Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Advent Calendar at last

At last I made my Advent Calendar. I made it very fast. My target was to hang the calendar on 1st December before my son came back from school. I started it on November 30th. I decided to make some white pockets. Suddenly in remembered some blank invitation cards I bought from OfficeMax in heavy discounted price. I bought them mainly for those envelops came in the packets, which I needed at that time. Those cards were not attractive , at least to me. So, I cut the border out. The size of the white parts came out was perfect for the pockets.  

I was in a hurry, and I couldn’t think about how to make all those pockets. Then, I told myself to cool down , so that, I can think. Though it is too late to give the idea, how I made it, still I’m sharing step by step of me Advent Calendar.
Step 1: Take some white card stocks. If you don’t want to make big calendar, then keep the size of each pocket in mind. Otherwise, when you attach them together, the calendar will be huge. Unfortunately, I didn’t measure the size of the card stocks before making the pockets.
Approximately each card stock was 7” x 4”.

Step 2: Fold each white card stock in the middle just like a small greeting card. One side of the card cut a half circle using a circular punch.

Step 3: Take a ruler. On the folded side, measure 1/2 inch from both ends. You can see in the picture, I put two pencil dots, on the both ends (you can see in the previous picture). You can draw squares on the ends, or just cut out  to approximate squares from both end.

Step 4: Take one card stock at a time. Take ruler, and bone folder. I don’t have any bone folder, so, I used my nail file(ha ha ha). On both end of the card, put the ruler just covering the cut out part. Then score. According to the score, fold the parts of the card. If you have scoreboard, and bone folder, the task will be easier than mine.

Step 5: On the thin folds put glue according to your choice. I used Tacky Glue. Fold the card, and stick. The pocket is ready. Take few pockets together, and clip them. I used some cloth pins. Let them dry.

Step 6: Decorate each pocket as you like. I cut some scrapbook papers and decorated them.

Step 7: This part was very time consuming and tough to me. You need some chipboards. Don’t use any corrugated chipboards, they will make the calendar bulky. The thin chipboards from cartons will do the best job. I had one long big carton from my kid’s toy. I cut that into thin long strips.

Step8: Arrange the pockets with front down on the floor, or on a table.  Cut the chipboard strips, according to your need, and glue them down on the back side of the pocked to stick them together.

Step 9: Take a ribbon of your choice, glue on the top to make a loop. Which will help you to hang the calendar.
Step 10: Make some small cards, and write some fun activities on it. Put those card with chocolates in each pocket.  Hang it on the wall.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Christmas decorations 2016

Last Sunday I almost finished the Christmas decorations inside our home. Daddy-sonny duo put up the Christmas tree. That was an event. I forgot to video the argument time. That was so funny. My little one argued with his dad through the entire time of putting the tree. Anyway, after they finished I decorated the tree. This year we added a few more items than last year. We bought two beautiful poinsettia garland from Jo-Ann in October, on a huge sale. I usually buy all the items when they are on sale. Almost every year I visit all the stores on 26th of December , and I usually get everything at least on 50% off. Anyway, I put pup the decoration and wall hangings. All the wall hangings were made by me through out the year. This year I also have plan to make more wall hanging. 

Our Christmas tree
On the mantle
Isn't the bird cute?
Little centerpiece on the coffee table
One of the handmade Christmas tree ornaments.
Another handmade ornaments
Another one.

I didn’t have any Advent Calendar. I want to make one. The problem is that I’ve only today in my hand to make. Please suggest me some quick ideas , so that, I can finish that in a few hours. Also let me know what else I can decorate. This is the best time of the year. And I love o decorate my home. 

Please visit my Amazon Handmade store to find more handmade Christmas tree ornaments.Here is the link: From girls' mind

Friday, November 25, 2016

Potato fritters

When it is overcast outside and a little drizzle make you feel like getting drenched with two wide open hands towards the sky, we love to eat some deep fried fritters. If the sky becomes gloomy with gray clouds appear in shadowy form, Mr. Man will call from office to ask me to cook some lip smacking fritters. Here is my fritters recipe for a rainy day.

