Day 24 : Pre & Post cooking work

Our food is now greatly simplified. We just eat salads for lunch and dinner every day. The vegetables vary, dressing remains the same. The prep time is very time consuming, may be not that bad if it comes down to 2-3 hours for 3 days’ worth of food. And then packing the food in containers layering it from one of the greens , quinoa/cracked wheat/brown rice,  lentils of variety (one type every week), two steamed vegetables ( carrots, broccoli, beets, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts), I shop for veggies every 3 days so that they do not sit in the refrigerator and escape my memory. I have been diligent about that lately as I often forget and throw out the veggies. Bringing in only when I plan to cook is greatly helping me.

This obviously entails cleaning of veggies, chopping them, steaming and packing the food in containers. And all of them should be done in a day. I have also stopped using canned products that requires me to perform additional two steps of soaking a day before and cooking them. But, that is a lot of work as I am greatly un-coordinated and inefficient in the way I organize my cooking. Additionally, I make spicy peanut powder inspired by one of my favorite chef’s recipe, along with dressing. These items all combined make up for a fulfilling meal and I cannot be happier to have found something that is sustainable. The dressing which is supposed to last for 3 days usually does not. I think we overdose ourselves greatly. Still, not very bad compared to my earlier days of trying to make homemade food. Let’s just say I am able to manage and see a scope for improvement on being more efficient with my energy and time.

When I have some time and mood for cooking, I make a simple Italian, Indian or Mexican dish to satiate my taste buds or find a new recipe to play with. Then comes the cleaning part, which is where I am still struggling with, I am trying to wash them off immediately but the constraint of storing wet dishes makes it challenging. I have timed it several times, the dishes are done under 10 minutes’ tops, but motivating myself to do that work takes hours of cajoling. Additional stress if I have guests over.  And that is why, I have not been keen on inviting anyone over. Sure, we can order food outside, but it undermines the whole idea of saving when we are tight on budget. It’s any day cheaper to cook healthy meals at home than eating outside.

This is partly bragging as well as ranting about the benefits and dis-advantages of homemade meals and where I stand. Hope you have ignored all my rants and took only positive aspects. After all, in America – those added sugars, salt, canned and refrigerated goods are neither tasty nor healthy anyway.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”  ~Hippocrates

Now, your turn – speak up about your cooking adventures.

Day 23: Resolutions review

It’s been exactly a month when I took these resolutions :

  1. Drink 2 liters of water every day.
  2. Yoga 5 times a week.
  3. De-clutter once a week at least for 20 minutes.
  4. Write on this blog at least twice a week
  5. Eat home made food unless there is no option.
  6. Treat myself when I achieve some of personal and professional goals.
  7. Read at least two books each month.

and….

I followed none. Absolutely none. It breaks my heart to over estimate my capabilities and commitments and under deliver them. It is bit in-humane for me to do it. When I make lists like these, I forget that I am a human and not a robot. I have mood swings, my physical and mental abilities have limitations and more importantly trying to outrun my laziness to manage my time efficiently. The only thing that I have been consistently trying to do is drinking 2 liters of water and that is if I make it my agenda first thing in the morning. Yes, I forget to drink water until I have these dreams where I am desperately searching for water every where waking myself up in the mid night to gulp down full bottle of water. The other thing that I have been some what successful is #5, 5 out of 7 days, meals are prepared at home, that should not be even part of resolution for that matter, it was that holiday time and I went off the track eating every meal outside.  #2 is averaging once a week and rest of them are almost not happening.

Then, why make resolutions when you cannot follow? I really like to plan, execution is a paramount problem for me, having a sizable goals is probably a good idea. But, no matter what I do, I have difficulty following it through. As the saying goes, rules are for breaking and so as resolutions are for renewing. Ok, I just made that up, the resolution part. Self-blaming does not help either and it is greatly discouraging, so please do not do that, especially if you are in the same boat as I am in not following through resolutions. So, I give up and stick to only two reasonable goals that are healthy – #1 and #5 and I seem to follow that a bit, so I continue.

