Saturday, December 31, 2011

Nerja: put it on your travel list for 2012

Nothing like the end of a year to take time to look back on what you accomplished. And, nothing like the beginning of a new year to get started on another year to do things, go places, see things and enjoy life. Travel was one aspect that we didn't do much of this year since our baby was still quite a little baby, but this year, we hope to rectify that.

I'd really love to explore new places this year, take more leisurely vacations instead of rush-rush trips checking sights seen off a list as if they were items on a grocery shopping list. That's not how to enjoy a vacation, is it? That's just making it something that you want to get over, not relish as a good vacation should be relished.

The way I like to vacation now is to take a little cottage or suite or even apartment rentals so it's like a home away from home where one can settle in comfortably. No daily shifting to a new destination, rushing on tour buses, running through museums for me. I'd rather take in the sights at my ease. As for the destinations, I'd love to go to a nice warm place, somewhere with history and culture, a place that has great food and of course a nice cafe culture, so I'm quite drawn to Spain, specifically Nerja, which I heard about from our friends who visited it recently.

Quite frankly, I'd never heard of it before, but after hearing about it, and of course Googling it, I thought it looked like a really great place to visit, full of interesting nooks to explore, beautiful beaches, museums and shopping. Located on the Costa del Sol in Andalusia, in Southern Spain, Nerja seems to have a great mix of old and new, touristy and authentic, all of which make for a great destination. The few things that really intrigued me about Nerja were the ancient Roman aqueduct and the primitive cave paintings which were discovered in 1959.

Looking for some Nerja apartments was so much fun that I felt like I was on vacation already. It was so tempting to book some flights to Nerja and fly off to this beautiful spot right away. I love traveling to new places, and I love to look at homes from across the world, so looking for a perfect holiday villa was the best of both!

Friday, December 30, 2011

a new look?

One day, one of these fine days I am going to go to the cosmetics counter in one of those shiny stores where everything and everyone look like they belong to a perfectly coiffed world. It's almost the new year and that's always time to shake things up isn't it! To change what one as a boring old routine, to something new and exciting. Ok, so I'm not going bungee jumping or anything that wild, but going to those dreaded make-up pods might as well be the same thing. I'd love to find the perfect light day foundation to wear on a daily basis, and maybe some bronzer or blush thingie. I mean, I'm not looking for some fancy trick on how to make your eyelashes grow longer or thicker or anything like that, but finding a nice lipstick would be great too. Just the basics.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas

A very Merry Christmas to everyone! Some shots from my home from the last week. I did just the very bare minimum of decoration, and enjoyed the crafting fun, although it was such a rush-rush. The good thing is that after a while, I won't remember the rush-rush part, just the lovely things.

Growing up, Christmas meant a party with Santa at the club where we'd be given the presents we asked for in our letters to Santa. As we grew into teenagers, the high point of Christmas turned to the dance parties that we loved to attend. In my college years in the US, I remember going on drives to see the lights and decorations in people's houses. Now, as a small family, we are enjoying making our own little rituals for Christmas with our daughter, who hopefully one day will fondly look back on these days.

Every morning we start off our days listening to some old time music, Paul Anka, Engelbert, Frank Sinatra, Neil Diamond. They all take me back to childhood days, even though all of them were all considered old time music even when I was growing up, but we still listened to them and loved them. I hope my daughter does the same.


A lovely star that I made one night. It was fun and easy to do and I love how it looks hanging in my home, especially in the morning light. Inspired by Kay.

Some paper lanterns that didn't turn out like I wanted them to be, so a blurry photo is how I'm going to remember them. Nicer this way! 

Home baked apple cobbler.....to make the home smell lovely and warm our bellies. 
 
Merry Christmas to you and yours. Banner from Love Mae's Studio of Mae. Simple and Sweet. And free. The spirit of Christmas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

on The Walk at JBR

Photos from the National Day holidays. Long overdue, but here they are. We spent the day at The Walk on JBR. It was busier and noisier than normal, but still fun. We had a little picnic on the beach and then watched some of the performances by Emarati dancers, drank some Arabic coffee, which to me still tastes like tea, got some balloons for E and generally had a nice leisurely day out.

