Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Fashion

Finally! Finally.


Spring is here. I can't wait for longer days, walks in Central Park, weekend trips and pushing {two} munchkins in the swings!

Here are some essentials I'm craving for Spring.



1. Slouchy silk pants! (JOIEFRIENDS for 20% off)

2. Fun clutch by Kate Spade

3. Pastel pink sunnies to brighten every day!

4. Suede cinch-waist belt

5. Pastel colored statement necklace (HEYSPRING for 25% off)

6. Colorblock flat sandals will go with everything

7. Adorable shorts to pair with a cropped top

8. Bright cold-shoulder dress for a romantic dinner...

9. A sleek & sophisticated jumper to accessorize with a great belt or strappy sandals.


What are you looking forward to this spring??






Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Recipe: Penne with Eggplant Puree

I've come across some very juicy and fresh eggplants recently, and wanted to try something other than my usual go-to eggplant dishes (Eggplant Parmesan or Indian style Bhurtha). I'm so glad I experimented with Giada's Rigatoni with Eggplant Puree... it was a great way to use yummy eggplant and I tossed in some cherry tomatoes and broccoli to round it out.


I modified the recipe by adding a touch of vegetable broth and using an immersion blender to keep the puree chunky, and used penne instead of rigatoni because that's all I had in stock. I also added a bit of pesto sauce as well as paprika, for some added flavor. The result was divine!

Eggplant is a great vegetarian staple... its hearty, fleshy and easily adaptable to many different tastes. I love it in Italian foods, Indian curries and even as part of an Asian stir fry... yummm. This is an easy and quick week night dinner, try it sometime!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Spring Reading List

If you're going away for spring break, hopefully you will have a chance to read on your flight, or on the beach, or wherever you're headed! We're going to Disney World next week (with both munchkins!!) so I know I will not have the leisure of reading... I'm even leaving my kindle at home. But these are some great books I've enjoyed in the last month, and a couple that are on my list to read next.


Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell may seem like a young adult novel, but just because it's about teenagers doesn't mean it's just for teenagers. I really enjoyed this witty, emotional novel about an off-the-beat romance between two kids who fall for each other on the bus ride home to school. Eleanor is new to the neighborhood, and with her wild red hair and funky outfits, she is having trouble fitting in. She meets Park, a comic lover who is the outcast of his sports-heavy family. Their bus rides home together are the start of this somewhat awkward and intense pair's love story. Reminiscent of the all consuming weight of a first love, difficult teenage years, and the hopeful but confusing time of adolescence, this book has so many universal themes that are relevant to all of us who've survived high school. Plus, the banter and dialogue is perfect:

"Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I'm not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we're 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.
I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I'm not kidding, he says.
You should be."


I just started The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, but am so far intrigued by the mysterious writing and I love that it's set in New York. This novel is about two unlikely friends who have a soul-centered, mystical connection. This is a fantastical story but also historical fiction, if you are into that. My review coming soon. 


Still Life with Bread Crumbs is by Anna Quindlen, author of One True Thing, which I enjoyed very much. Similarly, this book is written with a quiet but powerful voice, kindling many emotions in the reader - from empathy to comfort, as the protagonist is a very real and likeable woman. Rebecca Winter, a divorced woman, must re-invent herself at age 60. Previously a famous photographer, she is no longer able to earn money as she did in the past, and has to give up her Manhattan apartment to move to a cottage and care for her aging parents. Her outlook on life, great energy and new love story are inspiring and refreshing to read about.


Lastly, I'd highly recommend The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd. I finished this book last weekend and have found myself repeatedly thinking about it as days go by. This book is told from the voice of two young women -- a wealthy white girl named Sarah, who has dreamed of becoming a lawyer and ending slavery, and her slave girl, Handful, who pays a steep price when she is taught to read. This is a historical fiction, but truly told as a story that unfolds with so much sorrow, passion and inspiration, that it will leave you hanging and breathless on every page. Kidd is an excellent writer, and every woman will see herself in both main characters -- one struggling for freedom from slavery, the other struggling for freedom from oppression and sexism. Beautifully written and fascinating all at once... this is a must read.

“All things pass in the end, even the worst melancholy. I opened my dresser and pulled out the lava box that held my button. My eyes glazed at the sight of it, and this time I felt my spirit rise up to meet my will. I would not give up. I would err on the side of audacity. That was what I'd always done.”

If you want some more ideas, take a look at my other reading lists herehere and here

Thursday, March 13, 2014

THREE.


My little Jiya turned three this week! It's hard to believe that three years have passed since that incredible day that she came into our lives.

