Eggcellent keepsake for the Easter! – DIY craft.

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Its Easter break and you like it or not your kids are going to have lots of holidays! So you better be prepared with lots of  ideas to entertain and exhaust them. My daughter has 15 days of break. I mean didn’t they just go back to school after winter break ?  Last week I posted the DIY (Do-it-yourself) hand print impressions post and while working on that I had lots of left over dough. I really liked the technique and the concept behind the baking the dough to make it ‘forever’ so I decided to make something ‘forever’ for Easter that I can keep and show my kids later!

You’ll need :

Project :

  • Roll out the dough to 1 or 1.5 cm thickness (any thinner would cause it to crack as in the pic)
  • Cut the dough using your cutter. Or if you are artistic you can cut and mold one using knife! Simple rolls eggs with your child using the dough.
  • Bake it for 3 hours at 180 C
  • Lets your child paint it however she/he wants! You can give the second coat or leave it as it is for their authentic touch!
  • Let it dry for a few hours. Your rock solid Easter bunnies and eggs are ready. After Easter, you can put all the eggs and bunnies in the basket and hang it in the kids room or simply decorate your show-case!

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I believe it’s important to do lots of DIY activities with our kids because they may not ‘remember’ all the fun they have now, especially at 3 and 4. But by looking at all their projects and collections they certainly will be proud of a colorful childhood they spent with their parents 🙂 I really don’t do a lot of projects like this with them, but running a blog with DIY posts definitely helps 🙂

Happy holidays!

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Veg Tom Yum soup

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Tom-Yum is a very aromatic and a spicy clear soup with lots of herbs, spices and vegetables. I learnt to make the pure-veggie version of this when I was in Thailand last December. I have been wanting to come home and make it since then, but it took my sore throat to give me that final nudge!  Tom-Yum, apparently also has loads of health benefits and is currently under study (You can Google for more info). This soup may not be very ideal to give kids but it sure can lift up a tired mom’s energy!  In half an hour you can make a big pot of Tom-Yum ready for 4-5 people. Eat it with a cup of rice or noodles and you have a meal ready 🙂 Here’s the recipe.

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You’ll need:

  • Lemon grass stalk : 3-4 (chopped into 1 inch pieces)
  • Garlic : 3-4 pieces
  • Shallots : 4-5 pieces
  • Ginger or Galangal : Thumb sized piece thinly sliced
  • Green chilli :  3-4 pieces
  • Chilli sauce :  3 tsp
  • Soy sauce : 2- tsp
  • Lime juice  – 4 – 5 tsp ( or 4-5 kaffir leaves + 3 tsp lime juice)
  • Sugar : 1 tsp
  • Veggies : Yellow peppers , mushroom, cherry tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, Brussels, tofu etc
  • Water or Vegetable stock : 4 cups
  • Basil / coriander for garnish

Method:

  1. Sautee shallots + garlic for 2 mins.
  2. Add 2 cups water + lemongrass + Ginger (or galangal) + Chilli and boil for 10 mins or until fragrant
  3. Add 3 – 4 tsp chilli sauce + soy sauce + sugar + lime juice  and let it boil for 2-3 mins
  4. Add veggies : carrots, broccoli, Brussels etc and boil for 5 mins
  5. Add mushroom and let it simmer  for 2 mins. Add cherry  tomatoes + Tofu and continue to simmer for 2 mins. Add salt to taste.
  6. Garnish with coriander / basil. Serve hot with rice or noodles!

Tips:

  • I like to lightly sauté veggies like Yellow/Green peppers, Brussels, Mushroom.
  • If you like you can remove the lemon grass pieces before adding the veggies (step 4) using a slotted spoon
  • It’s not ideal for kids since it’s a bit spicy. But you can dilute it with a water and added a tsp of butter and serve them.

Enjoy the aromatic soup! Definitely try it…worth the effort 🙂

Homemade Pizzas

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Pizza, however common it may sound, has always been a gourmet food when it came down to making one in my kitchen. I have tried making pizza base at home at least 4 -5 times last year and it quite sucked each time. I would almost never get the luke warm temperature of water right or the yeast wont froth up and the dough just wont rise ! So after many failed attempts I would simply use the arabiatta sauce to make a the easy Penna arabiatta. This happened almost every time but I still never wanted to give up until I cracked it . Last month, yes I cracked it and we make home made pizzas at least once a week now!

