Healthy Chocolate Truffles




From the last 4 years, I have been making Oreo truffles during holiday season with my kids. So this year was no different. But when I started making the ingredient list that read- Oreo cookies, Cream cheese and chocolate chips; I took a pause. After Diwali, Halloween and Thanksgiving the last thing we needed was more calories and more sugar. So I changed it up a bit and made my chocolate truffles from healthy ingredients.

Here's what I used to make healthy chocolate truffles.
1 cup - Pitted Dates
1 cup - Mixed Nuts like Almond, Pistachio, Walnut, Pecans and Cashew nuts (in any combination or all)
1/4 cup - Dark chocolate chips (can use milk chocolate too)

Ingredients

Method 1-
Grind the nuts into powder form leaving some texture. Take it out in a bowl. Now grind the dates and chocolate chip in the food processor till its broken down. Add the nut mixture back in the food processor with the dates and chocolate chip mixture and blend till it becomes a dough like consistency. That's it. Now roll them into small balls and enjoy. This method is very easy and take very little time and the taste is still yummy.





Method 2-
Grind the nuts into powder form leaving some texture. Take it out in a bowl. Now grind the dates in the food processor till its broken down. Add the nut mixture back in the food processor with the dates and blend till it becomes a dough like consistency.
Now roll them into small balls and refrigerate. On the other side, melt the chocolate chips in microwave for 30 secs intervals till its smooth. (Don't over heat the chocolate). Now coat the cold nut and dates ball with the chocolate and let them to set.
The yummy truffles are ready. This truffles look more like a treat and taste divine. As a bonus, they are healthy.

healthy

This is a great snack for kids as well. You can reduce the chocolate even further or completely eliminate it and they still turn out good. 



Mom Me Time



As a stay at home mom of 3 kids, I hardly get time to get my stuff done, let alone some me time to relax.After all these years, I have found of the ways to sneak in some much needed time for me.

Here are some things I do-

1. Waking up before my world- There are days when my kids wake me up and our day just goes with the flow. But the days I wake up early are the most productive ones. I don't always try to finish off my household work before the kids are up but sometimes I spend those morning caring about myself and doing things I like that I might not be able to do otherwise; like relaxing baths or as simple as putting a nail paint on.

2. Grocery trips without kids- I have to thank my husband for this one. He totally gets it that it is nearly impossible to get anything done with 3 kids, 2 hands and 1 cart.  Not only can I get things done quicker but also get some alone time when he is home with kids.

3.Staying up late after kids/hubby goes to sleep- On the days I haven't got to sneak in some me time in above mentioned ways, I stay up late with myself and watch some TV, read, or do some craft.

4. Bathroom breaks- I kid you not, these are the best ways I can get a moment or 2 to myself. They are small break that help me get thru the day. I stay in there a little longer than the time my business takes. After every tantrum, spills, mess and you get it what all I go thru ;its these little breaks that help me think thru and get control over myself so I can come back a little stronger to face my mommy challenges.

5. Play dates- I have some wonderful friends who are in the same boat, we try to baby sit for each other once in a while allowing each other some me time. With 3 kids, I sometimes need more than one friend at a time to find some down time but it’s never an issue. 

6. Smiles- Sometimes the best way to relax is to leave everything else and just sit and watch your kid play. Those smiles make everything worth it. 

Gold Spray Paint



I am so excited to be posting back after a long time. And I can't wait to introduce my new DIY best friend with you. Meet the best ever golden spray paint.  

                                              
I love elephants and so when I spotted this 3 elephant showpiece, I brought it on a whim. Fast forward a few years later and I was still struggling to find a perfect spot to display this showpiece. The black and the rustic silver colored elephants did not go with anything in my house. So I decided it was the time to spruce up these elephants and add some glam. I had never sprayed painted anything before and I thought there would be no better time then this to give spray painting a try. After debating between white and gold spray paint, I decided to go all out and brought the gold spray paint. I used the Rust-oleum Metallic spray paint in gold. 


I started off by cleaning the showpiece with a swiffer duster and wiping it down with alcohol swab.


I went outside on my patio and laid a flat cardboard box to protect the floor. And then started shaking the heck out of the spray bottle. This is the most important step for the best result. The Key is to start spraying from side to side with a thin even coat and be sure to spray 6-8 inches away from the surface. Keep on adding the thin layers till you like how it looks. I ended up with 4 thin layers making sure not to miss any nook and corner.


Then I let it dry thoroughly before touching the newly painted surface.


The final result is so beautiful and I already know where I will display it. Spray painting is much more easier then it looks and I can't wait to goldify (not a real word) many more things. 