Two medium sized potato (Or one big potato)

One tsp. cumin powder

One tsp. coriander powder

One tbsp. dry fenugreek leaves (you can get at any Indian store in the name of “Kasuri Methi”)

Salt to taste

Enough bread crumb to make a thigh dough

Two tbsp. gram flour


Oil for deep frying

Cut the potatoes into half. In a saucepan put the potato halves, pour enough water to cover one inch above the top of the potatoes. Add salt to the water. Turn the burner into high, bring into boil. Check the potatoes time to time by inserting a knife into any of the halves. Also, you may need add more water into the sauce pan to avoid burning the potatoes in the bottom. If the knife the can easily goes into any of the halves, then switch off the stove. Let it cool down. After the potatoes are completely cool, slowly peel them with your hand.  Take them in a big bowl, and smash the potatoes with a masher or just use hand. I usually use my hand. Add all the spices, and mix well with hand. Then add bread crumb little by little, and continue mixing until the dough become tight. Then, from the make golf ball sized ball, slightly flatten them, and keep aside. In a deep bowl take two tbsp. of gram flour, add a pinch of salt, then add water, and make thin batter. Take deep frying pan. Heat it into high, add one cup of oil. You may need more oil to deep fry, depending on the size of the frying pan. Then one by one dip the fritters into the batter, fully coat with the batter, and deep fry them. You can fry two to three fritters at a time. Serve hot.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Giving Thanks..

This is the time to give thanks, time to tell what are we grateful for.  We all know on the fourth Thursday of November, the people of America and Canada give thanks to God for all the blessings they receive throughout the year by feasting and prayer, which is known as Thanks giving day. Thanksgiving Day first started in New England, for thanking God for the abundant harvest of crops. When the first pilgrims arrived in 17th century, the very first winter was rough. Only 46 pilgrims survived out of 102. Next year they celebrate Thanksgiving, along with some Native Indian. During their rough time the Indian helped them a lot. It was probably a harvest festival in the beginning, and a completely religious affair. My son, told me the this history, when he was just 4 years old. He learned the history from Charlie Brown Cartoon. 

Anyway, this Harvest Festival, reminds me my own harvest festival back in India, though very few people , especially the farmers celebrate in their house. I’ve never seen any city people to celebrate in. However,the concept is same, giving thanks to Almighty for the abundant harvest of crop. The festival is called “Nabanna”, “Naba” means new and “Anna” means rice. 
Before coming to the USA, I didn’t have idea about thanks giving. After little bit in Internet, I couldn’t figure it eight years back. When my little one explain the history, I understood totally. I love the festival, as I can give thanks to everyone.

I want to give thanks for everything. 

First thanks to this earth, where I’m leading my life. 

Thanks to my parents for raising me .

Thanks to my sisters for their love and support.

Thanks to my husband for everything he is giving me.

Thanks to my little one for making me mom.

Thanks to all my friends near and far.
And above all I want to give thanks to all my blogger friends whose encouraging comments keep writing for the blog. 


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Tomato-coconut Salmon curry

Sometimes I feel to cook fish in some different way. I love to experiment just with a little twist. Simply changing few spices in cooking, can yield a great recipe. When I cooked salmon with coconut and tomato, it turned out to be a very satisfying comfort food. Here is the recipe.

