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Sweet spot on Lake Tahoe

The other day I was browsing through some pictures from a vacation when I came across a few from Baldwin Beach, a quiet little beach on Lake Tahoe. There was this picturesque spot a little away from the beach and just before hitting the road. It seemed like a mini lake with ducks gently paddling away in the blue waters laced with tall grass waving in the summer breeze.

I just had to relive the moment, this time with watercolors!

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Yosemite memories

A watercolor painting of Yosemite inspired by a photograph!

Two summers ago I visited Yosemite National Park. Memories of standing at the base of El Capitan, a granite monolith over 7,000 feet tall and listening to the thunder of Yosemite Falls made me feel like a grain of sand or maybe an ant! I remember the grueling climb to the top of Vernal Falls and back to the base where the peaceful Merced flowed. Every minute spent there – in the meadows under the sun or near the roaring waterfalls – was filled with awe and admiration for the majestic beauty of nature. It’s impossible to come out of that experience the same!

Yosemite
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Mini Landscapes

Here’s a collage of a few mini landscapes I’d been working on during the month of June. Whenever I felt inspired by a picture or memory, I would loosely paint a version of that. Sometimes I painted something out of my imagination!

This one was inspired by the memory of the warm waters of Key West, Florida.

I think I was thinking of the sun just about to rise and the soft rays bringing things to life….

The majestic El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California of course!

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Blueberries

It was a cloudy day and I was looking around for something to inspire me to paint. I peeked into the refrigerator and found some left over blueberries. I took a cup and carelessly dropped the blueberries into it letting some scatter around it and voila! this turned into a perfect piece of inspiration.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

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Comfort food

Thought I should do something different for breakfast so instead of the usual oats I decided to prepare some cream of rice that I had bought last year for a dessert recipe I had seen on youtube. And I am so glad I did because it tasted absolutely heavenly! It turned out to be an easy recipe too. I am happy to say it is now a part of my list of comfort foods.

Cream of rice is gluten free as well as fat and cholesterol free. It is a good source of minerals like iron, manganese and selenium and vitamin Bs like thiamine and niacin. What’s more it is also easily digestible.

Ingredients

Milk – 1 1/2 cups

Cream of rice – 2 tbsp mixed with a little water

Almonds – chopped 1 1/2 tbsp

Walnuts – chopped 1 tbsp

Raisins – 1 tbsp

Cardamom powder – pinch

Any kind of sweetener – as per taste

Method

  1. Heat the milk on medium and let it come to a simmer.
  2. Add the rice and water mixture to the milk and stir. As the entire mixture starts thickening, turn off the heat and add the rest of the ingredients reserving 1/2 tbsp of almonds for garnish.
  3. If the mixture becomes too thick add a little more milk to thin it.

Note – Instead of cardamom you may add 1/4 tsp of vanilla.

Enjoy

Watercolor and Ink Illustration

Lately I have been practicing and exploring watercolor and ink. Here is a sunflower I tried painting different ways – watercolor alone as well as before and after using ink.

I discovered that using ink on top of a loose watercolor art makes it quite whimsical and I love that effect! And that’s why I like the lower left sunflower a little more🌻

For ink I have used Sakura Pigma Micron pen 01 0.25mm in black.

The Liebster Award

A big thank you to Chocoviv’s Lifestyle Blog for nominating me for this award! Yippee! This is my very first award on WordPress and I am so happy and grateful. I recently came across Chocoviv’s blog and found some really interesting posts there ranging from art to cooking to environment. Please do check out her blog!

RULES

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and put a link to their blog.
  2. Answer the questions given to you.
  3. Nominate 2-6 bloggers and notify them of their nomination.
  4. Create 11 new questions or use the same ones below.

Questions (Original)

  1. How would you describe your blogging journey in 3 words? Creative, Joyful, Insightful

2. What do you love most about blogging? It helps me translate my feelings into words and art and share and connect with like minded individuals. On the way I hope to inspire others also.

3. How long does it take you to compose a blog post? It can take from an hour to a day depending upon the content.

4. Imagine visiting your 7-10 year old self. What would be his/her advice/message to your current self? Take care of yourself and nurture your gifts.

5. What is the one thing you learned during this quarantine period? It’s ok to invest time on myself.

6. Coffee or tea? Both

7. What are the 3 things you are grateful for today? Home, Family and Faith

8. When you are feeling down what do you do to cheer yourself up? I mostly watercolor, listen to my favorite songs on Spotify and sometimes declutter!

9. What is one habit you want to break and why? Worry less over things that are out of my control.

10. What is your dream destination? A two week long vacation in Hawaii maybe!

11. What language would you like to learn? I have been trying to learn Spanish on Duolingo.

So here are my nominees

agrlwithablog

My Take on Things

The 3H:health,happiness,healing

It was really fun answering Chocoviv’s questions! Hoping to hear from the nominees also!😊

My yoga routine

I’d intended to post this yesterday, June 21, International Yoga Day! But anyway here it is – a casual post on my yoga routine – one that I try to practice as often as possible. I have not described the poses in detail as you can find lot of good information regarding that on the web. I just want to share how yoga heals and relaxes and the benefits I derive from them. I have also mentioned when not to perform some of the poses.

