February Staycation Week!

February School Vacation Week is right around the corner! We’ve managed to escape Boston during February break for the past two years. This year though, we’re switching it up and having a Staycation Week! Unlike our intensive summer bucket list, we plan to keep it simple and enjoy more low-key days together this time. We’re not the type to waste free time, however, so I’ve made a list of potential activities; we will play it by ear and decide what we feel like doing as the week goes by!

  • Museums - The girls have been asking to visit the Museum of Science for a couple of weeks so we will try and spend one afternoon at the museum. We have also been meaning to check out William Forsythe: Choreographic Objects at the ICA, and next week is the last week of the exhibit so we might have to take advantage of that!

  • Movie & lunch date - A low-key afternoon of movie watching and lunch date is always a favorite! We don’t really have any particular movie in mind at the moment but we’ll check and see what's out there that week!

  • Indoor energy burn - We’ve been meaning to check out Urban Air Trampoline Park. This week, we have a playdate setup and are eager to enjoy this experience with our friends.

  • Theater - The girls have never been to Puppet Showplace Theater so I’m thinking a puppet show might be fun and interesting!

  • Swim at our local health club - A family favorite and total body workout -- win-win for kids and adults.

  • Ski - The girls have a ski lesson scheduled and are looking forward to that!

  • Curl up with a good book - Curling up for an afternoon by the fireplace and reading a book together is always enjoyable, especially if snow is in the forecast.

  • Impromptu play dates & catch up with friends - When schedules align, it’s wonderful to use down time to meet up with friends we haven’t seen in a while.

As you can tell, I do have some activities already planned, but it’s nice to have an overview of what we could do. Then again, staying home and relaxing is sometimes just as needed. I like a healthy balance of eventful and low key days. How do you plan on spending your February vacation with your kids?


Choosing photos for a gallery wall

These photographs are a mishmash of some of my favorites from 2017 & 2018.

There’s a bare wall in my house that I’ve been meaning to decorate with some of my photographs, creating a gallery wall. I mentally selected the prints last year, however, before finally ordering the prints, I created  a ‘sample’ gallery wall to get a first-hand idea of how it would eventually look.

As I created the gallery wall I had originally envisioned (above), I realized that including only the top three images would visually result in a much stronger gallery wall. I decided to let go of the bottom two images, even though I love them. This process of elimination reminded me of a quote shared by one of my photography instructors, “kill your darlings.” He used it in the context of creating a strong, coherent body of work, even if it meant getting rid of your favorite images. (The original quote is by author William Faulkner used in the context of writing: “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”)

This may not be your typical “kill your darlings” situation. Afterall, hanging artwork in one’s own home is personal and subjective! But it surely got me thinking about how difficult it must be for writers/artists/photographers to eliminate their ‘favorites’ that don’t make the cut as a part of a larger body of work. I’m sure it’s a long learning curve, but I must say, I’m quite satisfied with the triptych I finally settled on!

Stay tuned for the final outcome!


Family Lifestyle Blog: 14 Winter Survival Strategies

A couple of years ago, when my family and I lived in downtown Boston, I found that the chilly winter season wasn’t all that bad. The hustle and bustle of the city helped me keep the winter blues at bay. Living in the suburbs, and now working from home, the long, dark winter days have become a little more challenging. In order to combat the inevitable, I’ve started thinking about winter goal setting, creating rituals, and working towards keeping a positive mindset amidst the cold. Here are a few survival strategies I’ve come up with. Most of these may sound too obvious but writing them down and using as a reference can help provide a quick winter pick-me-up!

1. Finesse your cooking skills: Use the cold weather as an impetus to cook hearty, elaborate meals and soul-soothing soups and stews. Yank out those unused cookbooks and try some fun recipes. If you have kids, involve them in the kitchen and make cooking a fun family activity.

2. Embrace your home: Light some candles, play soothing music and stay cozy. Make your living environment more enjoyable, especially when going outside isn’t an option.

3. Mind over matter: Bundle up and brave the cold! Go for long walks, maybe stopping at your favorite coffee shop to warm up, and embrace the weather. After all, winter holds its own type of magic.

4. Pick up a winter hobby: Something to look forward to in your spare time! Skiing, ice skating or anything else that’s either seasonal or you usually don’t seem to find time for in the warmer months.

5. Hygge like the Danes: Cuddle up by the fireplace with a good book or stream every series on Netflix you’ve ever wanted to. Give yourself permission to relax.

6. Entertain more: Nip that winter isolation in the bud and get intentional about planning activities that encourage social interaction. Host a wine and cheese night or share a meal with friends/neighbors. Coffee break with a friend is a sure shot winner!

7. Channel your inner #konmari (all the rage these days that I don’t quite get but perhaps a conversation for some other time): Work on some pending home organization projects. I’ve had a photo organizing project pending for years!

