Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Christmas week, 2015

“Mom , what can I do now?” That is the most intimidating question. Yes, till now I cannot give a satisfactory answer to this question. I was imagining all the lovely times of the Holiday break. I had been imagining of waking up late in the morning, sipping a cup hot coffee while reading a book, or baking some cake.

Cake for friend
The last craft I made in this winter

 However, on the morning of the very first day of the break , when I heard this question, I came back to reality. I had to keep those things aside. My little one was at home. Anyway, thing didn’t start on not that much bad note. On monday mom and son had a lunch invitation. His best friend’s mom asked us to have lunch with them at their home. So, the whole afternoon the children as well as the moms had a very good time. Again Tuesday he has a play-date. To my grate relief I got a little time for me. Though I didn’t relax, but I could finish all my works uninterruptedly.

Soup tastes extra delicious in freezing cold

 Thursday was an exciting day, apart from Christmas Eve, next day we were going to Los Angeles. Almost every year we try to go to LA. We have a very enchanting memory there. Eight years back, when for the first time I stepped in the USA I actually landed in LA . I started me new life there. I got very many friends there. Actually many of my husband’s colleagues used to live with their families in a same apartment complex of ours. Very easily I got many friends. So, after coming in the USA with my husband where none our family members live, we never felt, out in the nowhere. Though, none of the families live in the same apartment complex anymore, still I’ve one good friend , P, who lives in LA. Just to meet her we usually go there. Anyway, since the beginning of 2015, we couldn’t make a single LA trip , as every time something came when we made a plan. First, my husband told that we would make a trip to LA during summer, so that, our son could enjoy some time in Legoland theme park. However, we couldn’t make that. Again, we made a plan in November, but that also didn’t materialize. Lastly we made plan to go to LA during Holidays in December. That plan was also about to be abandoned, but we change a little bit in the plan and went to LA.
On 24th night, my son almost didn’t slip. He went to bed at 10 o’clock  in the night, but stayed awake for a while. He was too excited to fall asleep. He was terribly doubtful, that Santa was not going to give him any present, as he was not good through out the year. Though, his mama told him to stay good, but most of the time he failed to listen to his mama. Anyway, on 25th early morning he woke up and ran into living room. 

Santa gave two gifts!!!! But just tasted the cookies and sipped a little milk. My son refused to eat the rest of of the cookies. As santa gave bites, that means there were germs from Santa's mouth in the cookies!!!!!

To his great astonishment, he got two presents from Santa. Santa gave him presents, but spoiled our morning slumber. However, I wouldn’t blame him totally. That was good one way , as we had to drive all the way to LA from home. It was an almost seven hours journey. The journey was not at all exciting to us. We always drive on the same freeway, with vast barren desert land on the both side of the road. Some times there were dry mountains with scattered thorny bush, and different size pebbles. Otherwise, the journey was very monotonous until we reached Tejon Pass. 

Snow covered Tejon pass

From distant we could see the snow capped high mountains. The soft  mellow yellow sunlight fell on the snow made the mountain more brighter than ever. On the top, the white fluffy clouds populated the cerulean blue sky. While climbing up the mountain by car, suddenly we felt that the cars had been moving slower than the normal speed.Moreover, many cars stopped by the side of the road. I thought of the worst. My nightmare turned into a broad smile when I saw the heap of snow on the road side, and the playful group of people. Actually cars were slowing down to either see the others play, or to play there.

Anyway, first we went to one of my husband’s friend’s place that night. The evening was simply awesome. We chatted upto late night, and have some delicious food made his wife. Next day, in the morning I went to Michael’s, the craft store to buy some Christmas decors and craft items, which were available on heavy discount. However, I went let, so, I couldn’t get much items to buy. Anyway, in the evening, I went to my friends place. It was a much needed meeting. Our stomach was full with so many things to talk about. 
The days flew by in a blink. On 28th morning we started our journey back home. While coming , again near the Tejon pass, the weather changed suddenly. It became very foggy. The clouds almost came down on the road. We felt a little uneasy. However, the experience was very pleasant. All of a sudden I saw tiny little rain drops. Few moments later the drops turned into tiny snow droplets. Then snow started pouring like fluffy tiny cotton balls along with gusty winds. The roads became damp and slippery. The traffic became slow. 

