The Savoury Bakes Workshop with Nandita Iyer

I’m beginning to rely on the inimitable Dr. Iyer for my food photography fix! Yesterday I attended my third workshop with her – Savoury Baking. Since I’m not fond of sweets this workshop was perfectly suited to my needs. I love savouries and the sight of a perfectly baked quiche is rapturous to say the least ๐Ÿ™‚ Which is precisely what we did! Baked a quiche I mean among other stuff which included Golden Cornbread Muffins that packed a subtle jalapeรฑo punch; a Cheese & Walnut savoury cake that was surprisingly light and luscious; and some crispy, salty crackers that are fast becoming my new addiction ๐Ÿ˜›

As I’ve said in my previous post, Nandita is a fantastic teacher and a very warm and fun person to be with. She holds the classes in her beautiful home and graciously shares her private space with us eager beavers! What I really love about the classes other than learning new dishes and meeting new people, is that I get to indulge my passion for photography! As a friend of mine said – Baking and Photography seem made for each other ๐Ÿ™‚ They are so wonderfully complimentary! Am already looking ahead to next time ๐Ÿ™‚

Here are the pictures, collages this time of theย scrumptious treats we baked! And for the food enthusiasts among you, do check out Nandita’s food blog at Saffron Trail for details of future workshops, her youtube channel and some great recipes!

Take52 Challenge: Week 1 – Revitalize

This year, in an effort to get back to taking more pictures, I’ve joined this wonderful group on FB (where else ;)), and taken the CameraShy Take52 Photography Challenge. A theme is posted for every week of the year and at the end of this year, I hope to have an eclectic, interesting set of pictures while improving on my photography skills. Just two weeks into the challenge and I already find myself being inspired by the talented photographers who contribute and learning from their expertise! I’ve decided to post the pics I take here as well, so it ups my post count ๐Ÿ˜‰ย 

The first week of the New Year and the theme was Revitalize. Understandably so. That’s what New Years are for aren’t they – for new beginnings and fresh starts? For me personally, this time of year is charged with positive vibes and energy! Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that New Year’s Day is also our Anniversary ๐Ÿ˜› Just 3 years short of Silver now! It seems incredible that we’ve lasted this long given how we’re pretty much polar opposites in everything ๐Ÿ˜› or perhaps that’s the reason we stay together?! I don’t believe in overย analysing that kinda stuff – It ain’t broke and All is mostly well ๐Ÿ˜‰ Good enough for me!

This year, we were in Goa, bringing in the New Year at Calamari, my friend’s fantabulous shack on Candolim Beach – replete with twinkling lights, great music, delicious food, free-flowing alcohol, fireworks and most importantly – the company of beloved friends ๐Ÿ™‚ We had a wonderful time and I for one definitely felt recharged and revitalised to face 2014. Mojitos are a favourite of mine and that’s what I drank that night (I can’t share how many simply coz I can’t remember ๐Ÿ˜‰ I wasn’t driving though!). They always refresh me and so when the theme was announced, and I happened to have a fresh bunch of mint in the kitchen – it seemed like the perfect match!

Don’t you think?

Week 1 - Revitalize

I used my 50 mm lens on my Nikon D 90. A lens that I have regrettably not used at all in 2013 ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Thanks to this Challenge, I’ve rediscovered it and now I can’t get enough!ย 

If you would like to participate in the challenge, click here! You won’t regret it ๐Ÿ™‚


Lisbon – 10 Things!

This post is long overdue and as my friend Heather said, “It’s cruel to say you’re back and then not actually be back!” So without much further ado, let me tell you that this post is going to be largely pictorial coz my brain is still too scrambled for coherent thought ๐Ÿ˜› and because if I don’t get this down now, I fear I never will! So here they are – 10 things that made me fall in love with Lisbon ๐Ÿ™‚

The Architecture – so familiar from seeing it back home in Goa and yet uniquely special in the way an original is from its copy. Robert Langdon would love it here ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Tiles – vintage, hand-painted, exquisite! I stopped several times just to touch them and feel their history speak. Also the iron-work and masonry wastonishing to say the least!

