Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another New Year Already?!!

It has been such a roller-coaster for us in 2009, that I'm almost surprised at another new year catching up with us already! :)

2009 was a big year for us, with a lot of new experiences, a lot of firsts. And the new home was just a starting point.... This year our daughter started 'big school', our son learnt to stay away from his most favourite person- grandma- as we moved into a nuclear family set up, my husband who used to hate the very idea of driving in chaotic city traffic actually learnt driving well enough to drive himself to work (I still pinch myself sometimes!). Well, the list seems endless but I won't bore you with the details.

I'll remember the year most of all for making me connect to something that I waited a long, long time to do. Yes, this was the year I started painting again. It was like a breath of fresh air, a new lease of life to be able to find my way around hitherto unexplored terrain. You can see my artwork on my other blog, Creative Rumblings.

Here's hoping the mad rollercoaster ride continues in 2010 as well, as I bring you more interesting vignettes from our home.

And wishing all my readers a fantastic 2010 where all your dreams come true, and you get the courage and confidence to dream even bigger!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Some Succulent (& Thorny!) Green Advice

My old pal from college recently lamented how she was getting frustrated because her cacti wouldn't survive. As she asked for tips, she also suggested that I share this piece of advice on my blog for all wannabe green thumbs like her. So here goes...

Cacti and succulents are two of the easiest-to-grow varieties for apartment dwellers. They are no fuss creatures, and don't need much pampering. Morever, they do not require extravagant spaces. You can actually grow them in the smallest of containers and still manage to add that much-needed dash of green to your living area.

But the two cardinal rules for all cacti and succulents (and they apply especially to those that are grown in apartment balconies):
  • Rule one, never over-water, even if they look withered. Too much water does them more harm than too less. Remember, both cactus and succulent plants are meant for arid, dry climate.

  • Rule two, and equally important, keep them out of squirrel-infested areas. The squirrels have a fascination for the gel-like substance found in both cacti and succulents. So they suck out the insides of the poor cacti/succulent, leaving just the outer shell standing. And then before you know what happened, the plant suddenly withers away!

The solution that worked for me - keep your cacti and succulents indoors till they grow somewhat sturdy. Once the thorns on the cacti start hardening, the squirrels won't touch it anyways! :)

Hope this advice helps, and more of my readers enjoy greening their spaces.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Our Special Neighbours - V : Bugged!

Seems like the ladybirds are in circulation already! But I thought they came in spring, and couldn't survive the harsh winters... maybe this one was a lost creature, late in catching up on some winter sleep like its fellow bugs.

My son brought home a tiny ladybird home the other day, and my daughter squealed with joy declaring that the 'ladybug' was going to be their pet! :) The two spent almost an hour playing around with the polka-dotted fellow before it finally took off...

I have seen ladybirds in various shades of red, orange and earthy yellow before. But right after we had moved in to this house last spring in late March, I saw a couple of gorgeous specimens around these parts.

Have you ever seen a ladybird in such a brilliant blue hue?

Or such a bright green one?

Maybe it won't be such a bad idea to have them around the garden after all... as pets or otherwise! :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Now that winters are here, hibernating seems like a good excuse for my long absences from this blog! :)

Did I tell you I absolutely dislike winters? Those foggy grey days give me a serious case of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder, for the uninitiated) every year. I am the sunshiny types who'd rather get a sunburn than sit and shiver in a corner all day. So I spend the maximum time outside on the sit-outs munching peanuts and crackers, and the rest of my indoor time is taken up by painting.

I hope to get a little active around X-mas cause that is such a favourite festival with the kids. In the meanwhile, here's praying for sunny, cheerful days ahead instead of depressive, smoggy ones... at least one can catch a picnic then! :)

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Dash Of Zen

Giving you all a dose of Zen calm from my garden for the weekend!

I have been hung up on adding a statue to my garden for a very long time. So I picked up this soapstone Buddha from one of the curio shops in the Rajiv Gandhi Handicrafts Bhawan.

