Friday, December 30, 2011

First Snow and Hershey trip.

I couldn't believe it.  After being in the 60s a week ago, we got snow.  And, it just started coming down as we pulled into Hershey's Chocolate World for our vacation-from-vacation-overnight-mini-break.

Avinash was delighted.  Snow!!  It's Christmas, christmas day!!
We twirled and tried to catch snowflakes on our tongues.  And, Ryan and I tried to capture the snow on film as well.  May-be we are in withdrawal from too much Texas, but it felt so magical. 

And, even though it isn't technically Nandini's first trip to Hershey, it is her first time out of my tummy and first overnight stay here.  It was also her first real snowfall.

This year.

Last year.
Does it always snow outside of chocolate world, or are we just lucky?

We rode the chocolate tour three times.  Nandini was so excited she was bouncing up and down in my lap the first time.  Avi sat by himself very proudly on our last ride.  We played chocolate bingo, Avi was one of the winners, and made kiss ornaments, which is when Avi eats as many kisses as quickly as he can and both mommy and daddy fail to get any kisses to stick to the styrofoam.

I don't know, does it look like this kid was having a good time?  I can't get over that pose (for his hershey factory ID).  Who taught him that?

Eating out at Hershey is great, because at even there are crayons and high chairs at even the fanciest restaurant.  We ate at the Circular Dining Room, one of our old favorites.  We had the most amazing vegetarian consumme soup there last year, but it did not make a reappearance this year.  We were trying to count how many trips to Hershey we have made over the years and couldn't keep track.  That consumme alone is enough to keep us coming back.
{Ryan dressed her in her cutest dress, is it any wonder I kept taking pictures of her throughout dinner?}
We asked for a vegetarian sampler and it outshined most of the top restaurants in Houston.  Hmmm....they combined sweet potato puree, spaetzle, swiss chard and some crispy potato gallette with a grape/red wine sauce.  It was so nicely balanced and flavorful.  Sweet, soft, rich, crispy and tangy.  Yumm.  And, that was after eating two slices of olive bread and one of chocolate bread.  Nandini loved the olive bread too.  Somehow, all Avinash wanted was carrots and cucumber for dinner.  Is it possible he had too much chocolate?   He still had some room for more kisses with dessert luckily.
We drove through the sweet lights display after dinner.  The best part was the Fairy Tale section, driving through a forest with lit up displays of all the different fairy tales along the way, so magical.  Avinash of course did a few laps around the lobby when we got back.
Even after all that excitement, the sugar high had not worn off.  And it was somehow contagious?  Because Nandini couldn't sleep until after midnight either. Sigh....bad parenting maybe, but you try to stop a three year old from eating kisses when he is being showered with chocolate at every turn, ha.
In another classic move, we failed to realize that the actual hershey park isn't open during the day this time of year.  Uh-oh..  Well, Avinash didn't seem to notice or care.  He and I went swimming in the morning and then we all walked through the Hershey gardens after breakfast.  (Wow, still can't believe that I took a pre-breakfast swim.) 
The gardens were really beautiful, even if, not exactly in bloom.  I was recently reading about the power of visualization and I decided to try it.  It took me from worried and disappointed to happy and relaxed.  Avi very happily held the map and directed us to the butterfly garden, over the bridge and under the rainbow colors.  So, so cute.  Nandini was beyond tired and fell asleep right there in Ryan's arms.  I know she won't remember anything, but I wonder if Avi wil remember this trip.  It was short, but very sweet.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Rooty toot toots and rummy tum tums.

On Christmas day.

Nandini had three different outfits on today.  {shanti claus in the morning for presents under the tree, princess dress from Nana and Nani for Christmas dinner and baby girl monkey romper for playtime before bed.}

Avinash wore his pajama shirt all day.

Avinash really surprised all of us with his restraint over the last few days.  We let him open one or two small things Friday and Saturday, but he also really wanted to give all of us our gifts.  He did the present handing out this year and told everyone, Happy Birthday!!  with each gift.  He even picked out special presents for everyone at Target the other day which he was so excited about handing out.  I love how much he wants to share his joy with us.  And he didn't even mind one bit helping Nandini unwrap all of her presents either.

We all got some really good stuff, but they both had more toys and presents under the tree than I ever imagined.  Maybe Santa did visit last night.  {NB: Anuj got me some amazing gifts.  He really is the sweetest guy ever, that must be where Nandini gets it from.}

Pretty much every toy ever advertised on the Hub, so Avinash was in heaven.