Here’s what you’ll need to make the base

  • Flour : 4 cups (makes 4 pizza base)
  • Active dry yeast  : 2.5 tsp
  • Water (200 ml warm water + some more of regular temp water)
  • Salt : 1 tsp
  • Sugar : pinch
  • Olive oil : 60-70 ml

Method to bake the base :

  1. Combine the yeast, sugar and about 200 ml of warm water* and mix well. Set aside for 7-10 mins until the water becomes frothy and rises up well.  If it doesn’t become frothy or rise well, discard and redo it. This step is the most important part!
    Warm water TIP: To get the ideal warm water temperature, microwave the water for 40 seconds and use it immediately.  If water doesn’t become frothy try for fewer or more seconds.
  2. Combine flour + salt + 30 ml of olive oil and slowly add the yeast water while kneading well. Add some extra water as needed to make a complete soft dough. Now on a flat work surface knead it well for about 10 mins with the extra oil added in it to make a smooth ball. Coat the dough ball generaously with some olive oil and place it in a big bowl and cover it with a lid / plastic wrap
  3. Pre-heat oven at 200 c and simply place this bowl in it for 1 hour. The dough will double up in size and rise up.
  4. Lightly punch holes in it and knead gently to let the air escape. Make small balls and roll out your pizza base and bake it for 20 mins at 160 C

Method to make pizza :

  1. Spread the tomato sauce (store bought or home made) over the base
  2. Top with veggies. I prefer lightly sautéed ones. You can use veggies like onion, peppers, broccoli, mushroom, feta, olives, pineapple etc
  3. Top with Mozzarella and bake again for 8 mins at 160 C
    Crispy base TIP :  To get a nice crispy base , place the baked pizza over a skillet (buttered) for 1 or 2 mins !

Below pic : The dough 15 mins after it started rising (Forgot to take pic immediately!)

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Below pic : The dough after 1 hour. It had doubled in size.

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Below pic : Ready to eat! Image

Definitely try it out  ….. Buon Appetito (Italian!)

Baby’s hand print impressions – DIY craft recipe

Colorful impressions for a lifetime.  I feel like 5 yrs old today. I mean, in a good way.

Ok – One picture says a thousand words but I think one craft says a thousand stories. I have been seeing so many baby hand prints or footprint casts being sold in the market but somehow never wanted to buy those. When I was in India I’d also heard about a few companies that would come home to make the cast, but I felt they were way too over priced and decided to go with the age-old hand stamp on paper for my daughter and son. But today, on my sons 9th month birthday I decided to make his hand impressions cast at home to make it more special and freeze a moment in time forever : -)  Also to show off the work of a patient mom (my today’s special!) and a hyper daughter.

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Hand print impression of my son (9 mo) that my daughter (3yo) and I made today!

This is a rock (really!) treasure for a lifetime. I made this cast and baked it for a few hours and let my 3 yr old daughter paint it first. I then later gave a second coat to fill up the flaws. By involving her in this, I also get my daughter to love this piece just as much as my son will when they grow up. These are memories they will cherish.  I also hope to go to IKEA , hopefully sometime soon to buy a glass frame they have specifically for 3D objects so that I can frame it up at home to make this more child-proof!

So here’s what you need to make this : 

  • Flour : 1 cup
  • Salt    : 1 cup (Preferably free-flowing micro-granular salt)
  • Water
  • Poster color of your choice and paintbrush

Method :

  1. Combine Flour + salt and slowly add water to make a non-sticky dough. Knead well.
  2. Roll out a thick circle with a rolling pin and place it in a baking tray
  3. Carefully hold ur baby’s hand / leg and press it firmly to make an impression on the dough
  4. Preheat oven at 150C. Bake for about 3 hours (or until it becomes a solid rock). Or you can let it sun dry for a few days.
  5. Let it cool completely and using a  poster color of your choice paint it well. That’s it.

You have made a colorful impression of your child, for a lifetime !  (Hmmm, I think I killed the joke the second time now) Never mind, I’m 5 yrs old today.

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FYI – this is how it looked just out of the oven.

Happy Parenting. Have fun.