If I reduce my resolutions to just to two of them, my success rate just went up drastically. So, I will just stick to it. It all made me feel better and want to eat an chocolate ice cream to celebrate myself. Speaking of which, I have been on  a hunt for satiating my chocolate ice cream by making it at home. Yes, I have been eating lots of ice cream lately and I put on so much of weight lately, putting on weight is not a problem but the limited choice of dresses to wear is the problem. So, I am in the process of cutting down that addiction. Not easy. So, I found this awesome recipe that I am planning to give it a shot. I’ll share the link when it comes out well. It looked great and we can make it at home with few ingredients. I have to wait around until my banana ripens and I could froze them. Patience is the key. Did I just went off track? Ok, I’ll stop right here and right now.

How are you all doing with your resolutions?

Day 22 : Clutches & Gifts

I went to visit a friend randomly showing up at their home to see the new born. It was long over due and this visit was totally unplanned. Anyways, towards the end, I was given a beautiful clutch as we were stepping out. As much as I love it, I did not feel good about taking the gift in the first place.

There was a time, I did not even had a wallet. Then I saw my roommate having a wallet that was so beautiful, I got something similar and held onto it for years until it started falling apart. Then I got myself a white wallet that was good enough to take it to parties and also for regular use. As it was white, it got dirty pretty quickly. Then, when I went to a mall in Mumbai, I liked all the clutches and got myself 2 of them, one for western and the other for Indian attire. Very happy until I found my large phone did not quite fit in, gave it to a cousin. Glad about one less. But, there was a party coming up and I had to buy another, instead of getting one, I got 2 of exactly same color but of different designs. They were neutral and used them quite a bit for many events and was very happy that they will be with me for eternity.

Then another 2 more wallets flowed in from my mother in law as Christmas and Birthday presents, adding upto 7, when I went to India, I gave up one of the gift to my mother and glad she put to full use. That still brings it down to 6 in hand. Then, I went to visit a friend again to see the new born (yeah, all my friends became mothers lately – that phase of life, where I am attending too many baby showers and visiting newborns and first birthdays than bachelorette parties or weddings) and then I was gifted with yet another wallet. I am not sure why everyone wants to gift me with wallets. I do not like using wallets and may be they get the impression that I do not have one and end up giving me? So where are we? – it came to 7. This time around, without further ado, without opening the present, I simply gave to my other cousin who badly needed it and she was just so happy to use it. (please do not tell my friend). Now, with yesterday’s visit to another friend of mine, she gifted me a yet another beautiful clutch, bringing it back to 7. Should I be happy that I am pampered with gifts? or rather I am sad that I get to use what other’s think are best for me than the choices I would make for myself.

Have you received unwanted or not-necessary gifts from friends and family? How do you politely decline them?. I suffer from that. Before you come to conclusions, I do not gift unless an occasion arises or there is need to gift that fulfills their desire of having that. If you were my regular follower, you know how much I avoid buying stuff and cluttering the home. These gifts that I receive from my well-meaning friends is making me avoid meeting them. How can you politely decline, when some one puts in so much of time and shops for them and gift them with all the love.

All I am left with are clutches and wallets and they are many than I wish for. You want to know how I gift people – find out what they really want and just get that with a gift receipt for them to be able to exchange to what ever they want. Or a Gift card where in they have freedom to buy regular groceries or any item that they need versus some random gifts of my choice. And more importantly, I do not have that big heart to let go of things that easily, I have a small clutch that was gifted by a friend several years ago, I have not used – not even once and yet hold onto it.

Day 21 : Winter Madness

I have been going on and off with cold from last 2 weeks. I continue on medication for 3 days as prescribed, I get better and then I get sick again. I would blame on my lifestyle choices. Not getting enough sleep, no work out and disturbed routines, and not having a nutritious diet along with work stress, all of it is leading to distress and drop in energy levels. It has been warm winter so far, but at times the weather is very unpredictable with extreme variation. Which is also taking a toll on my health. My immunity for some reason is going bonkers.

