Thursday, July 26, 2012

Am back, hadn't gone anywhere....

Hello, Hello and Hello! I know I keep saying that I will be more regular in posting here but well so far it hasn't happened. I have been around, just generally fillind my days with lots of stuff to do. I will be in Dubai through the summer too and with Ramdaan on, I am running a little low on mojo. Despite of not me but my muslim friends fasting. Ha ha! What have I been up to apart from abandoning you guys? Well, lots apparently. My house went through a mini, ok, major makeover. The brat's room though could not be done, I left it midway. that's because hubster has filled it with lots of fugly furniture and is refusing to part with it, so I lost interest in prettifying it...

The bedroom and the living room looks 'gawgussss' though. I finaly convinced hubster to get it painted in a, wait for this, lovely green! I will upload pics ofcourse. But here's a sneak peak anyway.

What do you think? I am lovin' it baby!

And in another fun, new development, your's truly started a food blog (of all things). I enjoy cooking so much, my husband is not a foodie. Question was, where do I then show off?? So I first simply started by clicking pictures of our family weeknight dinners...and posting them on FB. Then some friends who tried my recipes 'nagged' me to start a blog and compile everything food related there! It has been so long I started this one, I didn't even rememebr how to go about it. Took me about a month to decide and well, I just took the plunge. I am so delighted to share this with you. So all you who come here (if you do that is) please do hop over and take a look at my new food blog, where I am doing a better job of at least being regular in posting new stuff! For those of you who are thinking of being nice n kind to me go here AndShe-Cooks! ..Try out the recipes, feed them to your friends and family and leave me some good feedback! Pretty please?

That is all for now....will be back again. Notice how I have left out 'soon' again?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Gardening for the soul

I have been missing as usual and for no major reason. Just that I am restless to get my house made over and make it prettier. It is however always a work in progress which  adds to the restlesness. My head is buzzing with plans and ideas and wish lists. Hubster wont oblige causing me much grief....anyhow, when things dont go my way I simply cool off with gardening in my balcony. I have been busy getting it ready for summer and so far have managed to do a decent job. The rest of the house is done up only half way through. I started with my son's nursery but then inspite of my best efforts it does not look the way I want it to. His room is the second (and the only spare) bedroom which also has a corner for hubster's home office. An ugly steel filing cabinet along with an uglier study desk and the ugliest printer/paper/office supplies piled on to it. I cannot work my way around it and in my mind I dont know how to let a nursery and a lawyer's home office co-exist tastefuly. I tried convincing him to throw away his stuff which made him threaten divorce which promptly shut my mouth. I am now resigned to the fact that men just dont have 'pretty things' genes.

The bedroom is getting another little addition today, hopefuly. My handy man has promised to come and hook up my dressing mirror and shelves I bought recently. Can you imagine, I need to get a profesional to come and just put in some nails on the walls because we believe the construction quality is so poor, we might end up causing the whole building to collapse if we ourseleves were to wield the drilling machine. Ordinary nail and hammer method wont work either. It is frustrating. To save up on space, I decided not to buy a whole dresser set. Am just going to put up a mirror and sheleves on the wall thus freeing up floor space. Not to mention keeping my cosmetics and trinkets safe from a certain little monkey around here!

I had grand plans of painting our living/dining space. I have not been able to convince the man of the house so far that indeed, if I dont get to paint the walls some bright colour, I might die. He thinks I shall live long because only the good die young. Sigh. Whatever. But I am a woman on a mission and slowly but surely I shall wear down his protests. And one day will share gorgeous pictures with you all. In the mean time look at my garden pictures and let me know what you think.

I think I must show you all some of my indoor plants too...since these pictures were taken, I have added some more plants to my collection but am going to ease off a bit now since I dont want plant-clutter in the balcony especially. Although, one can never have too many plants or shoes or bags for that matter....and oh, did you guys spot some random things hanging on the railings? Well those are my DIY'ed bird baths , just some clay pots strung from a jute rope and other bits and pieces lying around to add to the general prettiness. Like the unused candle mini jars, a wooden bell...

and this, see?

