Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry times

Cookies by BigC using the kit she snagged at H/M's naughty Santa party
Santa brings dresses and a puppy

Friday, December 21, 2012

Keeping Busy

With the school getting set to shut down for the winter break, BigC brought home the guinea-pig and LilC would not stray away from it introducing everyone who came home to it and telling everyone about it. BigC is putting some of the bendaroos to use forming them into bugs, giraffes and cupcakes. She's knit an endless piece that Amma cleverly folded up and crocheted the sides to make into a bag for "Nisha". Nisha's one lucky doll with Amma also knitting her a winter dress/hat and making a silken dress. .

mehendi just in time for BigC's PKK dance

Friday, December 7, 2012

Deck the tree

Since BigC's 1st Christmas, it has been the norm to get a tree her height the week of thanksgiving and have her deck it up. The first couple of years were a trial with potted trees that we'd then plant in the garden and soon it struck that we'd have one too many conifers. Having made our peace with cut-trees, this year was the year to try cutting her own with Appa. Moi wanted a blue tree but, it was dark by the time they got there and me thinks they brought home the first tree they could find - a green bushy one complete with creepy-crawlies. LilC enjoyed her 1st tree arranging and re-arranging the lower half of the tree until it was time to take it out.
BigC's summer-camp also had a winter fused-glass session that we decided to try and ended up making some ornament give-aways.
Finally had enough people to try out the "Mechoui" at Marrakesh. Being a Monday, the restaurant was able to accomodate our last minute request. LilC got up on the low table and danced to the arabian music playing in the background - making up for the missing Belly-dancing element. Justice we did to the dish, as we only had a couple sandwiches worth of leftovers. The chef even accomodated a couple of vegetarians in the group!!  
in the garden - mandevilla blooming into November

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Puppets and chaat

Armed with an arsenal of recipes from Mom's collection of yet-to-be tested recipes, some unknown sources even, it was decided that chaat party it would be for LilC's b'day. The guest list kept growing and on a wet November day, the main-door had to be blocked to ensure we could fit all the people in. A last minute surprise trip by bro/sil meant we'd be firing on all cylinders even with P's almost fractured ankle - a station for masala puri (R), for dahi-vada (P), for waffles (A/V), for orange-juice (R). The piece-de-resistance being B's cake with meringued tops, complete with marzipan bugs, bird and cuddly bear crafted by LilM and the much sought after "ganja" infused tea, fought to the very last drop!!

When visiting MoMA, had picked up a set of balloon animals that were too cute to resist. The older kids put these together and there was just enough for each of LilC's friends to take home. Penney's puppets put on a show "Lilly, the catepilly"  but LilC couldn't care more or less except for the "bussesly".

Friday, November 23, 2012

Giving Thanks

The holiday frenzy is on. Blueberry pound cake from Suzanne Goin, as always a hit, with A's parents- used frozen wild blueberries this time. Its also the time for persimmons and pomegranates and another of Goin's salad recipes that B had me make for girls' holiday lunch last year. No-one minded eating healthy like this. Its also the time when artists open up their studios and we got to see one really neat studio where she'd pinned up all her inspiration.  
On one of the Anthropologie visits, BigC had fun making reindeer using candycanes at their art station.

in the garden - chocolate persimmon tree in its first year

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sparkle and rejoice

The cadence of festivals has been well-paced and very enjoyable this year. Just in time for Deepavali, unexpected time-off from work meant it could be celebrated the way festivals are meant to be, on the day of the festival without having to dodge work despite taking the day off. With the sun shining in and out, managed to get some fall cleanup done alongside all the preps. Abundance of mums in the fall garden resulted in rangolis inside and out. Beautyberry, cosmos, chinese lanterns, peppers and even some persimmon twigs made for some fabulous fall displays.

With Amma here, obbattu was inevitable. A work-potluck turned out to be a pleasant surprise with the sportive guys rising up to the challenge of bringing a dish they had cooked - rajma, vegetable korma, paneer burji, mushroom biryani and above all, vada pav - all equally tasty, portions need some more practise.
The obbattus were devoured standing around the table, in the traditional Bangalore style of eating obbattu first ahead of all the spicy/savory food. The dinner was then moved to picnic blankets on the floor with everyone sitting around the spread, passing around the food and enjoying the easy talk.
 Much against the green freak in me, we stocked up on some sparklers and flower-pots over July-4th for this very day. For the first time ever, the kids got to "enjoy" the, with BigC pinching hard on her nostrils and staying behind the wind to stay away from the smoke and LilC up in Appa's arms. The consolation being this phase too shalt pass with precious nostalgic memories for later.

in the garden - mums

Saturday, November 3, 2012

October Blaze

Hard to believe that October blazed by without a single post - all credit to the virus that brought down everyone and the treacherous back-2-work. Mum arrived from India just in time to help us through the sickness and her favorite festival - Dasara. We celebrated a week late with "Bombe mane" - display of dolls and the flowers from the garden were again the star. Even managed to sneak in an impromptu night of Dandiya.
Fall colors arrived overnite with enough rains for the entire year. BigC wanted to be a ghost and witch this year and the graduation gown from a decade ago was put to good use. The school convinced BigC to "beg" for money for UNICEF than candies and they were very successful at that - raised ~$20 and no wasted candy. Its also time for the b'day - wiser or not, definitely, older! Lunch at Mingo of chili prawn salad with the girls and hazelnut cake with roasted pears by B