The final product


















Motion sickness


Summer vacations are here. That means lots of road trips. Road trips can be fun but not when you get motion sick.
My oldest daughter and I often get motion sickness while riding the car or a boat or even when travelling on an airplane.
While I suffer from headache, nausea and dizziness; my daughter has what might be called a severe motion sickness and most of the time ends up with a vomit.
It wasn't as easy to diagnose what she was actually suffering from initially. It took us quite some time to realize why our then 18 month old daughter was vomiting on a 15 min car ride.
But after the messy clean ups and looking back at all the incidences we concluded that it was nothing but motion sickness that was causing the uneasiness.
Although I know that there is nothing that can 100 percent prevent motion sickness, here are some ways I help my daughter overcome the discomfort.

Before traveling-

1. No Liquid-  If we have to go somewhere in an hour or so, that means no liquid whatsoever for her. After a lot of trial and error, we have come up with how much liquid topped with crackers/toast/cookies is okay for her to take before a not so long ride.

2. Motion-ease- Motion-ease is a mix of some essential oils that helps prevent motion sickness. You apply it on the back of your ear and the smell helps relieves the symptoms. I am not sure if it really works but I gave it a try as it is natural and has no side effects. And sometimes it helps in setting her mind up that she wont be sick as she has a medicine on.

3. Sea-band wristband-  Sea-band wristbands are acupressure wristbands that you wear on both your hands. They are natural as well. I can't really tell if they actually work but I have been using these bands on my daughter for school bus rides and short distance car rides. In past, she has complained of having dizziness while wearing them in a long car ride but has not vomited.

4. Anti Nausea Medication- Medicines like Dramamine and Ondem (used in India) have helped make long trips stress free and comfortable for my daughter. You take them around an hour and half before your travel and no nausea during the trip. I had consulted my doctor before giving these to my daughter and you should too.

During Travel-

 1. Candy/ Lollipop- We always have candies on hand. I keep them in both our cars, my purse as well as her backpack. Ginger candies are personally my go to for the headache and dizziness but they are a little spicy for my daughter. I have yet to try a DIY version of ginger candies on her. May be soon. Till then the little sucker stick is doing the job.

2. Front facing middle seat- The best spot for my daughter is in middle seat from where she can look at the horizon. I really feel this made a lot of difference.

3. Distract- Its all in the mind. Distracting her when she is feeling uneasy does help a little bit, I ask her random questions, play game with her or start a movie on DVD player to distract her. Avoid reading or doing anything that would put strain on your eyes which can cause headache.

4. Halt please- Taking a break and letting my daughter get some fresh air makes her feel a lot better. If halting is not possible, rolling down a car window also helps.


In case of Vomit-

1. Plastic bags/containers with lid/wipes- We always have hole-free plastic bags or container within my daughters reach. We have tons of paper napkins and wet wipes to clean up in case of accident. We also have some water in our car that might be not so good to drink but always handy for the clean ups.

2. Extra clothes-  In case the plastic bag has a hole (it happens) or she is too sick to aim properly, I always carry her extra clothes along. Clean clothes can make any sick child feel a tiny winy better.

3. Air-Freshener-  We have had our car smell like vomit before and that is why the Air freshener made it to my list.

Shark Cupcakes!

Shark Fin Cupcake

Recently, I made these shark fin cupcakes for a handsome little guy for his 4th birthday. I had so much fun making them. Here's how I made a shark fin and a shore on each cupcake.

Sand and Water

I started with baking the Vanilla cupcakes. While they cooled, I crushed some vanilla cookies and added some granulated sugar in it for the beachy sand mixture. I then applied the buttercream frosting of 1/3rd of the cupcake and dipped the cupcake in the cookie mixture (for sand). I then piped the waves on the remaining 3/4th of the cupcake using blue buttercream frosting with the petal tip. I tried to add a little color on one side of the piping bag to create this beautiful dark blue edge on the waves.

Shark fin using fondant

Beach Cupcake
To create the shark fin, I used the fondant. I dyed it grey to match the color of a shark. I rolled the fondant and cut it into a rectangle and further cut it into a triangle, as shown. Now using my hands, I lightly curved one side of the triangle to make it look like a fin. I stored the fins in the refrigerator till I was ready to use them to help hold its shape a little better. 
The end result looked amazing. The little ones had no fear swimming with the sharks. 




Foam it up


I am OBSESSED with foaming soaps. I use foaming soaps for almost everything. Not only are they convenient to use, but they stretch the life of the regular soap making it more economical option.
Store brought foaming soaps can be expensive but the DIY version is super easy to make at the fraction of the cost.
To make your very own foaming soap all you need is regular soap, a foaming soap dispenser and water. Yes, there is a specific dispenser for foam soap. I simply buy the store bought foaming soap to start with and then keep on refilling it. Just fill the foam bottle 1/5th with the regular soap and fill the rest 3/5th with water. Leaving the 1/5th room on top to help mixing and avoiding spills. Now close the bottle and simply rotate it up side down couple of times very slowly. Thats it, the foaming soap is ready to use.
The foaming soap works only with the transparent kind of soap and not the milky opaque ones. Check the example below.