Experienced the snow fall

We moved slowly until we came down from the mountain. As we reached the plain land, then snow converted into raindrops again. As we drove forward the rain started diminishing, and eventually stopped. We drove through the plain barren  desert land again towards home. The sun started dimishing on the West, radiating pale red light in sky. 
We reached home in the late evening, tired like an owl at day time. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Before the Christmas break,2015

I’m getting too much lazy. Yes, it is true, I’m getting lazy. No, no, not in household works, but, I’m  getting slothful writing in my own blog. Since, the beginning of December, every day I’m thinking that I’ll write about the tidbits of every week. I generally don’t write the tidbits, as there is nothing to share with you friends.

Elf on shelf

 However, the month December is alway very different to me. I usually decorate my home. I try to keep a festive spirit through out the month. I cook different food instead of our regular meals. We usually watch holiday movies, with some hot  beverages. During this time almost every week I make eggnog, which my son loves a lot. So, this year I’m doing the same. 

After spending a really lazy rain-drenched weekend, from Monday I tried to make the things happen in order. It was the last week of school before Christmas break. The week started in normal pace. I was thinking of baking of fruitcake since the beginning of December, and Mr. Man had been asking for fruitcake for years. 

The unfinished snowman

I was only pushing it back with some excuses. At last Tuesday evening I decided to bake it. When I went to soak the dry fruits in rum, I found no rum in my kitchen. When I asked Mr. Man went to market with double enthusiasm to buy rum. Next morning I decided to cook for at least two days.

Dinning table center piece

So that I could have some rest on Thursday. All of a sudden I remembered that I had morning coffee invitation to my dear friend’s home. I was amid several ongoing cooking in my kitchen, with pile of utensils in the sink to be done. Also, I was teaching my so before sending to school. It was perfect chaos in my home. Thankfully Mr. Man was at home at that time. I quickly make chocolate chip cake batter, and put it the oven. I asked Him to take care of he cake while I went to drop my son to school. When I meet friend in the school, whose son is my son’s classmate, she was in a very bad condition with her soar throat. The poor lady couldn’t even speak a single word. So, we cancel our coffee and chat time. I rushed back home for the cake. To my great relief the cake was in perfect shape, as He switched off the oven. The first cake was done. To make my plan successful, I zoomed into the kitchen . I started cooking one after another. In the mean time I found a bowl full of carrot fiber which I saved from previous day’s juice. I had been pondering over the fiber, before I decided to bake a carrot cake. I wanted to finish everything within 12:00 in the noon. However, with five types food, three cakes, and cleaning the whole house I ended up finishing everything at 1:00. 

Wednesdays cooking!!!!
The mess during the action
After every thing is done. At 1:00

At one o’clock everything was done. My home including my precious kitchen looked awesomely neat and clean. Though, I made three cakes, next my question was , what should I do all of them. The fruit cake was for family. What should I do with the other cakes. Then I texted my friend, that I would give the cake, which I baked for her in the morning. 
Anyway, after planning everything, I rushed to school to pick up my son. I call afternoon time is my second innings. So, in second innings I picked up my son from school, and rushed back home. While coming home again I had to go to market to buy some gifts for one of his teachers. After coming home from there, was my third innings. After making some food for my son, I sat down to make gift and holiday card for his teacher, what he was going to give his teacher on Thursday. 

Ready to be packed for teacher

Handmade card for teacher 

He wrote the greetings for his teacher

I thought I would transfer the teaching job to Mr. Man, so that I could make the gift without interruption. However, I found that the arrangement had been not working well. Before, trouble started broiling between son and dad I called my son to me and started doing both job simultaneously. I ended up doing everything, from teaching to cleaning dishes after dinner I finished everything by 10:00 at night. In hope of keeping the Thursday almost free ( A mom cannot be totally free!!!) I did all those jobs. Should I get a big hand, huh?
Thursday morning I got a pack full of cookies from one of my good friends. That was nice and delicious stuff to get in the morning totally unexpectedly. That made me feel happy for the whole day. 