Some info about JBR or Jumeirah Beach Residence. It's a huge residential development near Dubai Marina, facing the beach and with lots of cafes and restaurants. There are two levels...the lower level is called The Walk, which is where most of the lively stuff takes place. The upper level is mostly for residents and has some grocery stores and the usual laundry, pharmacy, gym, day care center mix. To give you an idea of it's size, there are 5 Starbucks in JBR alone!

Love the view up from here....even though I think it's a bit claustrophobic. This is the upper level which is mostly for residents, but we like to go up there for some quiet time away from the noise. We spent some time up here for E's lunch, so she could eat in peace.

As we reached the stairs going down to The Walk and the beach beyond.

There are lots and lots of cafes and restaurants here...everything from gourmet burgers to Turkish to French and more. This one, The Butcher Shop and Grill has some mean burgers on its menu.

Arabic coffee, which really tastes like tea to me. Strong stuff though.

After a while the noise got too much, so we went up one level. I think the performance was just finishing at this time....the stage is in the center in white. 

Clowns blowing up free balloons. This one really scared E, who wouldn't let go of my hand for quite a while. 

E trying to eat my french toast. Inspired by a certain Miss S, who tempted me with snow covered french toast. Ours were simple....although I did drizzle a bit of jam on this one :-)

I love you, Internet!

I love it, love it when I find that I can do something online that earlier one had to go to an actual physical office for. Like bill paying. Or buying airline tickets. Ok, so that's an old one, but it's so helpful nevertheless. I've been looking at getting some new insurance, since the one we have is expiring and I want to switch providers. So, I was happy to find that I could just key in all my details online and get a quote, which apparently would be quite accurate to the actual amount that we would have to pay. Nice, na! I thought so too. Finding sites like http://wholesaleinsurance.net was helpful too. And you know what, the insurance company that I'm leaning towards actually has an office quite close by. Walking distance close by. Where I go for my walk close by. I know, I know, the internet makes us lazy. But I still love it. Love it.

Monday, December 12, 2011

recently....

Another new week. Another week to make new memories. I love it when I look at it this way. Instead of thinking about it as another week of the same-old, same-old.

A freshly baked cake and an empty glass of green tea. This has become one of my new favorite cakes. I love the simplicity of the recipe as well as making it in a loaf pan.


Elisha doodling away while I sit and have a cup of coffee. Lately this has been the best way for me to get 15 minutes of me-time.

Piles of mail.....mostly bills that we never bother opening since I just check the dues online and pay directly. Who needs paper bills anymore. Some lovely surprises too....postcards and cards for E and me!

At the beach. Do you see the three paragliders in the sky? This is Palm Jumeirah in the back, btw.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

the worth of a full night's sleep

To me a full night's sleep is the most precious thing. Till I had a baby and lost an enormous amount of sleep, I never realized how much for granted we take this most simple aspects of our lives. And I find it really, really hard to function straight without a full quota of sleep, so much so that we're considering getting a new mattress just so that we get a better night's sleep even though it's not always a full night's sleep. Well, I can't just blame it on my not-so-little baby, since I'm up late into the night working too, so it's not her fault that I don't get enough sleep. But seriously, she loves to jump on our bed, so maybe that's why we're considering a new mattress, maybe just a foam mattress to put on top of our current one. Oops, there I go again blaming her!

And of course, she doesn't like the way I'm thinking, since she's stirring and kicking around...I'm listening to the monitor as I write this post. You know the whole, mother-baby bond thing, for us it extends to her knowing when I'm about to go to sleep.....she might be fast asleep, but as soon as I lie down, she decides to wake up. And, each and every time, I tell my hubby, oh you know she hugged me like this today, she thinks I need another such hug right away and wakes up. I love the mother-baby bond, but can we pass on these kind of instances, E?

Sunday, December 04, 2011

another week

Another week gone by, racing by, so fast that I was left confused at what day it was. It was a long holiday weekend for us, so that was partly the cause of the confusion, but it left me trying to catch my breath. Holiday weekends should be the opposite, shouldn't they? We should be refreshed by the end of a long weekend, but sometimes I look forward to the week of mundane-ness to soothe me.

Instead, here are some somewhat soothing shots.