I have been spending many a soul enriching hours tending to my plants....the weather in Dubai is still lovely although I think summer should be coming along any day now. I am so looking forward to many evenings spent here in my oasis. What have you guys been up to?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Meals with friends

Now that we are settled in nicely, we have started our weekly entertaining and hosting friends for dinners and lunches. Before we got married, hubster and me used to always talk about our mutual love of having people over for a meal and fellowhip. I love to cook, hubster enjoys socialising albiet in smaller groups. Our personalities are highly compatible in that regard I must say! While I like to go out just as a family for most weekends, we also end up having friends over many, many times. Some dinners are organised because we must return the favour, but mostly it is just about meeting up with friends for no particular reason. Occasionaly it gets a bit much but over the years we have come to realise and accept that hospitality has infact become our own personal ministry. The Johnson family is now famous for keeping an open house. What fun!

This weekend, my Sri Lankan friend who is also my neighbour will be visiting with her husband, two children and her husband's parents who are visiting from Sri Lanka. Interestingly enough they all happen to speak our language too! Not just Singhalese. That is  great for  bonding not to mention the numerous similarities in our cultures. We have been hosted by them several times and it is about time that we have them over. Our boys are friends too. Her sons are 4 and 2, quite boisterous so Yohaan gets a little overwhlemed around them but we should manage fine I think. I hope really!

We are meeting on thursday night. So today I will be busy preparing most things. I cannot decide on the menu. They told me that they enjoy beef curries. But the father in law especialy enjoys Indian breads. So with these two preferances I have to come up with something nice. I am thinking spicy fried masala beef, some kind of chicken curry, vegetable pulao and baby potatoes with a big salad. The problem with Indian breads of any kind is they need to be served straight from the stove...normaly most of us just make a batch and keep them in warm casseroles to be eaten later but with guests, especialy formal invites,  we try and serve the bread as fresh and hot as possible which unfortunately leaves the hostess/cook stuck in the kitchen while everyone else begins to eat. Anyhow, I think I shall get my friend to help me. I am close enough to her as to not be too formal. It is her in laws that need to be served well.

I have been sitting here with my second cup of chai trying to make my to-do list. I clean the house quite well everyday, so basicaly it is just maintenance work , but I do need to get the guest toilet cleaned, fresh flowers put in. Then my fridge has to be cleaned too. I have not done it in 2 weeks now. Dont judge ok!!!! I have to wash all the floor rugs today itself so that they are dry and clean for use tomorow. Change the dining table center piece. Get out my new placemats and I am so excited to use them finaly!  I have to then go and get the meat and other stuff for the dinner. And oh I forgot, I need to dust big time. I HATE that. Hate it, hate it , hate it! But living in the desert means dusting everyday. And I hate it. I havent even started on my list yet. Since I woke up at 7am I have only managed to wash the balcony, wtaer the plants and done the dishes and it is now 10.00 am. I better get going instead of sitting here and blogging away. I just thought maybe I will feel more in control if I have it written down somewhere. I wont have much peace when Yohaan wakes up because once he is up, our highness starts getting a stream of by one, his friends from the complex strart dropping in to play, invariably with their mothers too. Or he wants to visit a friend. Then he has to be fed. Meds, bath time, reading time, afternoon many things have to be juggled and fitted into the day. I have no clue as to how do mothers with more than one child manage it all! I barely manage one kid!

Usually when we have people coming over I try and finish off as much work as possible the day before. All the chopping,marinating, preparing the dough, soaking and even cleaning. The last thing I do before going to bed is to lay the table. Everything in its place. Then the next day I just wake up a little earlier than my usual time and get down to cooking everything. The curries taste much better if they are prepared way before the actual meal time. Especialy meat. By the time friends come, I am mostly done and can sit down with them and actually enjoy myself too instead of fretting over everything. Tuesdays and thurdays are my busy days because hubster is home for lunch. He looks forward to something nice to eat at home. So tomorow I have to make a nice lunch too apart from the dinner for friends. Years ago, I would have collapsed just thinking about it but now it is a cakewalk. All it takes is good time management skills. And I am good with that. And now that I have publicly declared that, let me sign off and go in to my maid mode. I shall try and post pics of the gathering and the food too ofcourse. Lets see how it all goes. Toodles readers.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The winter that was and the time spent at home.