Morning holiday gifts from my friend

Cookies from my neighbor

Friday was another hectic day. Again since morning, I baked cakes for friends, I cooked for whole weekend. Then I got a message from my son’s dentist. Oh!! He had an appointment just after school!!! On the top of that I had volunteer duty in the Holiday party at my son’s class. I managed to do everything from cooking, cleaning, decking up for the party within 2:00 in the afternoon, and rushed to school to volunteer. From there I rushed to dentist’s clinic. The appointment was at 3:30 and I was in the school unto 3:10. 

Holiday party cookie decorating activities and snacks

When I got the clear road to drive my car smoothly the clock  was ticking rapidly. Somehow I managed to reach on time. Again, on the third innings, I did everything from teaching to cleaning. At least, I could hope that, from next week I was going to get rest. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A lazy weekend in Holiday Season

It was another lazy Sunday. It had been raining since previous night. When I woke up in the morning, and saw through my window, first thing I noticed that  my front yard turned golden yellow. The sky was gloomy, but my front yard was golden, definitely not by sunshine, but by the golden maple leaves which fell through out the night due to the storm. 

I was bewildered for a moment. I couldn’t understand whether I should feel fine by seeing such a beautiful sight, or I should be irritated as all my effort of previous day went in vein. Saturday morning, I raked my whole front yard, and it was looking perfectly clean until I went to bed that night. 

In the morning it was looking like nobody raked the yard for years. Anyway, as all the leaves were fresh, at least it was not looking dirty. Then I looked up at the sky. The dark clouds were moving, there was not a single spot of light blue. The drizzle were hitting the pots which I kept on my porch. It was the perfect weather to stay at home and sip a cup of hot chocolate. 

After a simple breakfast I was not at in the mood of cooking launch. I was totally in the mood to snuggle under a soft blanket. I just didn’t want to remember, whether I need to go to grocery shopping or not. 

I just want to forget any household job. Moreover, still there were many more Christmas crafts were pending to do. Anyway, since it is the Holiday season, I thought of cooking something different, but was not in the mood to cook. So, I decided to cook  just a one pot meal. After much searching on the Internet, I decided to go for pasta, obviously without cheese. No, not that I did that for health reason. The real cause was that  I ran out of cheese. Anyway, when I opened my fridge , only few tomatoes were there. So, I took only one tomato, but how could I do the gravy? My eye fell on the big box of fresh spinach. Yes, why not spinach? I could easily  use some fresh dark green spinach in the pasta. The color as well as the taste could be good and different. The dish turned out good. While I put the chicken, along with the vegetable on boiling, I felt pity to give only food in the lunch. I could make some sweet dish. The eggnog was the easiest one, and also perfect for holiday season.Now it’s the time give you the recipe of my green pasta
Two chicken leg pieces (better to use boneless chicken)
One big Roma tomato (or any tomato available in your kitchen)
five-six cloves of garlic
A handful of spinach
Salt to taste
Pasta (I used spaghetti)
One tsp. dry basil (fresh basil is better)
One tsp. of dry oregano
One tbsp. of oil

Wash the chicken, pat it dry with kitchen towel. Marinate the chicken with salt for half an hour. Peel the garlic cloves. Pressure cook chicken with tomato, garlic, and spinach. Let it cool down. Then take out the chicken pieces. If you are not using boneless chicken, then tear off the flesh from the bones, and discard the bones. Take a mixer, pour the tomato, spinach, and garlic with the juice, and grind well to make fine liquid paste. 

At last Mr. Man solved it

 Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to the instruction written on the package. Take a heavy bottomed pan, heat oil to medium. Add basil, oregano into oil. When the fine aroma starts to come, add the chicken pieces. Fry for one to two minutes. Add the paste of tomato, and spinach. Cook the curry, stirring occasionally. When it start thicken, add the cooked pasta. Give a good stir, and your spinach-pasta is ready to be served.

All of us were extremely lazy since morning. So, none of us took bath before lunch. After lunch I was just sitting idle for some time. On the other hand my son had been asking me since morning to bake gingerbread cookies. So, at last  pulled myself up from the couch. After bath still I was very sluggish. But my son drove me so much that I had to enter the kitchen again to bake cookies. I already made the cookie dough in the morning. When I took out it from fridge, it was as hard as rock. I told my son to allow the dough to come into room temperature. By this way I could buy some time from him. Then it was our cookie baking time. He wanted to make some something special with available cookie cutter with me. 

