Saturday, November 10, 2018

A Letter To My Daughters on Their Fourth Birthday

I realize every year, my birthday letters to my daughters are getting longer and more detailed. Although that may sound like a good thing, I'm worried that it will translate into a snooze-fest! 😴😅

If you are checking out my blog for the very first time, let me give you a head's up that writing these birthday letters is a self-initiated annual tradition. I wrote letters to my twin daughters on their first birthday, second birthday and third birthday. I promised myself that I would document their early years to the best of my ability at least till they were five years old. I'm glad that I've stuck to my guns because reading the earlier letters gets me misty-eyed and brings back memories that were buried somewhere in the depths of my perpetually foggy brain. The realization that I would have forgotten many of those precious details if I hadn't painstakingly extricated from my memory every year, makes it a worthwhile endeavour.

As I had expected, succumbing to peer pressure, the twins wanted a princess-themed birthday party this year. We decided to organize a party next year marking their fifth birthday and instead go for a family beach holiday to Thailand a few days prior and celebrate their birthday at pre-school followed by a fun activity of their choice. It didn't take any persuasion to get them completely on board with the latter idea! The fact that preschoolers are notoriously fickle comes in handy at times like these 😛

To be magnanimous, I did consult the girls on what kind of cake they wanted. Unsurprisingly, they both wanted a "pink" cake with cream and flowers so I chose a simple vanilla cake with whipped cream with rosettes and sugar flowers. I had taken the day off to be able to pull of this cake (simple as it was) because let's face it, I am no cake decorating whiz and I need time to be able to do a decent job.

The previous day of the birthday passed by with a fun-filled celebration at school among their classmates in the morning and a visit to the temple in the evening. On the big day, we headed out to one of their favourite indoor playgrounds where they spent the entire morning followed by lunch at a restaurant. Dinner was spent with relatives who chipped in to make the girls feel special. And there were birthday cupcakes to be enjoyed by all. All in all, I'd say it was a memorable birthday!

And now for the letter which captures the essence (or maybe a bit more!) of everything that took place since their last birthday....

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Breathtaking Blooms From Little Flower Hut Singapore

Product + Service Review

Flowers are one of nature's many gifts that elicit positive responses in people. Take me for example - I can be having a perfectly ordinary day but when I catch a glimpse of a cheery assortment of fresh flowers on my table, my spirit instantly lifts and brings about a discernible change in my persona! 

When the good folks at Little Flower Hut Singapore  said they would be sending me an arrangement of fresh blooms for review, I gladly accepted.

As a rule, I must always have fresh flowers at home. It has become somewhat of a habit since the past few years and is something I cannot do without. I'm not particularly choosy about the kind of flowers I like to brighten up my house with but I am partial to white roses, orchids, tulips, lilies and carnations. 

Communication with Little Flower Hut was a breeze, the flowers were delivered at the specified date and time and as you can see, the elegant handcrafted arrangement of pristine white roses, white hydrangeas and succulents in a glass vase was an absolute delight! The flowers came with a personalized card that actually ended up summing up my day for real 😊

Set against my natural dark wood furniture, the flowers stood out and made for a gorgeous centrepiece on the table that was admired by everyone in the family.

A bit more on the company - Little Flower Hut is a home-grown Singapore florist shop and online flower delivery service. Started in 2010, the company has grown to rank as one of the preferred florists to individual customers and corporate companies across the island nation.

The team behind Little Flower Hut are passionate about delivering flowers and gifts that brings a smile to their customers. You can celebrate any occasion with fresh flowers from Little Flower Hut. On their user-friendly website, you can find an affordable range of flower arrangements, hand bouquets, gift hampers, plants and more products that are suitable for a bevy of occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, funerals, Mother's day, Valentine's day, housewarming, graduation and such.

The company offers same day flower delivery which helps serve last minute/impromptu orders. Their island-wide 24/7 Singapore flower delivery is quick, easy and convenient. 

For today's post, I've put together some ideas and tips that you could consider when gifting flowers for special occasions. Knowing the symbolism and connotation of flower types and flower colors, can help you choose the perfect arrangement to convey just the right emotion.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Recipe of the month: Sindhi Sai Bhaji

I am unquestionably a big fat foodie (pun intended!). I appreciate all cuisines but have a discernible affinity to my own.

Indian cuisine to me, is one the most exciting and diverse global cuisines in the world. India is a microcosm of different styles of cuisine. Not only does each state of the vast country have its own distinct cuisine but there are even regional variations. Indian dishes are heavily influenced by region, climate, religion, traditions and culture. The cuisine incorporates a whole palette of flavours boosted by a medley of aromatic spices resulting in a titillating food experience.

Indian food is not just "curry" as is commonly perceived the world over. The culinary range that the cuisine offers is mind-boggling. Although the food is broadly categorized as 'North Indian' (more of bread and curry based) or 'South Indian (typically rice, coconut and lentil based), there is so much more to it than that. We can’t forget about West and East India. Western India which includes Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Goa and Eastern India comprising of West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura and Orissa all have their own distinct and rich cuisines, too. There is so much I need to still learn from the cuisine of my motherland. I have so many recipes from other states that I have been meaning to try but haven't gotten around to doing so. One at a time!

