Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Breathe and Breathe again

We all lead busy lives whether we accept it or not! We are running from pillar to post be it work, be it kids, be it social activities or be it just for yourself! There is always a plan, an activity, an agenda.

As a list maker, trust me I know.

The one time when I don’t have an agenda is a holiday, I can spend hours on a book, on a beach, on a hike or sleeping in. But I digress!

On Columbus Day which luckily for Sumit and me, we both have a day off, and I had an agenda for the day, well I should say we did have an agenda: Errands which never get done otherwise, pending projects which need a little more than just nudging. With the kids busy with their school and playdates, we actually had time to run the errands without distractions.

We started the day off on schedule and being in PJ's on a Monday morning, it felt good especially since I volunteered (aka bullied) Sumit to drop off the kids to their stuff!

We got a few things done around the house and I was a lady on a mission: On to the next topic. But by the time afternoon rolled around, Sumit got on a- “can’t we just stay home and watch a movie mode”. And the logical part of my brain was like, “Nope, got to go,” and then I dont know what it was... 
whether it was him just looking exhausted and me realizing, man, he does not get this down time. At all.  
.....I dont know if it was, Miss V returning from her play date and snuggling next to me on the bed, or .....if it was, just the laziness in me creeping up and a voice in my head saying: Breathe and breathe again!

We stayed in, saw two movies back to back, picked up the second kid from school and then enjoyed a long family dinner! Our date night was overruled and instead we spend the night watching some pictures, some videos and enjoying a warm apple pie made from our weekend outing of apple farm!

So yes, I didn’t check off my list of "to do's". We accomplished only 30% of what we wanted to get done! But still, with a heavy heart I say: Sumit you were right.... by your 'cant we just stay home and watch a movie'... I actually remembered to breathe.


Of course the apple pie's helped!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Quick Food Fix: Thai Green Curry in Instant pot

With school back in action, weeknights are back to being crowded and busy and also, we are all super hungry by the time we get in!!

So, Instant Pot,  is back in action! The kids needs a variety of food and I want it healthy, yummy and above all: quick!
Our amazing BBQ evenings, park strolls or just going with the flow.....are missing! aah Summer, I miss you.

So a weeknight, we come home.  I ship the kids off for a long shower (trust me I could smell them from a mile away) and while they showering, I made a Thai Green Curry and Rice.
Kids come out smelling divine and I am partial, but I still think the Thai Green Curry was smelling better

Instant Pot: Thai Green Curry: Serves 4 super hungry people!
Cooking Time: 15-18 minutes (Start to finish!) and hence it definitely qualifies for  my Quick Food Fix mantra and is definitely not the same Old Same Old!

Ingredients for curry: 
1. Store bought Thai Green Curry paste: 4-5 tsp.
2. One can coconut milk
3. Vegetables: Chopped chunky monkey style
2 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger
One Onion
3-4 medium tomatoes
8-10 baby carrots
8-10 green beans
1 bell pepper

Oh and I wish I had Super Firm Tofu! But that night, we didnt have any!

Process
1. Put Sautee mode in the IP
2. Add ginger, garlic, onion and the thai green paste and mix.
3. Once fragrant (2-3 minutes) add all the chopped vegetables and sautee for 3-4 minutes
4. Now add the can of coconut milk and 1/4 cup water
5. Add salt per taste, mix.
6. Close the IP and set to Manual, High Pressure Mode for 5 minuttes
7. Garnish with chopped cilantro!

Ta Da: Your Thai Green Curry is ready and enjoy with cooked rice

Comments: 
1. The Green Curry Paste can also be made at home, but I generally stock the Vegetarian pastes readily available in Whole Foods/ Trader Joes. And yes can also substitute with Red Curry Paste
2. Coconut milk is healthy, and no please dont skimp on using half a can (I have done it and the end product is not just the same)
3. Rice: Regular cooked rice is great, while everything was getting cooked in IP, I prepared rice on regular gas.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

If this continues, I will become my mother!


Which is definitely not a bad thing, but still. Man!
So here is the new thing I am doing- Making yogurt at home: Yep bye bye to the store bought convenience and always running out of yogurt! I have started making yogurt in my Instant Pot.

Its a two step process and it is very simple(again I cant believe I am saying this, but it really is)

1. Boil the milk in IP (It has a Yogurt/ Boil Setting), After boiling, let the milk cool for 10 minutes
2. Add the yogurt starter and then set it in IP in Yogurt mode for 9 hours and next am, tada, delicious home made yogurt is ready.

Keep in fridge and enjoy! Please note, we cook a lot with yogurt and hence it really does not last more than 2-3 days, so I cannot honestly comment on home made yogurt's 'Shelf life'

A few pointers: 
1. Milk: I use full fat milk since the yogurt comes off more creamy!
2. Starter: I used an organic greek yogurt starter, got one of those smaller boxes and then for future, I just save some yogurt for the next batch!
3. Boiling milk: Yes you can use microwave to boil milk for 4-5 minutes instead of IP
4. Home made yogurt tastes great and I dont know if its better than store bought! i just like showing off: 'Oh, I make my yogurt at home now'


My older kiddo, the Chatterbox is not a sweet tooth, she will not crave any of the sweet stuff! With trial and error, the one dessert she will eat is 'Srikhand' and now every other morning, i make it for her. Why you ask, its SUPER SIMPLE!

Serves: 2 greedy kids, a bowl each!
Process
1. In a cheese cloth, put 5 big spoons of yogurt and let it hang overnight to let the water drain out
2. Next morning, place the hung yogurt in a dish and add 5-6 tsp of sugar, 1 tsp of cardamom, some kesar, slices almonds and pistachio
3. Fold and fluff and keep in the refrigerator.
4. Enjoy the creamy 'Srikhand' with the kids after a long day at school

Now: Hanging the curd is optional, I like it since it makes my Srikhand more 'thicker', if you skip step 1, its okay, your srikhand will be a little watery, which is fine.

Also Now: Yes after step 2, you can serve immediately, but I like a 'cooler srikhand' and the kesar leaves golden streaks of richness through the day!

So yes, two recipes in one blog post and all about cooking and how simple it is and preaching you should do it...well I am turning into my mother!


Monday, September 25, 2017

Hosting a Vegetarian BBQ Party

Summer has ended, luckily for us in Chicago, the weather is still awesome. And that’s not something that we say often! This summer, we grilled and grilled a lot! With time I learned that hosting a BBQ party is very different from regular ones!

