Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The List: March 2014

Whoa, where did March go? Marched right past me when I wasn't looking.

Making
My very favorite project this month was a mini art gallery for my little one's artwork, brightening up a corner of our dining room. When I asked Lila one morning what she wanted to do in school that day, pat came the answer, "I want to do potty and painting with Miss K". Umm- OK. Toddlers are so hilarious and random. But she is in fact a prolific artist and like most toddlers, we are sent home with heaps of sheets covered in exuberant finger painting and paper pasting.

If your child comes home with artwork, what do you do with it all? I'm not one to reverently preserve every scrap of art that comes home. Dusty cartons filled with years of artwork- I don't want to collect that and then saddle my kid with it. My plan is to actively enjoy and use up the artwork: I'm saving a select few (very few) in a folder to keep. Some end up in the recycling bin. Most of the rest I use up- by cutting them up and making note cards, thank you cards and gift tags. With many paintings, I simply write a letter/note on the back and mail them off to relatives and friends: a get well soon note to a grandpa, a good luck letter to a cousin for her exams, a hello note to an friend. I figure it is fun to get cheerful toddler artwork in the mail among the usual pile of bills and catalogs.

And finally, I wanted very much to display some of Lila's paintings on our walls because that's what it is- a unique and original work of art. A child's creation is as legit to me as anything in an art gallery.

The idea for these frames came from here. Here's a quick run down on how I made these:
1. Buy wide frames. These are from yard sales and thrift stores (they cost like 25 cents each). Trash to treasure, baby.
2. Remove the backing, glass, any staples etc. from frames. You only need empty frames. Wipe them clean.
3. Spray paint them. I did this outside.
4. When the frames are dry, paste magnets to the back corners of the frame with double sticky tape. Sheet magnets did not work for me. I bought something called Darico super strong ceramic magnets from the craft store.
5. Use more magnets to hold down the artwork. This way it only takes a second to switch out the artwork when the kid comes home with new creations.

I have some spray paint left so I might make more frames to add to the gallery.




In Lila's school, parents are asked to bring in a dozen filled eggs for the Easter egg hunt and non-candy fillers are encouraged. Last year I put in stickers. This year, I used some felt that I had on hand and made chick finger puppets; the inspiration is from here.




A quick sewing project: I made an envelope pillow to coordinate with Lila's quilt.









Baking and Cooking
Sour cream banana bread. I used this recipe- and to quote the blogger: "Speaking of ripe bananas, you will have your best banana bread if you use dead black bananas. They should be entirely black, and maybe with a couple of little fruit flies lazily circling them." Good point!





Lentil shepherd's pie using this recipe, but I needed to use up potatoes so I subbed them for the sweet potatoes. Good but not all that special.


This was one of the best meals this month, and took me about 10 minutes to put together.

The khichdi- equal parts rice and vaal dal (yellow moong dal would work as well), rinse, add water and a generous dollop of bisibele masala paste, pressure cook.

The subzi: tiny cubes of potato and butternut squash with mustard seeds, cumin-coriander, salt, turmeric, chili powder, pan fry until tender, garnish with cilantro. And yes, that is a puddle of molten ghee in the picture.

Reading Neil Gaiman's Coraline, a quirky story about a child who wanders into a world that is a sinister mirror image of her own.

Apart from the books I already wrote about, my favorite book this month was Home Cooking, a collection of essays by Laurie Colwin. So warm and funny. This one is a must-read. And it contains some good recipes too: I want to try baking the gingerbread and black cake.

I also started reading Castle Waiting by Linda Medley and Haunting Jasmine by Anjali Banerjee but neither held my attention and they were abandoned. I figure life is too short to make myself read books that I don't find interesting.

Watching the series finale of How I Met Your Mother, a show I've watched on and off for many years. Also watching Midsomer Murders on Netflix. One Saturday afternoon this month I watched PBS for 5 hours straight and oh, it was glorious. First, there were a couple of food shows with some recipes that I will have to try soon, like a tres leches cake on Cook's Country, then Priceless Antiques Roadshow which is always so entertaining and that was followed by a documentary on British sitcoms.