Things to pack in your hospital bag

Pregnancy was one of the most exciting times in my life. Yeah!  I was absolutely excited about being pregnant and obviously enjoying all the extra attention I started getting overnight !.  I was looking forward to the birth of my daughter right from the moment I felt her first kick in my tummy. From the fifth month of my pregnancy I started buying things for her and for me. By the time I finished my 7 month my hospital bag was packed and ready. I told you I was really excited!

There were a lot of little little things that I wish I packed and some I wish didn’t pack the first time. I learnt my lessons the first time and I was well stocked for my second delivery.  So I thought sharing my list would be quite helpful especially for the first time mammas! Here’s a list of all the things that I would recommend you pack in your hospital bag :

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FOR THE MOM :

    1. 3-4 comfortable pretty hospital/night gowns. Yes 3-4.  You never know when you are going to have those visitors even though you may not want to see any of them the first couple of days. And also to have a spare in case you mess up one. If you are comfortable in yoga pants and t-shirts then you can pack them instead or a combination. I preferred harem pants and t-shirts.
    2. Towels : 2-3 hand towels and 1 body towel
    3. Recovery kit : Medicated wet wipes, Extra long maxi pads, simple cotton pads (Plain cotton pads are a must!), 5-6 maternity under wears (Disposable or the loose fitting ones) and a robe. If you’ve had an episiotomy then ice pads or hydro gel pads are a live safer. Look for it!
    4. Nursing set : 4-5 Nursing bras, a nursing cover, nursing pads, sore gel if you get sore when feeding
    5. Toiletry kit: This kit was such a dose of confidence booster. I always made it a point (or at least wanted to!) to be well dressed when I knew visitors were coming. When every person that walks  tell you, ‘wow,  you look great or you look so fresh or you don’t look like you just delivered’ or whatever kind words they choose will be such a dose of energy booster! It cheered me up and I began to go up-beat about it and started believing it! It certainly made my recovery more cheerful. So you kit should include some basic items and some feel-good items. They are :
    • Wet wipes, Face wash, Body wash, Shampoo/Condi and Moisturizer,
    • Comb, Clips, Hand mirror, Lens / solution and Deo
    • Kohl, Concealer, Lip Gloss ( Seriously. Why don’t you want to look good if you can!)
    • Tooth brush, toothpaste and a pair of flip flops
    1. Pillow and a blanket: I took my pillow right into my labour room for my second delivery. These are some of the small things that I missed my first time. Hospital pillows may be good, but you never know if you will be comfortable in them. For my first delivery I spent a lot of time between my contractions just hating my pillow. It was too big and hard and I could just not hold onto it to squeeze…you know. You really don’t want to waste your energy that time cribbing about a pillow! For the second delivery I took mine straight into my labour room. It helped!
    2. Massage stick:  No kidding. This is very useful when you are in labour and after labour as well. It is very essential to relax and recoup your energy between those dreadful contractions. After delivery sometimes every part of your body may just kill you – so this comes handy then.
    3. Gadgets: Take your phone, iPod or your iPad. I’d also highly recommend that you load them up with lots of music, your favourite movies, sitcoms or whatever that can distract your mind when you are in labour. Especially since you never know how long you are going to be in the hospital. I took 3 hours to deliver my daughter and 2.5 days to deliver my son. Uh!  Don’t forget your to take your charger and headphones.
    4. Camera / Phone : You’ll need a fully charged camera to take lots of pictures when you are in labour or just delivered to capture the very first shots of your baby !  If some hospitals permit, you should also capture the birth of your little wonder thru pictures or video. These are precious shots to cherish and a pride to never let go off for the mamma!
    5. Documents : Your Insurance papers, photo-id, your pregnancy file, emergency contact details and a wallet with some cash. Though someone is always going to be with you,  its good to tuck these in your bag with you.
    6. Snacks : Yes, I mean snacks. You probably can buy this a couple of days before of your due date.  You won’t be allowed to eat anything once your labour kicks and you never know when you will be delivering. I delivered both my kids in the wee hours of the night and after all the pushing and exhaustion I felt very hungry after my sedation wore out.  In case the hospital kitchen is closed or you don’t feel like eating that food…some snacks might come in handy.
    7. Brother gift/ Sister gift: If you have an older one you should pack some books or toys for her/him when they come to the hospital to visit you. I’d highly recommend that you buy some new toys/books to surprise them when they come so confused to meet you and the new baby!