Five pieces of salmon fillet

Half cup of grated coconut

One cup tomato paste

One tsp. ginger paste

One tsp. garlic paste

One small onion 

Pinch of turmeric powder

Salt to taste

Two tbsp. of oil (I used olive oil)
Wash the pieces of salmon. Marinate the pieces with pinch of turmeric and one tsp of salt. Keep them aside. If you don’t have tomato paste, take medium sized tomato, cut into big chunks, and make a puree in a mixer, keep the paste in a small bowl. Wash the onion, peel it, and cut into big chunks.
Again in the same mixer (no need to wash after making tomato puree), crush the onion. You don’t need to make a smooth paste. If you are using freshly grated coconut, then just make a paste in the same mixer. If you use coconut powder, like me , then add 2-3 tbsp. of milk (you can use soy milk or almond milk) to make a paste. 
Now heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan in medium. Add the ginger paste, and stir for few second. Then add the onion paste. Stir the mixture, and cover the pan, let it cook, stirring occasionally. After 4-5 minutes, add the tomato paste. Mix it thoroughly. Cover the pan with lid, and let it cook. When oil starts oozing out, add the garlic paste, just mix well. Then add the coconut paste. Add salt and turmeric, cook the gravy for some time, string occasionally. Then add two to three cups of water, bring into boil. When the sauce starts boiling, add the salmon pieces. Cook covering the pan until the salmon are done. The pieces will change color from bright to pale pink. It will take about 10 minutes. When the fish is done, uncover the pan, and cook until the gravy reaches the desired consistency.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Strawberry loop hiking

It was Saturday morning. We had a plan to hike somewhere. According to our plan we left home after a heavy breakfast, around 10 o’clock. Sun was shinning brightly. The weather was warm compare to the month of November of any other years. The weather must be cool, the air must be cold and crisp, in November. However, this year the weather in November, is more like spring weather. Anyway, I decided to hike on a trail in Oakland, but Mr. Man told that was very easy. We should go for at least on a moderate hiking trail. So, he found to Panoramic hill in Berkeley. 

Why the name in Panoramic, I found out while hiking. When we reach the trail head of Strawberry loop, the sun was very bright and hot. There was no typical parking space at the trailhead. We parked our car on roadside. We crossed a concrete uphill path to reach the actual trailhead. That concrete road was real steep one, when we reached the trailhead we had been already panting. At the starting of the trail it was little bit flat, and covered with trees. When we reached the trail head we could see the entire bay, including the Bay bridge and Golden Gate bridge.

Then suddenly came the steep trail in front of us.  Climbing that part we reached in front of a house full of different cacti and succulents. We named the house succulent-home. 

There the trail met with a car road in front of the house. Anyway, crossing the road again we reached the trail. For few minutes the road was almost flat. Next, again a real steep part came.First part was sandy, and sand were very loose, we slipped few times. The next part was full of gravel, where we had to put our foot from one stone to another after carefully watching them to avoid falling.  From that point we could see the whole bay including the Bay bridge and Golden gate bridge more clearly. As we walking higher and higher we could see the bay more and more clearly.

 At one point we reached a flat area from where the bay was very clear. Again we started walking upwards continuously getting the panoramic sight. The trail was alternately flat and steep. Then again came a steep part. Every time a steep part of trail was coming in sight, Mr. Man kept telling that was the last steep part. Anyway, after crossing the “last” steep part, we kept one walking a flat winding road. Mr. Man assured me that, as it was loop trail we were not going to cross the gravel laden path anymore. After walking long on the flat winding road, we saw few people were climbing up from a point off the flat path. We thought we could go on the flat path. Luckily, Mr. Man check the path, then we realized we had to climb up that part to come back. Rather walking on flat path we again walked on up and down path. 

What I anticipated ,came true. We had to climb down the gravel path. Climbing up was not a challenge , but climbing down was really challenging. We had put every step very carefully , to avoid falling off. After that we reach the succulent home. Rest of the path was easy to climb down. 

The total hike was 7.5 miles. Sometimes covered with tree, sometimes not.Though we climbed more than 1000 feet, but as it was not a continuous uphill path, we didn’t face too much difficulties. It was great for exercise. The trail was not at all crowded. Very few people were hiking with us. Even sometimes we three were alone on the path. It was an enjoyable hike. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Day trip to Placerville

No, our destination was not Placerville. We didn't even know that Placerville was a historical place. Our plan to go to Apple Hill for apple picking. I was under the impression that Apple Hill is in Sacramento. I didn’t check that in the map. Saturday morning we were in dilemma whether we would go to Apple Hill or not. Suddenly , Mr. Man decided that, we would visit Apple Hill. 