What have you been cooking, eating, celebrating, making in March? Happy April! I have family visiting this week and there's much to look forward to.

48 comments:

  1. Cooking: Shrikhanda-puri for Padwa which both the boys liked ( the little one said, "yaay! it's my 'now' favorite" and the husband-child said," hey ghari kelays?!!" Mhanje kay, vedach ahes- was my reply)

    Eating: Things I should not :( we had a 'snack potluck' and we girls had a pigging out party!

    Baking: Tres Leches cake ( Pioneer Woman's recipe) for the above mentioned potluck, It was a HIT!

    making- I'll change that to planning: to have a smallish Easter egg hunt with some Moms in my 'school group'. happy kids= happy moms!

    Enjoy your happy time with your family!

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    1. LOL What fun to surprise the fam with a new favorite! Oh man a snack potluck sounds like a great idea. Have lots of fun at your egg hunt.

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  2. Nupur, I cannot lie. Most of Meli's artwork goes in the bin. She retrieves most of it and I try to throw it away again... And so goes the cycle :)

    Watched Wes Anderson's moonrise kingdom- the movie looked very beautiful but was a little unusual. Also watched Before Midnight- last of a favourite trilogy.
    Have been trying my hand at making my own bead necklace jewellery. My mother received my first 5 creations.
    Reading endless night by agatha Christie and also just started Goodbye Mr Chips.
    Food wise finishing off my mother's cooked freezer food. Starting to eat some new salads- arugula strawberry and balsamic and Caesar salads.
    Happy April
    Arpita

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    1. Arpita- Right now Lila is pretty indifferent to what I do with her art. She just wants to mass produce it and then she cares no more. But that might change! Hope she does not decide to keep it all!

      I don't think I have read Endless Night- will look for it.

      You're making jewelry- that's awesome! Your mom must be thrilled to get new pretties to wear. I'd love to see pics if you care to share them!

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    2. Sure nupur, I will send pics of the few I have at home to your email.
      My mum escaped with the best stuff to India though! :)

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  3. Lovely post! Absolutely loved the toddler art ideas. Lila is quite an artist. Her paintings could pass for modern art easily :)
    I made srikhand (from milk) for gudi padva this week. I never thought it would be so easy.

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    1. I know right ;) I should stick an enormous price tag and wheedle a local gallery into displaying them. You made shrikhand from milk- as in making yogurt first etc? I usually start with store bought yogurt but haven't made shrikhand in ages.

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    2. Yes..I made yogurt first then strained it to make shrikhand. I also made banana bread yesterday after seeing it here. Although I made the healthiest version possible :) (whole wheat, oats, applesauce, honey, almond flour) These days I am taking online nutrition classes and cannot bring myself to use anything slightly unhealthy. Maybe it will pass once I forget about the classes. :)

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    3. Hi Nikita!
      Interested to know about your online nutrition class.Can you please share more details?
      Thanks!!
      RJ

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    4. I did this : https://class.coursera.org/nutrition-003 and one more class before this. You can log on to coursera.org and look for any type of class that interests you. It is free.

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  4. I love your art gallery - we occasionally put pics on the wall or give them away - I have used a few for cards and keep meaning to do that more. I'd love to read coraline - you might like to see a coraline cake and doll at http://www.elizabethskitchendiary.co.uk/2013/11/coraline-birthday-cake.html. I have been enjoying reading An American Wife by curtis sittenfeld.

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    1. Goodness- that is an incredible cake- thanks for the link! For some reason, Coraline (the book) is not resonating with me.