However, his effort went in vein. So, he decided to cut the cookies with the shapes available with me. That was an event to me. This was the first time I baked cookies successfully, keeping the shape of the cookies intact. One thing I learned that, cookie I should make with butter, not oil, not margarine. My son didn’t even let me sit after that. He started bickering over a Jigsaw puzzle which my husband had been solving since Saturday night. Anyway, to calm down him, I ask him to read about ship. That was another job for me. Again it became the time for making dinner. As I made a plan to make something special during the holiday season, I decided to go for soup and baked chicken. In winter when the temperature was sinking rapidly after few splashes of rain in the morning, which could be better than a big bowl of steam hot soup and baked chicken?
Here is my dinner recipes:
1/2 cup lima beans
1/2 cup black eyed beans
Three chicken leg piece (You can use boneless chicken)
One rosemary spring (take leaves out)
One medium sized onion
Three-four cloves of garlic
One lime (cut into halves. If the lime is very big, just use half)
oil spray 
salt to taste
One tsp. of dry basil leaves 
One tbsp. of oil (I used olive oil)
Soak the beans in a bowl for three to four hours. Pressure cook the beans, and let it cool down. You can also use slow cooker to cook the beans, but it will take a long time. 

Soup bowl

Mean while marinate the chicken pieces with salt, rosemary for half an hour in an oven proof big bowl.  Cut the onion into big chunks. Peel the garlic cloves. Just put the onion, garlic cloves, the lime in the bowl. Spray oil on the top.  Cover with an aluminum foil. Bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes open the cover, and check whether juice is oozing out from the chicken. If not, then add half cup water into it, and cook until the chicken pieces are tender. 
After the chicken baking is done. Discard the lime from the bowl. Take out the chicken pieces. In a mixer make fine liquid paste of rest of the ingredients from the bowl. Return chicken pieces into the bowl, cover it, and keep it inside the oven to keep warm, while cooking the soup.
Take heavy bottomed wok. Heat oil to medium. Add dry basil to oil. Then add the cooked bean into it. Give a quick stir. Add the liquid paste. Check the salt. Add salt according to your taste. Bring into boil. Switch off the stove. Take out the chicken from oven. Serve hot with the chicken. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Gingerbread house from box

As the Christmas is coming around I am making decorations for Christmas. Every year I decided I will start making decorations one month before, but i always end up starting after the first week of December. My problem is that I don’t get my inner inspirations to start Christmas crafts. As soon as December starts, so many ideas start to come in my mind. Anyway, last year my son begged for a gingerbread house. Lastly, I told him  that, I could make house which looks like gingerbread house out of box. First he was not ready to agree with me, but lastly he accepted.
Here I would like to share the method I made the house.

1.Take a box of your choice. 2.Point the center on the four sides. 3. Mark the hight of the house on the four sides like the above picture. 4. From the center points on the top join to the two sides of the straight line drawn to mark the hight. 

1.Cut out according to the mark. 2 The box will look like above.

1. Loosely connect the four sides with tapes.

1. Cut two pieces of boards to make the roof of the house. 2. Cover the two boards with a single white paper to give a tent like shape which should fit the the box. 3. keep it aside

1. Cut out door. 2. cut out windows. 3. Cover the windows, door and the house with papers separately according to you choice. 4. Attach the door and windows from inside with tape, so that you can move them.

Attach the roof.

Decorate how you like to do. :) 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Still the weather is cool. Still the air is nice and crisp. Still the trees are wearing the burning red and orange color leaves. Before the weather becomes cooler than now,rain starts down pouring I must write down my beautiful, eventful, enjoyable Thanksgiving celebration with my readers. First I want to just say that I’m extremely thankful that you guys read my blog. Here I write down my experience in life. Mostly I share with you all the happy moments. That not means I’m always happy, always active, always on my toe. Though I try to do that. Anyway, let me tell my Thanksgiving weekend story.

My son got a weeklong off from his school. He was happy, but I was not. Though I invited one of our family friends to spend the holidays with us, I couldn’t tell my son that they were going to arrive at our place on Wednesday of that week. If I told him then he would drive me nuts by asking every moments when his friend was going to come. 