We added this Buddha bust way back in September but I forgot to post about it in the festive rush. :)

It has since changed locations and come indoors but looking at these pictures still has such a calming effect.

This picture was added at a later date (on 03Dec09) to show the statue indoors.

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Our Special Neighbours - IV : The Lapwing Family

As winter sets in and the days turn chilly, let me share with you the story of the lapwing family to warm the cockles of your hearts! :)

Right after we moved in to the new house in early summer, we learnt to recognise the typical (shrill and long-drawn) calls of the lapwing couple who lived in the fields behind our house.

Since summer was just beginning, the fields had been recently harvested and sported a dry, brown stubbly growth. Just ideal for the lapwings to roost... but we didn't realise this till one fine morning I noticed a distinct change in the bird's call.

Short, sharp calls came from mommy bird while papa bird hovered around protectively in circles. I craned my neck some more from the balcony, peering into the undergrowth. As I squinted into the distance, my eye caught a movement. Aah, then I saw it... baby lapwing running around mommy but so well camouflaged that one could only wonder at Nature. (Look very carefully between the two bigger birds in the next photo to see the baby.)

Excited, I pointed out the lapwing family's new addition to the kids and the hubby, and we all kept tabs on what the baby bird was up to.

Can you see how tiny it is compared to the bits of paper lying on the ground?

As time went by, baby gathered enough confidence to go on longer walks, crossing roads and dodging dogs and cattle.

Slowly the baby lapwing grew from its tiny sparrow-like look to the more long-legged and distinct look of the lapwings.

Till finally one day, it soared off into the blue skies, right behind mommy and papa birds!

Some of the joys of living in a suburban area where one can still interact with flora and fauna!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Garden News

Am back with a garden update after a long quiet spell.

To start with, sun-face has a new friend. And my plans with the creepers have finally fallen in place. So now sun-face and black-face make quite a duo next to the morning glory creeper.

The morning glory also goes up our iron trellis and is full of magenta flowers every other morning. Looking at its branches reaching out skywards, the kids have named it the 'beanstalk' (from Jack and the Beanstalk).

Another of my favourites, the railway creeper has started climbing up the trellis in the kids' balcony, and gives us cheerful mauve flowers everyday.

As the mornings and evenings turn cool, one can see vibrant growth in the greens. It is just the right time to be planning the winter blooms, and so I have sown some seeds and am peeking in to check new saplings everyday. Nasturtiums and petunias have already shown up!

But my chrysanthemums are growing too slowly. I'm almost scared they won't grow fast enough to bloom this coming season. Any ideas how to make them grow better?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Diwali Snapshots

I'm back after a whole month.... with a bang and such a festive hangover! :)

This year the festivals have been extra special for us because they were our first in the new house. And Diwali being the most favourite festival in our family, we went all out for it. Here is how the house looked on the big night, all lit up, and resplendent like a bride on her wedding day!

Preparations for Diwali began a week before. Braving traffic jams and parking paranoia, we got candles and diyas from the famous Diwali Mela at Blind School. This mela or fair is more than 30 years old, and has rows and rows of such interesting stalls. But most importantly, I must say the quality of the products made at the Blind School is exceptionally good. Our candles outlasted all the others in the neighbourhood! :)

To add to our decor, we made paper lanterns made at home. Fun thing to do with the kids too.

Rangoli patterns and loads of marigold flowers completed the special Diwali look.

The tiny feet of Goddess Lakshmi leading up to our main door. As per traditional thought, she is the goddess of wealth and prosperity, and this ensures that she stays with us through the year!

And of course, the special Lakshmi puja that is such an important part of this festival in my husband's family. Love the warmth of the oranges and yellows in this picture.... and the glow of the candles and diyas.

We finished off the celebrations with a final show of crackers on the rooftop which the kids really enjoyed.

Hope your Diwali was wonderful, warm and loving. Wishing all my readers a prosperous year ahead!

Friday, September 25, 2009

On A Festive Break!

