Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Good Bye 2014.. Welcome 2015

What, the year is over already?!! It's like we just wished each other a happy new year 2014 and it's already over.

Going back to see the year that was - it has been a year of changes for me. Changes within and without, changes personally and professionally, changes in my outlook and  how I see things, changes in how I handle things.. the list is endless. Though it was not a very easy year, I have enjoyed each and every moment of it - the challenges that were thrown my way and how we emerged out of it, only stronger. It has been a year of loving and understanding the people around me.

On the crafting front - I learnt quite a few recipes, some of them keepers. Zilch on the beading front, hoping to catch up with that too this year. Though I was not able to stitch much in the first half of the year, I caught up from August and the progress has been good ever since.

I baked a Christmas fruit cake this year - my first attempt. My cousin and her children visited us last weekend. I baked 2 mini loaves to give them as return gifts, and a bigger one for us. 
The pan I used was not of the right size, so it looks kind of flat. 
Here's a link to the recipe I used. Mine is an alcohol free, eggless version. I am definitely going to be baking this one again, it's a keeper

V learnt a new craft this year - quilling. Guess what, she now has her own craft box. Bad part is, some of the things from my craft kid suddenly just 'disappear'!! 
V made a few cards, here are 2 of the best 

And as we walk into 2015, here's where seashells stands

Dear friends, looking forward to more and more interactions this year with you all. I am hoping to learn atleast the basics of sewing this year, focus on the family's health and bring more discipline into our daily routine. Don't they sound simple, hope these are as simple to keep up.

Wishing one and all a very happy, healthy, prosperous 2015
See you in the New year. Till then.. take care.. be happy.. keep stitching.. Au Revoir!!!

Monday, December 15, 2014

New Recipes and progress...

I have been quite irregular in the blogger world this year - updates wise and also on catching up on other blogs. I definitely intend to mend that and be more regular from now

There are a few new recipes I tried during the last few weeks, out of which 2 stand out.

A whole wheat pizza made from scratch. The base is so simple and does not require yeast.

I used 2 kinds of toppings - the classic tomato and minty toppings. I found the recipe in Nita Mehta's book - Italian cooking for Indian kitchen.

I have been wanting to bake something using pumpkin for a long time and here's what I made

It's an eggless pumpkin streusel bread. The basic recipe can be found here. I skipped the chocolate chip and used a streusel topping instead

The husband passed a comment - "Every Sunday if I open the oven there's something smelling great and looking yummy"!!! Yyaaayyy, now need I anything more motivating to keep baking

Now, best for the last - my progress on the seashells

I am really happy with the way things are shaping up here. The last few months I have been stitching every night and the results are obvious. I definitely intend to keep this up

Well, that's from me today folks. Till next time.. Take care.. be happy.. keep stitching.. Au Revoir

Monday, November 10, 2014


Today is the day when they held hands and started their journey of life together as a couple - 40 years back. That's right, it's my parents' 40th wedding anniversary today

We had a small celebration at home to mark the occasion yesterday and I baked an eggless red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting topped with chocolate shavings.

I got the recipe from the HBG group on facebook. This time I took some time to try and get the frosting as smooth as possible. I think it is much better than my earlier attempts, but a long way to go still

This diwali I tried a new healthy snack - oven toasted oats mixture

The recipe had come a while back in the Hindu newspaper. Here's what we do - mix together oats (I used quaker quick cooking), turmeric powder, red chilli powder, raisins, cashews, peanuts, curry leaves and salt. Mix till all the dry ingredients are mixed well. Drizzle some oil - I used olive oil, but you could also use vegetable oil. Toast in an oven pre-heated at 125 degrees for about 45 minutes. Stir at regular intervals to avoid the  mixture getting burned. Toast for longer if you think it's not cooked enough
As it has raisins it also satiates the sweet craving.. It definitely helped me

So folks that's it from me today.. Be back soon with more..

Till then.. Take care.. Be happy.. Keep stitching and baking.. Au Revoir

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A new recipe and progress

I just realized that I have not posted any updates in over a month!!