The buildings next door. They all look so much nicer that our windows have been cleaned. Earlier, all I could manage was the small window under the openable window, but now, wow, our views are amazing. It's like being given a new pair of prescription glasses. And if you're wondering why I don't bother cleaning them myself, its because I live on the 16th floor and dangling outside is really not my thing! I mean I want clean windows, but not that much!


Elisha playing with her numbers board. She always likes to play with it on this windowsill in the sunshine.

Some tea and brownies to celebrate a few things. I'm loving the evening light we're getting in our bedroom these days. We've never been here at this time of the year, since we were out on vacation at this time last year. So it's a nice fun thing to see what part of the room will light up next.

One morning in the living room. I try to always sort it out the night before, so that I don't have to see the mess of the previous day. I'd rather start my day seeing pretty things like these!

reminiscing about those college days

What do you remember of college days? The parties, the fun roommates, the midnight rounds of pizza, the pop quizzes, or the essays? For me, it is a mixture of some of the fun things like hanging out with my roommates as well as lots of hours at the library researching essays. All of my professors were very enthusiastic about essay papers and so I always had a couple to do each week. I usually used to start of researching them in the library, then writing a rough draft by hand, and finally typing them out double-spaced in Times New Roman as was always specified by the professors. But times have changes, now I hear the way to go about them is to use CyberEssays research papers instead of spending hours at the library!

It's become so much easier to do the research for papers too, so much so that it makes me feel like I'm ancient, but still, I think we had a pretty good time doing things our way. I loved the library and the stacks where I spent many a winter afternoon, sitting by the window with my pile of books. I even remember looking up tips on grammar in an actual book, when was the last time you did that? Now it's all about using the computer and the automatic spell and grammar check, isn't it!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

a picnic in the park

How does one document the days that go racing by, the ones that you can barely keep up with. Sometimes they overwhelm me, but mostly I am grateful to at least remember them fondly once they are over. Isn't that how it usually happens? When you're in the moment, it's often too hot or too cold, or you're too exhausted or sleepy, but later on one savors that moment, forgetting the discomfort that one felt. Here's how I want to remember the past week.

A picnic in the park, finding a nice shady spot away from everyone else, figuring out which tree will have the shade the longest depending on which way the sun is traveling. Do you do that? I automatically do. Once in college, a friend and me went exploring Pillsbury Crossing and got confused about which way to go back, but I figured out the way home, just by seeing where the sun was! 
 
Miss E trying on my sunglasses. I love how fascinated kids are with the things we use, keys, phones, glasses, regular cutlery etc. She only eats scrambled eggs with a grown up fork and not her baby one! 
 
Picnic lunch of Quiche Lorraine and coleslaw. Simple and easy to transport. And some chocolate cookies too. And that's E's book of colors peeking in the corner.

Streaky sunset as we came out of a nearby grocery store. 
A quiet way to end the day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Why I love my Friday+Saturday weekends

At Safa Park on the weekend.

Over 4 and a half years ago, when we decided to move to Dubai, one of the first things I was concerned about was the different weekend days. It was so ingrained in me to have a weekend on Saturday and Sunday, that I felt that shifting to a Friday and Saturday weekend would be a struggle. I had never lived in country where Sunday was a working day. It just felt wrong and so hard. Surprisingly, it never was, despite having to go to the bank and do several other work-like errands on our first few Sundays.

Then I figured it out, that having the complete day off as the first day of the weekend is awesome. So, for us Friday is completely free of any kind of errands like bank work or paying bills, and Saturday is for catching up and preparing for the week ahead, doing the shopping, the bill paying etc.

The main difference is that our days are switched.......we have the free day first when we can really relax and the second day is for the catching up the stuff and preparing for the week. And now it's just seems so right. I think that's why I feel ready to go at the beginning of the week, since I'm really refreshed and best of all, the weekends come around so fast. Super fast really.

a prized possession

One of my most prized possessions is a little trophy that I won in school for a marathon run. It's something that I did not only because we were all required to take part in the marathon, but also because a few people inspired me to take it seriously, to push myself and to not give in. It helps that our school motto is Never Give In, so that was what we all inspired to do and be. I actually should have gotten a second trophy, but one year they only gave out certificates, which of course got lost along the way. But a trophy stays, doesn't it! And since I'm not really a sporty person anymore, I really do treasure my trophy all the more. Sometimes, I thing maybe I need to kit myself out with a few more sports trophies, just to inspire myself and remember those days.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

last week

Sometimes, isn't it easier to let things flow as they will instead on planning them. I've always been a big planner, in the sense that I like to have everything organized and prepared. If we have guests coming to stay for a week, I like to have lots of menu options planned, along with sightseeing and eating out options. Is that too much for you? Do you like to take things as they come? Sometimes I find that I need to do that too, just let things be and let them flow.

