Archive | December 2015

One thing at a time

Do you always find yourself multi-tasking? I do and it rarely gave me full results. If you are a computer science major, you would know what round-robin algorithm does (Interested to know more about it – it’s here)? it divides time into slices and gives each task a slice of it. Then it will go from one task to another as the time is up. You would prominently see such behavior when you have slow internet connection and you open 5 browsers with website urls in it, you will see a bar loading in each of the window and wait for few minutes all will be slowly but steadily loaded. Instead if you have just taken one url, then the results would have been faster.

It almost applies to my life. The time is limited, my tasks are always unlimited. I tend to do multiple things at a time and I am drained to no extent. Personally, I want to follow minimalism, zero waste, cook food at home each day, plastic free, make my own beauty or house cleaning products – I want to do too many at the same time and I switch between tasks. Here time slice for me is – few weeks. I never get to finish at the least one thing that I have started. So my bucket is always full without a scope for new one! So as I lead my professional life, the only difference have been there are deadlines and time sensitivity projects which require me to finish projects that I take up. I have to have a closer for sure. But, the stuff I want to learn to progress ahead in my career has taken a back seat. For the same reason of wanting to do too many things and never be able to finish one thing. For instance, I have been postponing  a particular certification that I need to do.. for years, every other week. The feeling has not been good. And this is resulting in “stacking up in my brain” – I could use excel, perhaps that might help me keep the list short, achievable and have the ability to track the progress.

As Albert Einstein rightly said – “Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them“, true to the fact,  it is the time for me to make changes. Change the strategies. Isn’t? After all “Change is the only constant thing“,  I want to keep my list short, prioritize and do one task at a time. Doing one task at time not only improves the focus but also results. A friend of friend of mine, took hobbies seriously and gave his 100% to it for 1-2 years depending on the type of hobby and got so good at it and moved onto next. Once you learn your fundamentals right, is there any looking back? if you touch that skill years after – it comes naturally – isn’t?. That to me is amazing.

I will end this note with Robin sharma’s lines that will be so apt for my current situation –

“Stop Managing Your Time.

Start Managing Your Focus.”

How about you dear readers? How do you manage your tasks? What steps have you taken to accomplish what you want at home, at work, in life – where ever applicable?

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Body lotion – at home?

I have been following this blog – Trash is for tossers which I have spoken about when I came across this in one of the new’s article. Not sure, if I agree with everything she does or says but I definitely fell in love with the idea of making my own body lotion with just 4 ingredients. Three of which I switch on and off and use it (coconut oil and cocoa butter & shea butter), this recipe is a combination of those three and plus another one. Recipe here, and same recipe here from another blogger, which I will be doing during this upcoming christmas holidays. Pretty excited. So, i went ahead and ordered hand mixer as well. I have been thinking of ordering this electric hand mixer for numerous other reasons and finally this motivated me to get it.

She also has some other suggestions on making your own tooth paste, deodorant which I will try it out in the future. Right now, I will be running out of coconut oil and cocoa butter soon and found to be perfect time to implement it. I still do not know where to scour the ingredients from, I will be heading to whole foods, if not, I will most likely get my ingredients from amazon.

Do you have any suggestions as to where to buy these organic unrefined ingredients – sweet almond oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil. Just the idea that it is chemical free and edible makes it more interesting to try it. I am so looking forward for this.

Do you make any of your products on your own, be it own cleaning products, make up related, or fragrances or anything that you have ever done?

 

Minimalism & load on my brain ?

I must confess that I have not been actively purging things as much as I wanted to. Laziness in me has taken front seat in everything in life. There are time sensitive and important things that should be taken into account sooner to free off the clutter in my mind. That list gets bigger and bigger occupying my most precious memory in brain that could have been completed with just 30 minutes everyday. But, I choose not to.

You may say, if they are that important you would do it? They are extremely important but I am afraid of going back in my memory lane to discover more faults than looking back fondly on beautiful things and lovely final results. I would go into the cycle of – I wish I could have done this way and numerous wishes that clearly are not possible to go back in time and address them. So, the work piles up and there will be urgency to finish it in jiffy due to lack of time on hand and the same thing repeats again. I will go into cycle of “I wish I had started this work earlier” and on and on.  It happens every single time and I want to break out of this cycle. The determination or importance for important things lack in me. I do not have sense of clarity on what is important, urgent, or that can wait and which cannot. That brings back to the topic of “Minimalism”. I cannot focus on this aspect as my mind is full of clutter, that needed to be done.

