Healthy baby, Recipes

Sabka favorite Stir Fry

If you are like me you would have at some point wondered how to get your child to eat more veggies. This easy peasy Chinese dish comes to my rescue.

You need :

  • Asparagus
  • Mushrooms 
  • Broccoli ( Use the peeled stalks too)
  • Baby corn
  • Sweet pepper 
  • Zucchini (I don’t peel it)
  • Carrots
  • Beans  
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • A pinch of salt 
  • Oregano for seasoning (Optional)
  • A tbsp roasted sesame seeds (optional)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce (optional)

* Use whichever of the above vegetables you have, the more the better.

Wash all veggies and cut them in 1-2 inch pieces. Take a big shallow pan and add olive oil once it’s hot. Add all veggies and stir fry on high for 5 min. Don’t cover. Test veggies… They should be crunchy but not raw. Turn off heat, sprinkle salt and sesame seeds. Mix well, serve hot.   
 

I don’t use soy sauce most times because the dish is flavorful as it is but if you want you can add it right after you put vegetables in the pan. 

My 3.5 year old loves it, and I like how this dish uses veggies that are not commonly used in Indian cooking. That it needs just a little bit salt is another plus. If you have a baby at home you can cut the vegetables smaller and cook them softer without any seasoning. 

Try it, it’s quick ( the only time you spend is in washing and chopping the vegetables) and delish ( I end up eating almost half of it while tasting only :P).

Perfect for evening snack or as a side dish with Dal rice. 

Happy cooking.

-A

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Festivals, Mundane musings

Why I celebrate Karvachauth?

One of my fondest memories as a child is to see my mother get dressed for Karvachauth. She rarely wears a sari and Karvachauth was one day when even if she didn’t want to I begged and pleaded for her to wear one. I remember going to a neighbor’s house to see other aunties all decked up and then watching the pooja. Even as a child I loved the karwa song. In the evening my grandmother used to share the goodies and money my mom gave her as gift  with me. The festival was celebrated simply and there wasn’t much hoopla around fasting and gift giving as it is these days.

As I grew older I looked forward to fasting myself when I got married. So when post marriage I was told that my in laws side doesn’t celebrate Karvachauth I was a tad disappointed but decided to still keep it because not fasting on Karvachauth somehow felt wrong. 

My celebrating this day and fasting is not a compulsion, not a tradition I am expected to follow and certainly not an image I have to live by. I fast as a way to thank God for giving me a husband who loves and respects me, who may have his flaws but has a heart of gold. As much as I fight with him, I do know he’s the best thing that happened to me and in the very cheesy Karvachauth style I want him as my husband for all 7 births or more. 

Since I fast mainly for myself I maintain the flexibility and trade early morning sargi for a couple extra hours of sleep. I wear a sari or a suit as I find convenient. I cook an elaborate meal or go out for dinner depending on my mood. I have kept very lenient fasts during both my pregnancies and I sure will do it again if I feel myself physically incapable of staying thirsty or hungry all day. If we don’t have any sweets at home I break the fast with chocolates. Since I define the way I celebrate this festival I enjoy it more. 

I do get mehandi, dress up, do pooja and wait for the moon. It feels nice to celebrate my husband and our marriage in a traditional way. Though we don’t do the channi thing, it still makes me warm and fuzzy to do the aarti and break the fast after moonrise. 

I don’t expect a gift, my husband is oblivious to this newer custom and I never saw this during my childhood so it has never been part of the celebration for me. If he gets something it makes me happy, if he doesn’t I’m still happy because it’s Karvachauth 🙂 

Wish you all a very Happy Karvachauth. May everyone finds happiness and peace in their married lives and may all husbands and wives have a happy and healthy life. 

Dress up, glam up and sing a happy song. Don’t follow the rituals if you don’t feel they belong. 

Haha… Sorry for the silly rhyme.

  

“Veero Kudiye Karwada,

Sarv Suhagan Karwada,

Ae Katti Na Ateri Na,

Kumbh Chrakhra Feri Na,

Aar Pair Payi Na,

Sui Ch Dhaga Payi Na,

Ruthda Manayi Na,

Suthda Jagayi Na,

Behen Pyari Veera,

Chan Chade Te Pani Peena,

Ve Veero Kudiye Karwada,

Ve Sarv Suhagan Karwada …….”



Happy fasting,

-A

Crafty baby, Festivals, Parenting

DIY Last Minute Halloween 2015 Costume under 45 minutes-Chef

I had no plans to dress up my son for Halloween this year. I was just slacking to think and was being lazy. On Tuesday, at the school I was told that Thursday is the costume day and all the kids will be dressing up and going out for trick or treating. With no plan in mind, I freaked out. At night, my son, as usual asked me for my cooker and spatula so he can “cook” food for me while I cook him his dinner. While watching him play, it stuck me, why not make him a chef? All I need is a Chef’s hat and an apron.