I tried my hand at making scones for the first time. I've been making other drop scone variety quite often, but had never tried these types before. They came out nice, but a bit dry, and I'll be brushing them with butter before baking to get a nicer color next time around.

We hung out at the beach. It was fun and lively. A bit too lively when I almost got my head sliced off by a frisbee. But apart from that heart-thumping moment, it was a lovely relaxed afternoon.

Chilling with a Frappuccino at Starbucks on the beach. Always love how one will always find people from 10 different countries at these cafes. Makes one realize what a multicultural city we live in.

A little dreaming while lazing on the grass near our home. E kept herself busy playing and I followed suit!

a delightful giveaway!

Yes, yes, one more giveaway notice! This is one thing that we can never have enough of right! This one is again hosted by Simple Blueprint along with Miss Yesterday, a lovely shop with lots to browse from. I found a really sweet fabric abc book that I'd love to have for E. I mean, it's simply adorable and elegant at the same time, something that doesn't happen too often. Go find your own favorites at Simple Blueprint.

Image: Miss Yesterday

Calender giveaway

Like I said it's raining giveaways, so here's some information on another one. Simple Blueprint, yes the same awesome blog that I posted about before, is hosting a giveaway with Rife Paper Co, for it's 2012 calenders. My favorite one is the fruit calender, which I thought would be perfect for my kitchen or dining areas. I love how whimsical it feels, and the drawings really are beautifully done. Go read up on the details on Simple Blueprint and enter as well, there is time as yet.

image: from Rifle Paper Co.

Such a cute giveaway!

Giveaway madness these days it seems. So many great giveaways, but may favorite ones are always the ones to do with art. Simple Blueprint is hosting a giveaway of Circle Prints, where you can find some really cute stuff. My selection was one that I'd like personalized, a pixelated heart with our initials. How awesome is that! Go see what it's all about at Simple Blueprint.

image: Circle Prints

Sunday, November 06, 2011

tea and cake

An old photo that found in my draft posts. I don't remember when I uploaded it, but I know whenever I'm in the blogging frame of mind, I try to write a few posts, some to post immediately, and some as drafts to post later, so that's what I must have done. Do you do that too?

nice weather makes you want to skip work doesn't it!

It certainly does for me! Luckily it's the long weekend here and we've been spending a lot of time outside, enjoying the beautiful weather, so much so that sometimes I think that it might even be nice to do a job that let me be outdoors, instead of being stuck inside, chained to the computer. But really, there aren't too many job options with my requirements of wanting a nice fun job to be outside in the nice weather and inside once it's gets too hot to be outside! Maybe something like a Medical Records Technician Jobs would be better....a solid, simple and clear cut job! But really, would you and could you happily do a job that you didn't really love? Now, that I'm thinking about it, maybe I should  just drag my desk and chair by the window!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

how about some free art

I love to look online for fun art for my daughter's room and in fact that was the most fun part of doing up her room, although in the end I've mostly used stuff that I've made. Well, it still doesn't stop me from looking online for new art though! And what better way to get some new art than to win it in a giveaway! That's exactly what's happening at Simple Blueprint, a great new blog I discovered today. Take a look at the Mini Empire giveaway on Simple Blueprint, that they are having and enter yourself as well!

Monday, October 31, 2011

the week that flew by

And again, the week has gone by so fast, and it's the end of October. Sometimes I think that if I didn't take so many photos of the little daily things, I might not even remember all that we did in the week. Partly due to the routine, partly due to the monotony of it all, and throw in a tired mommy with a fading memory, and the mind is like a blank slate. So, it's thanks to these photos that I remember, the little picnics we had, sitting on the grass and munching on a freshly baked baguette. I had forgotten what a welcome the streaks of sunlight give me when I make my way out to the lake through the parking lot. I had forgotten that one morning, while E slept, we had a nice relaxing cup of tea as the steam made it's way up lazily.