See, I had grand plans of ice skating which I found is just 2 miles away from my home, skiing weekends in the mountains is falling behind. I was excited to learn that there is a holiday coming up and is a perfect time to go for skiing, get tired, recover from body pains and go back to work. All of it does not seem to materialize. Growing up, even if i wanted to be sick, i never did. If they have to give me 100 % attendance award, I would totally score it. Now, at work, there are limited sick leaves, glad they even give them at all. The problem with sick leaves is, if you have committed to some deliverable’s , it is extra stress on you to finish anyway. That is exactly my situation. I may have to work in the weekends to compensate for lost time, those meetings, un-avoidable calls even when you are sick is current state of affairs in my life. How can you even manage?

To keep up with my resolutions, I have made 3 attempts this week to make to yoga, was about to step out and then my instructor sends a text message of being cancelled. It has happened every single time. Not sure, if I even want to continue the yoga classes with this instructor, unfortunately it’s the only closest and convenient option for me. Instances like this in combination with my own lack of discipline is wasting my money. Yes, it is not that cheap, in fact going to gym and gym classes are much economical than going to just yoga class alone. This cancellation of classes unfortunately coincided with my days of making up my mind to go back is quite demotivating.

I do enjoy snow, and the seasons that change bring different feelings. You see good with bad, I dislike this cold weather and prefer to stay indoors, and that causes cloudiness in my head and gloominess in mood, and that forces myself to step out for a while to get some fresh air. It also gives me some sense of pleasant feeling, don’t we all do?

How do you spend your winter? What excites you more about it? Most importantly, I enjoy any warm tea, sipping when it’s cold is a nice feeling. Yes, going to rest room isn’t 😉 . So, let’s just focus on only good part and now tell me why do you like Winter?

Day 20 : Meeting people in a social setting

Call it a Social Anxiety, I have hard time having a conversation with new people. Especially, if I have to meet friends of friends or friends cousins/family members.  So, it is extremely rare from my end to be friends with these new people unless the action/persuasion happens from the other side, looking back, I can count on my fingers.  Perhaps, the experiences I’ve had in the past, where I felt people judged me right on my face, or my inability to participate in any conversations for lack of knowledge in areas of discussion or if I am making up all this in my head, not sure. I have myriad of thoughts running in my head of what if’s, then’s, else’s or something weird that I think of with the end goal that they might be looking down on me or Is it just that I get that sort of feeling with few people. It just is and hard to justify even though they are very nice to me and I mean nothing to them and may forget me the next moment the occasion ends. But, I carry forward the feelings, at times good, some times bad. I remember bad feelings quite often than good, guess, that is human nature. That is why, I have another new year resolution for me to think only positive of any situation. It helps me to be sane and If I have to meet them again, then I would feel good and look forward to meet any one for that matter. What do you think?

How about you? how do you look forward to meeting new people? what do you chat when you meet? are you a natural conversationalist? I have too many questions to ask. With some people, the conversation just flows and with other’s (which is majority in my case) it becomes most like Q & A with yes or no answers and I look for every opportunity to get away from them and not to meet them ever again. Is it me or them? or if they are in the same boat as me. I am not sure. And that is why, I have hard time meeting you my dear blogger friends. As much as I love reading your blog posts, I categorize myself as one who may not fit in your world. I would not know, unless I try. Someday, I muster enough courage to give it a try. One day.

I try to pay attention to other’s who are good at making conversations, the topics they choose and questions they ask and how they put an effort to make a personal connection with them, some how. I am amazed at some of my friends, cousins who have confidence to meet any new people without shying away. On the other hand, I fight with my inner self so much to make such attempts. Why is it so hard for me? And yes, writing just my thoughts out here want me to get to the root of this problem, and find solution to make my life better. Finding a problem in itself is an accomplishment, now, onto looking for ways.

How about you all?