I wrote a post about the very similar problem 2.5 years back here and yet, here I am still holding onto it. I am my own obstacle in progressing forward. I know my problem, I know how it can be solved. But, I lack motivation in time and again.  This procrastination and laziness has cost me so much in life and yet no improvements.

Dear readers, how do you go about such situations? If you have been in such situations, what steps have you taken to address this problem?

 

Relocating to United States – tips – Part -1 – Housing

I quite often run into people at work where they are new to the city and need help with many things around. I have re-located to many cities with in United states and know the pain and the time it takes to settle down. This is to help people who are new to city, and looking for a place to settle down. I will be posting on Housing, furnishing, making new friends, things to do, travelling options and more ..

Today’s posting is about housing.

Renting a place: I would not suggest that you get onto lease immediately until you have fair idea of the place, commute to work, family, child care responsibilities and in terms of activities to do in your spare time. Yes, they are all linked well together.

Temporary living- furnished – 2 weeks to 1 month, you could look for the famous Air B and B, sometimes, if you are lucky enough – craigslist -sublets and temporary housing can be of some use, if not, the safest in small cities could be – Extended stay america (It comes with kitchen & utensils), you can go on a month-to-month lease. If none of the above work, you can always stay in comfortable hotels until you figure it out.

So, you want to settle down in more comfortable place where you can call it a home:

Rent the whole unit for yourself.

a) Everything is online these days, google is the best place to scout for all the apartments in your zone/ zipcode, you will get fair idea as to how much rent on the average per unit 1 B/R, 2B/R  etc and of course place matters, safety surely matters.

b) Craigslist & Hotpads or Zillow: Craigslist & hotpads has postings directly from owners and real-estate brokers. If you have time and patience, and want it bit economical, you should reach out to all the home owners and make appointments to visit the place.  Ask them to send pictures, that will save you a lot of time. It is very important that you check out the home before you commit to move in to the home.

Online tips : You can check out the school district rating (if you have kids or not, it will give you sense of how good the community is, the greater the rating, the rent is usually high and also considered a nice neighborhood), you can choose to have furnished or not, proximity to groceries, parks, gym, public transportation etc are all found.

I personally prefer hotpads/ zillow over craigslist and I find, people are more responsive and it accurately lists the history of the home and also gives comparable prices of rentals around the area. They are more trust worthy relatively for the reason that the facts about the house are intertwined with real data. It also gives visual proximity to everything around.

c) If you are an Indian – then sulekha.com is the portal where indian do rental postings, they prefer people from India.

d) Before you do steps from #a to #c, make sure you check with people who are already living there, they might have better insight and over all idea about places around. They may just know their neighborhood alone, so do not expect more. And most importantly, reach out to your acquaintances/friends on facebook for guidance.

e) Real-estate broker – things will move super fast, they do the job for you. Specify your requirements and they have great suggestions. The only part where it hurts is – atleast in nyc, you have to pay 18% of your one years rental amount as real-estate broker fee or one month of your rent which ever is higher.

f) You can also check out with rental offices in each area, the apartment units / community’s usually have a rental office.

Looking for a roommate?

a. If you are relocating for job purpose: reach out to your community at your future employer / place you will be working and ask for information. State your rental range, what you want and neighborhoods you are interested in.

b. Craigslist is a great portal if you want a sublet, roommate or shared living – you usually will find great deals here.

c. If you are from India and want to live with Indians only – then sulekha.com will be able to help you. Also, there are facebook groups that will help you get in touch with indian communities.

d. Through referrals, ask your friends, friends of friends of friends might be able to help you in some way. It has worked for quite some people, you never know.

Now that we have some base: Questions to ask when renting a place out.

a. What utilities one has to pay? if anything is included, may be it’s heat, water, gas, electricity, cable & internet etc. Some apartments have all of them included and you need not worry about it. In some part of them are included and you are expected to transfer the rest of the bills onto your name (also helps improve your credit history).

b. Is parking free? if not what would be fee? if you are relocating to snowing areas, it is such a pain to clean the car, so do not forget to ask if there is any covered/in-door parking available?

d.Most importantly, if the laundry is in the unit or outside? If it is outside – look at the distance, if it is too far and you do not have a car and not walk able, then you should re-consider your decision.

e. Find out if they have any benefits, if you sign the lease for longest duration, especially if you are going through real-estate broker, the chances are that, you will have one month free rent. Also, find out what happens during the renew – would they increase your rent? if so what is the percentage. In NYC, they have been constantly increasing the rent by 10% every year. So watch out.

f. If you have pets, make sure about the policies, you might be expected to pay additional rent or insurance for the pet to live there.

g. If you have kids – you should prefer ground floor if possible, people downstairs will complain with your kid jumping all around, ask for near by child-care facilities, or baby-sitting facility. The owner may or may not be aware but no harm in asking such things.