  1. Sun salutation (suryanamaskar) – I always start my routine with a couple of rounds of this set of 12 poses to warm up and let me tell you it’s quite a workout! I have written a post on this – https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/happytimebreak.wordpress.com/289 People with high blood pressure, heart problems, back issues or those who are pregnant should avoid this.
  2. Tree pose (vriksasana) – It is a standing pose that involves balancing on one leg at a time while raising the hands. It builds balance and strengthens the ankles and calf muscles. I usually hold this pose for 4-5 deep breaths on each leg. Someone with high blood pressure should not raise their hands and those with any kind of balancing issues should take the support of a wall to perform this pose.
  3. Warrior (virabhadrasana) 1 and 2 poses – These are also standing poses that build balance and focus. I especially love warrior 2 pose. It instantly grounds me whenever I am in need to. People with blood pressure and cardiac problems should however avoid them.
  4. Seated forward bend (paschimottanasana) – This is a seated pose and gives me a good spinal stretch. It also acts as a stress buster. I relax into this pose for at least a minute. It should be avoided by people with asthma and back problems.
  5. Head-to-knee forward bend (janu sirsasana) – Quite similar to the seated forward bend, it is also a stress buster as well as good for digestion. It should be avoided in case of low back pain, pregnancy or knee problems.
  6. Seated spinal twist (ardha matsyandrasana) – I love this pose! It stimulates the liver and kidneys and helps in digestion. The twisting part opens up the chest. It should be avoided in case of low back pain.
  7. Child pose (balasana) – A very simple and restful seated pose, I use it to take a minute long break to cool down and rest. It is so relaxing.
  8. Wind relieving pose (pavanmuktasana) – It is a supine pose where the legs are brought up to the chest. It is excellent for relieving gas from intestines. I also find it quite calming and relaxing for my spine.
  9. Happy baby pose (ananda balasana) – What can I say? The name says it all! Do you really feel happy and content? Well you have to try!
  10. Bridge pose (setu bandhasana) – I find this one of the most simple and effective poses. It builds strength in the abdomen as well as the legs. It strengthens the spine and calms the nervous system. It also relieves menstrual and menopausal issues. Of course it should be avoided in case of neck pain or back or knee injuries.
  11. Supine bound angle (supta baddha konasana) – It is a great hip and shoulder opener and very relaxing. I think it is a great pose to unwind at the end of a long tiring day!
  12. Corpse (shavasana) – I use this very restful pose to end my practice.

Happy yoga

Living a Greener Life

Ever since the pandemic started I have become startled at the ‘waste’ being generated. I am also shocked at how much we ‘need’ to survive. Every time I shop whether in person or online I am appalled at the quantity of plastic, metal and paper that makes its way into my home and sadly some of this is not even recyclable. To make things more difficult the local grocery store has discontinued its bulk food which just means more plastic packages!

The problem with plastic especially is as I learned that only a small percentage of gets recycled while the rest makes its way into the landfills where, by the way, it can not biodegrade, so it just sits there. Just imagine that!

So here are a few steps I have been taking in order to tackle this problem.

  1. Cotton Bags First of all I bought a couple of bags made of 100% pure cotton. I machine wash them after every shopping trip and they are good to go!
  2. Substituting Paper Towels for Cotton As much as possible I have replaced the use of kitchen paper towels with cotton towels – ones you can machine wash and reuse.
  3. Glass Jars I try to buy food such as pasta sauce and condiments that come in glass jars as they are easier to reuse or recycle. After the contents are emptied, I like to look for creative ways to use the pretty glass jars. For example, I have one for holding all the paintbrushes.
  4. Reusable Bottles I have replaced the bottled water with a stainless steel water bottle. Recently I also bought a pack of reusable straws that come in pretty colors!
  5. Homemade Skin Care Skin care products in plastic containers are another source of unwanted pollution. I use a homemade facial oil made with essential oils and store it in an amber glass bottle. https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/happytimebreak.wordpress.com/126 However I cannot replace every skin care product. So I do use some of them products but with a mindful approach.
  6. Cloth Masks During quarantine I also decided to make the switch to a more sustainable version of protection – cloth masks made of 100% cotton that are totally washable and reusable.

Everyday I am learning about sustainable options and trying to incorporate them into my life. It gives me the deepest satisfaction to know I am making a difference on this planet even if it is miniscule.

If you have more ideas about how to make sustainable choices please leave your comments. I will love to hear from you.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle as much as possible.

Color therapy – Yellow

You did not expect to see a picture of fruit custard, did you?

I did not intend to post one either! But from the moment I took this picture, I was smitten by its joyful nature and knew that it would certainly make its way into my blog.

The buttery yellow vanilla custard topped with translucent mango-flavored jello cubes, golden nuggets of mango (which you can’t see in the picture) and little gems of red grapes with a sprinkling of chopped almonds, all tied up together in a pretty little bowl in canary yellow (and some parrot green)…..So much joy and so much love – a feast for my eyes and soul!

