Friday, 30 August 2013

Revisiting My New Year’s Resolution


I don’t follow the trend of making New Year’s resolutions; not because I agree with Calvin…

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…but possibly because I know that for the major part, they won’t be followed through (Ha! Such optimism!) . This year, however, I decided to make one. Not a big list with lots of high hopes written down, but a single, simple resolution.

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My New Year’s resolution was this - to drink more water daily.

Yes, that was it! My water intake was shamefully less, and I thought if I had just a single item on my resolutions list, I’d stick to it.

So did I?

After 2/3 of the year has passed and we’re closer to the end of the year than the beginning, I’m finally making a reassessment of my water intake - and I realize that I haven’t been sticking to my resolution completely. Yes, I have noticed an improvement in my water intake, but sometimes, I go through extreme dry spells.

One thing which helps remind me to hydrate myself more often is keeping a jug of water on the table through the day. It serves as a visual reminder, while at the same time helping me keep track of the amount I drink. The prettier the jug, the better!

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Having a jug of water and a glass beside me while blogging works wonders; that’s when I drink like a camel!

Now please excuse me while I go fill ‘er up.

Have you kept up with your New Year’s resolutions?

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Wedding Bells, Twice


One of my close friends, A, is getting married in a few days. Another really close friend F is tying the knot on the following day.

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I'd gone to college with both of them, with A during my masters degree, and with F during my bachelors. Both times, we were part of a close-knit gang of friends, pulling through adversity together, supporting each other, and enjoying each others company. I'm still in touch with all of them (thank god for the internet!). From among my friends group from my bachelors, a gang of four girls (discreetly mentioned here!), two are married, and the third will be in a few days! It is unbelievable how time flies and circumstances change. I'm genuinely happy for these friends who have found good partners for themselves. Two more girls, crossing the threshold, becoming ladies with added responsibilities to their own, discovering a new, different way of life, entering a whole new epoch. Weddings are fun, and also extremely stressful and hectic.  I'm usually one who worms her way out of such hassle, but if it is a friend's wedding, I wouldn't miss it if I had the choice. I've been invited to both these upcoming weddings, but sadly won't be able to attend as I'm in a different country.

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All my wedded friends, and myself, are under the age of 25. It makes me feel...a little left out, to be honest. Not because I’m not married, but because everyone else is. Once a friend is married, I feel like they might not have time for long, elaborate emails or phone conversations like they did before. I know this might not be true about everyone, that it might just be my assumption, but whenever I want to call a married friend, I hesitate a bit, thinking, "What if she's busy? What if she's with the family?" I know I shouldn't let my presumptions dictate the degree of contact I keep with my friends, but that's the sad truth. I also hesitate to talk about some topics which had flowed freely and unrestrained before, but suddenly seem inappropriate or out-of-bounds.

I know the person is still the same, that it is only a change of status and situation, not of character. I think this is something I need to work on. I do realize that if the same were to be reversed, if I were getting married and then my friends' calls diminished, I'd feel left out. I definitely need to work on this! And no, there's no danger of myself getting hitched anytime soon!

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I wish friend A a wonderful wedding day and a lifetime of falling and growing in love. I wish her happiness in her marriage, peppered with lots of laughter and understanding.

I wish friend F a memorable day and a happy marriage. I wish her lots of fun times with her husband-to-be, truckloads of humour to tackle the differences that inevitably will be, and a love-filled environment.


Sunday, 25 August 2013

The Night Writer

I am an evening person. In the mornings, my pajamas are firmly nailed to the bed. It takes real physical effort to drag myself out of my warm lover's embrace (the lover being my bed, in case there were any confusions). I feel most energetic past 5 p.m., am more up to doing chores and such in the evenings, and get my best ideas past midnight.

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During my undergrad, I went to a college close by, so I didn't have to stay at a hostel. There was this one time before a major exam, my young cousin came to stay over for a month. Having a hyperactive, attention demanding 5 year old around the whole day is not the perfect formula for a great setting to study! That's when I started staying up late to study in peace, often till the early hours of the day, and subsequently getting up way after regular people do. I found that I can work best at night, because there are much fewer distractions. I work really well, or even better, early in the morning too...if I get up.

I get my best ideas at night. I want to write, do craft, make cards, draw, cook, bake. But with everybody else's clocks set at a different time zone than mine, and the need to get up on time the next day, keep me from pursuing these ideas. A lot of blogging brainwaves got lost because I decided to pick sleep over blogging at 3 a.m., until I finally found my common sense and started jotting down my thoughts in my cell phone, to explore them further at a more acceptable time. Now I have an ever growing list of prompts. I get the ideas at night, but I realized, I often pen those ideas best at night too.

Now I've found a new solution. I recently downloaded an app for my android phone, which enables me to reduce the screen brightness by a lot (Of course, this still isn't that much better for the eyes). So some nights, I find myself in bed, tap-tapping on the cell, giving birth to my new blog post. These fruits of the night are saved offline, transferred to the laptop the next day, and proof-read before posting. Like this one.

