Thursday, July 25, 2013

"Moments of life" mini album

I started making this mini album long, but I've never finished it. I think in 2011 I saw this beautiful shape in an advertisement of "Fresh and Easy" during Christmas. I thought to using that very in any of my crafts. After much thought I decided to make a mini album.  I made project so big that I could never finish that. Now I'm thinking that I should finish it near future.

I took all used paper and cut out that shape. to make pages of the album.

I pasted decorative papers on both sided to make the final pages.

The pages

Some of the finished pages with pockets and embellishments.

The unfinished album


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Altered boxes

My embellishment box

Inside the box


The box where I keep my laces

Inside the box

Wedding memories keepsake box



And many more to come!!!!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sedona trip, December 2012

Sedona 2012
Like the previous years’ this year too we decided to spend our Christmas holidays away from home. My hubby suggested me many places, but I strongly wanted to go to Sedona . It was my dream, I waited for a long time, and this time I didn’t miss the opportunity to go there. Those red colored layered rocks were mesmerizing. At last he agreed with me. However, his intention was totally different; he only wanted to rest and have great food. I didn’t want that at all. I wanted to drink the beauty of the place to my fullest.
Towards Sedona

We left home on the 28th of December in the morning. We decided to go via Phoenix, because that was more economic than going direct to Sedona, though it was a 100 miles drive from Phoenix. Our flight was on time, we reached Phoenix airport hassle free. It was a hot sunny afternoon. Outside the airport the Saguaro Cacti welcomed us to phoenix, and showed us that we reached a very different place from ours. As far as I could see there were only rocks and cacti, and nothing else. However, the desert also had its own beauty. The rocks, acre after acre of empty lands, and of course the Saguaro created a different kind of beauty. Mother nature was probably in a rough mood while creating the place, she didn’t show any kindness. It was a harsh beauty. Though in the beginning I really enjoyed the harsh beauty, but sometimes later I started feeling suffocated, my eyes wanted to see some greenery, some wetlands; my heart wanted the din of the human beings. Anyway, as we traveled in the daylight, so we couldn’t see any coyotes, though I heard about the coyotes of this harsh land.