Jiya, you are the most amazing, sweet girl that has brightened our lives and filled up our hearts with so much love. I never knew how much love my heart was capable of holding until I met you. Now, I see the inquisitive, talkative three-year-old you've become and it makes me so proud to be your mommy. You have the sweetest voice, especially when you speak in Hindi. I think you have a gift for singing, and can't wait to develop that as you grow up. You are completely fluent in Hindi and English and can transition between the two languages with ease. You can even translate for your daddy! We are always amazed at your outstanding memory. When I was cleaning out and old bag a few days ago, I found some funky candles. Right away, you said "Oh! Those were the candles from Nani's birthday!" -- I was shocked that you remembered that because it was several months prior, and I had forgotten too. You have become such a loving, doting big sister. I love watching you hug and kiss Leela, and continue to constantly talk to her even though she can't answer you. It's so cute to watch you hold both sides of the conversation, "Leela, want me to brush your hair? Yes? Ok!" Although, you are still working on sharing your toys with her, especially because she likes to put everything in her mouth!


You are the funniest person I know. A couple of months ago, we walked into our building elevator where a friendly lady was telling us that she had gone shopping for her husband. Right away you said, "I have two husbands!" The lady, shocked and awed, said "Really? Two husbands?!" and you specified, "Yes, Daddy & Ba (the nanny)"... needless to say, we were all laughing and I knew she was smitten with you, just as all strangers always are. On the bus to school, you and your friends have an adoring, engaged audience when you tell them your names are "Dora, Ariel and Belle" or when you sing (too loudly!) "The Wheels on the Bus." You always chat with people around you, making new friends, asking questions, and you're so perceptive. I can already see how intelligent you are, especially when I watch you problem solve -- whether it be with a puzzle, or with negotiations (related to sharing, asking for chocolate, or for "one more sad story!"), we can see how witty and clever you are. You have such a charisma and charming personality -- and I hope those qualities stay with you forever.


You love playing princess dress up (you always want to be Princess Belle), building with your magnetiles, doing arts & crafts (or, as you used to call it, "obbs and cobbs") riding around your red tricycle, and reading books while cuddling up "in the bushes" (your pillows on the bed). Right now, you love to play doctor, always asking us if we have a boo -boo that needs a bandaid, or if we need any injections? Luckily, you always offer a lollipop or treat to make your patients feel better afterward! You are enamored with Dora, cherishing every Dora sticker, band aid, cell phone, tattoo, etc. that you come across. You love watching Dora episodes and Daniel Tiger (whom you refer to as "Daniel Little Tiger") on the iPad. You love helping with cooking (especially mixing and pouring!), and can even make a perfectly round roti... even better than your mom can! Your best buddies, Big Bo and Baby Bo, are still your favorite cuddly creatures, although you've acquired many other furry friends as part of your bed time routine!


So much has changed since when you turned two. You've had such a big year this year -- from moving to a big girl bed in your big girl room, to becoming a big sister, from starting school, to potty training -- there have been lots of milestones for you. We're so glad (and relieved) that you've adjusted to all of it remarkably well! We love watching you learn, love seeing that sparkle in your eye when you're excited, and it's amazing to see the friendships you are making, and the love that is growing between you and all your grandparents, aunts & uncles, and extended family. We enjoy watching you be social, chatty and engaging with all those around you. We hope that never changes. We wish that you'll always be surrounded by love and support, that you'll continue to learn, grow and flourish, that you and your sister build a beautiful friendship, and that you are blessed with health and happiness for your life. Thank you for blessing me with the gift of motherhood. I could not have asked for more.


Jiya, you really have a sparkling personality that lights up a room. We're so proud of the beautiful little lady you're becoming. Happy 3rd birthday, baby girl!!




Friday, March 7, 2014

Baby Essentials: What You Need the Second 6 Months

Now that you're through (or almost through) the rough infant phase, the fun can really begin!! At 6 months, your little one is getting ready to sit, eat, creep and crawl. I really think 6 months to one year is the best age. The babies are still cuddly and pudgy, with limited opinions and no tantrums! Plus, if you're sleeping more, you're probably also enjoying parenthood a lot more.

Here are my recommendations for essentials for babies ages 6 months to 1 year.

Feeding:
I did tons of research on a new high chair this time around, since J's old high chair was too beat down to use for Leela. I decided on this Boon Flair one, and I love it! So chic, easy to clean, and portable too.


Bibs are a must at this age... love these ones that are bright and easy to clean.


I had a Beaba Babycook when J was little but this time around I think I'm going to just steam on the stove and puree in the Vitamix. This is a great investment for the whole family and will be useful for delicious soups and smoothies through the childhood years.

Stock up on cute bowls, sippy cups and utensils (and prepare to lose plenty along the way!)

Sleeping:
Little one is out of the swaddle but not ready for a blanket yet. I love the Aden & Anais sleep sacks to keep them cozy & safe all night


A lovey can go a long way in helping your baby feel comforted throughout the night. These are my favorite critters (well priced since they will need many replacements in the next couple of years!)


Playing:

Leela loves hanging out in the Baby Bjorn Babysitter, and Fisher Price's Rainforest Jumperoo.



 I just ordered this adorable mat to cushion her for tummy time and for when she crawls


Right now, Leela loves playing with her curiosity cube, skwish and baby neptune,

She loves teething on Sophie,


listening to It's a Big World by Renee & Jeremy

and reading Dear Zoo


This is also the best time to baby proof the house! See this great safety site for all your needs.