When do you write? Do you have a specific time you're most comfortable with?

 
Yes you're right
I write at night
After daylight has gone.
It's then my sight
And thoughts ignite
Hence I keep writing on.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Marginalia (Or How I Met My Ghost Teacher)


Marginalia (n., pl.) - notes in the margin of a book, manuscript, or letter (source)


I had borrowed a few books from the library earlier this month. Soon after reaching home and flipping through them, one book in particular stood out – The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. For one, it wasn't a glossy, newer print like the other books in the stash. It was older, more used but still in excellent condition. More importantly, it had light notes and markings in pencil on the margins of some pages.

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I am one who never defaces a novel. I can't bring myself to write anything in those beautiful leaves which transport you to a whole different world. Textbooks, though, are a different matter. I underline important passages. I jot down small points on the margins. Sometimes, I even draw some pictures in it… Maybe I'll do a whole separate blog post about this later.
 
This novel bears some one-word notes on the margins at some places, as well as a few marked paragraphs in every page, all by a very light hand, in pencil. I reckon this is by a student, the way it's done; someone who read it as part of their school or college curriculum.

I was rather surprised I didn't find it as disturbing as I'd expected. In fact, by lightly marking out certain paragraphs and words, the person has succeeded in making me pay a little extra attention to those parts. I find it is quite like having my own friendly ghost teacher, encouraging me to read and understand the book on my own, but still gently pointing out the parts I should pay more attention to so I can eventually understand the plot better. I am now halfway through the book and am eager to finish it, even if only to find out if my ghost teacher is pointing me in the right direction and making me take more note of the details that will eventually prove to be the important ones all along.

Tonight again, I'll be curled up on the sofa, book in hand, with my ghost teacher silently watching my progress. In the end, I'll see if I'm disappointed, shaking my head at her for distracting me throughout, or quietly nodding in agreement and smiling when all the highlighted passages finally come together and make sense.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Lately I've Been...

I've not been blogging as often as I'd like, of late. I have the ideas in my head, I have quite a few potential topics noted down in my trusty cell phone, but it just doesn't seem to translate itself to paper...or word file. If only my posts would write themselves..! Is this what writer's block is like?

So instead of writing something deep and meaningful, I thought I'll give you a run down of what's been occupying me lately.

I've been baking. I made We made a tiramisu cake last week (I can't claim I made it all by myself! Having a baking partner is fun...and quicker.). Yesterday, we made "Kalter Hund / Hunde Schnauze", a no-bake dessert, which is basically like a giant chocolate wafer. I haven't transferred photos of our own chocolate brick to my laptop yet, so this googled photo will do just fine. Ours is pretty much the same, minus the white chocolate drizzle on top.

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There was a double batch of banana loaf cake and carrot cake muffins before this. Plans to bake a coffee cake are on the way as well. And maybe something fruity too, while we're at it. We decided to scratch the chocolate souffle idea, because really, so much chocolate in so short a time can become a little too much even for someone like me.

Looking back at the huge helpings of dessert I've been shoveling in this month, I feel aghast. Forgive me, waistline! Can we please be friends again? :(

I've been brainstorming, and have a few ideas lined up for the blog! A new series is on its way... stay tuned!

After meaning to go to the library since a few weeks, I finally paid a visit. I had compiled a long list of books I intent to lay my hands on. I found only five of those, but that will keep me happy for the time being. I'd be delighted if you leave me some reading recommendations!

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I finished one novel today; I might review it later on the blog. I'll just say, instead of helping me go to sleep earlier by keeping me away from the internet, like I'd hoped, it had the exact opposite effect - I stayed up reading till the crack of dawn, oblivious to the time.

Speaking of books, this is something I can wholeheartedly identify with.

While we're already including external links, may I point out this as well. (Warning - could cause over-stimulation of lacrimal glands.)

I'll be off now, to finally supply some much needed repose to my sleep-deprived self.

Monday, 12 August 2013

One Ingredient Ice Cream


You read the title right.

As improbable as it sounds, this is true. Ice cream. Soft-serve style. A single ingredient. No ice cream maker necessary.

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I came across this “recipe”, if it can be called that, in the videos of two youtubers (bubz and blogilates), and subsequently, in the weekly newspaper supplement. That was a sign that I had to try it out!

If you’re looking for a fat-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, egg-free, fuss-free healthy tasty vegan ice cream recipe, this is it. Even if you’re not looking for one, you should try it!

What is this wonderful ingredient with such super powers?

Presenting….
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The humble Banana!

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Enough talk, now let’s get to it.



One Ingredient Ice Cream Recipe
(Serves one)

Ingredients

1-2 Ripe bananas


Method

1.     Peel, slice and freeze the bananas for a few hours till they’re solid.

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      2.     Place the frozen banana slices in a blender, blend for a minute or two till creamy. Scrape down the sides while blending to give all banana slices an equal chance.

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That’s it!

(Oh, and Step 3: Eat.)

Trust me, this is very tasty! Frozen blended banana gets the exact texture and taste of soft-serve ice cream, if not better.