Hope these tips help you in getting started when you are relocating to any city with in United States.

Dear readers, if you have any additional tips, please feel free to write in comments. Your inputs might help some one out there.

On that day and after

The other day I woke up early, not because I wanted to but I came down with severe cold and had trouble sleeping, so I woke up early and blogged about having morning routines, that day I had goal in my mind before I went into work. I sat without any disturbances for four and half hours with just a 5 minute tea-break and accomplished what I had set myself for. My joy knew no bounds. Even though, I was extremely exhausted, I felt great for the rest of the day. I wanted to repeat that routine regularly.

That evening, my cold got severe and ended up taking medicine, went to bed early hoping that I repeat that exact routine, the following day. But, my body nor my mind gave in to the idea, I really needed to rest well to improve my immune system. I felt better.

How do one develop healthy morning routine? How do I sleep better? I have troubles having sound sleep every night, even if I am physically and mentally exhausted, sometimes, I cannot sleep well.  I feel, I may have highest energy levels that I need to expel it some where in some form with some goal in mind.  Sound sleep happens only once every few days. I usually have dreams and end up waking not rested enough. The day I sit at home/outdoors and do nothing – is generally a bad night for me.

Today, I woke up early even though I drifted off to sleep pretty quickly, it is less than 4 hours of sleep and I could not fall back to sleep. I had this constant dream of collecting tags back from people (In real, that I have distributed tags to my colleagues yesterday and I am supposed to collect them back in next few days) and it repeated it self so frequently as if my brain had this alarm that gets active every 5 minutes, it just repeated for later part of my sleep cycle. I could not get rid of that dream in my unconscious state and failed to fall back asleep. So, here I am blogging! blogging for my own sanity.

How about you dear readers? do you sleep well naturally? if not, and managed to make changes in life style that helped you sleep better at night, would you please share your experiences?

 

Morning routine

It hasn’t been snowing here yet, it is one of the warmest winter’s ever. It is so warm (it was slightly cold) that I was out late in the night without jacket. They say, if the current temperature on the earth rises to additional 2 more degrees, there will be a mass extinction of human race. And that wants me to relocate to south america Andes which is 6.9Km above the sea level. I feel, those people will definitely survive and continue our human race while most part of the earth shrinks into water.

Not a very good thought to start my day with, isn’t? I digress, so with such over confidence of warm winters, I have been neglecting to protect myself up from sudden changes in temperatures. Which is what happened on one of those warmest winter night. As a consequence, now I suffer from cold and woke up this early morning unable to sleep with one of my nostrils being blocked. Although, I do not feel well rested, it feels like a productive day already for the quietness around and darkness outside. I fixed myself with cup of warm green tea with honey, and it tasted divine for some reason. (Yes, I am not a huge fan of any green teas).

I wish to wake up everyday at this time and enjoy this morning serenity. The calmness and idea of getting things done before noon at work sounds exciting. But, having to travel to work is an hour long journey using public transportation which involves lots of walking. So, considering this in a positive way could be thought as “walking is a wonderful exercise” and I get plenty of it almost everyday of the week. This is the time, where I get to listen to my-not-so-favorite-but-informational audio books or random music from pandora while my brain is pre-occupied by some entirely random things instead of living in the moment. That’s the post for some other time.

What is your morning routine? or evening routine, the time where you feel good and productive?

Cranberry Chutney

Being from south, it is all about chutneys. My mother made chutneys all the time. My north indian friends were surprised on many things that I made it as matter of fact. In the process of such things, I decided to make chutney out of cranberry. Also, I found out that cranberries goes by some name in India as well and are available.

As most of you my dear blog readers know that, I buy most of my fresh grocery at farmers market and came across the fresh and eye catching cranberries that I could not resist and ended up buying.  The taste of berries is extremely sour, it tasted like, when you bite into extremely sour raw green tamarind – that is exactly what it felt like. I decided to make a chutney and use it on the side for dosa’s, chapathi’s, rice and just to munch on plain chips. It turned out to be delicious.