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  5. Wow, cool projects and recipes! We have 2 kinds of similar felt chicken egg warmers/covers for boiled eggs from Europe. They are really neat. Lila is just darling! Your pictures look great. Have been tied up with some project deadlines..I binged on Midsomer Mysteries a couple of years ago. Now I'm catching up on Breaking Bad... Reading "Quiet." Happy April. Did you play a prank on anyone? Love and hugs, R

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    1. Quiet was a nice read! Breaking Bad....I only watched the first episode and did not get into it.

      April fools pranks- nada. Didn't have the time or mental space to plan anything. Last year one of my co-workers put a notice on the copy machine that said, "This machine is now voice activated. Please speak loudly and clearly" and then folks were heard saying "4 copies" to no avail :D

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  6. Midsomer Murders is what I am catching up nowadays. I have done the same with Saturdays and Sundays, PBS and Brit sitcoms for 4-5 hours. The longest when I watched Downton Abbey season 3 last week on the Saturday.

    I watched all the seasons of Doc Martin last week. Waiting for season 7 which they say is coming only in 2015. Long wait. Then of course there are the newer ones, Father Brown and Call the Midwife (with Pam Ferris, one of my favorites).
    Sapna

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    1. Midsomer has so many episodes that it is a never-ending delight. I'm enjoying Father Brown, shown every Monday night here. Doc Martin was wonderful. Call the Midwife I read all the books but haven't watched it.

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  7. darling chicken puppets. I like your addition of crown on the head.

    Except for a few, I throw most of my toddler's art work into the recycle bin too. Right in the garage, before I even step home :) Loved the idea of sending them as cards to grandparents. Will have to copy that!

    How do you get to do so much, Nupur? Iam amazed! And its not just working and reading. You fit in some TV too! How?

    Could you share how you typically spend a day or week? I'd really like to learn.

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    1. LOL that's supposed to be the rooster's comb on the head but it does look like a crown! The TV time and crafting time goes together- I watch TV as I knit/sew/do chores.

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  8. Loved the idea of displaying artwork. One of Tanvi's bedroom wall is studded with artwork directly taped on; I like your use of frames.
    Cooking- Highlight was fermented Ragi dosa- I wanted to get rid of some ragi flour on hand. One measure urad dal - soak- grind- mix with three measures of Raagi flour- ferment and ta da! The batter ferments well and my family loved them, not to mention whole grain and healthy.
    Celebrating- Gudi padwa. Happy new year!
    Making- nothing :( way too busy.
    Reading- " Loss of innocence" by Richard North Patterson. Its quite alright, doesnt hold my attention for more than half an hour per day.
    Uma

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    1. Taping artwork directly is fine as well! The frames just make it look more "official". Ragi dosas are wonderful indeed.

      Happy gudi padwa/new year to you too!

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  9. hello Nupur,
    I loved Lila's artwork :-) She has it in her genes for sure !!!! and those puppets super cute :-)

    My son will soon be 11 years, but I've treasured several of his artworks from his toddler years through every school year as well. Not all of them, but, some are so awesome they are worth keeping. I've a small briefcase and I put them there. Over the years, I've converted some of his art pictures to calenders and sent them to my parents and we keep a copy as well. Other artwork decorates my fridge and our entertainment center in the great room and we love seeing them and often talk about them while trying to see how far back he can remember :-)

    Cooking - nothing special..made Rava kesar for the New Year.
    Eating - Hubby has started taking baking classes and every week he brings home new treats ..for this week, it is chocolates and I've been eating like a kid in a candy store !!!!
    Celebrating - This may sound silly, but I'm celebrating having some free time to start reading again. Have been wanting to get back to reading for several years now; finally made thro' a book when my son had spring break. :-) Now, reading Charles Duhigg's Power of Habit. Still reading but loving it so far..very fascinating and highly recommend it :-)
    Happy April with family :-) enjoy them :-)
    Meena.

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    1. Aww- it is lovely that you've been enjoying your son's artwork all these years! Great idea to make calendars for the grandparents. I might have to make one, with some photos and some artwork.

      Good for you to enjoy the results of your husband's baking experiments!

