Thursday, February 28, 2013

What to Read When You're Expecting

Pregnancy is an exciting time, filled with wonder and worry. It can be overwhelming... and there are a lot of books out there so it's hard to navigate the right ones to read. When I was first pregnant, I read the typical books, and a few others that I especially liked. This time around, I find myself more interested in reading about life with two kids rather than about pregnancy. Here are my favorite books to read while expecting. Some of them focus on the actual pregnancy, and others are more geared toward child rearing.

The 100 Healthiest Foods to Eat During Pregnancy by by Dr. Johnny Bowden is a practical guide to what's good for you and your baby... this is eye-opening and should really be on every kitchen counter.

The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp is an incredible book about parenting, focusing on newborn concerns like unexplained crying, and also concentrating on de-mystifying sleep. I read this the first time around but I can't wait to read it again, having already had the experience once. Karp likens infancy to an imaginary fourth trimester... and his suggestions about sleep really do work. I know so many moms who swear by the techniques in this book, and every parent should read this to prepare themselves for the sweet but confusing days after the baby's birth. I also read the Happiest Toddler on the Block, and found that to be great too!

A Child is Born by Linnart Nilsson is more of an excruciatingly detailed reference book from all stages of pregnancy from attraction and fertilization to birth (including many chapters regarding infertility, IVF and other complications), but the pictures in this book are amazing. I was in awe.

Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy is a refreshing, detailed and funny book about the trials and tribulations of a pregnant woman. McCarthy bares all - the beautiful, the ugly and the uglier. This is an honest, well-written and hysterical read. You will feel like you've entered a sisterhood of fellow pregnant women!

Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent is a book filled with the chronicles of a modern mid-wife. I havent read this yet (just ordered it on amazon!), but apparently it details several live births, and gives a non-western, non-hospitalized portrayal of birth. I'm excited to explore a different perspective!

Get the dads involved! I got hubby this book which is practical but funny, and teaches the daddies not only how to deal with a pregnant woman, but also how to prepare for birth.... he loved it!

What else did you or are you reading while expecting? I'd love to hear!

Big News!

Big News! We're expecting again!

Thanks to my friend Seema from Kukubunsky Designs for creating this adorable announcement :)
Look out for many pregnancy and baby posts to come!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Recipe: Peanut Butter Cookies

These peanut butter cookies are so yummy for both adults and toddlers. Wash them down with a glass of cold milk...bliss!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekend Roundup

1. Visited the Jain Temple in Elmhurst on Sunday morning... little J looked like such a doll in her traditional attire, and she had a blast dancing to the devotional songs

2. Saw Argo on Friday night (finally!) and love love loved it. I'm still not sure it was best-picture worthy (my favorite was Lincoln, and close second was Les Mis), but I'm so happy for Ben Affleck

3. Had dinner at Naya on Saturday night... it's our local favorite. I'm obsessed with the Rekakat (3 cheese blend in phyllo!) and their yummy tahini + green hot sauce. It's worth a try!! And there are so many veggie options...

4. Lots of family time this weekend, and I especially loved watching daddy and little J time. Being daddy's princess is just the best.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Happy Friday

Hope you all had a lovely valentine's day. My valentine and I celebrated with yummy food & flowers... and reminisced with this video I made him.

photo by Melanie Rose Photography

Isn't love so sweet?

Have a great holiday weekend.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Being Mommy/Recipes: Little J's Favorite Indian Dishes

Kichidi is the well-known Indian comfort food and is perfect for babies and toddlers.  This dish is hearty, full of protein, easy to digest and loved by all ages. It's basically twice cooked rice & lentils, with some added veggies like peas, squash or even potatoes. Little J loves this with a side of yogurt, and while I usually make it with yellow lentils, its great with moong as well.

Cauliflower & Potatoes with Peas - little J loves softened, buttery cauliflower with bites of potatoes and plenty of peas. I make this recipe without the peanut oil (in olive oil instead), no peppers, and a very mild garlic-ginger mix.

Okra - this is her most most favorite Indian dish. I'm not sure if it's okra's squishy consistency or savory taste, but this is always a toddler favorite. 

Beans - these can be made with french beans, or bush beans. So nutritious, crunchy, yummy...

Roti - whole wheat flatbread, made fresh and topped off with a dollop of ghee. 

We usually make home-made yogurt in this incredible little device I bought a couple of years ago. It's the perfect side to all the hot and flavorful Indian dishes. 

Let me know if you try to make any of these dishes! Would love to hear what your toddlers like best....

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Being Mommy: Passing Culture on to the Next Generation

Many of you may know, I emigrated to the United States with my parents when I was three years old. My parents left India with heavy hearts but a dream to succeed in America. They made a vow to continue their traditions and raise an Indian-American family. They took us back to India at least once a year to visit with our relatives, they exposed us to Indian food, movies and dance daily at home, intentionally spoke to us in Hindi, and taught us to value our heritage. It has always been a pleasure, while somewhat a struggle, to balance Indian and American values, customs and traditions in our daily lives. Until I became a parent myself, I did not quite understand the importance of preserving our culture and passing it down. Hubby and I have been trying our hardest to blend the best of east and west as little J grows up. I feel it's important to expose her to Indian traditions even at this early age. I want her to grow up with pride in her culture, but at the same time, she should feel comfortable in her surroundings. 