Today's recipe is beyond my zone of familiarity in that I hadn't even heard of it until recently! It was only thanks to my chronic lurking on instagram that I became aware that such a dish exists.

Sindhi cuisine refers to the native cuisine of the Sindhi people from Sindh, Pakistan. The daily food in most Sindhi households consists of wheat-based flat-bread (phulka) and rice accompanied by two dishes, one gravy and one dry. Today, Sindhi food is eaten in many countries including India. Despite having a few Sindhi friends in school and college, I was utterly ignorant of the cuisine. Probably because food wasn't such a big part of my life back then the way it is now!

Sai bhaji (Sai = green; bhaji = vegetables) is a potpourri of lentils, vegetables, greens and spices. The reason this dish appealed to me so much is because of my undying love for greens. Fenugreek and dill are my two favourite greens with spinach a close third. And when I saw the generous use of vegetables in the dish, the newly acquired health conscious side of me  urged me to give it a go.

This is a one-pot dish. It incorporates easily available ingredients and comes together in a fairly simple procedure. It does take some time to prepare all the ingredients but the resulting dish is creamy, mildly spiced, delicious and packed with nutrition. Along with steamed rice or chapati, this makes for a wholesome meal.

I've made this dish a few times with minor modifications each time and ultimately I'm satisfied with this version. Like I said earlier, my love for dill knows no bounds so I don't mind this dish with double the quantity of dill than what is mentioned in the recipe below. But I do know that not everyone shares my love for this herb and so it would be prudent to go easy on the quantity if you are cooking for many people.

My family liked this dish (my fussy kids included!) so it is something that is going to feature regularly on our weekday/weekend menu.

Try the recipe and leave a comment to let me know your thoughts!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Book Review: The Quiet Game by Greg Iles

I am back with another book review! I have been sticking to my resolution of making reading a priority and I am surprised by the negligible effort it has taken. Now I realize how incredibly lame my 15 books a year target was and 50 (that earlier seemed so daunting) would actually be doable. Given my dismal start to the year, it would be nothing short of a miracle if I can catch up but I sure am going to try 😊 And since I've decided to keep up with reading, I will be more prudent in the books I review on the blog, winnowing down to those I deem worthy of discussion.

This book review marks my first tryst with the literary works of Greg Iles. This author has been recommended to me by my husband. And knowing that Stephen King endorsed the work of Greg Iles is good enough reason for me to not waste any more time!

Novelist Greg Iles was born in Germany, where his father ran the US Embassy Medical Clinic during the height of the Cold War. He spent his youth in Natchez, Mississippi, and graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1983. His first novel, Spandau Phoenix, a thriller about Nazi war criminal Rudolf Hess, was published in 1992 and became a New York Times bestseller.

Mississippi has long been known for its prowess in prose. From Tennessee Williams to Eudora Welty, John Grisham to William Faulkner and now Greg Iles, the Magnolia State is home to a plethora of skilled writers.

The Quiet Game was first published in 1999 by Dutton in the United States. The novel introduces the main protagonist Penn Cage who goes on to feature in several more of Greg Iles books.


Set in the small town of Natchez, Mississippi, the novel begins on a sombre note with grieving widower Penn Cage trying to come to terms with the agonizing loss of his beloved wife Sarah. The prosecutor turned best-selling author returns to his hometown of Natchez for some much-needed solitude and to help lift the spirits of his four year old daughter Annie.

When Penn becomes privy to the fact that his father Dr Tom Cage, a model of rectitude, is being blackmailed over an unsavoury incident that took place in the past, he pulls out all the stops to put an end to it. In tracing the source of his father's disconcerting predicament, he unknowingly stirs up a 30 year old unsolved murder that took place in Natchez under mysterious circumstances. In reviving the controversial case, Penn more than ruffles a few feathers. The murder of black Korean War veteran Delano Payton had been masquerading as a race crime until then but new insights and unsubstantiated claims suggest otherwise with unexpectedly sinister implications. The more Penn tries to resist getting involved, the more he gets sucked in. Putting his own life and that of his family’s in jeopardy, the crusading lawyer campaigns for justice along with unlikely accomplice, hotshot publisher Caitlin Masters.

In the course of the investigation, Penn goes on the offensive and butts heads with Judge Leo Marston, who had been responsible for separating him from his high school sweetheart Olivia Marston and subsequently sought to destroy his father in an unfounded and rancorous malpractice suit. Stuck in the eye of a media storm, with politicians, the FBI and a homicidal former cop hot on his heels, Penn is in a race against time to nail the killers of Del Payton. But in a racially divided town where everyone is playing the “quiet game”, it is proving to be harder than he bargained for. And with witnesses turning up either dead or in grave danger, the evidence is steadily starting to slip away from his grasp. Penn has to confront his old demons and grapple with some unsettling truths before he can uncover his hometown's deepest darkest secret.

My thoughts....

Reading the work of an author for the first time, for me, is somewhat akin to making a new friend. It is novel, intriguing and feels like a wisp of fresh air.