Friday, October 22, 2010

What in the...

Who knew squirrels ate pumpkins?! Who knew squirrels would devour the pumpkins we worked so hard at "picking" (selecting and placing on wagon). This was a MAJOR bummer to wake up to in the morning :( Overnight our beautiful pumpkins that we decorated the front steps with turned into these! EEK! I guess the little rodents feasted didn't they. They didn't seem to be fooled by the fake pumpkins in the lot. I haven't caught any of the pesky little rascals in the act but I'm pretty positive they are squirrels as I've heard of this happening before but it's never happened to us before. I guess it's a whole different life now we live in the "Country". :)

Two cute little stores that sprung from this:

  1. My 22 month old toddler is speaking much more now and lately he has been saying OH NO BOKEN - meaning, Oh no, broken. When we walked out and saw these pumpkins I said Oh no! He examined them and said, "Oh no, boken!" :) I just had to laugh. At least he realized this isn't how we had the pumpkins to start with and
  2. We had a playdate at the house a few days after this happened and one of the mammas commented on the intricate pumpkin carvings I did with the kids. haha As if this was deliberate?! How strange that would've been :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In the News...

My religion (Sikhism) and the President's scheduled trip to our most holy temple in India has recently been in the news. It is difficult for me to use words to even capture the significance of what the Golden Temple symbolizes for Sikhs. It is a site of great religious and historical importance for Sikhs. Thousands of Sikhs and Non-Sikhs alike from India and all over the world come and visit this temple daily. It is built in the middle of a pool of water and is covered in gold. It is absolutely beautiful. Whenever I go, I find such peace and serenity there - it is truly majestic.

The gist of this issue in the news is that President Obama's camp is not satisfied with the forms of head covering he must wear during his visit for how it will make him appear and what it will look like to the outside world and America. When one enters any Sikh place of worship (gurdwara) including the Golden Temple, their heads must be covered while in the presence of our holy scriptures called the Guru Granth Sahib. President Obama only has 4 days scheduled to be in India. Of those 4 days, he is scheduling a trip to visit the Golden temple, the only religious visit he is making. However, Obama's camp fears that he will look too Muslim if he covers his head with a headscraf or skullcap. They feel it is not a good political move in light of political sensitivities around the world and in the United States regarding rumors of him having Muslim beliefs despite the fact that he is openly a very devout Christian which he has stated time and time again. His head must be covered but a baseball cap falls short of regulations and appears insulting. 

MY THOUGHTS: I am saddened that this is even an issue that would prevent our President from visiting a respected shrine of the world. I'm not sure why limited suggestions like a headscarf, skullcap or baseball hat are being considered as the only options to cover his head. Plenty of sojourners that come off the streets pretty much will tie a handkerchief on their head or a bandana and that is completely acceptable. I am also shocked that it is cited that about 20% of the American population "suspect" the President is Muslim by citing that his middle name is Hussein and mentioning his Kenyan heritage. He is a publicly devout Christian and shouldn't be bothered about his religion. It is absurd to me that American citizens waste time debating about whether the President is muslim or not. Even if he was, so WHAT. His religious affairs are his business, his private concerns that no one should be second guessing or speculating about. Moreover, even if he "appeared to be Muslim" (which I just loathe the connotation that gives off since it shouldn't even matter if he appears Muslim or not), ANY person regardless of religion, race or creed is welcome into the Sikh Golden Temple and would never be ostracized or shunned away in any manner. The place where the temple sits - Amritsar, Punjab - is VERY close to the border of India and Pakistan and it would not be odd to see any person of the Muslim faith entering the Golden Temple (at least I hope not). Last, I am disappointed that the President's camp didn't have the foresight to have known to address this issue BEFORE scheduling a trip to the Golden Temple. I can imagine how many Sikhs were so excited and now just disappointed. It would be an honor to have the American Present visit our holiest of temples as should HE feel honored and blessed to be in such a sacred place that is special to SO many Sikhs in India as well as the Diaspora. If his trip is cancelled, it would be a disappointment to say the least. The President would be missing out for an issue which has many solutions.

Here are some pictures of the Golden Temple:
during the day.
At night.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

No Sew Halloween Costumes

I already bought the boys' halloween costumes last month (grumble grumble). BUT if I had seen any of these amazing ideas earlier, I would have totally had the boys dress up in something more creative, no sew and homemade. If ur a mom out there trying to get last minute costumes together, any of these are completely doable. Don't be shocked if u see my kids in some of these in the upcoming years :) Here are some of my favorites!


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Book Review: Zoo Story

I just finished a book called ZOO STORY by author Thomas French. I loved this book. I've always had a love for animals of all kinds and love seeing them in their natural settings and love seeing them even at zoos. Many a time when visiting zoos I felt bad for some of the larger animals in the unspoken word "cages". It didn't feel right or fair for them to be stuck there but you give it a moment's thought and move onto the next exhibit and the rest of ur day and don't really think about it again unless it's a passing thought. 

The book basically takes you behind the scenes of a zoo called Lowry Park in Tampa, Florida. It dives into the difficult issue of the truths, difficulties, benefits and challenges of keeping wild animals in captivity. It was downright fascinating to say the least and I learned a great deal. One of the reviews of the book is true - I can never visit another zoo again without recounting the images and stories from this book and the plight of most of the animals there. 