Now my mind started thinking how to make all that in such a short time span. I figured I can possibly use parchment paper and A4 size white sheets to make a hat. I googled and I found just the video I was looking for.

Now for the apron. I figured we are running out of milk and I can run to Braum’s (a small grocery and ice-cream store) and get their sturdy brown bags and use those to make the apron. Equipped with a plan, on Wednesday evening, went to Braum’s and got 3 gallons of milk (and 3 brown bags with it). Next I grabbed two sheets of white paper, 3 foot long parchment paper (from my stash of baking items) and gathered the rest of the stuff as pictured below:

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I used the following video to make the Chef’s hat:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mGJ6zFkl34
Next I cut open the seams of the brown bag, folded it in half-inside out, cut out a hole to put it on and shape of arm pits. Then I stapled the two pieces together and used glue and stapler to put on the pocket on the apron. The pocket was actually the printed side of the brown bag that already had the Halloween print. Additionally, I put scotch tape on backside of all the staples so that they do not hurt my lo. Here is the end product under 45 minutes, from things that can be found at home easily. Additionally, I recycled the grocery bags and my little one enjoyed helping me and testing the costume out 🙂

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~N

Parenting

Dussehra 2015

Dussehra-The win of good over evil

Dussehra-Watching Ravana being built by skilled artisans all over town

Dussehra-Reviving fond memories of RamLeela

Dussehra-Watching the procession of Ram heading to the RamLeela grounds for burning Ravana

These are a few of the many memories associated with the festival of Dussehra. Being in the States, its hard to provide similar memories to my child and kids in the Indian Community. To keep some touch, I have enrolled my lo in Chota Balvihar classes in Temple that take place every fortnight. We decided to have Dussehra theme for one of the classes. After raking my mind, I came up with the idea to make props for the class and tell them the story simplistically. Off we went on a shopping trip to hobby lobby and got some cardstock. Since my son already had glue and permanent markers, we decided to use the same and like a night owl, I made Ram-Lakshaman-Sita-Hanuman-Ravan and Marichak-Complete with an icecream stick to hold on to the props with

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On the D-Day of the class, we had a great story telling session, with the kids most stuck on the props. After the story telling session was over, we took pictures of the little Ravanas-complete with 10 heads, holding a little moustache and a crown on their heads and giving them additional 9 heads.

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After that, we distributed the following supplies to all kids, so they can make their own Ravan

  • Orange disposable cup
  • 2 googly eyes
  • A paper cut nose
  • Paper Crown
  • Black brows
  • 9 heads
  • Black moustache
  • And glue

IMG-20151016-WA0000[1]  20151018_115426[1]

The kids had fun assembling together the Ravana and enjoyed taking their craft home. Now, time to think about Diwali crafts đź™‚

~N

Crafty baby, Playtime

Best Out of Waste (1)

Creativity is not just in creating beautiful pieces from an assortment of pretty colors and materials, its also in creating something of value from seemingly useless things. During our regular chit-chat call the other day when my friend VC mentioned that she doesn’t buy craft supplies for her 2 year old twins, I was intrigued. I knew that she does daily art projects with her kids and was curious to see how she does that without the paraphernalia that I can’t seem to work without.

I didn’t need to wait too long. Next day she sent me video of a car she made using an empty carton. It was not fancy but it served the purpose as I saw the twins happily play with the car in the video clip. I filed it in my memory to use later and soon got the opportunity too. Hubby was traveling for work again and VMJ being Daddy’s girl was not happy about it. To keep her from sulking I suggested why don’t we make an aeroplane and go meet Papa! She was only too excited to cooperate.

I got a sturdy carton and cut windows and holes for VMJ’s legs. She then painted the outside and once the paint dried she decorated it with stars, pompoms and made eyes. For the wings we added 2 balloons on the sides.  

  

The result was a pretty funny looking plane but hey… it kept her busy for good 2 hours and later both VMJ and baby VSJ had fun playing with it. It was a brilliant idea and all thanks to VC for showing me the ropes!  

 
 

One can make it for school Best-out-of-waste craft competitions, or as a cheap and entertaining toy for your child. 

Happy crafting,

-A

Mundane musings

Khush Hai Zamana….

The first of each month revives the nostalgic memories of childhood, when Radio Ceylon would play this song by Kishore Kumar, from the movie Pehli Tareekh, at 7:30AM sharp. It would not matter what day of the week it is. The transistor would always be tuned to the Ceylon frequency, and kept right next to me by my papa, so I can listen to it even when asleep.