      Also fantastic to be reading again. It truly adds so much to life, no matter what genre one reads and even if it is a couple of pages every day. I did read Power of Habit a few months ago!

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  10. Lila's art is awesome, I liked your idea to post those crafts, as I save a very few, and rest go in recycle bin. This month I made a butterfly cake for a friend's daughter 3rd birthday. I also tried your red sauce enchilada that turned out great too. Started making lasagna recently, Reading books with my little one!

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    1. That's a lot of good cooking! I'm glad the enchilada sauce worked out. Have fun reading with your little one.

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  11. Lila is quite an artist! I have lila-painted 'congrats on new baby' card you sent on my fridge :)
    March was a month of illnesses :( ... First I fell ill with a sinus infection..Then the baby fell ill..twice! We moved apartments and in the midst of all this, I turned 30. The birthday was spent sniffling and with a lost voice. Probably the most lack-luster bday ever! heh.
    Most of this month we have been getting food delivered from an aunty who cooks and sells food. No enthu to cook. However, I do have couple of almost black bananas and I am tempted to make banana bread. Did the cake have a distinct banana flavor? That is something I dont like.
    I love Neil gaiman's work. Have you read anansi boys? It is such a quirky and fun read! Didnt watch anything much..but am planning on watching Queen (bollywood movie) with some of my girlfriends over the weekend. Been AGES I saw a hindi movie.

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    1. Aww- thanks for giving the card a place on the fridge. And big congrats on turning 30. Life is better on this side of 30- take it from me ;)

      So sorry about the illness- these infections do see to come back to back. Maybe have a late birthday bash when you're all better.

      The banana bread is pretty banana-ey. Some extra vanilla/cinnamon might make it less so.

      I'm not getting into Coraline- I really want to like Gaiman but I don't think it is working!!

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    2. I tried the banana bread yesterday! I doubled the amount of vanilla and also added half vanilla bean (talk about paranoia!) to reduce the banana flavor and the result was a very pleasant and mild banana flavor. I also use WW pastry flour, some almond flour and yogurt in place of APF and sour cream. Loved the outcome. Your blog always lands me with keeper recipes, nupur :)

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  12. Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking is a treat! Also check out the followup to it called 'More Home Cooking.'

    After reading the above two books some years ago, I looked her up and was very much saddened to learn that she had unexpectedly passed away in the early 90s. Such a loss so young for her family, friends and us readers. Here's a related article about her legacy - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A55809-2003Jul1.html

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    1. I looked her up to- and yes, so sad that she died young. Such a talented writer. Thanks for that nice article. I'll definitely look for her other books.

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    2. Also an article in the NYT a couple of days ago about her...R

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    3. Thank you for mentioning this, I looked up the article and read it, a lovely tribute and I am one of her many many fans. Now I have to go and read Home Cooking again.

      A link to the nytimes article in case anyone is interested - http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/02/dining/laurie-colwin-a-confidante-in-the-kitchen.html?ref=dining

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  13. Ugh, I throw out a LOT of my daughter's artwork too. There's just too much of it from preschool. Although she's writing now and scrawls notes like "I luv my muma" and I find myself keeping more things now but, seriously can't keep every single thing. I like your idea of frames.
    I have such a backlog of books but, I'm catching up with several TV shows right now and I'm not finding time to read. How do you catch up with books and TV?
    I still haven't finished Americanah. Have Wonder and Fault in our Stars on my bedside table.

    I'm going dairy free for a bit and so, made almond milk for the first time this weekend and it was the easiest thing. Have been making smoothies lately, green and not-green and used the almond milk to make a delicious one this morning with banana, almond butter and dates.

    I also made hummus using Yotam Otolenghi's recipe for basic hummus. I've always eyeballed it before but on a whim decided to follow a recipe to make it and it was delicious. Not that my eyeballed ones aren't good but, this was more on the mellow side with the tahini not as subtle as it usually is in my version. I also realized I use a lot more lemon juice.