Recipe:

  1. Box full of cranberries – the bigger size (approximately 500 grams)
  2. Salt for taste
  3. Garlic  pods – it depends on how much you want it, I have added 2 small sized whole garlic pods
  4. 15 – Green chillies –  according to the level of spiciness.
  5. Sugar – 2 tbsp, to bring down the extreme sourness.
  6. Oil – 2 tbsp to sautee them.

Procedure:

  1. Put the pan on stove, add oil, after it warms up, add ingredients from 1 to 5 and let it cook in medium flame until they become soft.
  2. After it is cooked, let it cool down, add it to mixer, add sugar and grind it until it becomes paste. Adjust spice, salt or sugar according to your taste.
  3. You could also temper with oil, red chilli, mustard, cumin, curry leaf and onion to add flavor for much richer taste. I choose to stop at step 2.

Result:

Cranberry Chutney

Cranberry Chutney

Used:

I have used it as a spread on chapathi’s and bread.

I have added yogurt to it and made it as a sauce for dipping.

It lasted for about a month for me, yes in the fridge. Spicy, tangy, the delicious cranberry chutney was absolutely mouth watering.

Tagged

Perspectives and prejudices has tagged me in Sisterhood of the world Q&A.  I have seen it making rounds in the blogger world and it was interesting to see their responses by some of the fellow bloggers.

Thank you P&P for tagging me. I have to scour through my memory to jot them down.

  1. One beauty product you would recommend to all your girlfriends.

I have no particular product that I use, I usually keep trying different moisturizers, makeup foundations, eye liners, lipsticks and not able to settle down on one particular brand yet.

But, there is one thing that I have been planning to incorporate into my face moisturizing routine which I have started just couple of weeks back and it is working out great. – You probably cannot guess, the awesome coconut oil that we, most of the Indians known to use it for our hair. Oh well, they use this oil to cook as well, but not me.

How do I use it:  I apply it right after I wash my face while it is still wet. My belief is that the oil gets observed into skin while the pores are still open. It also adds shine to my face – bonus points.  It might help you to know, that coconut oil is antimicrobial, antifungal and antibacterial.

I have used the coconut oil from head to toe all my growing up years, as none of the famous fair and lovely and ponds cold cream reacted well on my face. My skin was clear back then. Not the case now unfortunately. Sometimes, I wonder why it took me so long to go back to what I was used to before.

  1. Three books everyone must read: I am not an avid reader and prefer to go more towards fiction over non-fiction. I cannot say they are must reads, but definitely worth reading. I have many books that I want to suggest but as I am supposed to pick 3- they are listed in no particular order of preference.
  • Fountain Head by Ayn Rand – It speaks about an young architect who is not compromised on traditional ways of building things and the struggle it takes for him to go ahead in the chosen path.
  • Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling– As much as I hated to get started on this book, behind this fiction lies lives of people, political agenda and how it unfolds life in the grand scheme of things. Very beautifully articulated.
  • Infidel by– Ayan Hirsi Ali Non-fiction. Great read.  This book speaks about how this lady went against all odds of being tied down by religion in her country and came as a refugee to Netherlands and ended up becoming Member of Parliament. She spoke about issues that Islam women face, that subjected her to extreme criticism and threat for her life.  It speaks about her journey from the time of her birth in Somalia to rising to high-profile public figure in Netherlands.
  1. Favorite online shopping site: I have quite a few preferences. I order anything and everything online lately. Amazon.com tops my list.
  1. Favorite phone app: Too many, sometimes, I think all these smart phones with great apps are making me dumber? Mostly used apps are : Audible – where I get my quote of alternative to reading books by listening. Google maps – they are my saviors. Yelp – without which I cannot get instant reviews about all possible restaurants I want to grab my food. Uber/Lyft – my usage has gone up lately. I use way too many for various purposes and it definitely has made my life much easier.
  2. One dish you’re really good at making and it’s recipe: I experiment quite a bit and I do not have one thing that I can say I am good at. I am a decent cook. Having a partner whose appetite is diverse definitely makes space for my culinary experiments. I did not blog about every experimental food; I took pictures but never got around to blog about them. But, one recipe that was such a huge hit which I make it for all possible gatherings is Crunchy quinoa salad.

Dear readers, if you are interested in doing this, please feel free to borrow the sames questions. Once you do this, please update the comments on this post. I would love to read what you have to say. Looking forward to hear back from you.