Anyway, we just got ready and went out.
However, we did a big mistake, we didn’t even realize. We found out that Apple Hill not was in Sacramento, but in Placerville, which was another 80 Mile from  Sacramento. So, we had to drive a good 150 miles from our home to reach Apple Hill. By following the map we reached an Apple orchard. We saw people were flocking around a farmers’ market. We were hungry, so we gulped down some food, and tried to find out the gate to enter the orchard. But, the gate was locked. 

Then we called the orchard office, and we got an extremely disappointing answer. We were told that, the apple picking season was already over. All the apple were already harvested. Enjoying apple picking just went out of question. I was more interested in it rather than father-son duo. 

Anyway, there was no other thing to do in Apple Hill, so, we decided to go back home.  As we entered the freeway, I noticed the exit of “Historic Placerville”. I expressed my interest to visit there. We took the exit, and reached the “Main Street”. As soon as we entered Main Street, we realized it was  and old town. We decided to parked our car at roadside. Then we started walking on the Main Street. Everywhere there was old world charm. In the middle of the main street we saw a huge bell. After coming back home, I dug a little on Internet and found out some interesting fact about the town. 

Historic Bell tower

Placerville is a California “Gold Rush” town. It is named after placer, which means a deposit of sand or gravel in the river bed or lake. During gold rush time gold was found on the nearby riverbed.  The highly publicized discovery of gold in Northern California drew thousands of fortune seekers in 1800’s. During gold rush, Placerville became an important supply center for the mining camps nearby.

Tree House store- Winter Wonderland

The town is also known as Hangtown. I had been wondering why? We were just strolling on the sidewalk, suddenly my son noticed a boat ornament hanging on a Christmas tree inside a shop. He loves boats and planes. He ardently wanted to buy that boat. I also showed interest to go inside the store. I’ve never seen such sweet and cozy Christmas shop in my life. I’ve only seen such kind of shop in sweet Christmas movies. So, I didn’t resist my son, instead of that I went inside the shop with him. We landed in a wonderland. So many cute Christmas tree ornaments just made me feel like a little girl. I literally wanted to buy many of them. But, money always takes the control. My son, who is crazy about the boats and planes had a hard time to choose , as his father asked him to choose only one ornament. After spending much time he chose a cruise ship. After buying two ornaments we came out of the shop, “Tree House”.
On opposite of the street we saw red brick building name cary’s hotel. In today’s world that was nothing but a shabby red brick building. Today we don’t even feel like staying there. However, I was curious about the building. After searching a little I found out that,when it was built in 1800s it was a luxury hotel, compare to that era. Even Mark Twain stayed there. 

Anyway, I should tell why it was known as “Hangtown” before. One of the many stories about the acquisition of the name was a robbery.  In1849 , one gambler won a lump some amount of money in a saloon. After getting out of the saloon, three men tried to rob the money. However, they were caught, and hanged after a quick trial.
I should also tell the history behind the bell tower. The town was destroyed three times by devastating fire. After that the town people decided to put a huge bell in the middle of the main street. So that, in case of fire they could ring the bell to catch attention of the fire fighters. 

He is Trevor-He can speak :)

We had no idea about the sweet little town. We didn’t even heard about it before, so, I couldn’t find out the attractions prior going there. So, we missed many of the little historical spots there. One of them was the Pony Express station This Pony Express has a fascinating history, though the service was for very short lived. Pony Express was the service of delivering mail between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California, and they used to go through Placerville, El Dorado County.  However, within one year Pony Express was replaced by Telegraph. Now, the telegraph is replaced by Internet. :)
Anyway, that was our outing. We came back home buying three bottles of different jam from Apple Hill.