He wanted to open his playdoh dentist set first.  He loved it.  Making a tongue!!!!  And teeth, which you can then brush!!!! (not that he likes brushing his own teeth.)  Nandini of course loved it too because Avi was playing with it and because she loves to try and taste playdoh whenever she can.  After a little while I finally tried to distract her with her turtle reader.  Which then quickly became Avi's new favorite toy.  All day everything that they played, they played together.  We tried to put her to sleep a little early and she was not having it.  She wouldn't suck her thumb, she wouldn't nurse.  I brought her back down and she played happily for the next two hours, silly Mommy!

I love how active she is right now, playing and bonding with everyone.  It makes my heart so happy to see her content with everyone.  I guess I better remember that she does not want to miss out on any of the fun while she is sleeping either.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

our christmas pan

I first came across a version of this recipe when browsing through pinterest.  The original recipe called for canned biscuits but I made mine differently with homemade biscuits instead.

We really think they turned out much better that way.

And, Avinash was too excited for christmas pan to wait for me to take a picture before eating.  It fed seven of us very well, but no leftovers.

It was very fun cooking this with him.  Of course he came up with the name, which is how our cinnamon sugar rolls were dubbed "Our Christmas Pan." All bread items are pan to him right now.  He knows so much more Spanish than we realize sometimes.

Cinnamon and sugar are two things that I crave all the time. I really have to stop myself from making these rolls all the time.  They really are the best but I try to limit myself to special occasions only.

I am happy to report that these have become one of our favorite annual christmas traditions.

Here is the recipe I came up with:

**homemade version**

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter and 1/2 cup shortening, cut into pieces (or 1 cup butter)

2 cups buttermilk

3 tablespoon butter, melted

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup chopped pecans, opt.

1/4 cup chopped almonds, opt.

Combine the dry ingredients.  Cut the butter/shortening into the flour until it resembles small peas and add the buttermilk, just barely mix.  Flour surface and lightly roll out dough.  Cut into rounds, about 15 ( I had a few left over which Avi got to roll out and mix over and over while we waited for the bread to bake).

Combine melted butter and syrup.  Pour half into bottom of pan, sprinkle half the brown sugar and spices on top.  Arrange biscuits in a circle and pour the remaining ingredients on top.
Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes in fluted bundt pan.  Invert onto serving dish after taking out of oven.

Check out more of my holiday inspiration here:

Also, for a limited time Target is offering Free Shipping on any order!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Dressed in holiday style

Wishing you a very merry little Christmas tonight.

Was able to get the bokeh light effect by myself (!) on the Christmas tree.  Though my Aunt helped by catching Nandini's eye here and getting that cute look. I used Av mode, had plenty of natural light so it could focus on the fast moving foreground quickly.  When I shot straight on there was not enough distance between Nandini and the background to get a good blur, but when I tilted the camera up I got enough distance.  Although I think the white balance was a little off.

The Paper Mama

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Baby it's Cold Outside {Snow Day at the Houston Zoo}

Nandini and I braved the elements Saturday morning in search of snow.

What do you know,

we found some.

In the middle of Houston.  At the zoo.

Nandini was totally unimpressed by it.  May-be because it was just a small patch of grass in the zoo with some ice on it.

All of the kids thought it was super fun to kick at the snow.  Because that is what we used to do on snow days up North.  Stand outside and kick snow all day, tons of fun.  It didn't take long for that little patch of ice to get muddy. And, all of the parents there thought it was really important to dress in ski jackets, masks and boots.  For the two inches of not actual snow.  Not that I found that funny or anything.  Or, maybe I'm just trying to justify the fact that Nandini has no shoes or socks on.

Luckily her boyfriend, er, baby friend got her some legwarmers and she's all set now.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Amy Tangerine, with Lily and Avi

I love using all the new Amy Tangerine stuff.  Pages seem to come together so quickly and easily.  Everything coordiantes well.

One of my many Lily and Avi pages, about them hanging out in Disneyland last winter.  He followed her around like a shadow, look how proud he is to have an ice cream just like hers.

A very simple page, with one background patterned paper and one more to make the journaling circle.  (The yellow chevron is so perfect for everything.  I have used many, many sheets of it already.) Add a few punched hearts and some stickers.   Plus, Amy Tangerine thickers for the title of course. 