Saguaro Cacti
I was eagerly waiting to see the red rocks, one of the Mother Nature’s finest creations. She created the rocks and painted with bright vibrant red color. What a creation!!! When from distant I could see the red “Bell Rocks”, I jumped on my feet like a child. It was the month of December; Sun god started preparing to go to bed, when we reached our hotel. Below the saffron sky the red rocks were standing tall with their mystical beauty, a heavenly situation; I felt a strong urge to run to the foothill. I already fastened invisible roller skate on my feet, so I didn’t want to spend much time just sitting at the hotel.  The lady at the counter of the hotel was telling about all the attractions around the place, but nothing was going through my ears, all I could see were the red rocks. It was chilling cold outside along with strong wind, which was totally an unfavorable condition to go out, but I didn’t want to stay back in the hotel, though the hotel was very cozy. Usually I research about any place before going, but this time my hubby was so  reluctant to visit the place, that I lost my enthusiasm to research. The lady at the counter gave us complementary tickets of a lighting show in a neighborhood hotel, my husband was in dilemma, whether we go or not.
Christmas lighting show
 When we at last got ready to go there, it was dark outside, and it was extremely cold, but we couldn’t realize the intensity, though we went there armed with all kind of winter garments. After reaching there, when we came outside the car, the chilled wind blew over the faces, and we were almost frozen. Full of enthusiasm, we started walking. A little later we really felt difficulty in moving our hands and feet. Our bodies became totally numb, and my son was constantly whimpering and wanted to go back home. It was just for him we went to see the show, but he didn’t enjoy it. Somehow we managed to finish the whole spectacular show, and literally ran into the car, and put the heater in full. When we reach our hotel, we were still shivering. My husband couldn’t move his fingers to drive the car. After getting back to hotel we put the heater in full and gradually started feeling better. Since the last few days our son was suffering from cold, and his condition was worse than us. He felt so home-sick that every now and then he wanted to go back home. I’d never seen him so home sick ever before. We already did a little grocery in Phoenix on our way to the Sedona.
Bell Rock Vista
 So, after coming back to hotel my first job was to cook the dinner.
Next day, my hubby was not at all in a mood to go out, but I desperately wanted to go. My hubby dear tried to assure me that we had one more day in our hand. Actually I wanted to go hiking on any of the trails. I looked forward to this trip so that we could go hiking.
Court house butte
30th December, the weather was little bit warmer than previous day and sunny also. At last we decided to go out and see around the Sedona town. Since morning the weather was sunny, we thought the weather is going to be comfortable. However, Mr. Weather was all ready to prove that wrong. We started our day in a teeth-tittering cold. Sun god seemed to be too meek to bite the cold. We were already provided a map of the place, as we didn’t study about the place before, so the map was our only hope.
Anyway, after studying the map we found that it would be better to start our tour from “Bell Rock Vista”, which was the point from where the Bell Rock could be seen. The dark rust colored layered rock named due to the shape of it. The Bell Rock was the first major rock site that we came across in Sedona. It would be very unfair if I didn’t appreciate the unique and massive rock formations. From there we could see the rare side of the Courthouse butte. We didn’t have much time in our hand, so we couldn’t stop at any of sites for a long time. After that we went to the courthouse vista, from where the courthouse butte could be seen very clearly. From there we started towards Cathedral rocks. We passed the little horse trailhead and took left turn on Beck o’beyond Road, without knowing, where we were going. Actually we wanted to go to Cathedral Rock, but the route was different. However, suddenly we found that we were standing at the trailhead of Cathedral rock. 
Cathedral Rock
I was extremely eager to go hiking there, but with a sick child it was not possible. Still my hubby dear suggested me that I could hike as long as I wish. Without watching behind I almost started running towards the top in the chilling cold, but it seemed that it was receding more and more from me. After few minutes I looked back I found that I already had gone far bottom foot of the hillock. So, it was the time to going down, as we had to cover a lot within one day. Our next destination was Chapel of Holy cross. The chapel was situated on a mound. 
Chapel of Holy cross
We parked our car on the foot, though there was small parking area behind the chapel we decided not to go there, because it was a difficult task to going in and out in the parking lot. So we parked the car a little far from the chapel and we walked up to there. From deck of the chapel the view was spectacular. From the top was visible one unarguably beautiful house just below the chapel. 
View of the beautiful house from the Chapel
We were talking about the house while going to the chapel, and both of us wished to see the house in details, and from the top we could do that. ­­ Then we decided to go southbound. I was watching the map in my hand to figure out where actually we were going. Suddenly my husband tapped me asked me to watch, but I couldn’t understand what to watch. Then I saw a spectacular scene. Clouds were hovering through two of the buttes. I was just staring at the scene, I couldn’t move my eyes, but the sound of snowflakes put me back to reality. However, it was very exciting to me and my son, because both of us never have seen snowfall, but we realized it wouldn’t be wise going further. The place is unknown to us, and it was snowing. I asked my husband not move further, but as usual he didn’t listen to me. We crossed Morgan road, Broken arrow vista and went up to high cloud trail. Then he realized it wouldn’t be wise to go further. We came back, and went to have lunch at Sound bites Grill. We were too hungry to wait, so, without thinking about expenditure, we decided to have lunch there. When we parked our car, it was still snowing. We just ran in the restaurant. so we had a stomach and heart feeling lunch. After lunch obviously a cup of coffee was needed. Why?? The Starbucks was adjacent to the restaurant. When we were waiting in the queue for coffee, again it started snowing. I started jumping like a child. Both mother-son ran outside of the shop. I started clicking snaps of snowing. My son too excited to stand with me. He sprang outside and started jumping on snow. My enthusiasm became so much that I couldn’t resist me, and also went outside to jump with my son. 
Let it snow, let it snow
It was a great fun-time. My son, who was cranky just few moments back, was very happy when he got chance to jump on the snow. However the snowing didn’t last for a long. We decided to go further.
We started driving towards Sedona airport. We passed Crest view church, Sunset Drive, Seventh day Adventist church. Both of us were delighted when we saw the Cuisines of India in between the route. We took left turn on airport drive. It was a serpentine road with many offshoots. We didn’t know which road we would take. Luckily one open tourist jeep was going just before, we blindly followed them and we reached the small airport. It was an amazing view as we could see the whole Sedona town from the top. There was nothing much to do, we decided to towards Oak Creek canyon. The mountain road was very narrow; there was no room for error. We reached the Midglay Bridge. It was an amazing view from there. My son fell asleep. So we came out of car in turn to watch the beauty. Just to the west of the bridge is Wilson Mountain; a hiking trail began just next to the parking lot.  The Huckaby Trail, took under Midgely Bridge to Oak Creek, but unfortunately I couldn’t explore that .
Midgely Bridge
Passing Huckbay trail vista, Grasshopper point we reached the Oak Creek Visitor center. Then it again started snowing heavily. It was not wise to go further uphill. We started coming down and reached a very beautiful small town. It reminded us our visit to Gatlinburg near Smokey Mountain. As we reached the town again sun god showed his face. So again we changed our mind and started driving towards another side instead of going back to the hotel. We entered the Red rock state park through Upper red rock loop Ed. Actually we enter the park from the uphill and started driving downhill. The elevation was so much that the car was rolling down by it, it was difficult to control the car. We entered the Yavapai county.  
I wondered, how they climbed to the top?
 While crossing Tortuga trail I saw three people on the top of an unknown butte. I wonder how they climbed there. While crossing Caberello trail again it started snowing. Though the road was not dangerous but it was very bumpy. Then we saw Cross creek ranch. From outside it was looking very nice; we thought we could go inside. However, after going up to the gate we realized that it was a private property. The entrance was so nice that I couldn’t resist myself from taking some snaps. Then we started hotel bound. Before going to hotel, my husband wanted to explore a little more. Without knowing we enter Canyon drive and reached a dead end. That lane was so narrow that it was hard back our car. Anyway, somehow he managed to do that, and then we went the opposite side of the road. Again we reached another dead end, but we found a way to direct 179 express-way which directly led to our hotel.
Courthouse butte in the evening sun
Next day morning we left Sedona. Our flight was in the afternoon from Phoenix. Again we hit the desert road full of cacti. Just before reaching there we were caught up in traffic, which we feared but we reached on time. That was the end of the trip, but I would love to come back again and again.






