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Summer Sunsets

This evening parked in front of the store, I saw the golden fingers of the sun rays lighting up the space , casting golden orbs all around.Spell bound, I gazed at the beauty of it all, each day the Almighty colors the Universe for us, never once the same …..

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Heading back home, I passed by the lake, the sunlight played on the gentle waters, the giant orb still visible around the setting sun….

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Reluctant to drive past, I pulled over and stopped  by the lake, it was then that she  glowed  majestically…… a little fish, perhaps as curious as me peeked from the surface of the lake, sending ripples all along and she colored each one of them for us…..Amazing Grace, is all that came to my mind as I stood there silently taking in all that beauty, letting it soak my being.Sweet summer, stay a little longer, won’t you ?

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Postcards from the Sidewalk – Series 1

“The sidewalk is filled with postcards from the Almighty, if you only take the time to stop and admire” wrote the author, and I have decided to use that as the title for the series of pictures, I will post all through the Summer season when we can still go for long walks and enjoy the sunshine. These pictures are of simple everyday things that tug at my heart on my morning walks each week. Join me as I walk along……

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The stars spilled over from the sky and fell on earth  blooming into the brightest happiest colors, sharing their joy with the walkers by…..

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Summer is here no doubt, as I walked along the path leading to the park, spotted this hammock in someone’s backyard, resisting the urge to just try it once in the picturesque setting, I remembered to keep walking:) So grateful for little windows of joy !

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Tell me who wouldn’t check their snail mail often, if these summer joys greeted them each time they walked up to their mailbox,remember the postal kind still exists!

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Swings, who doesn’t like them ? Especially the more adventurous old tire ones! Summer screams from tree branches,Oh to spread your wings and fly high!

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Then there is the relaxed kind, the gently rocking kind where you sit on your porch facing the wide soccer field or park and enjoy the cheering and laughter of your grandkids at a distance.In Feng Shui they consider this open wide space in front of a home auspicious,think they call it the Bright Hall effect to bring in all good energy home.

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A simple garden path that curves around a house made enchanting with the purple clematis on a  white painted Pergola….life’s simple joys to be savored completely in summer!

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On one of my morning walks, I saw this bird’s nest fallen from a tree branch high above,on the green grass below…..it had rained heavily the previous night, the storm too wild, yet the love that went into making the nest kept those turquoise eggs safe, one had rolled on to the earth, the other safe still in the nest, both survived the mighty crash, now to wait for Mama bird to find her eggs !

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A good soul ought to live here ,I thought as I passed by what looked like a larger mail box with a glass window.On closer look, it read, “Little Free Library”.My heart skipped a beat! Ah! for the love of books….”Take a book, Return a book “it said, Fair enough !! Keep that love of reading going…..

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Curiously I opened the doors to find…..

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When you step out in the morning, you never know how the day is going to unfold, have faith in the Almighty that he will put you on the right path…watch out for his postcards along the sidewalk, messages abound!

Do you ever dream in pictures ?

There are places in Nature that your soul recognizes instantly and feels at home with, have you ever felt that way ? A kind of peace descends on you when you walk through some spaces, I believe that is where angels reside unseen. Having recently moved into a new neighborhood ,was curious to explore the surroundings  to get a “feel” for the place.

This weekend, decided to take a stroll along the neighborhood. The stroll path stretched across a little curved wooden bridge, the water in the pond made a gentle rhythm of it’s own from the splashing waters of the fountain nearby, ducks glided past and underneath the bridge, someone had placed tea lights in paper envelopes on either side of the bridge,making it even more romantic….the gentle evening breeze swayed the leaves on the trees as I walked the path along the wooden bridge. Lines from the book “Memoirs of a Geisha” came to mind, when Sayuri walks on the  little wooden bridge across the Koi pond with cherry blossom trees  lining the bridge on either side, some pink blossoms scattered on the bridge, I almost imagined a bridge like this when I read the book a long time ago, in a Japanese garden setting…perhaps why the familiarity with the place I thought as I walked along.