The Tagus Riverfront – a wonderful promenade by the banks of the river Tagus where local fisherman try their luck, while locals and tourists alike stroll around breathing in the crisp air, taking in the many sights in the area – an old brick lighthouse, the Pont de Vasco de Gama, the Tower of Belem, the grand, imposing beauty that is the Monastery of San Jeronimo, a war memorial that serves as an observation tower offering spectacular views – there’s a veritable feast of stimuli for the senses here!

The quaint charm of Lisbon’s hip and happening neighbourhoods – The Chiado, Rossio, Bairro Alto – yes I know they’re everywhere in Europe and no that doesn’t make them any less miraculous here! Their impossibly tiny cobblestoned streets, quaint boutiques, and profusion of cafes and restaurants made them well nigh irresistible to the romantic in me ๐Ÿ˜‰ Although I confess with a 5-yr-old in tow, we didn’t really do them justice! Still there’s always next year ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Gardens &the Roses – Lisbon has gardens galore! Little ones and grand ones, places where families can picnic and children can play and us visitors can prowl with our cameras on the look out for whatever might catch our fancy ๐Ÿ˜› I remember my delight on spying the gigantic roses! I can’t remember ever seeing such large ones! Blood red, dainty pink, pretty salmon…luscious blooms!

The Tram – Yes I know they are pretty much ubiquitous in Europe, but that for me just adds to their allure! I don’t quite know how to explain it – but the sight of the little box on wheels climbing its way up a steep incline is just exhilarating! Or perhaps I’m just grateful for the ride and the photo-op ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Burnt Custard Tart – A Lisbon staple and rightly so! A perfect balance of bitter-sweet deliciousness! Had too many to count and I don’t even like dessert ๐Ÿ˜‰

Vinho Verde – I was skeptical about trying this ‘Green Wine‘, until I finally did with predictable results – LOVED it and drank nothing else for the rest of the trip except for the Caiprinhas at Cabana Fresca in Albufeira that were just out of this World!! If you get your hands on a bottle of Muralhas, you’ll know what I mean! The light, fresh & fruity flavour is right up my street ๐Ÿ™‚

My favorite tipple on the trip ๐Ÿ™‚

The Zoo & Oceanarium – Both excellent places to visit even if you don’t have kids along! I love animals and I go dangerously crazy with my lens in Zoos much to the horror and embarrassment of the Hubby! Not that that bothers me ๐Ÿ˜‰ Loved the Zoo – especially the aerial views from a rope way that travels its length, the abundance of peacocks, the Tigers and the Chimps! Refreshingly non-commercial too ๐Ÿ™‚

The Gulls – I fell in love with these gutsy birds! Their squawking calls, yellow beaks and piercing gaze made for some fun bird-watching ๐Ÿ™‚ Another bird to add to my collection!

Johnathan Livingstone Seagull!
Johnathan Livingstone Seagull!

Lisbon charmed me with its relaxed vibe, quaint neighbourhoods and warm people ๐Ÿ™‚ There is an enchanting blend of ancient history and modernity here and a refreshing lack of the overt commercialism that runs rampant elsewhere in the world. Many of the sights are free for children and Junior had a blast playing cricket in every park we visited! That’s a LOT of cricket ๐Ÿ˜‰ There’s a sense of underlying whimsy and a languidness that permeates; aย ‘je ne sais quois’ that is endearing. Visiting Lisbon allowed me to understand the idiosyncrasies of my own tiny state of Goa better! About time too ๐Ÿ˜‰ I will certainly be visiting again – that’s a given!

P. S. This one’s for you Heather! Hope you liked it and THANK YOU for the much needed nudge ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ™‚

NaPoWriMo – Day 30: The Last Day!

So, inevitably all good things draw to an end, as does NaPoWriMo 2013! What a journey it has been! When I began – I didn’t expect much – of the contest nor of myself. But of course that’s exactly what Life’s waiting for – for us to make silly assumptions so it can jump right in and show us in just how many ways we are wrong ๐Ÿ˜› I have learned a lot about myself through this challenge – first of all being, ‘If the Challenge is Right, I Am Up For It’! Does that make sense? I hope it does coz I have not the words to make it any clearer ๐Ÿ˜‰

Secondly – I really do enjoy poetry ๐Ÿ™‚ I’d forgotten until lately how much! Also what I really dig, is the combination of photography and poetry – it’s anย irresistibly potentย blend for me, and certainly THEย reason why I didn’t get bored of this challenge halfway ๐Ÿ™‚ The other reason is of course the kindness of my readers who supported and encouraged me with the sweetest words throughout. I could never have done this without you ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank You from the bottom of my heart โค