Our morning tea, a ritual I find so lovely, so endearing, and so heartwarming. It's probably because of all the years of seeing my parents take it so seriously. Now, it's my turn. And I'm loving it. Preserving it for E's memories.

Evening streaks of sunshine in the parking lot by the lake. It even makes the concrete worth looking at again.

A little picnic on the grass. Kicking off shoes, reveling in the fresh air, tasting the warm bread, and listening to E's delight every time she sees a dog.

Elisha at the window in her room, which gets fabulous afternoon and evening light. She can carry off polka dots anywhere!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A little itty-bitty wish list for Diwali!

Diwali is here! This is the one time of the year, that I like to pull out all my traditional stuff out of the cupboards and use them to create a more traditional look. My home is not ethnic at all. That's not my style. I love some ethnic stuff, but don't want my home to be full of it, that's all. I love to have an eclectic mix of contemporary, country, sleek and graphic styles in my home. At one time one only used to find products and homes with a very one-dimensional ethnic Indian look, but now many designers and artists have become so creative in taking something so ethnic and Indian and giving it a contemporary twist. Now, that's totally my style! Well, anyways, I got started thinking about all this, since there is a fab giveaway at Patricia's blog Colours Dekor brought by Shopo, one of the upcoming online shopping sites that specializes in modern Indian crafts and artifacts.

So here are a few things on my wish list of Diwali decor!

This striking patchwork kantha cushion cover from Anek Designs
 
This red charger plate from Elan
 
This Vintage Rose Tray from Artnlight

Thursday, October 20, 2011

recently

Some sights from the past week. Since the weather has morphed into the most amazing weather ever, we've been trying to spend more time outside. It's such a change from the claustrophobic and oppressive heat and humidity of the summer.  And wow, the light has become so beautiful again. Inside the house, it's warm and soft, inviting and captivating. Outside, it's enchanting and makes everything glow.

The gulmohars trees are growing fast, and some are even flowering. I love this curved glass building and have taken many shots of it. I never seem to tire of it, especially in the wonderful evening light.

A little art in E's room. I made this years ago, before I had even thought of a baby, but last year I used this and another similar one (which is now on the opposite wall) as Christmas decorations, and I thought they would be perfect for her room. Back then, she still was in our room, so I hadn't really bothered with doing up her room for her after we moved into this apt. It's not the greatest or most creative art, but I really wanted something I had made to be in her room.

Not to be outdone by the evening light, here's some morning sunshine on the living room table. I love how it streams into the room, warm instead of blindingly bright as it was in the summer. We've had several foggy mornings, but this morning, I had the windows open and it even got chilly inside!

looking for a dream getaway

As someone who has always loved to travel, I've not been doing much of it lately, which led me to think of how things change when one has a child. Before E was born, we based our travel decisions differently, usually selecting a place where we could chill out and relax, find good restaurants to eat in and have a few spots of interesting sightseeing nearby. But, now that we have a little toddler with us, we just haven't been able to travel as much as we would have liked, usually because it just seems too much of an effort, and we are the quintessentially tired parents.

So, instead we are thinking that we need to shift our travel priorities, selecting places and resorts that cater to our needs not only as a family, but also offer tailor made packages that are luxurious and distinctive, so that I can keep that 1 hr hot oil massage as my goal while someone babysits my daughter for me. Now, that's a good vacation goal to have, right! Looking around online, I found that one of the leading vacation providers for such a service was a company called Tropical Sky which specializes in luxury holidays to tropical places. Ah, just the sound of it makes me want to book one of their all inclusive holidays to caribbean, where I can unwind and do something other than my daily routine. Keeping a child occupied on the beach is easy work too, with sandcastles to build and moats to dig, so I'll be able to maybe even read a bit. Yes, yes, I'm talking about reading a book, instead of a magazine! After a bit of browsing, I thought why not make a plan for a barbados holidays 2012, maybe we can get all the stars aligned if we start planning now itself.