Here are a few tips that helped us host grilling evenings at a frequency of two per week :-)

Be safe: Ensure to instruct the kids to be away from the grill when you are cooking. We generally keep some games (Ring toss/ bean bag throw/ water guns) at the other end of the deck. It keeps them entertained and I am not stressed.
Imagine a triangle. Grill being on one corner, the kids activities on the other and the drinks on the third corner. This layout helps keep the party flowing well, kids away from hot grills and drinks cooler!

Planning:
Menu: Have a broad idea of what you are grilling. Raid the produce section and be well stocked! For a vegetarian grilling event, have 2 mains which are heavy and then a lot of accompaniments to go along with it.

Food Prep & Cooking:
- Appliances: Apron, Gloves, Grill cooking utensils, grill mats and foil! Be always safe and these are one time expenses and totally worth it!
- In our house, I prep/ marinate and Sumit grills. Admist the coversations and relaxing, he tends to forgets that food is still on the grill and then I jump into the rescue (You see how I slid that in)
- One thing I recommend is 1-2 things at a time! Start with the lighter items, one at a time and then progress. I have realised with time, though you may have 6-8 items ready to be grilled, your party will always be more relaxed on the deck!So just taking is slow and cooking 1-2 things at a time is highly recommended. This way everyone including you gets to enjoy the weather, the conversations and the food!
- We grill in a 'sequence' defined by increasing order of flavours and cooking time. Implying things that grill quickly go first! Simple reason, at the onset you are hungrier and food should come in quickly, as the evening progresses you and your friends would enjoy the breaks in food!



Drinks:
I highly recommend a main cool drink, be it sangria, a punch, jal jeera. It just makes me feel nice to pour cold jal jeera then opening a can of La Croix, I am just saying!
Keep a mini cooler/ Ice box ready and stocked with the group favorites. Have a variety of cans/ bottles ready for serving!
I have learned over time and now attached a bottle opener to my cooler, this way I am not scrambling for this essential item

Water: I prefer just having jars/ reusable bottles ready with water and ice! We as a family have been trying to avoid plastic bottles and considering we host a lot of friends over BBQ, having the reusable bottles is ideal (and cheaper!)

Condiments:
I have a tray ready with my essentials: Salt, Pepper, Chilli Flakes, Lemon Wedges, Hot Sauce, Ketchup, Chaat Masala etc. and definitely a knife!
Of course there are edits to these based on the menu for the evening.

Serve Ware:
- Food Prep: If you use skewers, pre-soak. i generally avoid them. I use  glass containers for the marinated vegetables and then use the same ones for serving after grilling. (Read less clean up time for Sumit!)
- If your space allows a a table where you keep the marinated food and then eventually the grilled food. I line up the marinated food in the order that Sumit will grill (Read FIFO- First in First out), makes it so much easier
- Have ample serving spoons, forks etc handy... you do go through them very quickly!
- Keep paper plates, bowls, napkins, flatware ready. I highly recommend using the paper dishes, since you will be grilling a variety of things and walking and chatting around! (Read less clean up time for Sumit!)
- Thrash Can: A MUST. keep it lined, empty and ready to go. If you recycle (which you must), keep a double bagged paper bag ready!
(Read less clean up time for Sumit!)


Pot Luck/ Grilling:
- Most of my grilling gatherings have been with dear friends over and I enjoy the cooking process, so I tell them, please come and enjoy!
But if you are hosting a larger party, keep it simple for yourself as well. A salad, a dessert, some drinks are perfect and simple requests for your guests to bring along!

Menu Ideas:
- Always keep a cold appetizer/ fruits ready for the evening: Simple things like a tossed salad, chopped watermelon helps. You can be fancy and have fruit skewers ready, but trust me if you grilled as often as we did, you want a simple repeatable model
- Finger foods like chips, salsa, pretzels etc should be served but in smaller portions, you would rather have the guests fill up on grilled gorgeousness!
- Marination: If you want marinate the night before it helps with the flavour in the vegetables/tofu/paneer what ever you are planning on. If your evening is more impromptu, fret not, increase the qty of herbs and spices in the marination by a little and even 30 minutes of marination is enough.
- Grilled vegetables with cold dips is always a hit: Think Grilled asparagus with a creamy pesto dip, delish!
- Think concoctions, you have 10 beans and 1/2 pepper lying around, slice them up marinate in olive oil, salt and pepper! Tada... Gril and then serve with crubled goat cheese (Ready!)
- For kids, encourage them to try everything coming off the grill, they will enjoy the 'not sit down and eat' type of meals. In addition, if you have more kids may be have a main like Mac N Cheese or something as a back up is a great idea!
- Trust me when I say this, a cold pasta salad is a hit with the kids and more with the adults!!!!


So have fun, enjoy the process and remember: Grilling parties are fun, simple, can be impromptu and you tend to eat a lot more...

Monday, September 18, 2017

Story of the The Spoon & The Child

In a house filled with kids laughter, some of my yelling and a little of the delicious smells of MIL cooking, funny stories ensues!!!

It was one long Sunday,we all had back to back events and obligations and errands and it had been a long (and cranky) day and last stop was Costco for essential shopping.

To lighten up the mood and just have the kids be 'less' cranky a costco size ice cream was bought to share.

Sumit asked almost 5 year old Little Lady: " Can you please give me a spoon?"

Little Lady takes the spoon, fill it with ice cream proceeds to put the ice cream filled spoon in her mouth and then licks up the spoon and hands it over you Sumit

Sumit asks: "What is this?"

Little Lady responds: "A spoon "

Laughter ensues!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Summer of 2017

 As a mom, Summer equals the months when the kids are off school. 
And now my summer draws to an end. 

Over the next two weeks, The Little Lady starts hew new school closely followed by Miss Chatterbox in her new school as well. Touch wood, both are supremely excited for their new beginnings. 
I am sure Little Lady will have water works for the first day, I am mentally prepared for it. 
I am sure I will have some water works for both their first day's, I am mentally prepared for it.

To continue the tradition, her is my Summer of 2017 recap:
The kids did absolutely nothing and had a really good time (I think). They lazed and got pampered by grandparents, they went to the park countless times, they had ample late nights, BBQ's, Ice Creams, play dates, lots of crafts, some beach time, some lake time, some swim time, loads of biking and a whole load of nothingness to have them recuperate and energized and truly spend summer like kids are supposed to.