I am finaly in some control over here, as in, settled down to playing house nicely. The weather in Dubai is keeping us guessing if the cold is really over or not! The mornings and nights are still chilly (by our standards) but the afternoons are warm and balmy, almost tethering towards hot infact! Eight years of being away from the extreme climate of Nothern India has rendered me pretty useless in handling the cold. I am a person who thrived in the cold weather. Loved those winters of my childhood growing up in the north. Winters were for sunny days in the backyard, endless cups of tea, roasted peanuts, guavas, special sunday lunches....festivities in the air, preparing for Christmas, meeting up with cousins, oh the fun! Evenings spent in the warm heated rooms, sipping the soup of the day prepared by mother's cook or even better lounging in front of a great big log fire at my aunt's house gossiping and chatting away late in to the night. And not to mention the fabulous winter fashion- wear lovely knits, boots, bright colours and silks without worrying about melting away! In Dubai, I do wear silks someties because everywhere you go you will find it air conditioned, but in my mind I feel weird wearing it knowing that a silk saree is really not summer wear! :) Anyhow.

So this time in India, when I could not handle the harsh cold, I actually burst in to tears! Literally! When I visit my place, I make it a point not to complain about anything. It is a challenging country in every which way and knowing that , there is no point in cribbing really. I was disappointed by my attitude on this trip. I actually shut down. Froze! I might have stepped out of the house maybe a total of four times in almost 45 days of my stay there! That too, only when my sister arrived from Canada and I needed to spend time with her. My parents were very amused that I refused all invitations for Christmas/New Year lunches and dinners. I lived in my pj's and was simply too miserable to care. Mother tried cajoling me to go out and catch up with old friends and family, nothing doing. I refused to budge. That is sadly all I have brought back from my trip home.

I also attended my nephew's wedding in the city of Mumbai. Total wash out for me personaly. Yohaan had a raging fever throughout. The mosqitoes really bothered him, the humidity nearly killed me and hubtser fell sick too. A sick baby on hand doesnt make for much wedding fun. The two days we were there, I spent trying to keep him comfortable and not go bersek. high temperature notwithstanding. I had to travel to to my place after the wedding and I was in no mood to prolong 'our' misery. As a result of all the sickness around, I did not enjoy the wedding, an event for which I had geared the whole year. This was a first family wedding I attended after my own, so it was special. My cousin sister whose son was getting married is close to me...I wanted to make a serious effort to be involved in the celebrations. I should have probably known things wouldn't go well when the moment we landed at the international airport, Yohaan puked on me and then the baggage conveyor belt broke down four times before we could collect our luggage! Things were pretty downhill from there. A long qeue at the immigration control and I lost it. Screamed at nobody in particular and felt better. Got me some attention though....

The wedding was all that an Indian wedding is. Loud, colourful, music and dance filled, a thousand ceremonies. Gorgeous flowers, exotic silks, beautiful lights, amazing food, fabulous jewelry, endless cousins,aunts and uncles, neices and nephewes in all sizes, family gossip, late nights and 24/7 partying mode for all. I could be involved for all of maybe four hours. I was supposed to meet up a friend I made on FB and took a box of choclates for her from here. Couldn't. Was deeply disappointed. Had to say no to meeting another childhood friend who lives in Mumbai now. A first cousin sister who I met after eleven long years lives close to the wedding venue. The plan was to stay with her for a day and spend time catching up and going shopping with her and her family. I couldnt visit because not only Yohaan was sick and I was stuck in the hotel room looking after him but hubster was sick too, mostly from exhaustion of working a full day and travelling the same day. Also, my aunt who is battling lung cancer had moved in from her house in the suburbs ,with my cousin for the wedding and I did not want to expose her to Yohaan's viral infection. It broke my heart not to be able to spend more time with her, not knowing if I would see her again....