Planning a vacation in advance is key in getting good deals, but often when one books too far in advance, one is not sure if something comes up at the last minute. Paying a non-refundable advance fee will of course ensure that you don't back out and lose your money, since you are after all getting a really good deal in the first place. Even though I'm planning a trip several months away, just looking at this travel site, let me do a little armchair traveling. There are so many places that I want to go to, all across the world, from Bali to Cuba to pretty much all of the Caribbean. Closer to home, one of the spots I really want to go to is Sri Lanka. With flight times relatively short and an amazing variety of landscapes, finding holidays to sri lanka all inclusive might be our best bet to have a really nice relaxing holiday, where we don't have to worry about anything at all. Ah, now if only I could be whisked away on my magic carpet!

In the photo: Jetwing Vil Uyana Hotel in Sri Lanka which is one of the new breed of luxury lifestyle hotels and is in a rural setting. The area has been transformed using ancient forms of agriculture to reclaim agricultural land in the Dry Zone and turn it into a wetland system. 

So, do you want the Love poster?

Don't you love giveaways! I do! I'm not hosting one, but am just writing about a fab giveaway at Urban Style Vibes, where there is an iconic Love poster by Made by Girl up for grabs! I'm all for graphic art, I think it adds a nice fun atmosphere in a home, different from the usual oils and watercolors.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

yay for beach season!

Beach season is here! So thrilled to finally be able to spend time outdoors and enjoy the beautiful weather, which just a few short weeks back was unbearable and quite miserable. Out at the beach its wonderful to see so many people out and about, with boats, atvs, surf board and so on. The most popular are the atv's since there is so much to explore on the larger patches of beach, especially where all the dune grasses are growing. In fact, I even saw a stall selling equipment like atv winches and the like for atv owners.And it looked like they were doing a good amount of business too!

how many camera's are enough?

More than one, definitely! It seems that camera's are on my mind tonight. I wrote a post about my current camera some time back and now I'm about to write about my old one...well, actually, the new version of the old one. I had a Casio Exilim camera for quite a few years, this is the camera that got me started in photography, the one that got me hooked. It was a tiny little thing, something I could slip into my pocket with ease, but it only had 5 mega pixels, which very soon wasn't enough for me. Now I see that there is a new Exilim EX-H20G out in the market and this one is 10 mega pixels and besides several of the must-have functions, it also has a built-in GPS function, so you'll have the information about all your photos automatically. I think that's a nice function to have, especially in one of these smaller cameras where you don't really expect it.I think it's important to have a couple of cameras, one fancy-shmancy one and one simple point and shoot. I'm feeling so nostalgic about it, I might just have to take out the old one and take a few photos with it!

Yay for consumerism!

Ok, so because I apparently talk about things I use, buy and own, I am now a ShopSquad shopping expert!! Ask me anything and everything you want to, where I got E's books, to her cute dresses---oh no, those are made only for her, so no one else can have them----, the art on my walla, the camera I use, clothes, music, furniture, anything and everything. Talking about camera's, I currently use the Canon G11. It's a nice step up from my old point and shoot 5mp camera, as it has some of the dslr functions, so I can kind of try my hand at them, while I convince myself to take the plunge and go for a dslr next time around. But seriously, if you love photography, then having the G11 is really great, since it's not as bulky as an dslr, but comes up with really great shots. I use it on Auto most of the time, but have started to experiment with the other slr-like functions, and have been pleased with the results. Ok, so if you want to take a look at the Canon G11 here are some details.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Being creative with business cards

Do you ever think of what you might have done if you weren't doing your current job? A dream job maybe, something that you really wanted to do when you were growing up, but got sidetracked in the quest to have a career that paid the bills. Growing up, I never spent much time thinking of what I wanted to do, but at a certain stage in school, I suddenly felt that I should focus travel or hospitality. For a while it was all about working in the hotel industry for me, but I happily lost my interest in this field when I realized that it would involve working on all the holidays! But, ah travel, that's always been around in my life. And I've even managed to live my dream by working in a travel agency, which was one of the most fun jobs ever.

Even though now my work involves the travel industry only in writing work, I still dream of designing my own travel agent business cards, imagining what kind of card I would pick. Ready made cards have speed on their side, so if you're in a rush, then you can have your cards ready in no time at all. Just pick your design, add your details and place your order. Selecting the right font can make all the difference without going overboard, especially if you want something a bit conservative. If you think about it, business cards are your first impression to the world, so they have to stand out, to be different from the competitor down the road.