The whole nothingness, no plans, no agenda, it sort of worked out. With my In-laws around, I got massively pampered. I barely cooked implying coming home to food being ready is amazing. They spend countless hours with the girls, taught them, and just basically bonded with them, which I really think is the best part. And cheeky husband and I got in ample date nights! So this summer was a nice working holiday for me as well.
















Though I love having kids home, I do need them back in school. As I often say, my 'regular scheduled programming to start'

I know- I suck! In summer, the mornings when I leave for work, I get long sullen kids’ faces telling me- You are going to office again! And then the mommy guilt creeps up even more.  And then I come home in evenings to a house hit by hurricane, toys strewn around, half-finished books, writing material on the floor and urgh! So then instead of hugging them, I get them on task and have them help clean up becoming the non-fun mom. 



So honestly, Minus the mess, I think it was a perfect summer!!

What made your summer super special??

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

They did this....

I come home from work... and see this!!!!


The Little Lady wanted her face painted, the Chatterbox wanted to be creative and hence they were a perfect match!
I climb our stairs and am greeted with this beautifully painted face and lots of chuckles and lots of giggles.

These two together are a riot, a menace and the most adorable pair of sisters who can spend hours playing, fighting, troubling and uniting against me!

Touch wood, Siblings truly are friends for life

Friday, July 28, 2017

Berry Pie- Peach Pie and my cutie pie's



Such a big difference 2 years is making, I swear!
This was us 2 summers ago baking a crumble and fast forward to now.... the girls 9 and 4 are making the pie/ crumble now pretty much on their own and the cherry on top.... they are also cleaning up after!

So here is the Pie/crumble recipe, kids edition!  The girls made two crumble's this past weekend, so except the fruits being different, both of them followed the recipe step by step identical to each other!

Little Lady: 4 year old used 3 cups of berries (Mixed- Blueberries, raspberry - Strawberry)
Miss Chatterbox: 9 years old used 3 larger peaches. She sliced most of them herself
(Yes I was a hawk watching her)

For the rest of the recipe-I will use the term 'fruit' instead of berries or peaches just to keep it simple

Ingredients:

Fruit Base: 
Fruit of choice : See portions above
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp ginger grated
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (Again, I used the home made one my friend gifted me at Xmas!)

For the crumble topping
4 spoons Bisquick
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp brown sugar
1/4 cup milk (I used 2%)
1/2 tsp baking powder

For baking or cooking with kids the best thing I have learned over the years is keep all ingredients, measuring spoons out on the counter and then walk the kids through the process step by step.

Let them lead, ask questions, get messy and above all let them include the variation they want! Of course with that said, i am starting a new tag 'Cooking with Kids'

Make them wash their hands, before, during and after!

Process: 
1. In a ready to bake Pyrex dish mix all the ingredients of the fruit base.
2. Let it stand for 20 minutes for the fruit juices to release well
3. In a deeper vessel, mix all the ingredients for the crumble topping (dough like consistency)
4. Layer the crumble topping on top of the fruit base.

Note: The little one definitely needed help with this steps since her natural instinct was to press the 'dough'. I learned that telling them 'Layer the topping like a blanket on the fruits' worked like a charm!

5. Bake the crumble at 375 F for 20-25 minutes, you could brush the topping with additional butter to make it 'brown' better.

Note: I am paranoid about the oven, so this step I led completely.

While the pie/crumble is getting baked... have the kids clean up.

Both girls washed their hands off after they licked their fingers with the delicious dough topping.

Again the kitchen clean up was a simple one... the older one helped in putting all the ingredients from where they came and the little one helped with wiping the counters and the floor.
And yes, of course I had to wipe up a little more after them, but I really did enjoy them helping me out and taking the initiative of 'Leaving the kitchen as they found it'

The highlight was the girls were sharing with everyone at the dinner party the recipe, the baking process and above all ' I made it, you will love it!'


So go on... let the kids lead a little and you will learn a lot!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Yep....I have slipped!

Nope, I have not forgotten about it...but yes, its ONLY at the back of my mind! I have slipped on the 'Getting Fit Business'.

I have become lazy and lazier these past weeks. May be its the Chicago Summer, the continuous BBQ's, the lazy mornings and even lazier evenings, my stupid knee, I really don't know, but I have become lazy about the 'getting fit'

My model is suppose to be simple.... Log your food, go to the gym/ keep a routine and then enjoy the process with buddies who help and encourage. Its not about loosing weight, its about being fit, energetic and happy!

But, I have not been logging on MyFitness Pal at all now. I broke my 74 day streak a few weeks ago,  and now haven't picked up the baton again!
For the gym, in summary, I injured my knee (I think at a stupid but super fun bowling game) and since then doctors orders are no squats, no pivot motions, no pounding of the knee... aka, no gym routine that I had down and was consistent!

Due to my knee injury, I am in the self pity mode and hence not even moving a muscle for any basic workout routine. I think I am being kinder to my knee. I sound like my grand mum, "kinder to my knee", but trust me being in constant dull pain in knee is no fun. And the pain goes from dull to shooting stabs in a matter of seconds. Read: Self Pity :-)

And it shows.... I am dragging my feet by end of day, I cant keep up with the kids soccer games and above all, I am feeling crankier!

Every Monday, I think.... next week I will start.

Please tell me I am not alone...... please leave some motivational messages :-/

Aaah! So, here I am picking up again. But this time..... not the baby steps that I love, I am actually leaping and jumping, since hey, now I know what to do.

So
Step 1: Join the gym THIS WEEK and actually go
Note to self.... if you pay up the monthly fees, its the best motivation
Step 2: Re-start logging on the weight THIS WEEK and actually not exceed the calories
Note to self....it takes only 10 minutes a day to enter in the food consumed
Step 3: Kick my buddies really well, I cant believe they are not helping me in stopping the slide!
Note to them.... be prepared for the kicking!

See it's their fault! ;-)

Monday, July 24, 2017

Quick Food Fix: Grilled Zuchini Boats

As we improvise our vegetarian BBQ recipes, we have discovered our new favorites like 'Grilled Edmame; Crusted Tofu, Tangy potato' and as we explore new recipes like today's Zuchini Boats..... the one main BBQ item that has been dropping off our menu is the Vegetarian Burger.