If you don't already have a lightweight stroller, now is the time to invest in one -- we love our Citi Mini and would highly recommend it for durability and portability.

Many of the same items from my original list, "What You Need the First 6 Months," are still necessities that we use every day!

What are your baby must-haves??

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Escape to St. Lucia


We decided on a whim to take the kids for a beach getaway to St. Lucia a couple of weeks ago. While it was definitely an ambitious trip with two little ones, we had such a fun time and the kids were extremely well behaved.... we definitely lucked out! St. Lucia is a gorgeous island in the Caribbean, with perfect tiny-sand beaches, blue-green water, and lush rainforest all around. The views from every point were just breathtaking. The north side of the island is more than an hour away from the airport, but has calm, pristine water -- perfect for swimming with the munchkins.


We stayed at The Landings, a beautiful, very family-friendly resort with every amenity you could imagine. Since it was our first trip with both girls, we were not sure how the evenings would work when the kids go to bed by 8pm but we still want to hang out. So we sprung for a 2 bedroom suite, and were shocked by the spacious and lavish villa we encountered upon arriving. Our room had two beautifully decorated bedrooms, a living room with dining area, a huge and completely stocked kitchen, 2 patios with an outdoor living room and even our own hot tub. Score!! It was so nice to order room service and a bottle of wine, and hang out in the hot tub when the kids were asleep. And it was sooo nice to have a kitchen to warm up milk, prepare a quick snack and to make iced mother's milk tea :)


The resort is right on the beach and has a great kids club, kids pools, as well as regular, stunning adult pools. Every morning, Jiya was given a pail full of sand toys to use on the beach, along with floats and noodles for the pool. She had a blast playing in the ocean and sand... and little Leela also enjoyed playing with the sand but we had to be pretty careful since she loves to put everything in her mouth these days. The weather was hot and sunny, just what we needed!! We all came back tanned and rested, with a little glow...


The Landings included breakfast with our room rate, and it was our favorite part of the day!! We enjoyed all sorts of yummy brunch foods from made-to-order omelets, fresh fruits, and plantains! J could not keep her eyes off the beach during breakfast, but luckily, she was allowed to play with her sand toys right at our table. Happy toddler, happy parents. We loved having a happy hour/kids dinner at the beach cafe, where there was live music and even some dancing. Little J made so many friends and even got to dance with the band!


Leela enjoyed fresh pureed fruits, and she loved having a taste of sun & fun. Poor thing has hardly been out and about in the last few months, because of the brutal NY winter! It was nice to hang out outdoors, as a family -- without worrying about layers, mittens, scarves, etc. We felt so free and relaxed.


We hadn't been on a trip since last March, when we went to Mexico with my family... so this was a much needed break for all of us. I feel like the last year has flown by in a haze of pregnancy, newborn commotion, and settling in as a family of four, and we all deserved this little celebration together. This trip made me look forward to even more trips as a family, hopefully to many exciting and beautiful places where we can expose the kids to new foods, new people, new culture... and time away together is such great bonding time. We all felt so rejuvenated when we got back!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Recipe: Vegetable Side Dishes

In an effort to eat light and stay energized, I've been making yummy side dishes that are simple, hearty and refreshing. These pair well with a soup or sandwich, and if you have leftovers -- they were well for lunch at work! Here are two favorites from last week...

Sautéed Spinach with Garlic & Olives
I love love love spinach... can't get enough, especially while breastfeeding. This was a very quick and easy dish with just a few basic ingredients you will probably have in stock!



Ingredients:
3-4 cups Spinach leaves
1 cup Kalamata Olives
1/2 cup Garlic cloves
1 fresh Lemon zest
Salt, Pepper and Adobe seasoning to taste

Method:
Bring olive oil to a low sizzle, and toss in garlic cloves. Wait until they are browning, then add spinach leaves. Toss lightly until the leaves wilt, then add olives, salt, pepper and seasoning to taste. Serve while warm, with lemon zest for flavor and garnish.

Fresh Pea Salad with Grilled Veggies & Mozzarella
I was so excited to find fresh peas at a local farmer's market last week. These are sweet and ripe, bursting with flavor. All you need is a little lemon and salt to bring out the great flavor, but I decided to add some veggies to make this a more substantial side dish.


Ingredients:
2 cups fresh peas
1/2 cup each Eggplant, Bell Peppers, Tomatoes, or any such vegetables you have on hand
1/2 cup of fresh Mozzarella
Parsley, Cilantro or any herbs you like, to taste
Salt, Pepper, lemon juice to taste
1 tbsp. pureed garlic paste

Method:
Chop and lightly drizzle the vegetables with extra virgin olive oil, then grill until tender. Set aside.

Toss the fresh peas in olive oil, salt, pepper and pureed garlic paste in a small pan over low heat. Add the vegetables, herbs, and mozzarella and toss lightly until mixed well. Sprinkle with a little fresh lemon juice and serve while warm!

Both of these sides are so simple and really pack a punch. Enjoy :)