I was uncertain about what I would do for the last post. I was running out of ideas and was kinda stuck in a rut, until what else but a wheel got me out ๐Ÿ˜‰ This picture is of a random wagon wheel I found on our visit to Wildernest – a fabulous eco-friendly resort on the border of my home state Goa and the state I’m going to be moving to soon – Karnataka! It’s a place after my own heart and there was this wheel just asking to be photographed ๐Ÿ˜› You think of wheels and automatically motion comes to mind. Static wheels don’t seem as attractive do they? I always associate wheels with either the relentless march of time or mankind’s relentless progress towards…don’t really know the answer to that…but towards a better future I suppose!

And yet – the importance of a resting wheel is paramount isn’t it? Long drives are hard on their rubber and the constant friction with the road can cause meltdowns…you’re getting where I’m going with this right?! So although they take us wherever we want to go, it’s important that we pay attention to their well-being; cause after all, ‘A driver is only as good as his wheels’! Non? ๐Ÿ˜‰ And so I just thought this was a perfect way to say Goodbye to this year’s NaPoWriMo, while ending with the promise of a new beginning ๐Ÿ™‚ Life mirrors the virtual world I guess…because after I’m back from vacation, we’ll be moving from Mumbai to Bangalore! So the wheels are resting for now, recouping and recuperating for the drive to Bangalore!

Safe Journeys to all my Friends ๐Ÿ™‚


NaPoWriMo – Day 29

Here we go – the penultimate post for NaPoWriMo 2013…and I’m still having a hard time believing I manged thus far ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m really proud of myself coz I’m generally a great starter but a poor finisher – I get bored easily and restless even quicker ๐Ÿ˜› I’m also happy that taking part in this challenge helped me find my way back to the poet inside ๐Ÿ™‚ I had, well not forgotten, but buried her deep beneath all the other labels that define who I am. Now that she’s had her time to shine – I’m happy and so is she ๐Ÿ˜€

This picture was taken at a Butterfly Parkย en routeย from Phoenix to Vegas. I forget the name, but the Monarchs were in town and boy aren’t they beautiful?! I cannot believe I spent most of my childhood screaming and running around like a headless chicken every time I saw a moth or butterfly that had wandered into the house drawn by the lights!! Now their powdery velvet wings andย iridescentย colorsย fascinateย me, and although I still don’t like to get too close (it’s just a thing I have :P), I have no issues getting close enough to take pictures ๐Ÿ˜‰

Metamorphosis is one of my favorite words in the English language! It’s a lyrical way of talking about change, and once again, a word with positive connotations! Positive Change – What’s not to like?!


NaPoWriMo – Day 28

Today is my Gran’s Birthday. She turns 87 today! I’ve written about her recentlyย and mentioned her fragile present condition. She’s doing OK and hanging in there – but just about. And my wish on her Birthday for her and perhaps selfishly for us too – the women who are closest to her, who came through her and who LOVE her from the depths of their souls – is for Dignity & Grace when the end should come. Its with mixed feelings that I write this – it’s not an easy wish to make on her Birthday.

But how LUCKY am I to have been raised by a woman of her principles and gumption? She is as I’ve mentioned in several earlier posts – aย consummateย warrior and survivor – and happily for me – she’s raised me to be that way too. And although I will never be as accomplished and strong as she is – I know she’s proud of me. And that to me is the only thing that matters.

Sorry if this is overly sentimental…writing about her always makes me feel this way!

Love you Aai โค


NaPoWriMo – Day 27

Another picture I can’t remember having taken but one that instantly soothed me – especially on a day like today, which is going to be crazy with traveling in the big bad city!! Green will do that for you ๐Ÿ™‚ These days in the run-up to the coming time of alleged relaxation ๐Ÿ˜‰ (Are you ever really relaxed with a 5-yr-old in tow I wonder? :P), I’m feeling exactly like – you guessed it – a busy little bee! Not a bad thing except that I’m buzzing about in the kind of temperatures that make me want to migrate permanently to The North Pole!!