Imagine a BBQ with no burger and you are still full!
To be honest, a Trader Joe's masala burger is a staple in my house, I love it! This is the one frozen ready made food that i actually keep stocked for those days when I just want to do nothing with cooking and still eat at home.

When we started with grilling, we will make a few variations and then stick to the tried and tested Vegetable Burger as a main... however in the past 6 weeks of grilling (We grill at least twice a week), I have made the vegetable burgers only once!

So our BBQ sessions are interesting for sure even sans the burger! Here is the new 'concoction' Grilled Zuchini Boats!

Serves 6-8 adults as a side

Ingredients:
Zuchini (But of course): 3-4 medium length

Stuffing:
Corn (husked from the cob): 1 or frozen corn 1 cup
Note... its summer, enjoy the fresh husked corn, the frozen ones can be used in winter!
Onion: Medium: Finely chopped
Pepper: 1 medium: Finely chopped
Seranno Pepper: Per taste, finely chopped
Pesto Sauce : 3 tsp
Spices:
Per taste: Salt, Pepper, Chilli Flakes

Toppings
Goat Cheese: crumbled 1/2 cup
Shredded Cheddar Cheese: 1/4 cup
Basil: Finely chopped: 1/4 cup



Process:
1. Wash the zuchini and Slice it in the middle length wise
2. Core the centre and save the pulp

3. Stuffing: Mix all the ingredients along with the zuchini pulp and the spices
4. When the grill is hot, on the grill mats place the stuffing for 3-5 minutes and toss once or twice.
5. While the stuffing is getting cooked, place the sliced and cored zuchini on the mat as well.
5. When the stuffing is ready, : Stuff the stuffing (no pun intended) on the zuccini boats and and top with the cheese mix

6. Grill the stuffed boat for another 2-3 minutes and tada!!! Ready, the finely chopped basil helps to elevate the look

Enjoy as a warm accompaniment on your grilling evening.
And yes vegetarian grilling/ BBQ parties are a thing! We are living proof.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Quick Food Fix: Paneer Tikka Masala

Another grill edition and definitely a super hit with Indians and even my local American friends.
I used home made Paneer for this round, but you can use store brought one like I have done for the past 14ish years!

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1. Bell Pepper 1 Medium: Quartered in chunky pieces
2. Yellow Onion 1 Medium: Quartered in chunky pieces
3. Paneer: Quartered (You can adjust the amount of paneer based on your taste, I say, more then merrier)
4. Tomato 1 Medium: Quartered in chunky pieces
5. Ginger: 1 tsp grated
6. Garlic: 2 cloves grated
7. Yogurt: 3/4 cup

Herbs & Spices
1. Paneer Tikka masala (Easily available in Indian Store/ Whole Foods): 2 tsp
2. Seeka hua Jeera: 1/2 tsp
3. Red Chillo Powder: 1/2 tsp
4. Sookha Pudina: 1/2 tsp
5. Rock Salt: 1/2 tsp
6. Salt & Pepper: Per taste

Garnish:
1. Chopped Cilantro: 1/2 cup
2. Squeezed Lemon Juice: Per Taste
3. Chaat Masala: Per Taste

Process:
1. In a mixing bowl, mix the yogurt with all the spices and ginger, garlic
2. Once all is mixed, add Onion, Bell pepper and Paneer (Not the tomato)
3. Mix well and ensure everything is coated well
4. Now add the tomato and toss lightly
5. Marinate for at least 30 minutes in the fridge

Note: If you leave the marination overnight, skip adding the tomato's since tomato releases the water, it will make the marinate 'thinner'

To Cook:
On Grill: (Perfect for summer) Save some of the marination, and layer the tikka on the grill mats. Cook for 4-8 minutes and ensure to flip the vegetables and paneer to cook evenly

Alternatively: You could add them to presoaked skewers, I generally forego this step since it adds more prep time and for gobbling them down, have to take them off the skewers anyways.

In Oven: (Perfect in winters)On a slightly oiled foil/ oven dish add the paneer tikka and cook at 375 F for about 20 minutes

On Stove Top: (Least Recommended)Add 1 tsp of olive oil in the pan and then add vegetables and Paneer, Let it cook for 5-10 minutes on medium flame. Please note in this method, the vegetables tend to get softer and the paneer will not have the 'crunchy exterior'

Garnish with the toppings and any leftover marinated yogurt and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The half year mark...

We are roughly in the middle of the year and with both my girls being winter babies, its only apt that I write a simple homage of the half year it has been with these little angels or devils... or creatures who keep our lives filled with laughter, fun and definitely some angry tears!

Little Lady:

She is working hard to overtake her sister's title of 'Chatter box' and we love it.... she definitely has the most singy songy voice and the batting of her eyelids with that voice... she does get away with a lot more... a lot more!
She is chatty, definitely has made strides of progress in being 'less shy'. From the girl who played on her own for hours is now her gathering up her friends in the park and chasing butterflies. It's wonderful to see her blossom. 
She is being assertive and negotiating way more for every single thing. But the batting of eyelids has my heart in a mush consistently. 
She is gotten progressively annoying when it comes to food. She will still eat everything we give her, however sloth can eat faster than her. She is chatting more and eating less at meal time. 
The coolest part of her newest passion is reading, she will sit with her early reader books and make attempts. She will sit with her writing books and has moved on from scribbles to coherent writing. 
She is my musical kid, will skip instead of walking and can sing and sing and sing some more... simply to annoy her room mate, her love of her life, Didi aka Miss V aka Miss Chatterbox

Miss Chatterbox: 
This year was quiet a formative year for her, there was a lot of tween drama in her class, some crushes, some teasing, some girl gossips and definitely a lot of 'Mom, I am not a baby anymore
One word that best describes Miss Chatterbox, she is Strong. She is in very good control of her emotions and mature way beyond her years. She does not like to being vulnerable or cry and will really put on a brave face. 
And I really have to look in her eyes truly understand how she feels, she is sensitive and the strong face does not fool me. 
I love my long conversations with her about anything and everything. I love her complimenting/ dissecting my wardrobe. I thoroughly enjoy watching her with the soccer ball. 
Admist all this, She is definitely working on my patience by being more defiant and  more 'annoying' in the tween kind of way: Rolling of the eyes, some back answering and definitely being a little disrespectful. 
How am I dealing with this? You ask, I am not. It currently reverberates between yelling at her, to giving her silent treatment to more often than not 'What is going on man'
I guess deep down I do know the answer, nothing. So I need to figure out a way to learn with her and be the mature one in the relationship. 