in the garden - loaded asian pear tree

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Swift picnic

Weekends are a respite from the routine centered around BigC's school. This wknd we had more school to see with the fall festival. With the sun blazing down, it was not what one would expect but welcome. Evening temperatures are definitely Fall but, the days have been sunny and dry. Having signed up for the bake sale, i tried my hand at madeleines but in vain. After 3 batches of not chilling, over-baking and over-filling, it was decided to be mastered another time. Instead baked a peach-ginger tart and cherry-upside down cake which vanished in a hurry.
Took a picnic to see the Vaux swifts roost at Chapman elementary chimney. It was late in the season and despite not as many swifts, it was a spectacle of sorts with a few thousand showing up on their way south (all the way to central America!). Even witnessed a predator of some kind that was chased away by the swarm - a classic example of what a thousand drops could do. Towards the end, when only a few were circling around, the hawk did make a show and made away with a meal. As for our meal, packed a picnic of mushroom pinwheels, sprouted moong salad with oranges and apples and croissant caponata sandwich. Tweaked this a little with sauteing half the red-onions in the start with celery for some sweetness, added some chilli, cumin and garam-masala and only a tbsp of red-wine vinegar. Finished off with whole-wheat brownies that the friend made. The b'day celebration that the picnic was supposed to be getting a rain-check given the disastrous baking period.

in the garden - banana and asters in autumn evening light

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Green Ganesha

B's Ganapati
Over the past few years, we have been blessed with a friend who's celebration of Ganapati is to be seen to be believed. There's no effort spared with an elaborate lunch and dinner - including obbattu. Her hubby has been making rather, sculpting the Ganesha from clay for 12 years now and the son made the "cool guitar-wielding" mooshika.
Ganesha is known to be Gana Priya - one who likes talents and there was plenty on display besides the sculpting itself.The mil embroidered a spread for Ganesha's table, the friend made tomato-chutney give-aways for Gowri-Jevan and the kids stamped brown paper bags to hold the jars. Friends brought Maharastrian style lemon pickle, dahi-mishti and pedas moulded as modaks. The rains have kept away means the flower-beds of marigold and dahlias have been on fire taking just one harvest of the front yard to make enough garlands for her. With the kids acting up, could not follow through on promise of more garlands and rangoli from back-yard.

At home, amid all the ganesha-hopping, tomato stashing and long-overdue work on the house, got around to making kadubus for the pot-bellied gourmand a little after, surprising BigC and S who then went on to mold the very forgiving pot-belly with an elephant face from turmeric. All of 10 minutes were spent with promise to do better next year. Only time will tell.

in the garden - lily bowl going strong with water hyacinths

Monday, September 17, 2012

September Cheer

September is the new August, it appears - blue skies, an ever-so-little nip in the evening air and the winds bringing down the pots. With the kids back in school, grandparents visiting are leaving in a hurry. Baked the cherry upside-down cake for the get-together and made punjabi-chole for dinner that was so tasty that i am still in doubt if its the tea when boiling the channa. S wanted to have some panna-cotta while the weather still allowed for it which answered the usual dessert dilemma. Sprouted mung and horsegram for a couple of new recipes - one for a refreshing salad with carrots and apples and another for curry from Amma. Not sure why it took me this long to try these! Better late than never!!
Attended back to back arangetrams from BigC's dance school while also squeezing in BigC's Fall piano recital. Exhilarating performances and choreography suiting the dancers' strengths by a dedicated teacher makes one hope that their kids will also be there one day. Came away from a canning class all set to jam/pickle as soon as i can buy some jars, that is. Planted some long-overdue trees around the yard and hoping they will take off. Ogled at a few beautiful private gardens around town and came away with a list of plants and ideas to implement - a rain-catcher into the lily-bowl being a top-pick.
in the garden - kniphofia

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Adieu Summer!

Adieu Summer - only if yours lines up with the school calendar! The sun is still shining bright and long while the rains have kept away...the shorts and skirts still getting good use. Mangalorean dinner with friends in the garden with kids entertaining on the violin conjures up visions of what it might be like in a few years. BigC followed up with another dance performance at Art in the Pearl. The first time in 7 years that i did not bring anything home despite eyeing some beautiful hand-blown glasses - what with two tired kids.

A lot of apprehension about starting a new school for BigC has slowly turned into excitement. 80 degree temps and a half-day of school made hubby's proposal of a trip to the beach seem like the idea of the century. For a change, it was clear and sunny with perfect temps even at the beach. With water as freezing as ever, one could not have known two siblings more different than BigC and LilC. Fussy BigC in her jacket and pants staying miles away from the water while LilC frolicked into the water without a care about wet clothes. Ended the evening with dinner at Vivi's - packed even on a week-nite.

B had given me a taste of a cauliflower cake a while ago and i finally got around to baking it. Its an all-rounder of sorts - served it up as an appetizer, made a meal of it with a salad of cucumber/tomato and basil from the garden, BigC's breakfast given that its eggs holding it together! A keeper for sure.

in the garden - sweetly scented heirloom tiger-lily

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Garden on sabbatical

Love affair with black-eyed susan going back to the 1st days in Minneapolis - along Lake Minnetonka, finally bloom in my garden
Sedums are flowering earlier than usual, a sign of low temps
Hardy Gardenia that has survived one mild winter has been flowering along the sidewalk and the envy of passers by
Humming bird corner - Agastache and yellow Crocosmia with blue scabiosa and hardy geranium
Cactus Dahlia and marigolds putting on a show in the veggie box where i temporarily plopped them.
Artichoke flower had caught my fancy since the first year in our home - the house on the corner of our street had one along the sidewalk. Under the impression they needed hotter temps, i never planted one. This year, after seeing a few gigantic ones at Bethany Nursery, Kruger's farm and Hughes' garden, i planted a lil one in June with hopes for next year but a pleasant surprise awaited us on our return home from the east-coast.