One of the best parts of this book was the way it was written. The author is a journalist and writes for newspapers and teaches journalism at a university now. The writing was excellent. The way he described the conditions of the zoos and what the animals could be thinking or how humans interfered with their lives really made u feel for each party involved and made u feel like u were right there. As a writer you tend to take a tone with which "side" u agree or disagree with and I feel his tone was most definitely clear that he disapproved of the way in which certain animals were kept in the zoo and the way in which it's CEO (for 20 years) ran the place. Even when he put a spin on the events, he still raised room for questioning each side and gave u plenty to think about. Should we support the institution of zoos which help to save certain animals and educate our society and young children about animals and have a first hand exposure to them even if this means they're being held against their will or should we leave these wild animals be in their natural habitat even if this means they are subject of mass killings by the country in which they live due to their overpopulation and running rampant in the wild and causing mass destruction wherever they go. 
Accurately, the author says it's the animals that get caught in this struggle between protection and control. Surprisingly, I found myself on one side of the table before reading this book and throughout reading I was constantly questioning my thoughts and feelings on the subject. It is simply fascinating and I highly recommend it to anyone who has a love for animals.

My boys...

There's no specific subject for this post. I'm just taking a rare moment to sit here and look through pictures of the end of this summer and smile.... at my boys. I love them more than I could ever imagine loving anything in this life. If I had to imagine a few years ago where I would be and what I'd be doing now, I would never forsee this ... but I wouldn't paint a better picture. These little men that occupy my days make me smile and laugh so much. They provide me with  so many new and different challenges I'm only experiencing now in a way only a mother could. I hope I remember all their little sweet and silly moments. I plan on telling them all about it when they grow up. For the meantime, as exhausted as I am - I am so thoroughly boys. 
Child Labor in southwestern CT

Hi Bright Eyes!! 

Mama love..
Kavan in a cozy chair

Kavan playing Goldilocks trying out different chairs :)
Boys - I am so blessed to have u in my life and so honored that I get to be ur mommy. Mwa.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Delicious Apple Clafouti Recipe

Tis the season for baking!! I like to kick off this cozy socks, warm boots and snuggly sweater weather with some hearty kitchen baking. That being said, I made this dessert in the dead of summer. Err. :/ haha But made it again after our recent stint of apple picking with the babies which consisted of hubs and I picking apples :) There are tons of great apple recipes out there for the fall season since it is the season of pumpkin and apple recipes. There are some great ones here. At this rate, I will *never* lose this baby weight - but it's worth it!

I found the original recipe from this amazing lady's site. She has scrumptious picks, delectable pictures and easy to follow recipes. I love her story and her blog. Definitely check it out. Her CLAFOUTI recipe originally calls for peaches. I loved the idea but adapted it for apples since I have them coming out of my ears these months - everywhere I turn, there are apples apples and more apples!

I love learning about everything and anything life has to offer and esp in the kitchen. Love to try new recipes, altho many of them failed :/ It's alright. Just have to mop it up and keep going. I learned that a clafouti is a French dessert baked in a buttered pan. A true clafouti consists of black pitted cherries which must be pitted because that's what gives it the lovely flavor for if it's not - then the dessert will be milder in flavor. Isn't that interesting? After a little digging, I've seen people make clafoutis with a variety of fruit - apples, peaches, blackberries, u name it. I found it to be super easy to make because for some reason, I can't make apple pies - it's beyond me and I've accepted it. I prefer the french rendition :)

This is the original recipe I worked off of for my Apple Clafouti. I didn't follow it to a tee - I clearly changed it around to make it simpler and to use what I had on hand (like not using creme fraiche (no idea where to even start with that) and like using plain ol' vanilla extract instead of slicing a vanilla bean - what the..?). It turned out amazing and was much easier than it seems. The hubbinator was praising me for days which lemme tell ya -- a girl can get used to :) The aroma that filled the house was like none other. For a day it felt as if we were living in a log cabin in the middle of the woods where apple pies were made around the clock. Does that even exist? I have no idea but u get my point! The taste is also much lighter than the feeling you get after eating a heavy pie. Definitely try it.

For the Batter you will need:

  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup whole milk

For the Apples you will need:

  • 1 vanilla bean sliced lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled and diced Granny Smith apple (about 1 large apple)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grappa, Calvados, or other fruit brandy
  • Confectioners' sugar for dusting
  • 1/3 cup creme fraiche


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Make the batter: Sift the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt into a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, and milk until well blended. Add about 1/3 of the egg mixture to the flour mixture and whiskuntil smooth, then gradually incorporate the remaining egg mixture. Whisk until well blended. Cover withplastic wrap and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.
Cook the apples: With the tip of a knife, scrape the vanilla bean seeds from the pod into an ovenproof 10-inch cast iron or stainless steel skillet. Add the pod and the butter and cook over moderately high heat until the butter turns nut brown. Add a pinch of salt. Add the apples and cook, stirring often, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean pod and discard. Sprinkle the apples with the sugar, reduce the heat to moderately low, and cook until the apples are almost cooked through and the sugar has melted and is coating the apples in a light syrup. Add the grappa or other brandy off the fire while pouring, place back on the fire, wait for flame to die down, the swirl the pan briefly. Spread the fruit evenly in the skillet. Working quickly, pour batter evenly over the fruit. Bake until the edges of the clafouti are puffed and browned and the center is set, about 15 minutes. Put some confectioners' sugar in a sieve and generously dust the surface of the clafouti. Serve warm directly from the pan with a dollop of creme fraiche.