Words have magical powers in teleporting you to places you have never been, and when you actually see the words turn into real, you are awestruck by the magic of it all!

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The stroll pathway along the bridge continued towards the Community pool, forking in between to lead to a Gazebo.This particular evening, there were little lights put up on all the sides of the Gazebo,making the evening more enchanting. A young girl played her violin for no one in particular.How beautiful I thought that she set herself in such beautiful surrounding and played to her hearts content. It’s so important to remember to cherish your own music !

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We stopped by her as we walked along the path, she was so kind to play for us, a soothing tune escaped the chords of her violin to calm our souls.These little acts of kindness always tug at my heart.

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Slowly stepping into the Gazebo by the lake, filled with little twinkling lights, I couldn’t help but think of the song from ,”The Sound of Music”,”You are sixteen, going on seventeen…..”

The Gazebo with its twinkling lights….

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Truly some places hold magic, glad this one is within walking range ! Dreaming in pictures !

 

 

 

Why playing “Dress Up”is absolute fun !

A friend and I had planned to meet up for lunch at an Indian restaurant. It is almost summer here , the  weather is absolutely gorgeous. Have you ever wondered what it is about summer that makes you want to go bold and bright ? Cheerful happy energy all around, right from the beautiful  sun rays , the chirpy birds, the laughter of children,the fresh veggies, the green grass…..everything ! “There are times when you absolutely need to take time for yourself , enjoy the simple joys life has to offer ,before life  passes you by and reach out to that little girl inside you” said the voice in my head, it got louder by the minute as I skimmed through my wardrobe wondering what to wear.

If you have  played dress up as little girls do, then you would absolutely get what I am trying to say here ……

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Colors and pretty clothes brighten up one’s mood any day, though I love bright colors, it isn’t often you would spot me in bright colors, yet ,”this afternoon it seemed absolutely necessary to discard the boring ‘work’ colors of black , white and gray and go for the kill instead” me thought and pulled out the brightest of them all.How often we  completely forget the little princess within and don different roles the society demands of us ? Nurture her,coz she will nurture YOU !

Driving towards the restaurant, the traffic lights paled in comparison, not the one to be deterred easily, I drove on,foot to the pedal……

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Pharrell Williams’s, HAPPY  played on the radio,matching  the mood perfectly,  the heavy construction work on the road did not dull the spirit either……. I tell you, anytime you need a ‘pick me up’ or a mood elevator, choose happy colors !

Had a lovely long lunch at the Indian restaurant, nothing like woman friends to bond   with  over good food and laughter.The meal was sumptuous, the weather perfect,life is good when you learn to cherish each moment, dare to surprise yourself remembering things that make you happy and  work on it…after all, you have but one life !

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The little girl within, giggled and asked me ,”When shall we play dress up again ?”, as I headed towards the car park, “I told you, it’s going to be absolute fun !!”

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I nodded smiling gently, as I headed to the parking lot, sure enough what should appear in front of me, but a license plate with a message from the Universe……

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I toldya, you can never go wrong , playing dress up !! So tell me, who wants to play dress up today ? What colors would you choose to brighten your day ??

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Note: The pictures that do not have my blog name on them, are courtesy of the Web.

Stolen moments are the sweetest !

It had rained a lot the past two days, the kind of rain, you like to soak in and pretend like you forgot the umbrella, the kind of rain that makes you want to dance outdoors in the open, when the earth feels fresh, everything is green around you,every blade of grass holds on to a rain drop in the morn and the cool breeze that blows seduces your skin…….Yes, it feels like the tropical rain this weekend, so loving summer, amidst all that still needs to be taken care of at home, you take your soul out for a walk whenever you find time  in the day &  for me, I love the mornings and one come back home feeling ALIVE.

Sharing a few of the morning magic moments  with you all here today, joy is in the sharing…..