Here are few ways I use foaming soap in my home. Please keep in mind that I am not endorsing any of the products mentioned in this blog. These are just the ones I use.

Hand Soap- Hand washing with foam soap can be soo easy specially with kids. It washes off easily as compared to the regular soap. I do implement a 30 sec rule where they sing abc song before they wash the soap off their hand so they get clean germ free hands.

Hand Soap
Dish Soap- This is my personal favorite. My sponges never get soaked in soap as I spray foam on the dishes directly and not on the sponge. It works great for tough greases too. Just spray a little foam soap on the soiled dish and let it sit for few minutes and you wont have to scrub. I said I am not endorsing any product but seriously if you get your hands on this spray foam dish dispenser from Method then please do try it. It makes dish washing fun. Kinda.

Dish Soap
Kids bath soap- Have you ever tried to take a shower using  shower gel without a loofah, then you know how difficult it is to wash off the soap. When my kids were babies and it was hard using loofah on them, I tried foaming their baby wash using an empty hand soap dispenser and boy was I impressed. I still continue to do so and I have never been disappointed. I am now tempted to foam their shampoo too. I will surely update you guys when I try that.

Kids Bath soap

 Let me know if you have ever tried store bought foaming soap or tried making your own and how do you like it.



All things Chicago!!




Couple weeks back we traveled to Chicago for a family event. After the event we explored the beautiful city. Kids had so much fun sightseeing. So to make travel even more memorable for them, we did 3 fun craft that would recap all the fun we had in Chicago.

1. Willis Tower (Sears tower)- We went up 103 floors of this skyscraper and even dared to have a little party on the sky ledge. Kids were thrilled to be up on the top. We decided to make our very own tower with legos. Our tower ended up more colorful then the actual Willis tower. Find the instructions here.




2. Cloud gate ( Millennium park)- This was kids second favorite party spot. I can't tell u how much fun they had posing in front of the stainless steel bean n looking at their reflections. We recreated our own cloud gate with play dough and ours is green.



3. Boat ride- Last but not the least was the boat ride we took on Lake Michigan learning about the historical facts of the architecture of the buildings in downtown Chicago and a fun speedboat ride. We decided to make paper boats and sail it in tray filled with water. 




 Check out our very own Chicago downtown.









Hand and Nail care when traveling!


I Love Traveling. That being said, I hate packing, unpacking and how that affects my nails. From cracked cuticles and brittle nails to chipped polish and dry hands..... I suffer from it all.
Below are some tips and tricks that have worked for me and have helped my hands and manicure look presentable.
1. One week before the travel and also a day before the travel I prep my nails with a Nail hardener coat and my cuticles with Cuticle oil. This strengthens the nail and moistens the cuticles. I also trim and shape my nails a day before.
2.  Most of the time I wait until I reach my destination to paint my nail. Unless I know I won’t have time for that when I reach, in that case I paint my nails before the travel and I make sure to carry the nail polish with me if I have to fix any chips.
3.  I apply top coat every day or every other day to avoid the polish from chipping. This tip works just is general too. Reapplying top coat helps last your manicure longer.
4.  I apply, reapply and then apply some more hand lotion. Traveling dries off my hands like anything. And the only thing that can make them feel soft and look moisturized is a hand lotion. So I apply hand lotion after I wake up, before I go to sleep, after every time I wash my hands and practically every time I take my husband’s name (which I take at least a million times in a day).


5.  I always travel with nail polish (the one I have applied or want to apply), base coat, quick dry top coat, nail clippers, nail filers, nail polish remover pads and lot of hand lotion.
Let me know how you deal with nails during travel.

Kitchen Sponge Tip

Believe me when I say that the part of me wanted to start blogging so that I could share tips with you all one day.
As much as I hate washing dishes, I still want my dishes to be sparkly clean. I have seen most people use the dishwashing sponges or the brushes for hand washing dishes. Dishwashing brushes are the best in terms of hygiene as they dry off easily, but they can be awkward to wash with. I personally prefer the dish washing sponges. That being said, I agree that the sponges can be worst as they are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
There are some ways to dramatically reduce the risk of cross-contamination that can lead to food poisoning. We need to make sure to wring all the water off after each use. We also need to disinfect it often by washing it in dishwasher with a heat cycle. And last but not the least; we should replace the kitchen sponge very often, as often as once a month or less depending on your use. 
As a mom, it can be nerve wracking knowing that the choice you made could affect your family. So that brings you all to my tip of the day.
“Cut the sponge into half”

Cut the sponge into half
I have been cutting my sponges into halves for more than 2 years now and I can tell you that it has been great. Not only does is fit perfectly in my palms, it is also easy to maneuver through the nooks and crannies of the dishes and cups. Cutting the sponge into half also makes it feasible for me to replace the sponge very often. So while initially I used to replace the big whole sponge every month; now by cutting it into half, I am able to toss it every 15 days. That means I can say ‘bye bye’ to bacteria soon than later and save my family from catching anything due to germs lingering and multiplying on the sponge.