I wore my own wedding reception saree on the main wedding day. A lovely red silk bandhini. But forgot most of the jewlery! For the pre wedding party I wore an orange pure chiffon saree with silver aree work done on it . But  I was so hassled. In the wedding pictures I look rather plain and even tired! Hubster met most of my family for the first time since we got married and everybody wanted a piece of him. He ended up being rather popular with all who had gathered. So he was being dragged here and there and all over leaving me almost fuly caring for a sick child alone. I hated that. In my mind, it was my family wedding and I was supposed to be having fun and look who did instead! In India son-in-laws are a big deal, hubster is the youngest son in law in the family, from a different community and state. Speaks a different language. He was fussed over a lot. I was rather amused when all the elders complimented me for 'netting' a fine man! Hmmph! The younger cousins did not leave him for a second, the older ones wanted to know all about his work, especialy my brothers. All in all, I hardly saw the man. The little man, Yohaan, insisted on dancing away at every chance he got. I was worried about his fever and puking which invariably follows if he exerts hiself too much. But after a point I just gave up on both the boys. Let them be. Late in to the cocktail pre-wedding night party, my son danced like a boy possesed and fell asleep on the dance floor!! It is a miracle he didnt get trampled upon by all the wild dancers there! Was picked up by a guest and brought over to me. I was sitting in a corner nursing my diet coke and generaly feeling bad for myself. Hubster was missing in action, bonding with some cousin or the other, I think....

The only highlight of my entire holiday was getting to meet my sister in Canada- MSIN. I talk a lot about her here on my blog. I adore her to bits. In my mind she is the perfect epitome of a wife/mother/sister/daughter. Infact everybody loves her in our family. We met after three years and her two boys and husband. Her sons, I consider my orginal babies since they arrived much before Yohaan and  I experienced a feeling closest to being a mother with them first. Not that I have spent much time with them but nevertheless, they were my reason for wanting to give birth to a boy first. They are adorable.  The nephews of mine are incredible kids. Well behaved, gentle, kind and sensitive- exactly how I want Yohaan to be! I long to visit them in Canada, and am hoping this year we will be able to if finances permit.

I didnt do any shopping this time. Normaly I pick up a lot. But the weather put an end to all my plans. Yohaan ofcourse had a blast. He had tons of people to play with and boss around! Grandchildren are like these demi-gods in my family. Utterly spoilt and indulged. I was more than happy to let anyone/everyone step in and care for him. I simply slept and read. He was bathed, fed and entertained by the grandparents, maids, their children, driver, gardener, neighbour's kids and assorted uncles, aunts and cousins. Ofcourse, he was sick all along with some viral or the other but nothing could really stop him from having fun. He also picked up a lot of Hindi, my mother tongue, for which I am very thankful. He needed to hear some hindi being spoken around him and it did him good. Back home he still remembers all that he learnt in India and am glad about that.

Like I had said earlier, I stayed away from the internet completely. Was bliss. I have come back cured from my addcition to FB which is fabulous. I hardly FB now though I do login everyday. I love the new me! www had become a serious addiction affecting me in weird ways. That is over now. Which is always great no? And now I leave you with a couple of pics from the wedding.

Yohaan, Moi and Hubster. Y was so cranky towards the fag end of the reception!

With some of my older cousins, neice, nephew and aunt.

My gawgusss neice and her brand new baby girl- which makes me err, grand-aunt by the way! Yohaan had high temperature !

And this is my nephew with his wife to be, dancing away at the pre wedding night. God Bless! I wish I had taken a picture of the Henna on her hands, it was absolutely lovely.

That's it folks. I will post again some more about my trip not that anything exciting happened! Till then, enjoy the pics.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

....anddddd we are back!