My mom often made this dessert when I was a kid. Sometimes she layered the custard on pieces of left over pound cake which tasted absolutely heavenly. The color of the custard, sometimes the pink of strawberry and at other times pale yellow of vanilla was always topped with a layer of fruits followed by another layer of bright red or orange jello.

Too pretty to eat!

Wholesome Earthy Salad

Here’s another easy, healthy, wholesome recipe using Quinoa pronounced ‘keen-waa’. You must have seen its different varieties – red, white or tricolor. I personally prefer the white as I feel it cooks a little faster. But let me get straight to the point. It is gluten free and rich in protein and fiber so it is great for weight control. Also it has low glycemic index so it also helps control the blood sugar. But it is so delicious with that nutty flavor. To raise the overall nutritional effect, I have included lots of veggies and some nuts. You are going to love this recipe!

Ingredients

Quinoa 1 cup

Water 2 cups

Olive oil 4 tsp

Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp

Red cabbage 1 cup shredded

Green cabbage 1 cup shredded

Bell Pepper 1/2 cup chopped – any color

Broccoli 1 cup small pieces

Celery 1/2 cup chopped

Chickpeas 1/2 cup cooked (optional)

Mixed nuts 1/4 cup

Raisins 1 tbsp (optional)

Salt to taste

Method

1. Rinse the quinoa in water at least 2-3 times and let it sit.

2. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a saucepan. Add the cumin seeds, let them sputter then add the drained quinoa and stir continuously for about a minute. Don’t let the quinoa stick to the bottom of the pan.

3. Add the water to the pan and add some salt at this point. Stir once more and let the water come to a boil on medium high heat. Allow to cook for about 10 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed most of the water. Then reduce the heat and cook the quinoa covered on low heat for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. Uncover the pan and fluff up the cooked quinoa.

4. Heat the remaining oil in a pan on medium heat and add the cabbage – red first followed by the green. It’s because the red cabbage is a little hardier. Cook until cabbage is a little soft and then add all the other veggies, chickpeas, mixed nuts and raisins. Don’t forget the salt!

5. Time to combine everything – cooked quinoa and the veggie mixture. Your Quinoa Salad is ready. Voila!

Notes

Keep some extra cooked quinoa in the refrigerator for future use say to be used in 3-4 days. I often freeze extra cooked chickpeas to be used in salads or other recipes. You can use canned chickpeas or substitute them with black beans. They are a great source of protein and fiber. So you can use as much as you want. I also happen to blanch and freeze broccoli so that they are always available for salads or pasta. That’s all. Hope you give this recipe a try!

Easy quesadillas

Quesadilla pronounced kei-suh-dee-uh, is a popular and savory recipe from Mexico, easy to prepare at home. It is basically a flour tortilla packed with veggies and cheese, served with salsa and or guacamole. So it can prove to be pretty healthy if you load up on the veggies and cut out the cheese! And these days it is pretty popular at my home. So I thought why not share it with all of you!

Ingredients

  • Flour tortillas – 2 large
  • Canned black beans – 1
  • Romaine lettuce – 1/2 cup shredded
  • Spinach – 1/2 cup shredded
  • Bell peppers – 1 cup thinly sliced
  • Onion – 1/2 cup thinly sliced
  • Jalapenos – thinly sliced (according to taste)
  • Salt – 1/8 tsp (adjust according to taste)
  • Cheese – as much as you like
  • Cooking oil – 1 1/2 tsp
  • Guacamole – home made or store bought

Method

  • Heat 1 tsp oil on medium and saute the onions followed by bell peppers and jalapenos. Add the salt.
  • Empty the beans into a heat proof bowl and cook in the microwave for 3 min.
  • Next warm a tortilla on a pan and keep it aside, cooler side up.
  • If you do have guacamole with you, spread about 1 tbsp on one half side of the tortilla with a butter knife. Next place half of the spinach and half of the lettuce followed by 1-2 tbsp of beans on top of the guacamole layer. Sprinkle as much cheese over this. Fold the tortilla over this layered side.
  • Heat the pan on medium and add 1/4 tsp oil. Now place the tortilla in the pan and cook gently until both sides are golden brown.
  • Now this is a Quesadilla. I usually cut it in half or quarters and serve it hot along with salsa and guacamole!
  • Repeat this with the other tortilla.

Bonus recipes :

SALSA GUACAMOLE
Ingredients
Tomatoes – 2 cups chopped
Garlic – 1 clove
Serrano peppers – 1 tbsp chopped
Salt – to taste
Cumin powder – 1/4 tsp

Method
Put all the ingredients in a food
processor or mixer and puree them.
Your salsa is ready!
Ingredients
Avocado – 1 ripe chopped
Lemon juice – 1/2 tsp
Salt – to taste

Method
Puree the avocado in the food
processor. Add a little water if
you want to.
Adjust the amount of lemon and
salt.
Guacamole is ready!

Notes:

  • I add cumin to salsa to cut down on any bitterness that may exist in the tomatoes.
  • Avocados can also be chopped instead of being pureed.

ENJOY!