8. Mid winter break: Take a trip to get through the season or simply pretend to plan warm weather escapades to keep your spirits up.
9. Step up your winter fashion game: I’m guilty of hiding inside a puffer jacket and tall boots all winter long. It’s my everyday uniform - especially living in New England. Taking an effort to dress up and adding some color to your winter wardrobe can be so refreshing. Even accessorising and putting on some makeup goes a long way. It’s the little things, right?

10. Boost your skin care regimen: Use a humidifier, and keep your body hydrated and nourished. Soaking in a warm bath after a long day can help elevate your mood and help you sleep better.

11. Bring greenery inside: A hint of green inside the house can brighten up the space and can provide much needed change of scenery. Simply buying flowers at your next grocery store visit can help liven up your space, too.

12. Don’t forget to exercise: Always saves my day! Endorphins are all too real and a necessary friend when avoiding the winter blues.

13. Indulge in fun family rituals: Playing board games, movie nights, bookstore visits, or dance parties! Not only will family activities make you smile, but they’ll help your loved ones keep a positive mindset as well.

14. Engage in cultural activities around town: Theatre, concerts, or museums are great ways to get out of the house and change up your routine.

Switching it up and staying intentional are important, especially during this time of year! What are your tricks and tips for staying cheery in the winter months?


Happy 2019! A few pictures from our Asia travels...

Happy 2019! How has everyone been? I’ve missed being here, and am glad to be back from our Asia travels, ready to tackle the new year. 

Naturally, my first post of the new year is filled with travel pictures from my family’s visit to Hong Kong, Vietnam (Hanoi and Nha Trang), Cambodia (Phnom Penh) and our hometown of Indore, India. 

We had a great time these past three weeks, and even though we’re back to reality, the effect of heartwarming Asian hospitality and their flavorful food will definitely linger for weeks. 

The pictures I’m sharing are a combination of my camera and iphone. Enjoy a glimpse into our trip below!

Hong Kong

The first stop of the trip did not disappoint. Big Buddha statue on Lantau Island, the stunning city views from Victoria Peak, catching up with cousins and an old friend Aliena, plus lots and lots of delicious food are what filled our days in Hong Kong. The girls refused to start their day without a dip in the hotel pool, so we also had that to look forward to every morning.

Cable car ride to Lantau Island

The Big Buddha and a couple of enthusiastic tourists : )

Po Lin Monastery

Stunning Views from Victoria Peak

Focusing on the food, there were two meals I found very memorable. The first meal was served at a tiny joint close to our hotel (I can’t even remember the name!). The savory chicken dish with noodles was phenomenal, and just hit the spot since it was our first hot meal after a long flight. The other favorite one was at Ming Court -- I’ve never had a more delicious braised lamb pot before. So gratifying!

Traveling by foot is one of our favorite ways to explore any city. From traditional flower markets and hole in the wall food joints to more modern and developed parts of the city -- we walked as much as we could, taking in all the sights and sounds. The markets were flooded with Christmas decorations and the festive feeling was definitely in the air.

Beautiful Orchids at Hong Kong Flower Market

Central, Hong Kong

Hanoi, Vietnam

My husband’s family traveled from India and joined us in Hanoi. There was now ten of us moving forward for the rest of the trip! The girls were elated to see their cousins (aka built-in babysitters - thank you!), and we were so glad to spend some quality time with everyone.

Hanoi is such an interesting city -- a glorious paradox of traditional and modern. On one hand, they have very crowded streets, busy markets with tons of local vendors, and ad hoc traffic patterns. On the other hand, the city offers beautiful cafes (a result of the French influence), restaurants, and architecture that one can expect from any modern city. These aspects reminded me of parts of India (with a Vietnamese twist) in so many ways.

Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi

Ceramic Mosaic Mural Wall, Hanoi

The touristy highlights were a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and a day trip to Ha Long Bay. The kids enjoyed a local puppet show while the rest of us enjoyed walking around the bustling streets and window shopping.

Halong Bay

Exploring caves in Halong Bay

The two most memorable meals were at Cao Go (here we indulged on delectable local cuisine) and Dalcheeni (to satisfy our Indian taste buds) Yumm!

Nha Trang, Vietnam

To makeup for the girls’ dismay, due to the lack of a beach during our last spring break trip to Charleston, we definitely wanted to add a salt water destination this time. After the hustle-bustle of busy cities, Nha Trang was low key for everyone. Most of us adults are not really beach people, but watching the kids bursting with excitement as they played in the waves was pure joy. Other highlights were drinking fresh coconut juice, eating custard apples and other tropical fruits, flying kites we bought locally, and enjoying walks by the beach.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Phnom Penh was extremely hot, with temperatures over 90 degrees! We had to keep taking breaks to cool off. It had also been about two weeks since we had been traveling, and while we were having a great time, we were ready to fly to India for the last leg of our journey.

Exploring local markets, experiencing innovative farm to table restaurants (La Pergola was a favorite), and a visit to the beautiful Royal Palace were some of our favorite parts. We were surprised the USD was locally accepted almost everywhere!