But both these girls have one thing in common, their total dedication to each other. Where Little Lady will save an extra candy for her sister, the older one Miss V will hug her and calm her when Little Lady is sad. They fight, they annoy each other but they are each other's  biggest confidante right now. 

I will say this for the record: Currently, the older one is the tattle tale right now and the little one defensive of the other. I honestly thought at ages 9 and 4, it would be the other way around. 
Oh well, there is no 'guidebook to bringing up siblings 5 years apart' So, I will learn on the job!

My babies...or not such little babies anymore!



Home Made Paneer, Yes Please!

With young kids in a vegetarian house hold, Paneer (Think of it like a dense cottage cheese)very easily becomes favorite. Its' high in protein and calcium, very easy to cook and above all the kids will eat it in any form possible. And vegetarian or not, Paneer is one of the easiest to cook with after potatoes of course.

Over one of our countless BBQ sessions, a friend mentioned that she makes the paneer at home and its super easy. I was laughing and had the 'No way in hell' look and she said trust me. And I did trust her, noted her process down and then and I attempted it we had amazing home made fresh paneer with a simple-process.

Process in Instant Pot (Adapted from my friend’s recipe)
1. In IP: Yogurt-Boil Mode, boil 1/2 gallon of whole milk (Whole milk will yield more paneer!)
2. When milk is boiled, in a cup mix 1/4 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup water. Add it to the milk
3. The milk separates from the whey. Stir a little more. You can save the whey for other uses(!)
4. Strain the curdled milk using a cheese cloth, just hang the cheese cloth with the curdled milk for about 30 minutes for additional water to drain out.
5. This is the soft paneer. However most of my recipes call for the firm paneer, Wrap the curdled milk in the cheese cloth, keep a heavy weight on top overnight to squeeze out any additional liquid.

Ta-da Paneer is ready. You can use it right away, however I recommend keeping in the fridge for about 24 hours especially if grilling with it, just so that it hardens up a little.


FYI- I used instant pot, well because its super easy to clean .... and then I was in a mode, so boiled the entire gallon of whole milk, used 1/3 rd for paneer, 1/3rd for making yogurt and 1/3rd for making Indian Ice Cream- Kulfi!

FYI- If you are using a regular stove top for boiling milk, the word on the street is, add 1/4 cup water to the pan before you start boiling the milk, it helps in not having the milk stuck on the stove top pan.

We of course used the home made paneer for grilling as Paneer Tikka and I realized the home made paneer was softer (less chewy) and above all; I was just crazy excited that it was home made. So the child in me took over and I ensured that the family tasted the paneer



Of course this needs to follow with an easy breeze quick paneer tikka recipe for Grilling of course! Coming Soon- I Promise.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Silly Races and A picnic

The tradition for Munch Bunch is simple.... 4 foodie families meet once every 4 to 6 weeks and try to cook a new themed menu to test different menu's and just explore a little outside our comfort zone. We have attempted Greek, Vietnamese, Indian Area Specialties, Ethiopian, Burmese.... aah so many more!
This month's theme was ..... 'Silly Races and a Picnic'.

With summer in Chicago, heading to the beach/park/somewhere outdoors is a must and miss Chatterbox decided that having silly races would be the perfect way.... so 12 adults, 8 kids ranging from 3 months to 9 years all headed to one of the Chicago Beaches right next to a park with all the picnic gear is full force.

Silly Races: Miss V made a list of 11 races and we managed to play 1: Lemon in a spoon race which was awesome fun! But we did play lots of Frisbee, catch the ball, cricket, walking on the beach, Simon Says and just having kids run around as we sat and caught up and just enjoyed sitting on the mats and soaking in the wonderful lake breeze.

Menu:
To begin with crunchy Vegetable Pastry Puff followed by Potato Kathi Rolls just reminiscent of the Mumbai infamous street food and then a delicious take on the Bahn Mi sandwich.
Of course for dessert we had a cake and to celebrate the American Independence Day ... a gorgeous cake.
For drinks this time since we were at the beach, we had lots of water, juices to keep it simple.



Kathi Roll/ Frankie:
This is a Mumbai special and totally reminds me of a simpler time walking on Breach Candy with my friends and asking the Rajesh Frankie wallah, please make it spicy! And then giggling along with friends and walking a lot more.

Makes 16 Frankie’s

Ingredients
Yellow Potato: 10-12: Boiled, peeled and mashed well
Yellow Onion: 2 thinly slices
Garlic: 3 cloves finely chopped
Ginger: 1/4 inch finely chopped
Serrano Peppers: 3-6 finely chopped
Cilantro: 1 cup finely chopped
Olive Oil: 3 tsp
Spices
Jeera: 1 tsp
Turmeric: 1 tsp
Chilli Powder: 1 tsp (Use more to make it spicy)
Amchoor: 1 tsp
Chaat Masala: 2 tsp
Salt: Per Taste
Black Pepper: Per Taste

For Garnishing
1 Red onion: thinly sliced and marinated in 2 tsp chaat Masala
6-8 Serrano Peppers: Chopped well and marinated in 1 cup vinegar
Garlic Chutney: Readily available in Indian stores or homemade =
Tortilla: All purpose tortilla - 16

Process:
Making the Stuffing
1. Heat the olive oil and add Jeera till it splutters
2. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, serrano peppers. Sautee for 5-7 min. (till onions are translucent)
3. Add all the spices and cook for 2-3 minutes
4. Add the mashed potatoes and mix well, cook for another 5 minutes add cilantro and turn the flame off.




Assembling
1. On a flat bottom pan, heat the tortilla till warm
2. Spread the garlic Chutney
3. Place the cooked potato in the center, top with marinated onion and chilli-vinegar.
4. Roll like a burrito and sprinkle with chaat masala if needed


I covered with parchment papers since I wanted to keep it simpler to pick up and eat at the picnic, this is a wonderful idea for school lunches as well, since quick to grab and eat and you can include choice of vegetables as a filling. The best part of this Kathi roll/ Frankie was....is... it reminds me of home. 
Enjoy!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Quick Food Fix: Grilled Corn Crostini

Let's make your vegetarian grilling more fun !

