Around here (02/2016)

There’s so much going on around here. First and Fearmost (OOPS!) Foremost! –

  • Exams!!!- It feels like it’s MY Final Exam or something! The amount of work that I need to put in- to drag Medha to her table, bribe her with candies and jolly rides if she learns just a bit more, prepare worksheets for her to practice and learn the basics of English grammar or look up Hindi letters and words online so that I don’t forget what I know as I try to teach her! Phew!

I just can’t wait for them to be over!

Check out the syllabus the poor 5 year-olds of her batch need to prepare for-

Syllabus for exam

  • Medha’s Reading Challenge- Remember the resolution I made for my daughter for 2016? About making her read a book each day? It’s been over a month and she has managed to read more than 20 books! They are simple, beginner-level books that have about a line or two in each page and run 10-12 pages long. But we’ve come very VERY far from our days of struggling to recognize letters to being able to decipher complex words through phonics. Phonics! What can I say, this magic word has helped her tremendously! We are at the end of our collection of Bob books- Sight Words for Kindergarten and First Grade readers and we can’t wait to read other books. More about it and her progress in another post.
  • Madhav’s Learning Challenge- Whenever life gets busy, my little one’s learning gets pushed aside! I resolved to teach him one concept(letter/number/color)  a week this year and over a month into our resolution, we’ve covered just 2- letter A and color Red and we are still working on Green. But he enjoyed every bit of the activities we did and the books we read as part of this exercise. And I loved working on kiddo crafts. Such stress-busters! Instead of being too harsh on myself for neglecting his learning, I tell myself (not as often as I should!) that had it not been for the resolution, we wouldn’t have done even the little bit that we did.
  • Blogging Funk!- I’m in a rut right now. I’m not sure what to write, when to write or whether what I write matters at all. It doesn’t mean I’ll give up writing for good! Not anytime soon (I want to continue torturing YOU, my favorite reader!). We all experience this kind of feeling, don’t we?At school, home, in our jobs etc. I’ve gone through this a number of times before. And I have emerged from the dark tunnel unscathed. This time too I will come out stronger and happier. But right now, I’ll just be taking it slow, immersing myself in reading, talking to my loved ones and learning the ropes of blogging.
  • Pomodoro Method– Everyday I set my timer for 25 minutes and just scribble away in my journal. For those 25 minutes I do nothing but write. This activity is helping me get out of my funk, sort through the muddle in my head and straighten myself out. In fact, as I write, I find myself brainstorming ideas for posts I’d like to write in future. Isn’t that great?!
  • Finished Spark E-course– Yay! Another thing crossed off my list! This course helped me a lot (I learnt about Pomodoro technique right here)  as I struggled to get out of my blogging rut. More about it in another post.
  • Farm Fresh Produce- We are receiving a ton of veggies from our farm than we know what to do with them! Our friends and family are happy, of course. Still, I’m thinking I’ll become a vegetable vendor soon.. What say?

Vegetables from the farm

  • Exhaustion!- You must have realized by now that I need to take a break, relax and get some sleep. And that’s what I will do…

I hope you get some rest too. Waiting to meet you at the end of the tunnel…

Love,

Manasa.

Tablecloth – a Crochet Project

You probably know that I love crocheting! (If you don’t, just go ahead and read this or this).  So it’s no surprise that when my mom asked me if I could make a tablecloth for her, I gladly agreed. She wanted a rectangular one with a smaller width, like a table-runner. It had to be 30 by 150 cm in size.
I had some difficulty finding a pattern, but I finally found one on this website.
Tablecloth- a Crochet Project 2
For this project, I used 3 balls of 50 g cotton yarn in pink and a 3.25 mm crochet hook. The pattern is a bit complicated and it took me some time and a lot of googling to understand critical patterns like cluster, 3-treble crochet cluster, 4-treble crochet cluster, picot and triple picot. But once I understood the pattern, it got easier. You can mix different colors of yarn as well. Maybe I will try doing that next time.
Once you make this tablecloth, just iron it by placing another cloth over it. This makes the crochet cotton stiffer. It took me about 3 weeks to complete this (an hour of crocheting everyday, not more, to avoid physical pain). It was a total stress-buster! And I enjoyed working on it on our long boat-rides.
Tablecloth detail
Do try making it and if you have any questions or doubts, feel free to ask me.
Happy making!
-Madhurya

Thinespo – Eat and Go!