Living in NYC, its surprisingly easy to add a dose of our traditions into J's daily life. Both sets of grandparents live in the area and we have tons of family, religious and festive events that we celebrate together. NYC is accessible to many temples, Indian markets like Jackson Heights and Edison, and is filled with Indian dance classes, music classes & festivities. We went out of our way to hire an Indian nanny so little J would hear Hindi being spoken all day. Now, I am so proud that she is becoming bi-lingual!

When little J was 6 months old, we celebrated her Annaprasana, the South Indian ceremony of baby's first solid food. Annaprasana also consists of a fun tradition where different items are laid out in front of the baby - book, pen, musical instrument, money, jewelry - and whatever the baby crawls to is thought to be her life's calling. Little J made me so proud when she creeped over to the book! A wise lawyer? Future writer? Avid reader? 


This past Diwali, she participated in my North Indian community's tradition of performing on stage at a large celebration in Long Island. She was such a little diva, and did not have stage fright at all! This is her dressed up as Goddess Laxmi, who is thought to bring wealth and good fortune at Diwali. 


Traditional Prayer to Goddess Laxmi on Diwali
In the fall, I organized a group of South Asian friends to participate in a mommy & me class centered around Indian music and culture. It was so much fun to watch the kids interact and sing Hindi songs, play South Asian instruments, and dance to classical beats. Little Ustaads was a fun way to expose these munchkins to traditions of their ancestors. 

Throughout the last couple of years, we've had tons of family events ranging from religious prayers to festive celebrations, and we always take the opportunity to dress up in traditional attire and eat home-cooked Indian food. How cute is little J in her Indian outfits?? Being Indian is a source of pride for me & my family, and I hope it's the same for little J as she grows up. 

Having fun with Daddy before her Annaprasana Ceremony
Inagurating Daddy's new office with a prayer
at little J's Uncle's Pre-Wedding Ceremony

Another Diwali Celebration
Before a trip to the Jain Temple in Elmhurst, NY
Another big part of being Indian is enjoying Indian food! Little J is already learning to love it. More to come on this in another post this week....

Monday, February 11, 2013

Weekend Roundup

1. Played in the snow on our building's roof! It was about 8 inches of fresh powder... Little J couldn't get enough.

2. Yummy homemade fig butter for a casual brunch gathering at our place

3. Finished reading Twelve Tribes of Hattie - recommended by Oprah, but I wasn't a big fan. Too many characters that were underdeveloped, too long and too wordy.

4. Mini frittatas with veggies and goat cheese... Perfect for a big group!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Celebrate Valentine's Day

Do you celebrate Valentine's day? I have always thought of it as a hallmark-holiday... a little gimmicky and cheesy, but there's definitely a sweet sentiment behind the heart-shaped chocolates and singing cards. It's a nice oportunity to spoil the one you love and to share a special treat together. Unfairly enough, it always seems to be mostly centered on women's gifts -- jewelry, flowers, chocolates. What about the poor guys? They deserve a show of our love too. Here are some ways to brighten his day:

Sweet, personalized cufflinks

Start the day off right with something he really wants -- breakfast pizza

Surprise him with a mini book of your favorite memories together

Get cozy with a dinner at home... try one of these great fondue recipes (savory & sweet!)

Design your own cute or funny card - like these!

What are your plans for Valentine's day? I came across this list of romantic, classic new york dates a while back -- hubby & I hope to hit all these spots! Maybe we will start this weekend...

Hope you enjoy this snowy weekend, and cuddle up with your Valentine!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Recipe: Homemade Four-Cheese Pizza

There's nothing like a fresh, hot, home-made pizza. I usually buy the pre-made pizza dough from Fresh Direct (comes in a package of 4, 6'' whole wheat balls that you just have to roll out), and I make my own pizza sauce with a base of canned tomatoes (I always find they work better than fresh), loaded with veggies (diced onions, zucchini and mushrooms), a splash of milk, and lots of seasonings to taste. I think the best pizza is the one with no frills - I like mine without toppings, with a savory sauce and lots of CHEESE. I made this four-cheese pizza with chili peppers.... the crust was crispy and delicious and the cheese was perfectly gooey. YUM.

In my many years of trial and error with pizza making, I've found that my crust has always been soggy or imperfect. The trick to a crispy crust is a great pizza stone (sprinkled with a little cornmeal).

This is a recipe your whole family can enjoy.... including the picky toddler!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Weekend Roundup

1. Delicious homemade sweet potato & potato chips in honor of Superbowl Sunday

2. Huevos Rancheros and little J's tea on Saturday morning

3. Went to an adorable first birthday party at the Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain. Feasted on sundaes, ice-cream sandwiches, grilled cheese & nutella sandwiches. Little J and hubby were over the moon!

4. Saw this funny and heartwarming movie set in my hometown of Jaipur! The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was so charming.

Hope you all had a great weekend too!