Day 19 : Emotional Attachment for Things

There is not a single person that I personally know of, who is not attached to materialistic things in some or the other form. May be, I have not reached that spectrum yet in my life. Gifts from loved ones, things you have purchased with your first income, or anything that you have accumulated over a period of time, has some memory associated with it. Does it not?

A friend of mine recently moved to her new home. The home is probably 10 times larger in square feet than their previous apartment they lived in. With a toddler in hand, and other shopping responsibilities for furniture had their energy drained by end of the day. This is when, your’s truly came in to picture to help her organize her kitchen. All of you know, how much I struggle with organizing in my tiny home with thorough thought process of whether we need it or not, and mull over things to buy and are forced to de-clutter at times for lack of space. Now, this kitchen in their home is much larger by size than I am used to. It was already semi organized by then, so all I had to do was categorize them, select the place, organize in presentable manner. Repeat. 70 percent was done in  mere 4 hours.

With this exercise, I realized that I had no emotional attachment to anything from their kitchen, broken cup, jug or plate or glass or any dishware – my instant reaction was, let’s just get rid of them unless my friends really really wanted it for some meaning. They did keep handful and rest of them were thrown out mercilessly into garbage. Not only that, anything that if i feel they may not use it, I suggested them to get rid. It was easy. The kitchen looked much better than where we started few hours back.

While heading back my home, wondered why is it not that easy when I have to perform these tasks at home?. The pending tasks that they were lying for eons, if I must say. I procrastinate, like for ever but they are back burners in my mind and occupy lot of thinking space. That is not good. I feel, we are emotionally and financially invested in things. Certain things trigger our memory, and then we lose track of time, which is why it is hard to be objective about it. I have done such helping in organizing at other friends place as well earlier and I felt it was as easy as it was yesterday and of course does not apply to self. You see, may be not having a definitive goal of what you want to get out of your task might be ruining it. I shall try.

The feeling of accomplishment and helping a friend in need was a warm feeling. I had a hectic Christmas break, and was craving for few restful days without any agenda. That is not very likely to happen in the near future, too many social obligations. I just need to make own space in the world of busyness. Is it not true that we  put other’s above our comforts most of the times? is it good for your soul? Sure, when you help each other in the times of need. That is what the relationships are all about.

So, how do you deal with organization in your home?

Day 18 : Illustrations

Learned about sketching in one the blog that I regularly follow, she is one of my favorite author from India that I tend to follow her blog. She is into many things, and the art on her instagram got me interested to try it out.  I cannot add it to my resolution list as this is one of the many experimental hobbies that I pursue. I ended up drawing something with my regular pen on a paper and applied water colors to it, the result was not too bad but not good either to show off my first art in the longest possible time. Ok, I was a decent painter when I was a kid and am proud of myself to say that my younger cousins imitated my every doing are now a better artists than I am. Imitation is the biggest flattery, isn’t?  This lead me to looking into beginner level tutorials for sketching, and that is when I landed on fashion illustration.

I thought, if I am starting new, why not take up fashion sketching and experiment with it. I ended up watching quite a handful videos and realized it is not as easy as I thought. To get the body proportions in itself is a quite a measured art that comes naturally after so much of practicing. Then comes, the style with which a model poses, and the type of dress you choose to adorn that figure is another challenging. Once you perfect these two, then comes the lighting, shading and coloring and that requires you to understand the science behind lighting and shadow. The curls, folds, wind, sheer clothing, stiff clothing and essentially you can go as far as close to taking a picture. Since, this is all an imagination, it get’s difficult, and no wonder becoming fashion designer is not that easy. Of course, technology is advanced and it has become easier than ever to draw it online and give specification of light source, style and dress, it will adjust to the desired one, and more importantly it’s faster.

So, every hobby that I have taken up or want to do sounds like I am swimming in a Ocean. This is difficult. I rather be jack of all trades than master of at least one to some extent. There, I still cannot nail down and say I like a thing and I want to continue. What am I passionate about? I guess, I’ll still be figuring out in my 80’s provided if I have my mental and physical abilities in tact. Any fashionista’s here? to be precise people who sketch?