It has been a busy month and half here. My brother and family visited us during their annual vacation and we all had a lovely time. And when it was time for them to return, well it was like the whole month just flew in the blink of an eye!! That is the worst part of anything wonderful, isn't it - it always has to end..siggghhhh

And then the first term exams for V - this is the first time she faced an actual examination. All these years they just had a test which lasted an hour at the most. From this year they have started examinations. She gets to use the pen once school re-opens. Now isn't that a big milestone that children look forward to, she's totally excited - rubbing it all off on me as well :)))

Now for the new recipe I tried - paneer orange cake

I had a lot of home-made paneer which I wanted to use up in something other than the regular paneer dishes. I started googling for paneer cakes and found this absolutely easy recipe

Here's the link to the recipe. I used flaxseed powder in place of eggs. So, you might find that the batter is slightly thick. If that is the case, add milk little at a time till you get the right consistency

Here's my progress on seashells

As I said, I am making (very slow) progress. So one day V saw my "progress" and says "Amma how long would your blogger friends have taken to finish this picture"
Me - "Umm, maybe 6 months max" (of course I stretched a bit to defend myself, knowing what her next question would be)
V - "How long more do you think you would take"
Me - Totally blank expression.
Now how do I answer such a question?!!

So, atleast for that friends I take an oath to work on this vigorously and move on to the next project

Till next time friends.. Take care.. Be happy.. Keep crafting.. Au Revoir

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My baby is a TWEEN!!!

Yes, she is 10 going on 11!!! I am unable to get over it, she's growing up.. or has she already?!!

We had a big family party to celebrate 3 birthdays that fall in August. So her actual birthday was a very low-key at home celebration.

I had a very adventurous experience baking her birthday cake. V's order was quite simple - a basic vanilla sponge with strawberry frosting. I had everything planned out perfectly and had the vision of a perfect looking cake. Now "Man proposes God disposes" right - so my perfect plan was not to be!! I started the baking quite early. A few minutes after the batter was in the oven I could smell something burning - of course it was my cake!! I realized only 25 minutes too late that I had started the baking in microwave mode and not in convection mode!!! Silly, stupid, **##@@** me!!!! So, I started from scratch all over again. This cake was just the perfect sponge
Next step - the frosting. My brother had got Wilton stamp set last year and I wanted to try that. But by this time I had run out of patience and did not work enough to get the smooth finish that is required for neat stamping. So, the stamping did not look neat. But all that matters is the taste - that's what I tell myself. My dad who's quite tough to please actually said "It is yummy and had 3 pieces" and V and her friend loved the cake too.

That's it from me today friends.. Till next time.. Take care.. Be happy.. Keep crafting.. Au Revoir

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Oohh Caramel!!

That's right, I've been experimenting with various ways of using caramel

Last time you saw that I made some Dulce de Leche. Now we can't use everything up in one go. So, V was very curious to know how I plan to use the remaining

I found this yummy recipe to make brownies with Dulche de leche. Recipe can be found here. It was so irresistible that I could not wait for it to cool completely before unmoulding, resulting in a brownie crumble

There was some home made caramel from earlier, which I used as topping.

Enough of caramel, let's eat something healthy. I made Apple walnut custard tarts last weekend for dessert.

The tart shell was so soft and came out so well, I fell in love with it. Apple is not V's favorite, so it did not go down very well with her

Now as you know, seashells is progressing at snails pace, but yes I am making some progress there. I have decided my next picture will only be after I make some good progress

Till next time dear friends.. Take care.. Be happy.. Keep stitching.. Au Revoir :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Trials 'n' Errors

I have been trying to get out of my comfort zone and try my hand at new things. Top most in my list is to make a perfect swiss roll. My best friend from college is an expert and she baked me a chocolate swiss roll for my birthday. Ever since then I have had this in my list, though I was not a very active baker then.

So, when I decided to break the shell, it had to be the swiss roll first. Of course, it was not a very successful attempt. The 'roll' broke, but fortunately into 4 symmetric logs

I made a faux roll out of it. I filled it with dulce de leche and topped with chocolate ganache. It turned out absolutely yummy. The cake was probably not moist enough causing it to crack. I am not giving up yet for sure

Next I tried a new recipe from my Eggless Cakes and muffins book by Nita Mehta - a spiced apple crumb cake.

My aunt visited us last weekend and she had requested me to bake something for her. I was extremely nervous baking for her, as she is an excellent baker. She is not one to flatter us with false praises, and gives very frank feedback too. I am happy to say that she just loved the taste and the texture of the cake. This is a whole wheat, no butter cake - so adds to the health factor too

Finally, dear friends, I have a picture to show you of my seashells progress

Do you see the little girl's bow shaping up? Isn't it a pleasure to watch things take shape as we progress

That's all from me today. Till next time.. Take care.. Be Happy.. Keep crafting.. Au Revoir

Monday, June 30, 2014

Cookies and Cheesecakes

I agree, I am definitely on a baking spree now. I found this super simple recipe for peanut butter cookies that I HAD to try in the BBC GoodFood magazine

It just calls for 3 ingredients -80g each of Peanut butter, butter, Icing sugar and 100g flour. Mix everything and bake.