The song beautifully sums up the feelings of all people when the pay day comes. The wife wants to go see the cinema, the kids want a toy or two and claim that bapu hai mera, the pick-pocket has his eyes on the heavy pocket and how can we forget the “lala” who is ready to grab at the first sight to clear his “khata”. The same stands true today too. Pay-day means paying off the utility bills, buying something for spouse/house and something for kids. Although, we can dodge the pick-pocket just because everything has gone digital these days (and we are not complaining), and salaries have gone up significantly that we no longer have to stay on a budget per say, but we do tend to take a look at it for major purchases. Those were the days, when small things would bring a feeling of happiness.

Today, being the first, I decided to play the song from youtube for my son. He first looked at me funny, but he enjoyed the song. I would like to continue the tradition. Its fun and revives some fond memories. What fond memories you have, leave us a comment! 🙂

~N

Parenting, Playtime

Quiet Games For Toddlers

Having a baby and a toddler in the house is no less than a daily adventure. They are an inseparable duo – always wanting to be around each other, play with each other and fight with each other. While I give a high five to myself everytime they are busy together, there is a time everyday when I want them to stay apart and quietly so. Yea… Nap time!!

My younger one is 9 months and needs his afternoon naps. He’s also at a stage when he is easily distracted even by a fly in the room. Keeping my daughter away and quiet while I try and put the baby to bed has been my greatest challenge lately.

Then there are times one just needs the house to be quiet – when hubby is taking an official call from home or one of us needs a nap or I am catching up with a friend and need uninterrupted time on phone.

So I racked my brains for some quiet games VMJ can play by herself and came up with the following list:

  • Blocks: One of the most evergreen games ever! We have a few sets of building blocks and Legos which my daughter enjoys on most days. There’s a special set which has blocks of several colors and is also the biggest set we have at home. Whenever I need some quiet time I take those out and ask VMJ to make the tallest tower she can. She happily obliges and since the tower ends up much taller than her it falls and breaks often in the process, keeping her busy for a LONG time.       
  • Puzzles: Off late VMJ has started showing much interest in puzzles and we have more than a few at home. They are also a great way to keep her out of my hair for a while. 
  • Easel: Forget toddlers, even grown ups   an spend a good time doodling and drawing on an easel without getting bored. Colorful chalks will keep them there longer.
  • Teddy bear tea party: VMJ’S most favorite game these days…. She arranges a table cloth, sets cushions around it, places her teddies and then has a tea party. The meticulous arrangement, the conversations with the teddies, tea…. They all keep her engaged for a long time.   
  • Sorting: Any kind of sorting is fun for toddlers, be it sorting objects by color or shapes. We sometimes use colorful beads or pompoms.
  • Beading and lacing: It says fun all the way while also aiding gross motor development. Making necklaces matching her dress, beading one color at a time, making patterns with colors…. And if you have beads of different shapes as well you have multiple play options.
  • Rice box/sand box: It’s a great sensory play tool for toddlers. They can go hours pouring, filling, squeezing, making hills etc. You can make colorful rice by adding a little food color and letting it dry before giving to the child. Throw in old plastic bottles, cutlery, random plastic toys that can be filled for extra punch.
  • Figurines – dolls, teddy bears, soldiers, animals, cars…: If your kid is crazy about something chances are you will have more than a few figurines of it in the house. Your child can go a fairly long time playing with the bear family, fighting wars with soldiers, racing the cars. You can make the play time last longer if you give a special touch to his games… Like racing flags for the cars (can be made by sticking paper triangles on a toothpick), swords/bombs for the soldiers (toothpick or beads), some dry snacks for the dolls and teddy bears…
  • Balls: VMJ has been crazy for balls ever since she was a baby so I have a fairly decent collection of them in various sizes and textures. Sometimes when we are not playing the traditional ball games, I ask her to throw them one by one in a box from a distance. Not only its fun it also helps with hand eye coordination.
  • Play dough: When we bought the first box of play dough for VMJ I was more excited to play with it. There is something very therapeutic about rolling and kneading the dough and creating different shapes with it. It also qualifies as a great sensory activity.
  • Scissors: Its a great idea to buy a pair of child safe scissors and give them old newspapers and magazines to cut. You can draw straight, curved and zig-zag lines on the paper to give them a more complex activity.
  • Art & Craft activities: Most toddlers love art and craft activities and VMJ is no different. I usually keep a stock craft supplies at home and sometimes let her play with it to keep her busy. Today itself I gave her strips of rhinestone stickers and drew shapes on a plain paper. You can see in the picture below how she kept herself busy for the next half an hour. Not only is this activity creatively satisfying, it aids in development of fine motor skills as well.  
  • Eating her fav snack: Sometimes I and VMJ make a fruity garden…. it makes her happy and ensures that she finishes her fruit plate. The quiet time comes as a bonus!   

Do share the quiet play ideas that work for your kiddo. 

Happy playing!

-A