Now, we all know that without corn, the grilling is too boring. But corn on the cob gets too boring and too filling after a while.
So here is our new variation of consuming the corn!

You could either use kernels from corn or even frozen ones, I used the kernels fresh off the cob since, well I was in the mood of adding more work for myself!

Serves: 6-10 as a side

Ingredients
French Bread: One loaf, sliced 1 inch wide
Goat Cheese: 8-10 tsp
Corn: 1 cup kernels
Cherry Tomatoes: 1/2 cup sliced half
White onion: 1/2 cup finely chopped
Fresh Basil: 1/4 cup finely chopped

Marination
Pesto Sauce: 2 tsp (You could make fresh or use any of the nice store brought ones like I did)
Olive Oil: 1 tsp
Salt, Pepper, Chilli Flakes per taste
Note: If you like your food slightly spicier, i highly recommend adding  Chili Oil as a topping.

Process:
1. Mix the onions, corn and the marination ingredients and let it sit for 5-10 minutes
2. When the grill is hot, let the vegetables grill/ crispen for about 3-5 minutes. Take off the grill
3. On the sliced bread, spread a generous amount of goat cheese.
4. Top the bread with the grilled vegetables and garnish with Basil

Enjoy the perfect cold-warm crostini!

Now, FYI-I highly recommend using these grill mats, they are amazing and the corn kernels don't fall off and above all very easy to clean! We use these mats all the time!

Variation: If you want to make the crostini in the oven instead of grilling, the setting should be broil, and let the vegetables cook for 5 minutes! Layer and enjoy

The fun about Crostini's is it looks amazing, is simple to put together and is a lot of fun to sample variations!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

2017 Summer: BBQ Edition

Summer in Chicago is short lived and because of this, we make every minute count! Every single evening needs to be outdoors, getting wet in the ample water areas in the city parks or simply enjoying the breeze on the deck with some BBQ.
As a vegetarian, I get puzzling looks when I am asked... what do you grill?
Just so you know.... we have BBQ'ed 3 times in a row this July 4th weekend, so if anything, we really do try to mix it up on the menu to not get repetitive. And my list of grilling recipes is growing furiously!

Continuing the tradition of last year and adding recipes in the mix... here is our new concoction for Tangy Potato's. Per my MIL who is visiting from India, it’s her favorite!!!

Recipe: Serves 6 greedy adults!
Golden potatoes 8-10 cut in wedges (Don’t make them too thin, since the grill will burn them)
Marinate Ingredients:
Olive Oil: 6-8 tsp
Spices:
Red Chili- 2 tsp (If you like it spicy)
Dried mint powder - 1 tsp (You can even take fresh mint and chop it up finely)
Salt: 1 tsp
Chole Masala: 2 tsp (Available at Whole Foods, Indian Stores)
Chaat Masala: 1 tsp (Available at Whole Foods, Indian Stores)

Process:
11.      Mixes Potato with the marinate ingredients and let it sit for 15-20 min
22.      Grill for about 5-10 minutes, you need to turn it with the grilling spatula soon!

Feel free to season with Squeezed lemon and add in additional salt from top as needed.


Enjoy as a side, or use this as a burger patty or just binge on it while you wait for the rest of the food to grill up!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Salsa kind of night

First things first... pictures below are borrowed from Internet....... We were super hungry so gobbled up the food prior to the pictures..
It's a weeknight and with grandparents in the house, there has been a lot of Indian food. The kids, the grandparents and us, we all needed a break... So Mexican menu with its flair of spice and its simplicity of 'assembling' was perfect!

We cooked in the house and then took everything on the deck to enjoy the weather, play games and enjoy the food- the summer way!

Menu:
Nacho: Tortilla chips smothered with cooked black beans, salsa, cheese and Guac
Taco: Toasted shells with black beans, roasted vegetables and all toppings
Quesadilla: The black bean quesadilla with Guac is the perfect combination
Accompaniments: Pico De Gallo, Salsa Verde and Guacamole along with finely chopped Habanero chilies, Cilantro and of course lettuce!

And trust me when I say this, my family loves Mexican food and the best accompaniment to the Mexican food is the 'Fresh Salsa' So make small portions and enjoy! Here is my recipe for the quick Salsa Verde....

Portion: 1 cup
Ingredients:
1. Green Tomatillo 4-6 washed and quartered
2. Garlic Cloves: 2 peeled and washed
3. Jalapeno: Sliced and De-seeded: 1 (If you like it spicier, feel free to use Habanero Chili)
4. Spices: Salt, Black pepper: Per Taste
5. Olive Oil: 2 tsp


Process:
1. In a flat pan, heat the olive oil
2. After 1-2 minutes place all the ingredients in the pan for 'pan roasting/ Fire Roasting'
3. The flat heated pan helps in 'charring' the ingredients which is what you want
4. After 3-4 minutes, place the lid on the pan to let the tomatillo juices flow out and get cooked
5. Turn off the flame and let it all cool
6. Pulse in a food processor for 1-2 minutes.

Note: I like my salsa, chunkier to I don’t pulse it too much

Note: Tomatillo is quiet tart by nature, so cooking it well makes it tangy and reduces the tartness, you don’t need additional lemon.


If you don’t have Tomatillo you could fire roast the red tomatoes, however you do need to be careful since tomato is juicier than tomatillo so cover the pan sooner, you may add lemons to the red... needless to say, this will not be 'Verde' 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Vanity is beautiful

A story, a realization and the simplicity of it

A friend of my older daughter Miss V, lets calls her Ms. Inspiring.

The kids were hanging out together, laughing, giggling and just having a great time especially since they met after such a long time. They are now in different schools but hang out when schedules permit. I notice Ms. Inspiring's hair cut... I mean she went from a hip length to a short bob and she totally rocked it. But I asked her, how come?

Ms. Inspiring tells me, ' I donated my hair for kids who need it' and I was astounded. Before I could respond she continued: 'It's hair, they will grow back' and she went off to play with Miss V and the other kids.

And I was standing in the doorway.... astounded and definitely inspired.

That was 1.5 years ago.

I started growing my hair, honestly mainly out of vanity. I haven't had long hair since a very long time (11 years ago I had grown them out to style them well for my wedding!)
So I started growing them and thoroughly enjoyed the buns, the  braids, the wind through them and having the girls style them and play with my hair. I had completely forgotten about that conversation with the 8 year old friend of V.