The sun seemed to play hide and seek with me as I walked along the path, the  little robin sat in my elongated shadow and stared at me taking a picture….. while I waited for the dark clouds to pass, focussing on the sky, two little shih tzu’s were sniffing my shoe while the dog walker was watching me watch the sky and wondering what I was trying to picture…..you never know where humor will find you, sometimes even in your early morning walks and I turned to him & politely said, “Now, would you mind, holding the leash a little tighter please ? ” Embarrassed as he was for staring, he quickly continued on his walk !

For the one with a trained eye, you might be able to catch the sweet robin , who sat in my shadow & curiously gazed at me, while I clicked the winding path and the beautiful clear blue sky above:)IMG_1181

This is me, catching the sun, behind the passing clouds, while the two Shih Tzu’s sniff my shoes….glad they were not bull dogs !IMG_1192

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That story about Alice falling into the rabbit hole is true perhaps, I thought, as I stopped to click this snap, where the bunny was busy digging a hole on the patch of earth that is otherwise surrounded by fresh green grass. His look, “Now, if you will leave me alone and continue your walk, please, I could get back to doing what I was doing ! “IMG_1184

Why some morning walks are so worth it……like the stars spilled over on the earth from the vast blue sky!IMG_1187

Summer rains, have given birth to wild mushrooms along the way.Mysterious and throbbing with life as they were in that mulch around the tree trunk, they seemed to say, “Walk with me , on the wild side will you ?”IMG_1194

The rains had washed down the crowning glories, yet the peonies, stood pretty in pink, how beautiful they looked even as they rested on earth !IMG_1188

 

“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell  you
Don’t go back to sleep! “

                                      ~ Rumi

 

Watermelon Feta Mint Salad

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Few things scream as loudly as Watermelon does about the arrival of Summer. The heat is on, the local markets are filled with watermelons of all sizes and shapes. Making my way through the crowds, I found myself standing next to the watermelon cart, beside me stood a Mexican guy tapping the watermelon on all sides, I have heard that they are experts in picking the right watermelon from the lot, coz’ they know the good ones when they take it home. I followed suit, tapped a few watermelons too, apart from the different sounds it produced, I couldn’t really tell, which was the sweeter one of the lot, so decided to ask him for some help.After a little pause, I said, “Hello there, could you please help me select a good watermelon from this lot” He gladly obliged and picking one huge one, said, “Take this home, you will like it, it’s just right !” with so much assurance that I instantly picked it up and drove home with it.

The weather was really getting warm, I lay the watermelon on the kitchen table carefully cutting it into half, I had plans to try a new recipe which I have heard about recently  made from the watermelon. Curious as to how it will turn out, I went on to scoop the watermelon into lollipop sized pieces, the juice that escaped I religiously collected in a jug to use it for later.Once I was done with scooping half of the watermelon , I tried this recipe using Feta cheese and Mint and made this yummy salad.The salty creamy Feta cheese, the sweet watermelon, the citrusy lime juice, the fresh mint and the Extra Virgin Olive oil, creates a lovely Summer salad.Enjoy it with friends and family all throughout Summer during cookouts and barbecue season, your guest will be happy you served this fresh delicious salad  and will remember it for days to come.

Ingredients :

1/2 Watermelon – scooped or sliced into desired shape

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 1/2 cup

Lime juice – 2-3 lime squeezed fresh

Salt – to taste

Black Pepper powder- 1/2 tsp

Mint leaves –  a handful, minced fine

Feta cheese- 2-3 tbsp ( crumbled)

Method:

1.Mix the Olive Oil, Lime juice, Pepper powder and Salt together.

2.Pour this over the watermelon pieces and gently twirl the salad bowl so the ingredients, coat the watermelon pieces well.

3.Now gently add the feta cheese & mint leaves and gently shake the bowl once more.