    I also made pizza last week with a different dough recipe and really loved it. Used smiiten kitchen's lazy pizza dough recipe and even the leftovers were delicious.

    I'm currently watching The Good Wife. On the 4th season and really like it. If you have Amazon Prime, it's there, don't think it's on Netflix. Also watching House of cards and wondering if the DC political scene really is that cutthroat (probably is).

    Always fun to see what you're up to.

    -Anu

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    1. Aww- love notes from the preschooler, too cute. Maybe scan them for posterity before chucking the paper? But that quickly turns into digital clutter...

      About books and TV- most evenings I have 2 hours between my kid's bedtime and my bedtime. Sometimes I'll spend those hours watching TV and crafting, other days I'll read the whole time if it is a particularly juicy book. Or I'll do a bit of TV and then read before bed. But honestly the long depressing dramatic novels are not fitting into my life right now. I read 50 pages of Americanah and returned it to the library. The other two were very quick reads. Both worth reading IMHO.

      I might watch House of Cards next- I've heard so many good things about this show. Although politicians as a rule are among my least favorite people on the planet.

      I don't really care for smoothies but your banana and date one sounds absolutely delicious! Thanks for sharing- I loved reading this!

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  14. Nupur,
    That khichdi sounds amazing - how did you make the bisibele masala paste?

    Thanks,
    Aruna

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    1. I didn't make it! MTR brand is what I use. Comes in a pouch, I transfer it to a glass jar and store it in the fridge for weeks/months.

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  15. Lila is a talented child. Bless her. I am using her card as book mark in the book "Anokha Alaska" that I am currently reading and enjoying. Celebrated Gudhi Padva and made the gudhi at home like I do every year. This year the sweet was shira. I made puris using a bit of fine semolina with the atta and they turned out so crispy and nice. Watching Sa Re Ga Ma on Zee Marathi. The young ones are so talented. My sons' artwork has been relegated to recycle bins years ago. I will try your khichadi because it is comfort food that the family enjoys. Loved your envelope pillow. March marched and April May.
    Enjoy your time with family. Shubha

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    1. I enjoyed sa re ga ma way back in the day! My college friend played the tabla on the show (accompanying singers) and that made it even more fun.

      LOL at March marched and April May. Looks like April is :D

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  16. those finger puppets are just adorable! and that puddle of ghee is the crown on top of anything remotely made with rice!

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  17. Hi Nupur, if you haven't read Kamila Shamsie, I so totally recommend her book "Burnt Shadows". Also "The Fault in our Stars" by John Green. Such lovely writing, such difficult things to write about.

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    1. I read Fault In our Stars just this month! Forgot to mention it in the post. I did like the book and I'll look for Shamsie's book. Thanks Shammi!

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  18. March was a very happening month for me with the arrival of our baby girl! I love the idea of the art gallery. And what a coincidence - I just made a few finger puppets to gift one of my girlfriends who also delivered a baby recently. They are so much fun! I'll be posting the pics of what I made soon.

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    1. Congratulations!! How wonderful for you- hope you and baby girl are doing well. Would love to see pics of your finger puppets!

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    2. Thank you! Girls are pure joy. I posted the pics on my blog :)

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  19. Just received one of Lila's art work'MONKEYS " as a "Get well soon" card as I am recovering from a surgery for slip disc.I tried to find a monkey in the picture and to my surprise ,I did find one which I have traced. It was like an exercise to find the hidden meaning of a modern art work of a renowned painter.' MULACHE PAYA PALNYAT DISTAT'

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    1. Thanks Baba! She has inherited the artistic streak from you.

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  20. Whoa, that's some seriously good artwork there by Lila. You are so crafty, Nupur-- amazing how you turn trash to treasure. Can I borrow you for a couple of weeks? :)

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    1. Oh Vaishali- wouldn't it be fun to get together for a few days of crafting and cooking? Drive down to GA and we can make it happen. I'm serious, you know.

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Thank you for taking the time to say hello!