FOR THE BABY :

  1. Diapers. I bought two different kinds for back up.  Just in case the baby gets a rash in the first kind.
  2. Cloth Nappies 8-10 pieces at least – You may want to consider this if baby’s skin is too sensitive for diapers or if you don’t want her use rash creams from day one. It’s a good option to throw in some cloths nappies into your bag.
  3. Rubber sheet : If you are using cloth nappies
  4. Destin or a rash cream
  5. Wetwipes
  6. Nail clipper (babies have really sharp nails when they are born!)
  7. Swaddle blanket : 2 -3
  8. Onsies / Jablas : 8-10 , Mittens, Socks, Cap.
  9. Wash cloth to wipe baby clean everyday
  10. Feeding bottles for nb :  2-3 bottles for back up. In case you are not able to feed or if the baby resists a bit initially you may want to use this. You can probably buy the formula at the hospital pharmacy.
  11. Nursing pillow : I’ve heard that this is a boon. I personally  preferred sitting on a chair with arm rest and feeding my baby
  12. Car seat : This is mandatory if you are in US or EU.

Hope this list gives you a good idea of what to pack in your bag! Here’s wishing you an easy delivery and a quick recovery 🙂

Choco-Nutella cake !

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Thanks to my house-owner who set up a crappy microwave in the apartment. That’s the only reason I think I decided to go and buy myself a new one with a convection system in it. Its been quite a while since I took the time out to bake and ever since I bought it a week ago I have been excited to make cakes or bakes or breads or anything. I just wanted to use it!

The day had arrived. Today it was! I made a choco-nutella cake. Its was pretty simple and quick. I now only regret postponing my oventures (Pun intended. A really bad one I think!) this long.

So, here’s my recipe. It’s fairly easy to whip up and would make a great party dessert or a kids play date treat! You could do up the icing differently , but I decided to simply spread a choco-spread over the cake with a wavy butter knife to get a simple pattern and dusted it with a bit of a cocoa powder and powdered sugar to make it Instagram worthy. Ha!

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Time :

  • 15-20 mins to prepare
  • 25 mins to bake

Ingredients :

  1. Butter :  150 gms
  2. Brown sugar   :  1/3 cup
  3. Nutella   :  80 to 100 gms
  4. Eggs : 2
  5. Flour : 200 gms
  6. Baking powder : 1 tsp
  7. Salt : A pinch (If you are using salted butter you can avoid salt)

Method :

  • Combine Butter + sugar and beat (preferably in an electric beater) until fluffy.
  • Add Nutella and beat on low speed. Add eggs one by one and continue to beat.
  • In a separate bowl add : Flour + baking soda + salt
  • Fold the Nutella mixture into the flour and mix until ingredients are combined really well.
  • Preheat the oven at 190 C (375 F). Pour batter into baking dish and bake for 25 mins!
  • Prepare icing as mentioned above.

Enjoy!

Its quite simple, told ya.

The 15 point stroller buying guide

I know quite a lot about buying strollers now. I’m at the end of my 3rd year of motherhood with 2 kids.  And more importantly I’ve bought 3 wrong ones before I found my right one. Yep, so that’s 4 strollers to my credit (card!)

There are tons of really great ones out there.  All the strollers I bought were fantastic ones, but only each in its own way. The only reason I had to get rid of them and look for a new one was – My need was different and it took a while for me to figure out what I actually wanted from a stroller!

15 point stroller buying guide

My first one was a full-sized stroller with great cushioning and would recline 180 degrees, but it did not have a 5 point harness. My second one was a famous European brand, had 5 point harness and and all great features but it stood so bulky at the corner of my room. My third one was a jogging stroller. What a bump-free ride it would give my baby! Even when bouncing down some stairs or on snow or beach too. But how many times can I go to the beach and what do I do when it’s not snowing? It was a bit gigantic in my living room. So now quiet fed up with the so many misfits at home, I wanted to get rid of them all and see what I actually needed my stroller to be the most for me.  After a lot of research I made myself a check-list with all the features of a good stroller to prioritize my need and pick my hopefully final stroller!  So now I just wanted to share my checklist with you and if I can make you buy one less wrong stroller, you’ve made my day : -)

So here’s my 15 POINT STROLLER BUYING GUIDE for you. This guide has all the features of a good stroller that you should keep in mind when you are buying.

