3.18.2019

Starting an art collection


Remember my post about beginning an art collection for kids? I shared my thoughts on gifting pieces of art or experiences for special days, rather than items with a short impression. Last year, I gave my older daughter Neve these beautiful 4x6 oils on canvas by Boston artist Sorin Bica for her birthday. This year, it was my younger daughter Ona’s turn to get her 6th birthday artwork from mommy. And this time around, I didn’t have to look too far. 

One of our oldest family friends Rashna Madon gifted Neve her very first piece of art about seven years ago when she was a newborn. On the back was a beautiful handwritten note: “ To little Neve - your first piece of original art - may you have many more. Love…” This was hands down the most thoughtful gift Neve received as a newborn. We have moved twice since then, and it always finds a prominent place in the girls’ room.

Neve's first piece of art from Rashna

A few years later, when Rashna’s work had a dedicated Facebook page, I started following it. I came across a captivating ink on paper she had posted sometime in July 2018, saved a picture of it on my desktop, and knew I didn’t have to look any further for what I wanted. 

I contacted Rashna to commission her to make a similar piece of art as the one I had saved for Ona’s birthday. Rashna was getting ready for an upcoming show at the time so we decided to wait until things were less busy. The show was in NJ in November 2018 and unfortunately I couldn’t physically be there but my dear aunt (and one of Rashna’s closest friends) was attending. My aunt was kind enough to help me ‘virtually’ pick out an artwork and, lo and behold, we found the original one I had loved. I bought it right away and received it recently once the show was over.


Isn’t it so lovely!? It’s 5 x 7 ink on paper. Ona loves the whimsical creatures and I especially love the tree (reminds me of India) and all the brilliant, intricate details. Her work is folksy, playful, and has a narrative. It depicts nature, animals, and the harmonious coexistence of living creatures in a given environment. It brings me peace and joy every time I look at it. 

Thank you so much Rashna! I’m so glad this work made it to its permanent home. We are absolutely loving it and enjoying it everyday! Follow Rashna on Facebook.

P.S. You may also enjoy 10 resources to help you buy art for your home.

3.15.2019

3 things that make me smile


These are my grandparents documented circa 1949. A month ago, in February, they celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Yes, 70 epic years of togetherness!! My grandfather hadn’t been well lately, and this morning, I woke up to a phone call that he passed away. While I’m sad and we’ll all miss him dearly, I’m happy that I saw him recently in India in January and was able to spend time with him.

What makes me smile is this photograph of him and my grandma, every. single. time. It’s jovial, mischievous and an ode to a simple and noble life well-lived. We will be thinking of him and the rest of our family in India as we celebrate 87 years of his life.

Photo Credit

After talking to my parents this morning regarding my grandpa and dropping off the kids at school, I went straight to the gym for a much needed pick-me-up. I saw an elderly lady on the treadmill. I’m not sure how old, but I’m guessing in her 80s. Her cheeks were rosy with makeup, and she was wearing a bright red leotard with light pink ballerina tights and white sneakers. You guys, I cannot tell you how much I adore, and am inspired by, her. I had seen her a few more times previously in her bright leotards and cool, nonchalant demeanor. And she gets me every time!

When I saw her this morning, I just couldn't get over her cool outfit. I jumped on the treadmill right next to her and she looked at me and smiled as if saying “girl, I got you.” On a particularly dull morning, working out next to her was an uplifting experience, and it definitely made me smile.

I wish I had her picture, but instead I pulled one off the internet to give you a visual.


Changing generations, my younger daughter Ona got this plastic cup with some soil and red kidney beans from school for her birthday at the end of January. I was confused to see just a handful of kidney beans and some potting soil in a cup but I kept watering it. Eventually, my husband, the official plant sitter of the family, started taking care of it. Who knew kidney bean seeds could grow like this (Sorry, elementary school science teacher)? We started to monitor its growth and seeing how much it has grown in just over 4 weeks makes me happy. And green, the color of life, nature, renewal always makes me smile. Especially now that spring is almost around the corner!

What's making you smile today?

3.13.2019

Family Lifestyle Blog: Travel Treasures

San Diego, 2017

For years, I have enjoyed bringing home souvenirs from our travels. Rather than buying t-shirts or refrigerator magnets, I prefer to hold onto memories through treasures that go beyond everyday use.

Italy, 2017

Whether it’s a piece of art or home decor, or a simple framed photograph taken during your travels, these are the pieces that deserve a special place in your home. They help to tell a story. 

Photograph waiting to be framed. Paris, 2018

To create an atmosphere filled with glimpses of your favorite destinations and global adventures.

German midcentury table. Italy, 2017

I’ve shared some of my favorite travel tokens that are now proudly displayed in my home. What is one of your favorite unique finds?

3.06.2019

Breakfast Parfait Platter


A couple of years ago, one of the first things the girls enthusiastically started helping out with around the kitchen was making their own parfaits. I would simply put out three bowls filled separately with yogurt, berries, and granola and give them their own bowls or glasses to fill as they please. They had fun ‘layering’ the ingredients and making their own parfaits. This quickly became an ongoing weekend ritual for quite a few weekends.

A few days ago, while we were snowed in and school was canceled, I was trying to figure out a multiple-course breakfast of sorts - yes, the girls need 2-3 snacks/meals until lunchtime if we don’t make an effort to leave home early enough in the morning! I soon realized this would be the perfect time to bring back parfait making!

