that statement.
There are many photos that one or more of us have scowls or are just not happy to be photographed at that moment, and he chose to enlarge them anyway.  
Sorry about that rant.  My point is, with my dad loving photographs so much, I wanted to do something special with the photos I've managed to find of my parents.  This involved going through many many photo albums and weeding through the thousands of family photos that are in there.  I managed to find 200 photos of them where about 90% were just them. After scanning them, I wasn't sure what to do with them.  Scouring pinterest didn't seem to help much.  There were so many photos, I wasn't sure what to do short of a slideshow, and even then, it would have to be really long to add all the photos.  Of course, I did have the option of cutting some pictures out of there, but this is 40 years of memories, I didn't want to short change them.
Sometimes I stress out about trivial things, like photo collages.
I finally decided on a photo mosaic.  I took one of their wedding photos as the base, and using this great website, Easy Moza, I was able to create an awesome mosaic for them using all the 200 photos.
You can download a hi-res photo of what you created for $5.95.  Channeling my dad, I enlarged the photo to 24" x 36" at Costco.  Make that 42 poster-size photos in his house now. 

Monday, April 29, 2013


So far I have tackled the centerpieces for the anniversary party and the samosas.  Doesn't seem like a lot when I write them down, but they took up one day each!  Monday was devoted to decorations.  I saw this post on Pinterest and decided to replicate it.  It's from  

Out came the Silhouette machine again.  I made the letters a little thicker than this, and I opted to not add their names to the banner.  RAMAN & MRUDULA was a little long.  So instead my banner just reads Happy 40th Anniversary.  Figuring out where to hang it on the deck is a different story.  I'll leave that part up to Chad.  
The Silhouette did a good job cutting the letters.  I used some glittery paper I had.  I just have random stacks of scrapbook paper for just such an occasion.  I would hate to have a brilliant craft idea and not have the paper to back it up.  

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Day 2 of the anniversary party preparation:  Samosas.

For those unfamiliar with samosas, they are little triangular shaped dough pockets filled with potatoes and peas or meat and peas.  You'll find them in most Indian restaurants in the appetizer section.
A few years ago I decided to master the art of samosas.  They are a bit tricky to make, but like anything, all they need is a little practice.

The trick to a good samosa is making sure you over season your filling.  When you are making the filling, people usually put enough seasoning to make it taste just right, and then stop.  But you have to remember that your filling is going to be masked with a lot of dough.   So whatever seasoning you put in your filling, repeat it.  Trust me.
My initial seasoning before the potatoes were cooked

After the potatoes were cooked, I re-seasoned
Of course, if you get it right the first time around, then great.  But I always tend to under season the first time around in fear of seasoning overload, and then find myself having to add more in there. 
Here is the filling for the non-veg samosas.  Ground beef and peas:

I formed the samosas and put them in ziplocs and stuck them in the freezer.  I figure I can get them out of the freezer and into the frying oil the morning of the party.  Hopefully.  Othewise that's 100 samosas and a days work down the drain.  

Detailed directions on how to make samosas are coming.  Promise. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013


I have tentatively planned out my week of prepping for the parents 40th anniversary party.  Today was devoted to centerpieces.  I saw someone break down 10 years in the number of months, weeks, days, etc. and put in on a canvas.  I decided to see what would happen if I tried to etch the breakdown of 40 years on glass.
Here are my tools: 
I bought 5 vases from the dollar store and the adhesive stencil film and etching cream from Michaels.  Originally the film is $10 and the etching cream is $23.  Kind of pricey, considering I bought the vases for $1 each.  (But a little FYI, if you ever find yourself in Michaels about to make a purchase, always check online for coupons.  Practically every week Michaels puts out coupons for 40% off one regularly priced item.  I actually looked it up on my iPhone while I was in line, because they will scan the barcode right off your phone!  I got lucky because not only did I find the 40% off coupon, but there was an additional coupon for 40%  off any regular priced Martha Stewart crafts.  You'll thank me one day when you want to be crafty).

I had recently bought a Silhouette Cameo.  This is a machine that looks like a printer, but instead of ink, it uses a little blade to cut your designs.  It's a pretty awesome concept, but I haven't had much time to play with it yet to truly see it at its best.  I brought it out for this project. I cut out a 12 x 12 piece of adhesive stencil, made a stencil with the Silhouette and attached it onto the vase.
The only problem with the stencil was taking out the negative space for the letters and numbers and attaching it on the vase so that they would be able to be etched properly.  I had to take out the little pieces with a tweezer and attach it on every o, e, a, 4, 6, 8, etc.... that was the most time consuming out of this project.
The etching cream looked like caramel. The directions say to apply a thick layer on the glass and leave on for 15 minutes.  Then rinse off.
And this was the end result:
Not bad.  I did notice I should've paid more attention to the consistency of the cream, made sure I applied the same amount over the whole thing.  As you can see the 40 is a little splotchy.  Well, I have 4 more to go, I'm sure it'll eventually get there.  I did have a panic moment while the etching cream was setting.  I had to make Chad double check my math and make sure that really was the breakdown of 40 years in months, weeks, days, hours, and minutes.  Phew, it was.
 Overall looks pretty good.  Some flowers in there, and we've got our centerpieces.