I have been wanting to try a chocolate cheesecake for a long time and found this recipe on

The only problem I had here was with the fresh cream I bought. I did not get the brand that whips up real fast (milky mist), so had to make do with Amul, which is less fat and takes ages to whip up. V and I took turns whipping it. Here's the link to the recipe.

I have made some progress on seashells as well. Promise to post a picture next time.

With that friends I will close today's quick post. Till next time.. Take care.. Be happy.. Keep crafiting.. Au Revoir

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Sweet post

BAKING - yes, looks like that's what I've been doing of late!! So, this post is going to be a "sweet" one :)

The first one is Choco-peppermint choco-chunk cookies. I know it was a mouthful of chocolate.
I got this recipe from my Williams Sonoma book. I used chunks of chocolate rather than chocolate chips and for the first time got real bites of the chunks. Was sooo gooey, just loved it

Next - of course it has to be something with mango

A very simple Mango and dark chocolate mousse. So simple yet yummy. All we need is melted dark chocolate, mango pulp and whipped cream. The original recipe called for blending in all the 3. But I thought it would be better to layer them out. I also folded in some of the mango pulp into the dark chocolate

And finally - Whole wheat custard almond cake
This has no butter and just 2tbsp of oil. And it's whole wheat too. The recipe can be found here. It is best served warm and if you wish a dollop of butter

I picked up seashells again, after months I think, only yesterday!! Absolutely no stitching has been happening. But I am determined not to allow this to become a UFO. Well, there are 6 more months to this year and I am determined to catch up on all the stitching I missed the first 6 months

That's it from me today friends. Till next time.. Take care.. Be Happy.. Keep Crafting.. Au Revoir

Monday, June 2, 2014

Banana Choco-chunk cup cakes

As you are aware, I have been experimenting with egg replacers. So far I have got best results with curd and flax seed powder

I tried a recipe for Banana-choco chunk cup cakes from my Baking book

Here's the recipe I used:
1 1/2c flour (i used whole wheat), 3/4c sugar, 1 1/2tsp bkg soda, 1/4tsp salt, 2 ripe bananas, 1/2c melted butter (I used same qty oil), 1 egg (for eggless use 1tbsp flaxseed mixed in 3tbsp warm water), 3tbsp buttermilk, choc chunks

Method - sift flour,bkng soda and salt. Whisk together mashed banana, oil/butter, flaxseed mix/egg and buttermilk until well blended. Add flour mixture and fold in gently. Stir in choc chunks. Bake

V and her friend just loved it. The hubby is not a man of many words. But I was floored when he actually said "Those cakes you made yesterday are too good". And I was not surprised that he wolfed down 4 in one go!!!

So, I am one big delighted home baker ggrrriiinnn

Ok friends that's all I have from me today. Till next time - Take care, Be happy, Keep crafting, Au Revoir

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


..After a short vacation. We had gone to Mysore for a few days. The day we left Chennai, there was a bomb blast at the Chennai central station about an hour after our train departed, killing a girl!! Wow, what a start to a vacation. Other than this shock, we had a great 3 days.
Even the weather was very kind to us and cooled down the temperature by sending down mild showers. We visited the Mysore zoo, palace, bird sanctuary, the temple atop Chamundi hills. My favorite was the sand sculpture museum. Here are a few pictures taken during in and around Mysore
Of course, no trip is complete without shopping. But I did not go on a spree, and did only sensible shopping (if there's something called that).

Summer is here, and with that MANGOES!!! Here's my first mango bake for the season - a mango cake.
As my experiment with various egg replacements continue, I used only curd this time. I am happy with the result, but thought it was slightly dense.

No stitchy updates this time friends. I have been in and out of the house the last few months and no time to put in any X's.

Till next time.. Take care.. Be happy.. Keep Stitching.. Au Revoir

Monday, March 31, 2014

Tusal and more

Firstly, thank you dear friends for all your encouraging words. Each time I slow down, all I have to do is login to our blog world and take a look everybody's progress. Lo and behold.. I am all charged up to continue and not to give up

Ok now for my Tusal of the month

All ORTs are from seashells

Over the weekend I tried 2 new recipes. The first one is a dessert - a faux cheese cake.
V wanted something for dessert. I had craving for cheesecake, but no patience to whip up a proper cheesecake. So, I combined whipped cream with cream cheese, used ginger cookies as the base and strawberry oreo for topping

The second is choco-peppermint cookies
I replaced the egg with flaxseed powder. Also, I varied the baking time for each lot - baked one slightly longer for crispy cookies, one lot shorter for chewy center and in the last lot added some caramel in the center.