I assembled the ingredients, provided one bowl of berries each to avoid any conflict over how many berries they each got, and added eggs for some extra protein. It was that simple (& colorful), and was wiped clean in no time!


Parfait may not be super filling for them anymore, but it worked great as breakfast #1 of the day on our slow, snowy morning.


3.01.2019

My 8 years of blogging journey

Photo Credit: Ma Chérie Studios

I can’t believe I started writing my blog in 2012 - a whopping 8 years ago, today! My older daughter Neve was 7-months-old when I wrote my first blog post. I remember that winter well. It’s still the mildest winter I have ever experienced in New England. There was practically no snow on the ground and the temperatures were consistently in the 50s and 60s, even during peak months. I have fond memories of my long walks in the city, pushing a stroller with a snug baby inside. 

I never really shopped online before the girls were born. I enjoyed the process of walking into a store and feeling and holding the clothes before I bought them. With the arrival of a new baby, and less leisure time on my hands, I gradually started exploring online shopping. I spent time reading street style blogs and discovering new brands while nursing Neve for hours. This opened a whole new door of possibilities and before I knew it, I wanted to start my own blog.


I was already dabbling in photography at this point, and I soon realized I needed to hone my photography skills in order to produce high quality pictures for the blog. I absolutely loved sharing fun things I found online and trendy people I came across in the city. So I enrolled in a photography school soon after, and despite school work (and eventually a photography business - who knew!) and baby #2 on the way, I still kept blogging.

What started as a simple fashion blog morphed into a children’s fashion blog and more recently, a lifestyle blog of things that inspire me, places that fascinate me, and foods that gratify me. 

I’ve blogged on and off over the past 8 years, all while juggling other demands in my life. After much deliberation of whether or not I should continue writing I’ve realized that I really enjoy blogging. I love discovering and sharing the unique. From fashion finds to cultural nourishment, I hope to inspire and connect with other like-minded parents in a simple, honest way.

This blog is my perfect reminder to spend more time enjoying meaningful activities and share snippets via photography. It satisfies me and sometimes when I lose my inner drive, I reread old posts to feel invigorated and re-centre.

Thank you for stopping by! Click here to learn more about the blog. 

-Surabhi

2.28.2019

3 things that make me smile




Part of enjoying life is taking time to reflect on moments or things that bring you happiness. Each week, I’m excited to start sharing things with you that are currently making me smile. From clothing and trendy coffee shops to outings and delicious food, it’s easy to find happiness in everyday life. Enjoy!


Fresh snow with a hot cup of freshly brewed morning coffee.



Image via Pinterest

A shaggy yellow coat and sunny disposition of the model wearing it. Gets me excited for warmer days and provides new style inspiration! I love yellow - it has always been my favorite color.



Image via 88 Acres

Have you tried the pumpkin seed butter from 88 Acres? A swirl of creamy deliciousness! I first discovered this at Whole Foods (now also available at Costco) about a year ago and have been hooked ever since! It’s great on toast, waffles and with apples or a banana. I even eat it with a spoon straight from the jar - so yum! It’s nut-free and perfect as a school snack too. 88 Acres recently also came up with roasted watermelon seed butter that I’m excited to try!

What's making you smile today?

2.25.2019

Watching Movies Solo: Embracing these mini adventures

Image

What are your thoughts on going to the movies alone? Ten years ago, I went to the theatre by myself for the first time. My husband was away that weekend, none of my friends were around, and I was eager to watch Eat Pray Love, so I thought why not? I marched to the theatre, bought my movie ticket and a glass of red wine (yes, that theatre served wine!), and had a thrilling experience!

While I had a great time, I somehow never thought of repeating the act of solo movie watching until a few months ago. My husband and I used to love going to the movies before we had the girls. Now, in our time together sans kids, we like to dine out, catch up with friends or occasionally attend concerts. Watching movies isn’t really on our radar since we can always enjoy them at home later on. But it’s not the same, there’s something unique about viewing a film in theaters.

There’s a cute little old school theatre within minutes of our house, that always tempts me to go in and get lost in an interesting movie. One day this past fall, I decided to give it a try. A movie called Puzzle was playing and I really admired the work of the lead Indian actor Irfan Khan and Kelly Macdonald of Boardwalk Empire fame. I waited for my husband to get home in the evening to be with the girls, and went and watched the 6 p.m. showing. There was only one other person in the theater and it was perfect.

Image

My usual go-to activities to enjoy alone are window shopping or long walks in the city. I don’t have the patience for crowded stores anymore, and I’m really enjoying catching up on some of the independent movies instead. Colette is the next one I watched. Followed by A Star is Born. I had been warned about the tear-jerking nature of the movie but I decided to brave it anyway. Lucky for me, the movie started much later than scheduled and I missed the ending (I know!) as I had to pick up my daughter from a birthday party. I finally finished watching it this last Friday at home right in time for the Oscars!


I also ended up watching Kusama:Infinity at the MFA in Boston this past weekend, and I’m still in awe of Yayoi Kusama -- her incredible work and life story.

I’ve truly been enjoying this solo ritual lately, and it has given me a chance to explore some independent, foreign films. I don’t care for recliner seats or dine-in theatres. I’m just happy to get away and have a little adventure on my own. I do miss the ‘shared experience’ aspect of it and post-movie discussions with someone but independent movie-watching has been liberating in its own way, and I wonder why I waited so long.

2.12.2019

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?

1.28.2019

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!

1.17.2019

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?