Thursday, July 11, 2013

Baked chicken chops



The other day I asked my husband that I would like have something to have with tea in the evening, but I was not in the mood to cook. My hubby dear, who loves eating out, literally sprang on his feet and went to take out something which could go with tea. After a long time he came back with two patties, but unfortunately those tasted awful. Our tea drinking session became a flop show due to that. We vowed that not to buy those very particular patties in future. So next day, before he could suggest anything I decided to bake chicken chops. The previous day I couldn’t do the same, because I didn’t thaw the chicken. And it was a real hit. Anyway, it is one of the easiest things to cook with minimum effort. Only thing is that it takes half an hour to bake.  Here is the recipe,

One cup thawed ground chicken or turkey

One egg

One tsp. ginger paste

One tsp. garlic paste

One tbsp. butter in room temperature ( I used margarine)

Salt to taste

Enough bread crumb to make a thick dough


Method:

Wash a ground chicken, and try to drain the water fully. I put the chicken in the big sieve, and put it on a sauce pan. Take a big bowl; put everything into the bowl except bread crumb. Start folding, adding bread crumb slowly until the dough becomes tight. Make small ping-pong ball size portion, give a shape of ball and slightly flatten them. Preheat the oven at 350 degree F. Take a cookie tray, lay a parchment paper on it and arrange the chops. Bake for 20 minutes, and then flip the other side of the chops and bake for another 10 minutes or until the chops become hard. Serve hot with tea or coffee.



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sit Fired Tofu

Stir fired tofu (my style)
Cubed tofu (approximately 2 cups)
One carrot
Few French beans
One zucchini
One medium sized onion
Two tbsp. corn flour
One fourth tsp. of black pepper corn powder
Two tbsp. tomato sauce
One tbsp. soy sauce
One tsp. red chili paste
One tsp. ginger paste
Two cloves of garlic
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

Stir fried tofu and chicken noodles
Method:
Cut carrots in cubes. Cut beans in 2 inch long pieces. Boil them together to tender. You may skip this step. I do this, because, I like the vegetable tender.  Cut zucchini, and onion into cubes. In a plate mix corn flour, pepper powder and pinch of salt. In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Rub the tofu cubes in the mixture and fry. Keep them aside. In the mean time finely chop the garlic cloves. In the same skillet, heat oil, and add the chopped garlic. When fine aroma starting coming add the onion. Cover the skillet and let it fry for few minutes, stirring occasionally. When oil starts oozing out add ginger paste, fry for few minutes stirring. Add the zucchini cubes and let it cook. After few minutes add tomato sauce and soy sauce and keep cooking. After few minutes and boiled carrot and beans (if you don’t boil carrot and beans, then add them into oil along with onion). Lastly add the tofu cubes and cook for few minutes before switching off the stove.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Chestnut cake


Few months ago we three of us had been rambling around Costco and feeling our shopping cart with different items, and Mr. S and I were discussing about our son’s eating problem. Every day I struggle with this very picky eater. He didn’t like to eat any kind of nuts because, he had to chew. Anyway, this time we decided to take chance and we bought a packet of chestnut, hoping that this time he would eat those. However, he dashed all my hope and simply turned down to eat. He was even reluctant to taste the nut. Since then the packet was just lying idly in my refrigerator. One day Mr. S opened the packet and showed the nuts were getting spoiled. Now what to do with a packet of chestnut?  I had to rescue them, oops!!! We had to consume them, but how to consume a whole packet of nuts? I didn’t know any kind of recipe. I tried to think many things, but every time ended up thinking about baking a cake with chestnut. Lastly I gave up creating recipes in my mind and baked a cake with those chestnuts. First, I was not confident enough to bake a cake, but I thought to give a try. Once I bake a financier with almond, so why not with chestnut? The cake turned out fine. Here is recipe of chestnut cake.

Ingredient:
One packet of chestnut (500gm approx)
Half cup all purpose flour
One cup sugar
Half cup melted butter
One and half tsp. baking powder
Half tsp. baking soda
Three eggs or egg-white of four eggs

Method:
Dry roast the chestnuts. Coarsely ground the chest using a mixer. 

Take a big bowl, sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder, and keep aside. In another big bowl whip egg-white (or eggs) , and sugar with a electric mixer, until fluffy. Add the dry mixture into it. Again, whip to make a fine batter. Lastly whip the chestnut powder in the cake batter. Preheat the oven at 350 F. Grease a 9”X11” baking tray, pour the mixture into it. Bake for 50-60 minutes or a fork comes out clean. The chestnut cake is ready. Eat with hot coffee or tea.