I don't have any picture to show you on seashells this time. So, that's all from me today dear friends.

Till my next update.. Take care.. Be happy.. Keep stitching.. Au Revoir

Monday, March 10, 2014

TUSAL and progress

Oh what hectic days these are!! With more stress I should say that I have been on a crafting detox. But I have diligently tried to contribute atleast one ORT to my TUSAL jar the last month. So, here it is

And here's the progress on Seashells

I am now trying to finish atleast a row in a day. Hope I keep up the pace and make considerable progress

On the baking front, I tried a new recipe - Lemon clove loaf with lemon drizzle
This time I let go of all my inhibitions and decided to experiment. The original recipe called for 3 eggs. As a first attempt, I used 3 tbsp of flax seed powder to replace the eggs. As there was no other leavening in the recipe, I added some baking powder. Later I found the batter was not of the right consistency, so added milk till I felt it looked right. Just out of some "inner voice" added a tsp of vinegar. The result was an amazingly soft and moist loaf. I was really pleased with the outcome.
I plan to try this recipe with a few other egg replacers and find the best.

That's the updates from me now friends. Till next time.. Take care.. Be happy.. Keep stitching.. Au Revoir

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


..I missed the first TUSAL of the year!! As it is almost time for the next TUSAL to be posted, I am making up with a TUSAL compare
I had saved up all my orts from 2012, just so at the end of year 2013 I could do a self evaluation and see which year I stitched the most

I think they are more or less the same, maybe 2013 was marginally better what with the finish of all the cottages!!!

And from Sep 2013 my stitching graph went on an all-time low almost hitting 0 sometimes.

I have been busy baking though
One of them is an orange, dry fruit cup cake.
Got the recipe from one of Nita Mehta's books that I borrowed from my library

Tried my hand at a baked cheese cake

Again, the recipe is from the same book. Used cream cheese and orange marmalade as topping

Well, that's about it from me today dear friends. Till my next post.. Take care.. Be happy.. Keep stitching.. Au Revoir

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 - In Retrospect

Dear friends, it's now time to bid farewell to yet another year. This year has been a very eventful one for us in many ways.

On the family front, there were quite a few anxieties causing stress in more than one way.

Well, what's life without all of this right. As we face each challenge we learn something new, which in turn makes us much stronger and a much better person. While we are right in the middle of a situation we might think "why me". But if we try to take a step back and look at the situation, we can see that God has His own ways and everything happens for a reason. It's just that when we are right in the middle we do not know why all this is happening. Once this phase passes and maybe a year or 2 later when we look back we would think "wow, now I know why that happened. What would have happened had that situation not occurred".

As a result, I finally took a step towards a healthier me and have started yoga classes. So, end of the day (err year) all's well and this too shall pass

The year saw me take a step forward towards becoming a small time entrepreneur. After a lot of cajoling from friends and family, I gathered courage to post some of my jewellery in a group called "Chennai Shopping" on FaceBook. And the response was not at all disappointing. This has motivated me now to start my own page to display my jewellery.

Thanks to the lovely Homebaker's Guild, the year saw me explore new recipes and move out of my comfort zone. Baking anything with yeast was once very intimidating. I got over that fear. I also moved out of baking only sweet cakes/muffins and tried a whole lot of savoury recipes.
That's a collage of all the new recipes I tried this year

On the stitchy front, the year saw me finish the Cottage series from CCN. I thoroughly enjoyed working on the whole project

Now, that's alllll about the year that was. Going forward, I hope/plan to finish seashells this year.

That's where I am with seashells right now. I have not been stitching much the last 2-3 months. But I think I have got back the mojo and have been stitching daily the last few days.

What are my resolutions for the coming year you ask? Well, I think I'm going to keep that for my next post.

With that my dear friends, let's bid farewell to the year 2013 (it's just past midnight 31st Dec) and welcome a whole New Year with an all New perspective. Wishing you all a brilliant, very happy, very prosperous Year in 2014. Hope this year brings everyone all that you wish for

Till my next post.. Take care.. Be Happy.. Keep stitching.. Au Revoir