I’ll just focus on basic sketching of stand still models with fancy gowns that I wish to wear. I am not a big fan of clutter and I am no model to get such variety to wear, I’ll live in my art, my imagination is not that great either. I’ll start with copying simpler one’s and then if I still hold interest, will come back with my artsy stuff to flaunt here. And most importantly, with one art that I drew this morning, definitely therapeutic for my rest less mind.

Any artists here? Would love to see your sketches or illustrations. Please leave me a link to your art work.

 

Day 17 : Rolling into new year

So, I have neglected this blog again and the commitment to 500 words challenge for 30 days. Once, you get a break, it is hard to get back on. Ever since, thanks giving holidays, my yoga slid off from my routine as well. I lacked discipline in getting back on board, with travelling, having guests over, heavy workload at work did not help either. My routines went upside down. Blogging requires at least 30-45 minutes of time and it uses my brain power, i preferred to watch shows on  you tube / Netflix to kill it. Yes, nothing productive. I’ll put the rambling about “why not” to “How could I not” and move ahead to this bright full new year.

Started new year eve with a bang at Times Square with friends and family. It was truly a joyous and memorable event. Yes, I did not feel like drinking this time around, may be a sip or two, so the open bar was useless for me.  I was tied up with so many activities until now that I barely got a time to reflect back on 2016 and make new year resolutions. Today in the long time i got time for myself with no one in the home and with the snow storm that restricted me from meeting anyone today is very refreshing. Any new-yorkers here?  I have way too many guests and too many friends to catch up with not leaving enough time for myself to slow down a bit. So, this year one of the resolution is to slow down and say “No” to every request without giving reason. I just want to un-wind and do my thing like read a book, fix my home, de-clutter, finish pending tasks from years and have freedom to do what I like without analyzing too much. I love making resolutions from time to time, but new years holds a special place in heart and I end up making a huge list.

Here are mine:

  1. Drink 2 liters of water every day.
  2. Yoga 5 times a week.
  3. De-clutter once a week at least for 20 minutes.
  4. Write on this blog at least twice a week
  5. Eat home made food unless there is no option.
  6. Treat myself when I achieve some of personal and professional goals.
  7. Read at least two books each month.

These are some that I usually do on and off basis. Now, I would like to be more responsible for my statements that are made here. It’s easier said than done.

I’ve yet to make another post writing out how 2016 fared for me, the ups, the downs and everything else that happened. I have hard time re-collecting from my memory bank. I never really spoke about my travels here. I travel reasonably ok averaging one every month and one out of country trip each year. With such delay, there has been lapse in memory for details. There is so much that goes into planning a trip, from choosing a place to booking a flight to reserving a hotel and so on. All this requires researching on various web-sites, hoping to make best of out of given options i.e time, budget etc..and then dealing with the visa hassles is altogether another story. The best part has been every travel, every meeting with a new person / old friend, every book/article that I read changes my perspective to some extent. Does this sound like a familiar experience to you?

Belated, but not that late – here’s wishing you a very exciting new year full of experiences. Wish you nothing but the best year ahead.

How did you celebrate new year? What are your new year resolutions?  You can either leave a link to your blog article or write it in comments. Looking forward to read yours.

Day 16 : On being Judgmental

One day, I met one of my friend who is a pregnant, wanted to find someone in her neighborhood to share experiences, essentially looking for a like minded person to make friendship with. She was driving me back to my home, and while passing I spotted a lady with a toddler and dressed for summer and there is something about her personality from distance sounded like a confident personality. I pointed to her and encouraged my friend to chat with her. My friend immediately retorted saying that how could you judge a person like that based on their appearance. True, you never know until you spend some time with her and the situations that arise will only speak if they are at your frequency.