Sometime back, I downloaded a set of business card plates where all I had to do was add my details. It came in a set of 6 different designs which I thought was an interesting way to look at business cards. You don't have to just stick to one design. Select a few different designs, but keep them similar by adding your logo and details and there, you're going to have a business card that memorable. So, be innovative and see the difference it makes.

Monday, October 10, 2011

the past week


As boring as it can get to do the same thing over and over again, taking photographs has made me see everything with more interest. I make an effort now. A cup of tea is a cup of tea, repeated everyday, but taking photographs prods me on to maybe pull out a different cup, to use the cloth napkin and so on. We buy pretty things, but then relegate them to the cupboards, to be saved for a special day, which invariably comes along once in a blue moon. 

Talking about the moon, here's half a moon in the lovely evening light, as the sun sets. I sat on a bench facing the water, with E by my side, both of us munching on a fresh baguette. Oh I tell you they are addictive. We've altered our walk time to coincide with when they bake the baguettes at our local bakery. I'll try to take a photo or two of it next time around.

 Morning sunshine streaming into the living room. I love how warm and inviting it has become now that the summer is over. I'm in love with it again, after our disagreement over the hot summer months when it was too harsh.

Ah, saving the best for last :-) E wearing her new wooden bangles that my s-i-l sent her. I'm perched on the windowsill and she came to me instead of going to the window to look down at the cars. She makes me feel so special. I love her so much. Each day a little bit more.

a breath of fresh air

I can feel the change in the air these days. Suddenly, the air is lighter and less humid, the birds seem to be chirping a bit louder, happier maybe! We've been spending a lot of time outdoors, lingering in the park in the evenings, taking little mini-picnics to savor along with the smell of the grass. While we don't get much of real winter here, it does get chilly and since the houses are made more for keeping the heat of the summer at bay, they don't always fare so well in the winter. High ceilings mean that using room heaters is often a wasted effort. What works to keep you cozy at night is a heated blanket instead. I love that you can set the temperature and so it can be used in a variety of temperatures. I always used to be wary of any kind of electric stuff for sleeping, but ever since I used a heating pad at a resort in the hills, I was convinced. They are so convenient to use and work really well. If you're wary of them, start off just by turning it on before you get into bed, so it's all warm and toasty for you to get into.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

from our windows


As the weather is changing, our views are improving too. The skies are bluer instead of a hazy shade of gray. Living in Dubai, one gets so used to seeing new and outrageous designs of buildings, but if one stops and looks there are a lot of really nice touches to a lot of the normal looking ones too. Like the steps in the black glass building. Not all the buildings are residential, and this black glass one is a commercial building, and there is another 1 or 2 more else where in our area as well. They've tried to make it a nice mix so that people can live and work here, but I wonder how many people are really lucky enough to live and work in the same area.

These are the 4 buildings to our south, seen from our side window. Incidentally, we had seen an apartment in the 3rd one from the left, and found the layout of the flat to be really convoluted. It had so much wasted space in hallways and passageways, almost like a maze. The last one on the right was still under construction when we moved here last year and they worked on it day and night, weekends too, to finish up the structural work. Now the work on the insides continues. This one is a commercial building too. Hoping that once offices open up, some retail establishments will come up too.

do you remember writing christmas cards?

Can you believe it's October already! I just cannot get my head around the fact that we're already counting down to the end of the year, time to get ready for the parties, the holiday season, the presents and the Christmas cards, of course the cards. Isn't it special to get a few? There was a time we used to get tons and tons, I mean everyone used to send them out to everybody. We used to be writing cards, writing addresses and sticking stamps from the beginning of December, building up the excitement. Things have changed, and now it's all about holiday invitations for the parties instead, and it's all done online of course! While it can seem a bit mechanical and synthetic to get an online invite, selecting something with a personal touch makes all the difference. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