A few points I’d like to specify:
  • The bananas should be sliced. I slice them into one-centimeter thick pieces. Big pieces or uncut frozen bananas won’t blend well, and they might harm your blender’s blades.
  • I personally prefer slicing the bananas before freezing. You can do it the other way round, and slice them when frozen, but that results in frozen finger syndrome. Not comfortable.
  • Do not over blend, as the friction from the blades will warm the ice cream up and make it runny.
  • If you're making bigger batches, I recommend using a really powerful blender (I prefer making small batches.)

You can customize your ice cream in any way you want. Add fresh or frozen fruits, chocolate chips, vanilla, nutella, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, peanut butter, nuts, honey…whatever rocks your boat!

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I added a handful of frozen raspberries, and a little sugar to compensate for the resulting sourness, to mine. Perfect raspberry coloured, raspberry flavoured bowl of healthy frozen goodness! Yes, this definitely counts towards your five daily servings of fruit. Technically, you're eating fruit, but actually it's ice cream. Couldn't get better than that!

This one-ingredient ice cream freezes well, and can be stored in the freezer just like regular ice cream. Freshly made, the texture is delightful, just like soft serve. Frozen, it gets the texture of regular ice cream. Still delightful.

If you’re trying to reduce your intake of refined sugar, dairy, fats, or going vegan, this is perfect for that sweet-tooth. Or if you have a couple of bananas just lying around, waiting to be transformed into delectable ice cream ;)

Let me know if you try this recipe!

(Disclaimer: Photos are not mine; I was too involved in making and devouring my own creation)

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Rendezvous With The Dentist


I had a dental appointment a couple of days ago. Nothing major, just a routine semiannual check-up and cleaning.

Despite knowing my teeth are in good condition, I was a little apprehensive. I always am, before going to the dentist. What will he say this time? Will I have cavities? Will I need drilling?? I’m at ease going for any other kind of check-up to the doctor: regular all-round check-ups, dermatology appointments, even to the gynaecologist. But going to the dentist? It freaks me out every single time.

Is this fear innate or learnt? It has got to be learnt, but it sure as heck doesn’t feel like it.

Yesterday’s appointment was at a dentist’s I’d never been to before. The place was small, but felt welcoming. I was pleasantly surprised. Of course, it helped that I couldn’t hear the sounds of drills drillin’ away; I feel like I get tooth ache by just hearing the drilling noises.

The check-up went quick, and the routine cleaning was just the way it’s always been. I survived a scare of potentially having to get my molars pulled; the x-rays showed they needn’t be. The thought of having to maybe get rid of two (or four!) quite healthy teeth with humungous roots did nothing to ease my intimidation of dentists and dental anything.

This time, however, my visit to the dentist was much more satisfactory than it usually is. I'll tell you why at the end.

The overall verdict was good. I was told to keep doing everything I already do: brush half an hour post meal, and floss daily. I was also told that since I don't have any cavities or immediate risk thereof (touchwood!), I can schedule my biannual checkup annually. That is good, because:
1) Have you seen how much dentists charge?? 
2) Health insurance does not foot the bill.
And
3) I don't like visits to dental clinics (so I will take care of my teeth).

Now, the reason why this visit was more satisfactory….
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I had THE handsomest dentist ever!

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Young, friendly, and attractive. I am already looking forward to my next appointment. The wonders having a good-looking dentist can do!

I'm sure we're all unanimous that eye-candy puts one in a good mood. Especially when the said eye-candy looks, smiles and talks to you (and you're allowed to look back!).

Thursday, 8 August 2013

...That Is Life


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 I was on the platform,
all this time,
but I missed the train.

I stood by,
watched it rumble past,
without uttering a word of protest.

I could have boarded that ride,
could have gone where I wanted,
but I let it slide.

I was so close,
and yet I let the chance slip,
due to nobody's fault but my own.

The passengers who managed
to board that train
have made it.

They have reached the same place I'd dreamed of,
had initially set out for.

Now I can only wait and see,
if another train to the same destination will arrive.

If it does,
you can bet I will be the first one to jump in.

If it doesn't,
I will have to change my destination.

That is life.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Flower Power


I am no beauty or nail polish blogger, but I couldn’t resist sharing what’s on my nails this week! Well, what’s a girl to do on a rainy afternoon when she’s bored out of her mind?


Like I said, I’m no nail polish blogger, so I don’t have fancy close-up pictures. This photo of my nails “in action” is all you’re going to see.

Alright, here's one more photo because you asked nicely (or because I'm a show-off).



I'll stop right here before I embarrass myself with more photos of my chubby fingers, short nails and unprofessional photos.

My nails make me think of quaint English tea cups. I adore things like that! A friend, though, said my nail art reminds her of the print she saw on a push up bra! There you have it – proof that nails can be sexy ;)

I have a confession – that bored girl on a rainy afternoon I mention above? That’s not me. That’s my sister, and I volunteered my nails as her canvas. (My conscience won’t let me take credit. Trust me, I tried not to include this detail!)