Today I participated in Durga Puja festivities in my new locality albeit with some old friends. I will be away from blogging for the next few days as I'm going to be busy with the festive season.

Here's wishing all my readers a happy Durga Puja and Dusshera. May the goddess shower health, happiness and harmony for all.... Leaving you all with this image of the goddess in our new home.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bamboo Boat Finally Afloat

Well, that title is not to be taken too literally! :) For my bamboo boat is a smart new garden container. I had purchased this funky creation from a fair last winter and finally got to plant some greens in it.

The bamboo boat is basically a long, hollow piece of bamboo artfully closed from the two sides so you can use it as a planter. It even has a hole at the bottom for drainage, and comes with a string to hang. But for now I prefer keeping it on the ledge next to my iron trellis.

With the last leg of rainfall happening about ten days back, the humidity levels have increased and new plants are taking root easily. So the bamboo boat got a mix of spider plant, yellow day lily and jade.

Here's hoping by spring these would look bigger and better, turning the boat into a green haven!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Furniture Fracas

When we decided to move into the new house, we realized we were woefully short on furniture. We had sold off an old bed and centre table, and now required new pieces for both the living room and the kids’ bedroom. So off we went, hunting around furniture shops.

My husband was keen to buy branded designer furniture, and after much deliberation we settled for Usha Lexus. For one it was a tried and tested brand. My husband had used their furniture at my in-laws’ place for many years without any complaints. And secondly, their designs - with its clean, uncluttered lines - caught our fancy. So we zeroed in on our requirements:
  • For the kids’ bedroom I was very clear that I wanted to use two single beds that could be joined together to form a double bed. To achieve this it was important that the headboard design be such that it looked complete both as a single piece and as a joined double bed. We threw in a bedside table with drawers as well.

  • Our main drawing room wall needed a visual break to separate out the living and dining areas. We decided to do that through a display cabinet - something that would fit in with both spaces, and yet provide the required demarcation between the two.

  • Finally, we chose a new sofa set sans the mandatory centre table for the living room.
And thus began our misery. Usha Lexus promised to deliver the order in a month’s time. Not only did they slip on that, the first batch of delivered furniture took us by total shock.

The headboards of the beds were of differing heights, and did not match.

Horror of horrors - the cabinet they delivered was not even made of wood! They just stuck together some ply pieces and tried to pass it off as designer furniture.

With the stamps of the ply board clearly showing! Can you imagine this from a company of the stature of Usha Lexus??

This was shocking, and I began a tirade against them. Innumerable calls to the salesperson and the quality manager followed. My husband sent a bunch of complaint mails. Defective pieces kept going back and forth for two months.

After much stress and heartburn, finally they got us some decent pieces. But even those are not half as lasting as the polish on them has begun to crack already.

Moral of the story: Just because it is a brand doesn’t mean it has to be good. Sometimes they turn out to be worse than the local furniture makers! You can hope to have good pieces from them only if you can fight tooth and nail over an extended period, like we did.

The only saving grace: They are fairly good at customized orders, so you can get exactly what you want, as per your specific need.

Of course, I must mention here that the sales person was so relieved to get us off his back that he sent along a complimentary centre table to match the new sofa set. :) Not that I needed it (we already had a lovely coffee table from Fab India by then). But I am now using that extra centre table as a curio display. More on that in a future post…

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Miracle Of Life

What kind of gardener are you?

I have a neighbour who gets home full-grown potted plants from the neighbourhood nursery, replants them into fancy containers, and then claims to have "grown" the plants herself! Considering that 90% of her garden consists of varieties of coleus (easy to grow, require maintenance only in extreme temperatures), I don't get too impressed by her kind of gardening.

If you belong to her type, this post is really not for you.

But if you are my type - yes, one of those who go out to check on each new leaf in the garden every morning, who care for a plant right from sowing the seeds and tending the saplings up to when they are healthy young greens - then you'll know the joy that such a sight brings....

I planted two seeds a few days back, and then one sprouted. I thought, 'If it pulls through, I can hope to have more creepers crawling up my balcony walls.'