Yes, our family friend has a little son of same age. Anyway, the week before Thanksgiving my son started crying one day, when we told him that,we were not going on any vacation. Somehow I managed him to calm down. The week started not so bad. On Monday my son had a play date with his classmate,but, that poor little boy was down with bad cold from the day before. So, we had to cancel the plan. As I didn’t tell him about this plan also, I could avert a catastrophe at home. Anyway, two days were past uneventful. He started getting bored, and missing the school. Only good thing was that, my husband decided to work from home on Wednesday. He was little bit happy on that day as his his dad staying with him in home. Wednesday morning I was extremely busy , because our friends were going to arrive by the afternoon. I cooked for that next few days except the Thanksgiving dinner. We had different Thanksgiving dinner plan. I didn’t want to cook during their stay, so that I made my cooking plan like that way. My son saw that I was extremely busy, and he took the full advantage of the situation, and wanted to watch TV. I had no other option to get rid of him. :) After I finished next two days cooking, and all other household jobs, made sure that our friends would fell comfortable after arriving at our home I found out that I didn’t cook our Wednesday lunch . My hubby dear suggested to have launch outside. First I dined, then I agreed with him. To have a simple comfort food we arrived at In-n-out ,hoping it would be little less crowded unlike weekends. To out complete surprise the eatery was crowded even more than any usual weekends . After coming my son was acting sluggishly which is his usual nature. I pushed him to change his dresses to pajamas. When he came out from bathroom, to his utter astonishment he found out his friend (my friend’s little one) was waiting for him in his room. They both were super excited to see each other after a year. Rest of the Wednesday went by. We chatted a lot. 

After one year I could see friend, though we talked almost everyday over phone. Next day was the Thanksgiving Day. We had a big plan. From past year Black Friday Sale starts at 6 in the evening of Thursday, instead of 12:00 at midnight. So, apart from dinner, we had plans for shopping. Like me, my friend is also an avid crafter. So, obviously my friend and i decided to go to Michael’s, the craft store, which usually opens at 4 in the evening for Black Friday Sale. I had to plan to do every thing very smoothly. After lunch, I started preparing our grand Thanksgiving dinner. My plan was to prepare every thing before going shopping at Michael’s. As per plan, I baked apple pie for dessert, prepare everything for Minestrone soup, I marinated the mutton for meatball, and other preparations. Then my friend and I rushed to Michael’s . Our next plan was to go to Macy’s in the nearby mall. After coming back from Michael’s at 5:30 we rushed to Macy’s which was going to open at 6 O’clock. We didn’t spend much time in the mall, still we managed to buy whatever were in our list. After coming back home, my husband and I prepared the dinner. 

That was extremely enjoyable time. Our dinner menu included Minestrone soup, meat ball, cheese stuffed garlic bread, baked chicken, and apple pie.Next day our plan was to make a day trip to Napa Valley. I had been in Napa several years back, but my friend and her family had never been in Napa. So, she was pretty excited to visit Napa and taste wine. First we went to Napa downtown, to have our lunch. Next plan was to go to some winery and taste wine. We traveled around Napa Valley in vein to find at least one winery opened on that. 

After searching around, we found out winery open, eventually that very one we tasted wine several years back. One this journey, the added thing was that, we could see the scenic beauty of the place. The vast valley with covered with vineyards after vineyards, and beautiful wineries amid them. Sometimes it was the vast plain land, sometimes it was gradually elevated to a little hight. The little narrow lanes of the quite valley covered with big trees. Through the little gaps between the trees , beautiful serene cottages could be seen. The small town was very quite , and calm. People seemed very happy, unlike major cities. 

When we reached the winery, it was full of people, as all the others were closed, it was little bit over crowded. We didn’t have any reservations in , but my husband was not the person to give up. He was determined to taste wine. Lastly, the front office guy managed a table for six. Though I don’t drink at all, still I tasted one glass. To me all wine taste same. If I tell this to my hubby, he will very offend, that in all these years I couldn’t develop my taste for wine.  When we came out from the winery it was almost dark, and all of us were tired. So, we cancelled our plan to go to Sausalito, and came back how straight. However, those days we spend together was brilliant, and hopefully we would enjoy in the same way next year also.