4. Keep it in the refrigerator & serve after 20 minutes.

5. Another option is to cool the watermelon pieces and then add the rest of the ingredients, before serving, so they remain fresh and crispy.

A win- win either way. Enjoy your healthy Summer Salad.

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Baked Cucumber Cake Mangalorean style/Thekkare Adde

It’s the Memorial day weekend,  the unofficial start to Summer, all signs of it, in the air.The outdoors  are beckoning, it is a shame to not step out and miss the joys of  what the beautiful weather has to offer, this season.Planning to go trekking, wanting to cook something healthy to take during our trip, I step into the kitchen .The fresh cucumbers I bought yesterday are tempting me to try some new recipe, came up with this traditional Mangalorean (a city in South India) recipe of Cucumber Cake also called Thekkare Adde in the native language, is a favorite of mine from childhood days .Suddenly wanting to recreate the magic, I let nostalgia take over this time around and try my hand at baking this traditional Cucumber cake, in a pie pan.

The cucumbers are surplus in the Fresh market this season, one of the healthiest veggies to use in various recipes, apart from using widely in beauty treatment of removing wrinkles and dark circles around the eyes. Go on try some recipe with cucumber,I have a whole list them for you here, as for me today ,my home is filled with a lovely aroma of baked cucumber cake and cardamom wafting in the air, while the sunlight streams brightly through the patio door, it seems to be a promising weekend indeed! Happy Memorial day weekend, y’all !

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Ingredients :

  •  Parboiled rice  – 1 1/2 cup
  •  Cucumber roughly chopped/grated fine – 2 medium size
  •  Coconut ( Freshly grated or Desicated) – 1 cup
  •  Jaggery – 1 1/2 cup
  • Ghee – 1/2 cup
  • Cardamom seeds- fine powdered – 1/2 tsp
  • Cashew nuts – Optional ( a few)
  • Salt to taste

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Method :

1. Wash the rice a couple of times till the water runs clear. Cover it with enough fresh water and keep aside for 2-3 hours.

2. Wash and peel the cucumbers and cut them vertically, scoop out the pith (seeds) and then chop into small cubes. Grind the chopped cucumber and grated coconut to a fine paste.using a blender or grinder, add very little water only if required.

3. Add the soaked rice and grind to a coarse paste until a thick consistency is acquired. Use water sparingly to grind.

4.Add the powdered jaggery, cardamom pods and salt to taste and continue to grind until all the jaggery has dissolved and there are no lumps. Finally add the ghee and pulse for just a few seconds till well mixed.

5. Grease the pie pan with ghee or butter. Preheat oven at 350 for 10 minutes.

6. Pour the ground batter into pie pan little by little, and then add in the chopped cashew nuts. Bake for an  hour till the skewer inserted comes out clean.

7. Remove it from the oven ,allow it  to cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. Invert the pan and allow the pieces to cool completely

8.  Pack to go or serve and enjoy!

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Other ways to make this preparation and  to use Cucumber  in different recipes:

This  Cucumber Cake is  usually steamed and is more like a pudding rather than the consistency of a firmer cake, since it does not use any leavening agent.You will find my steamed version here –

STEAMED CUCUMBER CAKE ( MANGALOREAN STYLE)

Another different version of making my Traditional Cucumber cake is here –

TRADITIONAL CUCUMBER CAKE /NESEL ADDE /GENDA-DHA-ADDE

The Fresh market is filled with Cucumbers this season and you can use them in so many different ways in your kitchen like my  Cucumber Pancakes/ Thekkare Dosa –

CUCUMBER PANCAKES/ THEKKARE DOSA

Here is another version of my Eggless Cucumber Cake/Tausali, which also uses Cucumber as a part of the recipe-

EGGLESS, LOW-FAT CUCUMBER CAKE /TAUSALI

One can use Cucumbers in Making Thai Spring Rolls, which is also a healthy and light breakfast, you will find my recipe here for Thai Spring Rolls-

THAI SPRING ROLLS