We would love to visit again and travel deeper into Vietnam and Cambodia -- there is so much more to explore and appreciate in these beautiful countries.

Lotus flowers for offerings in front of a Buddhist temple

Currency exchange?

Royal Palace, Phnom Penh

Central Market, Phnom Penh

These two refused to leave until I bought them shoes!

Indore, India

A couple flights and layovers later, we were finally in our hometown of Indore. We had a week here and many loved ones to meet. Plus, an endless amount of utterly delicious homemade food to eat. Without wasting any time, we got down to business right away!

Visiting Indore is always so special -- my husband and I are both born and raised here. It’s fun to revisit old haunts, catch up with family and friends, and give the girls a peek into our childhood.    

A week flew by way too quickly. Soon enough, after the girls got some well deserved rest, we were boarding the plane for another long journey back to Boston.

It’s always challenging to return back to the freezing New England weather in January, especially after leaving behind our families and the gorgeous weather. Mentally, I’m still in Asia enjoying the lush greenery and soaking in the warm sun. Sigh.

Happy place, Indore, India


Happy Holidays!

2018 is rapidly coming to an end, making this my final post for the year. These next few weeks I’ll be focusing on the holidays and spending quality time with the family. As we hustle and bustle through the holiday season and countdown to New Years Eve, I wanted to leave you with a brilliant idea I read in one of the local parent forums I am a part of.

SG: "We have a memory jar. It sits on the kitchen counter with a pen and a stack of paper, and whenever something memorable happens, any one of us (including kids) can write it down and put it in the jar. We read them all together on NYE."

This idea really resonated with me and I’m excited too incorporate it in the new year. It will help us appreciate the simple moments as they happen and is a great (yet simple) way to practice gratitude as the year finishes. How fun and special it would be to read all the moments to remember together with the family on New years Eve!  

I also want to thank you for stopping by and reading! I love sharing pieces of my life with you and I’m excited to bring more inspiring content and photography to my page next year. Wishing you all a healthful, peaceful, joyful, and mindful December. Happy holidays and cheers to 2019!


10 Resources to Help You Buy Art for Your Home

A while back, I promised to share how to buy art in a separate blog post, so here we are. These resources cater to a range of price points, from affordable options to splurge-worthy pieces and everything in between. You can also choose between art prints vs. original artwork. Whether you are moving into your first dorm room or have a mature, refined aesthetic, there is something for everyone!  This list will serve as a good starting point to deck those walls or simply enjoy browsing art.
1. Art Galleries - The most obvious and a no brainer. Check out your local art galleries or visit galleries while on vacation. This can be a good starting point to get your feelers out there and figure out what type of art you are drawn to. Personally, I rarely have the leisure time to visit local galleries, but I love to pop in and browse while traveling. I have vivid memories of visiting random galleries in Santa Fe, San Diego, Palm Springs, and Vienna.
2. Online Resources - I am listing a few of the myriad options to buy art online.

- Artsy
- Anthropologie
- Urban Outfitters
- Minted
- Tappan Collective
- 20x200
- Etsy

3. Open Studios - Artists’ open studios or studio tours in many cities are a great way to get acquainted to upcoming and established artists. Many cities have designated days where all studios are free and open to public. In Boston, South End Open Studios and SoWa First Fridays are popular ones if you are local and would like to check them out!

4. Antique Stores/Flea Markets/Estate Sales - A great way to find eclectic, vintage artwork. One of my favorite pieces (seen below) is from Ramble Market -- a local antique store. A visit to Saint Ouen Flea Market in Paris was a memorable experience earlier this year, too.

5. Artist Collectives - A lot of cities also have artist collectives showcasing the work of a group of artists. A great way to find affordable, original art and support the local art community.

6. Art School Sale - Art schools in your city may have an end of the year sale of works by students, alumni and faculty. Another great way to find an eclectic melange of artwork and support arts education. I was recently very happy to discover SMFA Art Sale in Boston.

7. Artist Commissions - If you are already aware and love the work of a specific artist, commissioning a personalized piece of art is a special way to collect art. I discovered the work of Chambers Austelle on Instagram and this commissioned piece (see below) by her will always be one of my favorites.

8. Local Art Shows - Check to see if your city has a local art fair or art show. I have never been to one but I know they exist.

9. Art Consultant - If you don’t have the time or the knack to collect art of your liking, hiring an art consultant or seeking recommendations from your interior designer (if you have one) can be an option.

10. Your Network - Don’t be shy to look inside of your own network. If you have an artist friend or acquaintance, browse their work online or set up a time to see it in person if they are local. Buying their work is such a wonderful way to show support and appreciate their art.

Use these resources to get started and keep your eyes open for the artist’s name or information when you come across any piece of art you love. Remember, decorating your walls isn’t something that has to happen all at once - it's a labor of love. Collect pieces at your own pace and buy only what you truly love as it's always personal.

Do you know of any other resources not listed here? How do you go about collecting art for your home?