  1. TYPE OF STROLLER: Full sized, jogging, Travel system (car seat adaptable) or Light weight umbrella. The terrain you are in and the extensive type of activities you plan to do with your child plays a vital role in your decision. If you actually know the answer to this question, your problem is half solved!
  2. SIZE: This was the most important thing for me. You don’t want a gigantic stroller occupying your living room or at back of your door, or your baby’s room or the bathroom. That’s all where I tried to hide mine!  I now live in HK and you can imagine my need to save space. But if you have a garage or a storage room, you can go easy on this.
  3. WEIGHT: If you like to travel a lot or move around, you should pick a light one.  Umbrella strollers are the best options for travel and especially if you have to lug the stroller down a flight of stairs!
  4. WHEELS: Wheels are important for manoeuvring. Make sure the front wheels swivel for an easy ride. I also think the bigger the wheels, the better suspension you get for your baby.
  5. AGE COMPATIBILITY: If you don’t want to buy too many strollers, invest in one that can be used from NB to 2 or 3 yrs. Or maybe in one that can be used from 3 months and up.
  6. RECLINING OPTION: This is very important in giving the baby a comfortable place to sleep when we take them out. Pick a stroller which gives you at least 120 degree reclining options. Some strollers give you up to 180 degrees!
  7. FOOT REST FOR BABY: This is not very essential, but it would be nice if the baby can stretch their legs when they fall asleep. So if you like that, look for extendable foot rest option.
  8. RAIN COVER: I prefer a stroller that has its own rain cover so that it fits very snugly on the stroller to protect your baby from rain. I once got caught (not really caught when you are in Disneyland, are you!) with my baby and it started to pour for about half hour. We were all drenched, but not a drop on my baby who was enjoying the scene cozily from inside! This is great to protect the child from the cold winds too.
  9. SUN PROTECTION CANOPY: Its important to protect your child from the UV rays and the heat directly falling on their heads. Some strollers give you the extended sun canopy protection that almost covers your baby from the direct rays.
  10. WASHABLE SEAT COVER: You are going to put a kid on it. So you better expect the seat cover material to be stain resistant or easily washable.
  11. SEAT CUSHIONING: Pick a stroller with nice cushioning. This is essential if you plan to put your baby when she is very small. This will make a cozy place for her sit as well as protect during the bumpy rides.
  12. 5 POINT HARNESS: Do not settle in for 3 point harness, especially if your child is still young. You don’t want your baby to stand up when you are walking her down in the stroller. Maybe after 2 yrs, you can consider 3 point harness.
  13. CUP HOLDER AND TRAY FOR MAMMA: While the stroller is for the comfort of the child, its important that you also have a couple of extensions on it to make your walk a bit more relaxed. Make sure you at east have a cup holder. It would be nice to have a small tray where you can throw in baby’s bottle, a pacifier, your keys, some change etc. Even if there is no tray there are actually loads of stroller attachments that you can buy separately.
  14. BASKET UNDER STROLLER: You really don’t want to lug a diaper bag always! Even when I decided to buy an umbrella stroller, I was particular that I wanted to have a small basket underneath to throw in some diapers, change of clothes and some space to put some things that I buy on my way. This is so crucial when you start walking around.
  15. EASY OPEN AND FOLD OPTIONS: If you are going out alone, it’s important that you are able to do it effortlessly all by yourself. There are some great strollers that let you open and fold them using one hand, in case you have to carry your baby in the other. Definitely try to do this and see at the store!

There were a lot great strollers that I came across when I was researching. But some of my personal favorites were from these 7 brands that are from across the globe. They are : @Uppababy @Maclaren, @Bugaboo @Bumbleride @BobRevolution @PegperegoUSA and @Babyjogger. 

Btw,  just in case you want to know what I bought 🙂  –  I narrowed down and decided to buy a space-saving light weight umbrella stroller that gave me all the features of a full-sized stroller! Yes, I found one like that and couldn’t be more happier with my choice! It was also compatible for babies from 3 months to 15 kgs and I’m using it for second child now!

I hope you find this guide useful. If you did, let me know what stroller you bought.

Happy Parenting!