Maybe that’s what this little bee was thinking too – just wanting a break from all the work that they constantly seem engaged in! If this isn’t a bee, I’m sorry! It sure like like one to my inexperienced eyes! Either way, makes for a pretty picture don’t you think? And like her – quite literally, I too will be looking forward to my bed at the end of what promises to be a long if enjoyable day!ย 


NaPoWriMo – Day 26

My trusty shoes! Old now, but it’s like wine with shoes isn’t it? The older the vintage – the better the fit, that kind of thing?! No? Is it just me with my weird feet that take their own sweet time to get friendly with their footwear?! But once they do…Oh the JOY ๐Ÿ˜€ The comfort of a well-fitted shoe is one of the best feelings in the world! They slide on and off your feet like a second skin – cushioning, painless and easy. They make you feel like you could walk to the Moon and back and be none the worse for wear ๐Ÿ˜‰ Oh well, to the Market down the road then ๐Ÿ˜›

This well worn pair has traveled with me on many journeys and walked down many exciting roads! They’ve stepped in puddles and worse, been stamped on, drenched in the rain, splattered with mud, served as bug-home on occasion – and survived! They’ve jumped for joy and danced to music and on occasion have caused painful blisters (but that was when they were young and immature ;)) – rather like the feet in them ๐Ÿ˜› Today, almost 5 years after I first bought them – they are still my favorite, trusted travel shoes. I have others, (Of course I do! Girls and shoes – you get the picture ;)), but none that fit or feel quite like these – good, solid, with a rubber sole and a steady grip, they make me feel like I could walk forever. Honestly, I couldn’t ask for a better companion on my journeys! So a trip around the world or a walk in the park – I say…Bring it On!


NaPoWriMo – Day 25

Yoohoo!! It’s a mini Silver Jubilee of sorts on NaPoWriMo – 25 days today and I cannot believe I’ve posted 25 Haiku ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve met so many incredibly talented poets and writers on this journey and am having a ball – interacting with them and reading their work. Very inspiring ๐Ÿ™‚

Abundance is one of my favorite words – for obvious reasons! The promise of plenty is always comforting but Abundance has a ring to it that is heartening as well. Its inherently lyrical and positive vibes make it very appealing! Every since I heard Sarah Ban Breathnach expound her Simple Abundance theory on Oprah way back when I still watched, I began to look at it with fresh perspective. Her idea is not new nor original and summed up means ‘Celebrate the Simple Things in Life’, which lets face it is something we hear a million times in one lifetime! But I guess it clicked that once in a new way somewhere in my head and I’m a happier person for it ๐Ÿ™‚

And what can be simpler than the joy of watching the Monsoon in its full Glory! Raindrops and puddles, steaming hot cuppas and crisp, crunchy ‘bhajias’ (fritters), warm quilts and the world awash in life giving aqua?! The Indian Monsoon is a special force of Nature – Fierce, Destructive and Life-Giving. I hope it comes on time this year and is kind to us puny humans! Here is my own tiny homage to its Magnificence!!


P.S. I’ve done a littleย researchย and apparently Haiku (in English) do not have to stick rigidly to the principle of 5-7-5 syllables in 3 lines. The idea or perhaps aim is a better word; one of the aims of a Haiku is to depict a moment in time and juxtaposition two seemingly separate ideas with minimal word sounds. Although in English the Japanese ‘On’ or word sounds are interpreted as ‘syllables’, they are not identical. So in this Haiku, I have wandered from the rule and am very happy to have done so! I never was one for rigid rules ๐Ÿ˜‰

NaPoWriMo – Day 24

Have been stumped today! It’s been a chaotic day because Ishaan is at home on a Holiday and as a result, uninterrupted thought, speech, writing, practically anything – is IMPOSSIBLE ๐Ÿ˜› Add to that the fact that my Internet has been acting up lately and it’s well nigh a recipe for disaster – well at least for one of my famous temper tantrums ๐Ÿ˜‰ That is until I found this picture!ย 

There is just something so soothing and calming about it that my poor frazzled nerves could not help but settle down a little ๐Ÿ˜‰ Perhaps the colors – that blushing purple-pink and the fuzzy pale green; perhaps just the powerful simplicity and implied promise of a beautiful flower in the making ๐Ÿ™‚ Whatever it is – I feel happier and more in control. I wonder if that’s what Spring feels like ? ๐Ÿ™‚ย