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