We judge people inadvertently all the time that we come in contact with in our own limited capabilities. When we have conversation with a friend, stranger or colleague – we immediately react if that is in conflict with our ideas. Is it even possible to emotionally detach and absorb the information and not judge the person but act on the information by providing facts irrespective of whether you like it or not? How do you handle?

I have a friend who comes across as very judgmental and strongly opinionated. I used to avoid sharing information about my life, or family or discuss certain topics knowing well that she judges and defends her points without knowing entire context. I only speak up with her when I think it is important to show her another point of view on certain things that are important to me and she is aware of it. I like her, she is an extrovert and sweet, but that’s her personality and is neither harming nor hurtful. It is also refreshing for me to hear different perspective expanding my point-of-views for a given topic. There was an instance where one of colleague preferred cats to having kids. She has been harshly judged by my peers at work and was made fun of behind her back. When I asked what’s wrong with that choice?  All I understood was, they were trying to project their way of life onto her.  I feel, majority of us are always trying to project our views onto others and expect others agree to what we say or treat that as normal.

We judge people all the time based on our experiences and knowledge. It takes a considerable amount of effort in not judging self and others. Being emotionally detached and having presence of mind is something that comes with practice. Clearly that is not easy. Having compassion for every human being and not being judgmental is something that I try to remind myself every day. The world will be a better place had we been less judgmental and more compassionate humans.

Here are few quotes that I found more apt for the topic:

Condemn none: if you can stretch out a helping hand, do so. If you cannot, fold your hands, bless your brothers, and let them go their own way.  – Swami Vivekananda

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.  -Dalai Lama

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.  -Mother Teresa

What is your take on this?

Day 15 : Fulfilling meal

What constitutes a meal that is nutritious, healthy and most importantly that satiates all your senses?. The smell, texture, taste that is not only appetizing but also very fulfilling is something that I look forward too. When you have food, it should be energizing as well. That is one such recipe I came across and I loved it very much. I usually look for vegan/vegetarian meals at various restaurants that I keep trying. When I came across this organic cafe Live Alive,  I fell in love with variety of food options that nurtures soul and body. I would look forward to trying different item on the menu every time I happen to visit that café. I carefully made a note of all the veggies, the style of cut, texture and taste, it was so delicious that I have decided to give it a try at home.

So, I scouted the entire world wide web for making the dressing recipe.. until I landed on this website, this turned out to be exactly as I tasted there. I made a batch of it that serves for up to 6 meals.  I had cooked quinoa, and layered with steamed broccoli, cooked & diced beets, steamed diced carrots and also added for some spicy-crunchy taste – dry-roasted and semi- blended peanut-chilli powder-coriander seeds-cumin-garlic-mustard seats. It turned out to be amazing. I just cannot stop bragging about how much I loved it. This is all refrigerated, all you need to do is organize, warm it for 30 seconds in microwave, add the dressing and have it. I have had it dinner & lunch for two days.  It was absolutely terrific. Highly recommend trying it.

If you were my regular blog reader, you would know how I keep struggling with food options and always on lookout for variety of cooking channels to get ideas for easy-to-prepare dishes. I want to minimize my time and optimize the options and easily scale for as many people as I want to serve. This recipe definitely goes under my favorite list.  What about you? And also, I do give reference links every time I like something and try it out. When I re-visit it In the near future, most of the links just does not work anymore. That is why, I plan on building my favorite recipe index, albeit copied, the references will be provided along with the text version of the recipe.  Between, I see the trend in food industry is shifting to grain bowls, mostly with kale-quinoa, kale-farro, kale-brown rice as a base, and all the other options are placed on top without mixing by giving an picturesque appeal to mix them up and eat. It just looks lovely and very appetizing. What appeals to eye and taste buds is a real winner –and before you assume, definitely not those junk foods that are deep fried and that are served in larger quantities.

I read somewhere, gut is the root cause of disease and food is the real medicine. If you ea t right, then you don’t have to visit any doctor. Please do share any simple veggie recipes you have.  Looking forward to hear from you.