Recently someone in the extended family was diagnosed with a 'Big C' and that's when it all came crashing in...... the conversation with the 8 year old, the face of my relative and the shallowness of my vanity.

Long story short (no pun intended):

The before and The after


Thank you Miss. Inspiring for making it so simple 'It's hair, they will grow back'

The hair donation went to Wigs for Kids whose motto is 'Helping children look like themselves and live their lives!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Day 3, 4: Resort Stay & Journey to El Nido

Continuing the story of the Phillippines in a week, read here for Day 1 and Day 2

Day 3: Rainy days, but a stay at the plush resort with friends

This day started again with torrential rain fall and was our day with the friends. We had originally planned to take an island hopping tour and explore Mactan/ Lapu Lapu. But rain forced us to improvise and we all headed to the lavish pools of the resort.
So when it rains, we enjoy the pool even more! It's brilliant actually!

A lazy lunch and some more conversations followed. My friend and I decided to get matching tattoos (sticker ones) and this day turned out to be a lovely relaxed and fun filled day. By the evening, they were 'not' ready to return to HK and we packed and 'got ready' to head to Palawan/ El Nido the next morning.


I am so thankful for great friends, who adjust their own schedules to take a combined vacation. Though we met them after 5 years, it felt like we started where we left off and it was just simple and of course with a few more kids in the mix.


Day 4 A morning flight to Palawan and a long 7 hour drive to El Nido

Cebu- Flight to Palwan/ Puerto Princesca- 7 hour drive to El Nido!!!
The TRAVEL TIME is the ONE thing I wish I could change. It was really late that we found out about a a direct flight from Cebu to El Nido, so for anyone who is planning, do that. Cebu- El Nido direct
It saves you a day of travel time and this way you can maximize your time on the beach instead of travelling from one island to the other.

We reached El Nido around 7 pm and met our host of the Bed n Breakfast we had booked for. Tony was the sweetest host and really helped us navigate the local area. His BnB was one street off the beach and really in the middle of the activity hub, all the fun and frolic the city of El Nido has to offer. He made us feel so at home and went above and beyond to help us book our tours for the next two days.

Though we had done research and knew we wanted to do Tour A & C, he connected us to his known tour company Caldao Tours and booked us in for the next morning with a custom Vegetarian Lunch order. We walked around town, grabbed some dinner and then headed back for some rest and more sleep.

More on Tour A & C coming up

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

You thought I forgot???

Nope, I have not forgotten about the whole business of buddying up, logging food and being a little more active than I was before. The long, painful but satisfying journey for 'Getting Fit' 

So I am still 'at it' albeit slower with hiccups and not 'glamorous results' but hey the slow and steady wins the race.
And the winner gets a pat on the back :-)

Working Out
Last few weeks, with a travelling spouse, the 'workout' took a back seat. Yes, I could have done the exercises at home, but I decided sleeping in will be better (It was!!!)
But now that life is back to normal with equal number of adults to kids, I am back at the gym. The first day back in the class after 3.5 weeks was crazy bad and though I was not really sore, I definitely was 'tired' sooner. But the rhythm is settling back in which is a good thing. However, my old old knee injury is acting up and until the doctor gives me a clean bill of health, I plan to just enjoy the "Ride" class, which is 45 minutes of riding a bike mixed in with limited strength and cardio. Love it!


My Fitness Pal
Yippie, 50 days streak aka logging in almost every morsel of food in the app to see how much I am eating. I have been logging but have been over the calorie intake almost every single day. I have been unbalanced, ideally it should be in the ratio of 50:30:20 for Carb: Protein: Fat. I have been 'Way Off' and I blame all the delicious goodness of Indian sweets and snacks around the house.

BUT I am logging religiously, sometimes at a high level sometimes faking the data based on memory for the day.  I know I know, hopefully will get back in the groove soon enough.


Buddying up
With summer setting in and our eagerness to be out and about, my buddies and I are 'at it'. Even a simple message of 'Good Job' or 'Let’s go to the gym tomorrow' or 'Why haven’t you logged in' are good encouragements.
Of course, my new buddy aka my husband is waking up at the ungodly hour of 5:30 and coming with me to the gym. And having this new buddy is all the more 'fun'



So there you have it, the details...

Summary: 
There has been no weight loss, but NO GAIN as well. There have been NO clothes being suddenly too big for me (I wish!), but the best result for me: I am able to sustain extended soccer games with my kids in the park and really make a run after the Frisbee in the evenings, so I am truly loving that!

For me getting fit is less about 'the vanity' of it but more about the 'energy levels' of it. And though the compliments help, the true fun is listening to my daughters chat in the morning: 'Mummy just came back from her yoga and she is stinking eeeew'
I chase them every now and then to slather them with a 'sweaty hug'.


Perfect way to start the morning.

Friday, June 2, 2017

When you least expect it...

When you least expect it...

There was a time when I was IN the 'blogging circuit', meeting fellow bloggers, attending various events, reviewing theater etc.
And now as time has gone by, I have become less and less involved in these.. I do still enjoy blogging and writing and having an outlet. I still follow my favorite readers and enjoy the conversations, i am what you call a blogger with no readers ;-)

And then yesterday I get an email from 'Indian Top Blogs' that I am listed in the directory and have earned a spot on the the 'Top Blogs'
Well... what do you know!


Don't believe me, I know you don't... check out their link..

So when you least expect it, you may get surprised and its definitely a good feeling!

I guess a speech is needed, I mean all 'Oscar winners' give it... So here it goes
'Thank you my faithful reader(s) [I wonder if anyone more, the stats on the blog show a few daily, so thank you for being patient with me]
Thank you my kids, my husband, well you are the topics in most posts and it is indeed fun to capture your antiquities [Though not fun to live them.. I mean she did what]
And then of course thank you food... you add the 'spice' to my posts, no pun intended'


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A newly created Milestone

I have older kids, well 4 and 9, and I since I am off the diaper duty, I call them 'older' kids... but they are teeny tiny in my mind.
But as they are getting 'older and wiser' there are lesser and lesser milestones that I track or remember to track. No more first steps, first words, first solids, first steps...

There are no key milestones with these kids, just good and onward and upward development.
I know that's how it should be and it is, but it makes me a little sad every now and then. They are still my babies.