I was so happy to see all the new Amy Tangerine stuff in stock today.  Four new daybooks.  Love these envelopes and die cut shapes.  So cute!

And, don't forget my free shipping code...
(affiliate links used.)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

If you're thankful and you know it

My parents have really been wanting to see these videos, so here you go. Avinash's very first school show. Well, actually just the rehearsal, but I think we got the same effect even without their 'Indian' feather hats on.

Of course, finding your seat is very tricky business.

Note how Avinash only really eats the green beans, but takes time to chew and swallow. He doesn't really get into it until the pumpkin pie part anyway, which he is dying to try.

Notice how he points and tells Nisha, my family there. That and blowing kisses are the best.

What are Avinash and Nisha whispering about? And, that is Nandini in the background blowing raspberries and getting bored.

I love all the organized chaos. Grandparents, enjoy!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bright lights, big wish...


It rained and rained the entire time during Avinash's birthday party (just like a bollywood movie), so much for the kids running around the patio on crazy candy-fueled sugar highs.  And so much for crisp, gorgeously lit birthday cake photos.  It was more like yellow and horrendously blurry birthday cake photos.  But, our family is there and Avinash is beaming.  Happy and confident.  I didn't hesitate for a moment about scrapping these photos in a big big way.

I have so many ideas and different sources of inspiration it is sometimes hard to edit, but I decided to take a cue from this pin (one of the very first I believe) and use confetti as well as keep it simple.

Of course, now I am looking at the big confetti on here and loving it too.  I remember for the 'millenium' (2000), times square had a different confetti drop every hour.  A friend of mine saved some cherry blossom confetti for me and I have always loved that thought. 

Here is my project:

I used white tissue paper from a boden order over bright white textured cardstock.  I punched lots of circles from one piece of Basic Grey patterned paper.  I needed about 2/3 a sheet for all this confetti.  I just used a glue runner on the paper and sprinkled confetti down and shook off the excess like glitter (and then I added a little white glitter of course).  I kept my embellishments to a minimum.  Stickers from basic grey, studio calico and jenni bowlin. This AC Chaps chipboard frame is incredibly high quality (much more so than all the other chaps stuff), the color is rich and the feel is glossy and finished.  I used white glitter and black foam AC thickers too.  Love these fonts so much.  Journaling on tag, tied off with a little cherry twine.  Most of this stuff came together in my Studio Calico Brooklyn Flea kit, this was a really great month!

And starting today...
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Discounts good 12/17/2011 (12:00am CST) through 12/31/2011 (11:59pm CST)

Don't forget free shipping with NKFFRL Two Peas in a Bucket coupon code. 

*affiliate links used

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Little Babies Mommy is Magic (no semicolon)

Just a little video to make Ryan miss us all a little bit more than he probably already does. Hopefully. Also, I'd like to take this time to remind him that he is not allowed to lose any more weight without me.

All of us playing together, staying in our pajamas waaay too late, and the retelling of the greatest game of hide and seek. In which I disappeared from the front closet and then later reappeared.

Of course Avinash believes I am magic (rightly so), but Ryan is having a tougher time with that. But still can't work out how I did it.

I normally love hide and seek, because I just find someplace comfortable and cover myself with a sheet. Avinash runs around and I get to nap until he finds me. Unless Ryan is also playing, this can take a while. I always seem to think I'm better concealed than I actually am. Until the game of magic, when I became the forever champion of hide and seek. My only regret is not magically recording their shocked reactions to my reappearing act. It is easy to disappear, it is in the reappearing that the true magic happens.

Needless to say, I will not be playing hide and seek with Ryan around again.

Also, please ignore my hair in the video.  Doing magic takes a lot out of me.

Nandini @ nine months

You are cruising around the coffee table and taking little forays from table to couch, but always holding on. 

Bappi swore he saw you stand up for a brief time, but it is not a feat that has been repeated.

I love it sometimes when you wake up a few hours after bedtime because I've missed you and get to tell you I love you again.  Plus you just usually want to nurse and snuggle a bit before going back to sleep.  Usually..

If I fall asleep nursing you, you have started smacking me in the face to wake me up. 

You are such a tomboy, you love to play ball and are really good at it.  You love Avi's tool set (that he has no interest in).  You started clapping the other day.  You reach your hands up over your head in this really cute way all the time and you recently started putting up only one hand for high fives.  You love drums and drumming your hands against the floor.