don't you love the quirkiness of independent stores

As the number of stores near our home are increasing, I've been curious about the mix of stores which are mostly chains and franchisees. So far there is only one mom and pop store, a tiny little grocery store, that seems to promote it's haphazardness along with its 'almost' free delivery. Yes, almost free, as it has a minimum bill amount, that happens to be more then double of the store one level up, but they still keep on saying, its free, as long as you buy a certain amount! Ah, what would small-scale retail be without a little kookiness! I love going to independent stores, since they carry products that others will not, just as long as they have all the modern accompaniments which are now considered quite basic nowadays, things like a POS system that tracks sales and inventory. Another bothersome issue at the smaller stores is that they usually have barely have any aisle space, so navigating it with a baby stroller is quite a hassle. But finding interesting and fresher produce is a great draw for me, and don't even get me started on the tiny bakery section. Today, we bought a freshly baked baguette, still warm to touch, that we ate while walking back home. Yes, E ate it too!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

PosterBrain on my mind!

Ever since I've got into photography, I've got printing on my brain. I mean, with digital cameras one keeps on clicking away but what does one do after that? Nothing, right. That's what I didn't like about digital cameras to start off with. But then I realized that there were some really great options in printing my photos and PosterBrain was at the top of my list. The name's amazing right! How could I not want to print out my photos from a company with such a cool name! Printing out smaller photos is fine for the usual printing shops, but if you want to do some custom poster printing, then you have to go to the best. For large format printing, the ink and paper has to be the best, and if you're going to showcase your work, just go with the best.

So far, I've had some custom posters made from our trip to Kerala a few years back as well as a trip to Goa, and I've really been satisfied with the results. Next on my list are some even larger format poster printing, for a large wall in the dining room. I've been thinking of getting one of my shots of a window printed out large, to give the impression that there is a window there. Since I love to take photos of views from windows, I have several to choose from. It would be cool to see a view from a half a world away, as if it's right outside, wouldn't it!

The cool thing about PosterBrain is that they are experts at custom posters, poster printing and custom poster printing as well as large format printing so they are able to blow up any photo into a 24x36" poster. And best of all, they manage to do the printing and shipping overnight itself. Prices of printing start at USD 19 and shipping at USD 8, so I know that I can order a few without feeling guilty. I had thought I would place my order before my guests arrived a couple of weeks back, so that the house looked nicer and a bit different from the last time they visited, but I just wasn't able to decide which one I wanted to order. Decisions, decisions!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

toddler inspired redecorating!

Having a toddler in the house makes you see everything in a new light. There is danger in every direction, sharp edges, loose wires, things waiting to be pulling off tables, odd niches waiting for little hands to get stuck in. I've been busy trying to make it all safe for her without going overboard. I mean, I don't want to childproof the house to such an extent that it's taken over by gates and the usual safety stuff. I want to teach my child not to mess with some things, things that I can leave out in the open, not dangerous things of course, but things that she will be curious about and want to touch. How else is she going to learn what it means to be told no? I have sorted out all the many wires though, and having hdmi video cables makes it all much simpler anyway.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Buying Local Vs Organic





There are so many great online magazines now days and one of the new ones that I am reading is Pure Green. I'd bookmarked it a week or so back so I could sit and read it when I had some time, so that I would not have to rush through it. That's the whole idea about being green, living an organic life, buying local and so on. I wanted to relish reading the magazine, to savor it. Don't you do that too? I love holding onto my magazines, especially the physical ones, until I have a good amount of time to really enjoy them, and so with online magazines too.

I recently wrote about another online magazine called Kinfolk, which is about gatherings, especially small gatherings, and how we are losing and forgetting the importance of these social and cultural events in the rush-rush of life. Pure Green is all about sustainable living and design, which was once such a niche segment, but now more and more people are understanding what it's all about. In a way, Kinfolk and Pure Green relate....they're both about slowing down and living a a better life, a life that doesn't revolve around pre-cooked meals, about reconnecting with the family, and creating a new social and cultural environment for one's family and friends.

Living in a place like Dubai, where there is very little local produce, I find it hard to find fruits and vegetables that have not come from half the world away. I place more importance on buying local rather than buying organic, and luckily all grocery stores list the country of origin of  all items in the produce section. For example, there are usually 4-5 varieties of tomatoes, each with varying prices and the most expensive ones are the organic ones. If there is a local variety, then that is my choice. While we don't have much local produce, tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber are the most common ones.

Image source: Pure Green Magazine