Thinespo has been on our radar for quite some time now. We’d been there once, to pick up our food and had almost decided to eat right there, outside, in the soft glow of pathway lights and under the awning of a clear night’s sky. But we had other plans. So we promised ourselves and the kids (Medha simply fell in love with the place!) that we’d go there again, maybe for breakfast?

“Thinespo”- a term in Telugu (a South Asian language) apparently means “Eat and Go”. But don’t just eat and go! Eat-Unwind-Savor-Pay-and then Go! Thinespo is a place to hang out with friends and family, let kids run about to their heart’s content, have a romantic dinner outdoors (like they show in the movies) and enjoy some great food too! Doesn’t that sound amazing?!

The Pizzas (Popeye Pizza and another one whose name I can’t recall)  we’d ordered were surprisingly thin but truly delicious! We fought over some leftover slices too, can you believe it? We didn’t even suffer from the bloated feeling we normally experience after we eat at the usual Pizza places. We simply HAD to dine there.

Thinespo
Thinespo

It was quite sunny when we made our way into this restaurant (It is easy to miss this place if you drive too fast). We sat on the patio while the kids hung outside, on the lawn (and sun-bathed!). The fans and the comfy chairs made extra sure that the sun didn’t cook us slowly. No… Really, It was pretty comfortable even on a sunny afternoon. You can choose to sit indoors too, though that’s not something I went there for. (Come on… there are a ton of restaurants for that and only a few that have outdoor dining area and serve great food too!)

We ordered a couple of omelets and burgers for us adults and Garlic Bread for the kids. They must have only just fired up their kitchen, because the place had that hungover look about it after the day before’s birthday party. At noon, the staff was still cleaning up the tables, but when the food did arrive, we just dug in right away! The Thinespo Fluffy Egg whites I ordered just drove us wild with its appearance and texture! We’d never seen Eggs cooked that way and wondered how the chef whipped up something so fluffy!

Thinespo Special Fluffy Egg white
Thinespo Special Fluffy Egg white

It felt as if I was spooning up a dollop of ice cream or something and tasted melt-in-your-mouth good! The Garlic Bread slices topped with vegetables and cheese were crispy and the kids gobbled them up pretty quickly. My mother-in-law (who doesn’t eat eggs) was delighted to dig into the Vintage Veg Burger (Ooh! So much veggies in this, she squealed with delight!). Even I found the delicate patty in my Thrilling Tiki Burger to be refreshingly different from what I’ve always eaten. There was a home-cooked feeling about everything we tasted.

Garlic Bread @Thinespo
Garlic Bread @Thinespo

I thought Egg Florentine stole the show with its varied textures in one single plate and delicate flavors of Eggs, Spinach and Bread. This will be the first thing I order the next time around!

Egg Florentine @Thinespo
Egg Florentine @Thinespo

Prasad was pretty bummed about not being served hashbrowns on the side, but I didn’t mind one bit. I thought the Florentine deserved to be on the plate all by herself, like a queen! Doesn’t she look pretty in the picture above?! 🙂

Anyway, we simply HAD to try the desserts. The Dessert stand was the first thing to greet us as we entered Thinespo and the cupcakes and pastries, casually displayed, looked too tempting to skip!

Desserts @Thinespo
Desserts @Thinespo

So we ordered a couple, one a chocolate ganache with fruity flavors and a red velvet cupcake for Medha, who simply wanted to try it because of its fancy name!

Red Velvet Cupcake
Red Velvet Cupcake

If Egg Florentine stole the show, it wasn’t a piece of cake (no pun intended) for her! The desserts put up a good fight for our appreciation too! Medha (who isn’t too fond of sugary treats, except candies!) just didn’t want to share a bite with any of us and the chocolate frosting on top of the slice of cake was unlike anything I’d tasted in India! We cleaned the plate in seconds! Mmmm… The whole experience just flooded me with fond memories of our breakfasts in the US.

Chocolate Heaven @Thinespo
Chocolate Heaven @Thinespo

We have finally found a good, no Great Breakfast (Lunch and Dinner too, but especially Breakfast!) place in our part of the World… Thank God!

With Love as Sweet and Decadent as an extra-chocolatey Chocolate Cake,

Manasa.