You also really really love all of my scrapbooking stuff and are constantly trying to get into my boxes. I'm not sure if there is anything you like more than chewing on nice patterned paper.  And leftover scraps really won't do.  I try to set up a decoy box, no dice.

You are getting pickier about your food.  You had a few days of beets, but then you were not a fan.  Not even a little bit.  You used to love anything and everything made with sweet potatoes, but I think you are starting to reach your limit with those as well.  Sometimes you throw your hands up (jazz hands!) and try to block the spoon from entering your general vicinity.   Because you are pretty much powerless to resist once it comes close.  But that doesn't mean you have to like it.  Sometimes I have to sneak the first bite in before you are convinced you don't hate it, then everything goes well.  Maybe you are just really worried we could be trying to give you beets again.  And a girl can never be too careful with beets.  All forms and flavors of yogurt are still acceptable.  I should remember to make more things with chick pea flour too.
You do love feeding yourself.  Like little cut up pieces of banana or halved beans or bits of rice or bread.  And many, many, many cheerios.

I had thought you would be gaining weight well since you are so into solids, but it is not to be.  You are below 5th-%ile for weight (14.8 pounds).  Ugh.  I alternate between feeling quilty, confused or upset, and sometimes all three at once.  I have pretty much been trying to nurse you every hour since I found out your weight.  We have another appointment in four weeks to check on you.  I don't think I'll be able to wait that long to find out if you are okay. 
I do wonder if the fact that your 9-month check was really a week early may have skewed the results of the growth chart?  I mean, it's possible right?

You have had a lot of holiday firsts already - Holi, Fourth of July, Halloween, Diwali. So looking forward to your first Christmas too!  You have already helped trim the tree and played Santa.  And you are totally mesmermized by the twinkle lights randomly strewn about our apartment.

You always search for Avinash first thing in the morning and aren't satisfied until you find him AND get his attention.  I think you must miss him while you sleep.  Do you dream of playing together? 

He has the power to make you laugh like no one else, though Nana and Nani come close.  I treasure your laugh. 
(Also, I really hate that thing about how if it took nine months to gain the weight, it should only take you nine months to lose it.  Get a grip on reality.  Not happening here and I don't think I'm that abnormal, ha! I was also going to say something about how it would be nice to lose weight in proportion to her gaining weight, but that doesn't really apply.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's Holiday time!

I love holiday decorating and twinkle lights.  I put them up in October/November for Diwali and often leave them up through Valentine's Day sometimes. 

I would probably put up the tree early too, but it is just such a nice family activity to do over Thanksgiving. 

Our tree is pretty classic, white lights, random melange of vintage, modern and kids crafts ornaments and red garland.

Avinash and Nandini both loved it this year.  She loved staring at the lights and trying to taste whatever ornament or bauble was within her grasp.

 How does my husband always take the best shots?  I'm pretty sure he has never even heard of bokeh photos.

Playing games are always more fun by the light of the Christmas tree.  I made that angel topper at my friend Emily's birthday party in middle school.

We have these very attractive concrete pillars littered around our apartment.  Usually they just lie bare and I try to pretend they don't exist.  I finally got together a bunch of Avi's pre-school art (and some that we did together at the Children's Museum) and hung it up here.  It really looks even better in person but all that glitter didn't photograph well.  I probably should have Ryan to shoot it instead.

We made baking soda/cornstarch ornaments one day.  I put Nandini's foot print on one and snowflakes on the other.  Avinash kept squishing and balling up his hand print, but luckily brought one home from the school. 

And here are the remnants of the candy bar from Avinash's candyland birthday party.  While the party was more rainbow-colored, I decided to go with a red and aqua holiday color scheme and weeded out the stuff that didn't belong.  Red and aqua are perfect for all of the holidays we celebrate in our family, Diwali, Hanukkah, and Christmas. I added those red, aqua and gold ornaments together in a fish bowl vase.  The paper ornaments from last year are strewn about and some placed on my new peacock serving tray.  Ignore the birthday flag banner still hanging up there. 

And, I thought I would also share this flower petal rangoli I made with a friend for Diwali.  It was a lot of fun to do and looked really special, even though it lacks that polished feel.  And, it was super hard keeping these two from wrecking, but somehow we managed.  They were totally uninterested in the bag of flower petals I gave them to play with.  I used a basic repeating geometric flower design.

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