Then the soil moved a little, and the next morning I saw another one rearing its little head, confidently pushing through the earth.

Now they are both growing rapidly, and seems like my plans for more creepers may just work out with their timely contribution!

Isn't it such a blessing to be able to enjoy these small miracles in our everday life! :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Our Special Neighbours - III : Doggy Four Shoes

Never seen a canine friend in shoes? Well, we have one such specimen in the neighbourhood! A Labrador Retriever who passes by everyday.
Don't believe me? Just check out his pictures...

Well, I confess I'm not too sure if they are shoes or socks or stockings or what.... But we called him 'Doggy Four Shoes' from the beginning and the name stuck!

Mind you, he is a stylish fellow - changes his footwear every single day. No repeats for this guy!

Okay, there is an exception.... On rainy days he appears sans his trademark socks. But trades them for snazzy rain-gear. So you see, the style quotient remains wayyyyy up there!! :)

Hope you enjoyed meeting our stylish neighbour just as much as we love seeing him everyday. Especially the kids - they call out to him, or my hubby whistles softly, and he stops in his tracks and looks up! Some friendships just can't be defined.... :)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Busy Season Starts

I know I have been away from this blog for a while. I was kept busy with:

Spending a day with, and entertaining some dear friends
Hoping our kids get to forge bonds of friendship in the process

Recovering from another bad bout of flu
Thanking my stars it wasn't the swine variety

Celebrating my darling daughter's fourth birthday
Sharing her excitement through her special day

Shopping like crazy for the kids and the home in anticipation of the festival season
Planning how to celebrate the bunch of upcoming festivals

Here is a collage of pictures depicting the above (the good bits, of course).

I can foresee that this month and the next my blog posts are likely to be few and far between, but I'll try my best to keep up the pace.

In the meanwhile, hope you all enjoy the festive season! :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Weekend Additions Around The House

This weekend I fished out an old terracotta Ganesha wall hanging that had been lying in cold storage for about two years. Didn't realize it back then but Sunday was also Ganesha Chaturthi.

What should I call this? - Happy coincidence, or maybe, divine concurrence. Whichever way you look at it, it was perfect timing! Not that I'm much of a believer in all this religious hogwash anyway. :)

I also put up this metal sun in our front balcony. Looks a bit lonely right now hanging all by itself.

But I have grand plans to dress up this sit-out with greens. So if the bougainvilleas I planted last month spruce up by winters, or if some more of these creepers show up, I'm hoping that sun-face should have some company next spring!

Once the wall is covered in greens, I'll add some more knick-knacks here.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Our Special Neighbours - II : Monkeying Around

I just learnt the key to being a monkey:

First, get a good night's rest.

After you wake up, peep diligently into kitchen windows, for obvious reasons.

Keep yourself free of bugs and ticks... if you find any, pop 'em right in!

Catch some beauty sleep on the fly!

Yes, we had a simian visitor this week. You think he's funny? Well, so do I, and I really enjoyed clicking the fellow.

But the underlying concern - have we encroached on areas that were once rightfully theirs? After all, jungles and farmlands are being converted to urban living spaces at breakneck speeds everywhere.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Adding More Greens

Have been away from blogging for a while as I was grappling with the paces of changing maids. And that is a pretty unpleasant place to be in. Anyhow, things are beginning to look normal again...

We spent the long Independence Day weekend at my parents' place. What lovely weather we had; it was drizzly and cool, and the sky was a riot of colours.

Just the right time for me to get some more plants from my mom's terrific garden. It is amazing just how many plants she has on her terrace, all in containers. It is a veritable plant nursery if you ask me! :)

So now I have some money plant or pothos in a Snapple bottle livening up my kitchen ledge.

And the terracotta planter that I mentioned before, traditionally called the tulsi chauras in north India, finally has its share of Indian basil in place.

Some more saplings are showing up but I'll write about them only after they have grown a bit. And yes, the portulaca has been flowering steadily. :)

What more does one need than some greens around the house to soothe the senses!

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