Hello my darling readers. how have you all been? Me? Am doing great. We arrived from India about three weeks ago and are happy to report that regular programing in the Johnson household has resumed. I came back to a house which bore a really neglected air about it . Hubster had been only cleaning the bathrooms and changing the bed sheets. Thats it and oh, he just about kept my plants alive. Small mercies I suppose...

I have a long post scheduled on my trip home. The family reunion, the big fat Indian wedding of a nephew, the travelling, Christmas with family and the bad, bad winters. Suffice it to say, I somehow survived it all and when it was time to head back home in Dubai, I was so ready! Me and the son came back with nasty flu and various kinds of germs in us and are infact still not fuly recovered. But then that is an expected part of traveling to India so really I am not complaining. I have been very, very busy settling down and because this trip was a longish one, it took me some time to shake off a strange kind of disoriented feeling. I however had no time to sit down and introspect, the house needed serious TLC. For somebody like me, who is very houseproud, it was all too much to take. The clean up was daunting. Weeks of accumulated dust, empty pantry and an empty fridge, linen closet in a mad, random chaos thanks to hubster rummaging there for clean bed sheets and towels, plants dying on me, shower supplies over and so on. I plunged right in and so far am doing great getting the house in order. Over the weekend in an unusually morose mood, I waited for hubster to take us out for an outing and he surprised me with a shopping trip to ceebrate my return from India because he knows retail therapy will make me get up from the dead too!

Off we went to our favourite mall close to our house. We went to the Mirdiff City Centre and headed straight for the home decor stores. I had nothing planned as such. Just browsed around and found myself gravitating towards all things red! Two hours later and armed with some pretty loot we back home and I got to work in the living room. It was 1.00 am but I could not to be stopped. Hubster looked on indulgently while Yohaan as usual drove me mad asking me to count all the things we had picked up. My little man is obsessing about colours and numbers these days. Gawwddd! Dont even ask. Another day maybe.

I finished my living room makeover. Changed the layout after a little more than a year. It has become a bit cramped but looks nice nevertheless. I shall post a mini series of before and after pictures to give you all a perspective of the changes I made.  And I have tons of red all over! Which also brings me back to linky parties! Yayyy for Patricia of  coloursdekor and the weekly link up parties she hosts. I missed joining the linkups every week while I was away I only got around to visiting her blog tonight and was pleasantly surprised to find the theme of this week to be the colour RED! or a  post on love (and I am guessing much mush too....). .What a fabulous conicidence!  Just as I have finished changing my living room from mainly blues to red. Now dahlings, enough of me rambling on and on, lets hop on to this linky love partayyyy! I present to you some pictures.

My favourite shelf in the house gets some TLC. I got all my red spined books and stacked them together.

I stacked each shelf with colour coordinated knick-knacks with books. You can see black, red and blue shelves.

Just red bottles which I had originally planned to group here looked OTT so I added some other spring colours to tone it down. All red looked like it was still Xmas!

My new table placemats all in red and one of them being used for the topper. Also picked up this darling little mounted red ceramic cart like thingy, love it!

A close up of the same, isn't it cute and err, a lil christmassy too, but never mind that!

                     New Cushionios! I got a set in plain red too...forgot to take pictures though...

And finaly, take a look at that tiny little hand made appliqued heart motif , which I had made two years ago for my christmas table setting. I put it up here because the all  black top tier of this shelf got too edgy for me and the red adds a nice pop of colour.

That's it guys. I am done for now. At least I have begun blogging again huh? i am on a major roll over here cleaning/organising my house and basicaly wanting to start afresh in the new year. I have some wonderful plans for the boy's room, he needs to be seperated from me now (I suppose) and shall be a proud owner of a bedroom all for himself. I have also resolved on going easy on www surfing. I simply dont have enough time and while I was away it hit me hard as to how much time I really do 'waste' sitting with my laptop! Being a home maker when you have tons of exciting plans for your house and more importantly the husband gives you the go ahead, \is seriously fun!! I hope you all are having a wonderful year so far. Be back for more stories about my winter holidays in India.