So today, I 'create' a new milestone for 'Tween' (my 9 year wise girl) and my 'Pre-schooler' (The 4 year old Chatterbox)

Tween, Miss V: First sleep away trip from school!
Pre-schooler, Miss S: First night not sleeping in the same room with her older sister!

The morning of the trip.....  
Miss V, was up and packed 3 days prior to the trip, she wakes up at 5 am, makes her own milk and is ready at 5:45 to leave. We don't have to be in school before 8 am, that's how excited she was!

Miss S, the little sister shadows the older one, gives her extra hugs, steals older sister's bear for the night (since no one to fight with) and is just holding her older sister's hand throughout the early morning!

The morning of the trip.... me an my thoughts! 

I know the trip is only 3 days, 2 nights long. But its freaking long in my mind. She is off to a camp which is open pre-season for just their school. She is with her wonderful friends and her super involved and caring teachers. It's super safe and even more protected than I can imagine. 
Her school has gone above and beyond to ensure kids are looked after and parents are comforted. But still, this is a big milestone! 

It's a school trip which encourages her to be more independent, explore the nature, hike the wilderness, mount and do the horse riding, play unlimited soccer, Grill smore's by the camp fires!

But here I am on the other side of the white bus waving good bye with a brave grin showing her how trully Happy I am for her!
And then I sit in the car and breathe, That's my baby hitting another milestone...


She is ready, I am not!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Day 2: Philippines: Oslob & Kawasan Falls

Before we had booked Philippines, one thing that was a MUST DO for me was the swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob.

WHAT AN EXPERIENCE.

Yes, the day was super long, we started at 5 am and ended at 9 pm, but booking a private tour, having a 10 seater van after a jet lagged flight was totally worth it, since when not doing the activity, we pretty much slept in the big van.

Note: Booking tours in Philippines is a big plus, they have really good cars, all in one package including pick up, stopping for food, activity, suggestions for local stuff and then they drop you back. It's quiet brainless during the day for you then and you are never worried about safety if you have pre-booked using a good company. I used Cebu tours for Oslob-Tumalog-Kawasan falls and they were really nice.

Now, we were driven to Oslob and the day started out with torrential rainfall. i was definitely nervous, but the tour guide/ driver mentioned to us, we will be fine So kids packed up and we headed out!
The drive was gorgeous, but taking the 18 hour flight the day before, we were all knocked out and slept until we stopped a a cute cafe outside Oslob.... we could see 15-20 boats in the water and lots of tourists.

But we started at the cafe with a local's breakfast of sticky rice and mango. yes, Mango, you can imagine our utter happiness. After breakfast and changing into our swim gear we headed to the Whale Watching tour area. Now, reminder: No sun-block allowed since the chemicals harm the whale.

Here booking with a tour company really helped since they had secured our permits and after our orientation of the 'what to do with the whale shark' tour we were loaded on the boats for a 30 minute 'swimming with the whale shark'

WHAT AN EXPERIENCE!!!

The whale Shark are peaceful and so massive. My older daughter V jumped in the water with us, but was nervous and stayed closer to the boat. The little one S stayed in the boat and awed the Whale Shark. I was half prepared for a 'crying session' with the little one, but she was super strong and stayed on the boat being our whale shark spotter.


Sumit and I swam or rather 'shivered' with these gorgeous creatures. We really tried to toughen up and get a picture with the whale shark, but were partially successful. This is definitely a recommended trip.

After the Whale Shark and the oohing and aahing,we headed to Tumalog falls, where more than the falls, i had fun on the bike ride to the falls and then the 'natural fish spa' eeeew, we all sat in the water, the fishes come to feed on the dead skin and eeeew, I could not do it for a long time, of course the older monster loved the 'spa' and Sumit was pretending to love it to.

These Tumalog falls are nothing to write home about, but just since the water was so shallow and th mist was worth it with the kids. We returned back to our cafe and Miss Ruth, the tour guide to enjoy a Vegetarian Lunch. These were by the far the best noodles I have had. So simple and so earthy and so delicious, These lemons, were tiny, juicy and tangy!!

A little more relaxation and then we bid farewell to Ms. Ruth and headed to Kawasan falls. Again the drive though gorgeous, our jet lagged bodies forced us to deep slumber. By the time we reached Kawasan falls, it was pouring down really hard.

But we braved it out and hiked a mile to reach the Kawasan Falls. Complete disclosure, I added this to  our custom tour, one can do Oslob and return back, but I really wanted to explore these much spoken about falls.
The highlight here (minus the rain) was the clear water and the raft ride which takes you below the falls. After much waiting and getting wetter in the rains, the three of us went on the massive raft and were 'water massaged' on it. The little one decided to stay on shore and watch us. Good call. The pressure of the water is crazy hard and though it was amazing fun, it would not have been worth it.

We hiked back and enjoyed some coconut water. And then drive back to Cebu was loong. I think about 6 hours. We were all knocked out solid. By the time we reached the hotel, we were exhausted and tired and happy to see our friends.

We freshened up and met our friends for dinner and some more cake and conversations which are never ending.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The drive back home

As parents, our weekday life is pretty routine to be honest, morning routine, dropping the kids to school, work, picking the kids, shuttling them to classes, park/ summer fun, dinner, bedtime. Simple and routine and I like the predictably, I like the simplicity of it.

But in all this routine, the kids are super busy and honestly as a parent, I am generally pre-occupied, be it for work or whats for dinner or even my phone.

The one time, that I am focused and ensuring I hear the kids is when it's just the kids and me is the drives and of course dinner time. The radio/ music is generally on low volume in the car ride and we chat, they talk and I listen. 

In the mornings, its generally a readiness for the day and hugs and kisses, but the evening is when the girls are chatty, they talk about their day at school, what they ate, whom they played with, what they didn't like and what was so awesome about their day.

And that's my best uninterrupted listening ears to them. I try to listen on all these conversations since without the girls knowing, they shed a light into their minds.

Its about them and what bothered them when someone didn't play with them. Or how they felt when a friend stumbled in the park. This is that one conversation which makes me realize every single day that these girls are being their own person. They are not just telling me how their day was, but telling me what moves them, what bothers them what excites them.

And as much as I think I know my kids, this one conversation is an eye opener every single day and i learn something new about them.


What's your best 'uninterrupted listening ears' time with your kids?