Let me know if you follow any such sponge safety. Or have you made a better choice of using the brush.

First impression is not always the last!


My oldest kid is in Kindergarten and middle one in preschool. So I thought I was an expert in teachers and could differentiate between good ones and not soo good ones just by meeting them once. Until, this year I met my middle daughter's new teacher (who was teaching as assistant for many many years, before becoming the main teacher due to the lack of staff).
Before the school begins, the kids have to go to meet their new teachers and get acquainted with the classrooms; that is when I first met her. She looked lost. She did not even greet the kids when she met them. How rude, right. And then during the back to school night, She confessed that she has been wanting to be a kindergarten teacher for soo long like her daughter and so she sometimes forgets that she is just teaching 4 years olds. Perfect. Such a waste of year for my lil one, I thought. She could no way get what her new teacher was trying to teach. 
And then, we had travel plans.... 2 months in India. I thought it is not going to make any difference if my daughter goes to school or not. So one day while dropping my daughter, I told the teacher about our travel plans. She smiled back saying "she would miss us, but she was happy we were going to see the family". Then the week after, she told me that she was making a 'homework folder' for my 4 yr old to take along on her vacation. Believe me, my heart almost missed a beat when she said so... "what folder?" I asked. Did I hear something wrong? Don't get me wrong, I have traveled before too when my older daughter was in preschool and no one has ever given me a homework folder. In fact, I had to remind my kindergartners teacher twice to get the work for days we missed. 
That started to change the way I was thinking about her. 
I was also getting impressed by what my daughter was bringing home. It was surely more than her age and isn't that a good thing. Then I also realized that at 60 years of age the teacher had to be the main teacher after being an aide for soo many years, who wouldn't be nervous. She was not rude at all during the kids-teacher meet. She had so much going on in her head at that time with soo many parents coming and going and meeting all the kids. I was soo wrong.
Turns out I am not an expert after all. Every time I go to drop my daughter in her class I get a smile  from the teacher and when I go for the special events I get a hug from her. She is so far one of the best teacher my kids have had. I wish my son is lucky enough to get her as a teacher too. 
And she was not just a teacher to my daughter but she taught me too that the first impression is not always the last and we should not judge people so quickly. 
This post is clearly out of guilt for being so judgmental and there was no time better then teachers appreciation week to celebrate her. 


Customized Wall Decal!

Play Room
Two years ago when we finished our basement, we were clear that one area in there would be kids play area. So when we got that done, I was looking for ideas to decorate it. Since the color of the walls in our basement was neutral beige, there was a need to add in some more color. There are no doors to the play area and it is open to the grown up space, so I did not want the walls to look cluttered. That is why I decided to get a cute decal for the basement that would be apt for a playroom but looks equally good from a grown up space. After looking around I came across this beautiful decal of kids on the swing

Easy Instant Decoration Wall Sticker Decal -Playing Swing


picture from Amazon link

The decal comes with a boy and a girl. But since I have two daughters and one son, I got 2 of these decals. I had to plan out a little as I wanted to merge the two. I first put up one as shown in the picture above and then added the pieces from second decal to finish up with one more girl, some more birds and make my tree longer. I had to tweak a little but cutting around the leg and re positioning it to make the girl stand on grass instead of the original sitting position. It was still very easy to assemble. It took me around 2 hours from start to finish to peel and stick the decal on wall all by myself. And the end result is just a treat to watch. 


View from the steps
Added an extra branch here

used second decal to add this

Its a boy! Throwback blog

Time for a throwback post.
I wrote this post almost 7 years ago, when I was pregnant with my first daughter. 
I am soo glad all the people were wrong. 
Have you experienced this when you were pregnant.

Kids Quotes Journal!



Does this happen with you? When your kids say something that brings smile to your face and you wish you could freeze those moments. Well, freezing those moments isn't possible but how about freezing those words so that they bring smile to your face every time you read them.
Two years ago, my oldest daughter asked me “Mom, what is Bombay?” “Bombay is where daddy and I grew up”, I replied. “Ah, I grew up in your tummy!” she announced. I could not stop laughing. I did not want to forget these words. So at that very moment I wrote our conversation on a notepad. Since then, I have been writing down some of their priceless chatter.
Recently, I upgraded from a notepad to a journal so it preserves better.
Every time I feel low, I sit down with it and it is guaranteed to bring a smile on my face.
If you already don't have something like it, I highly recommend you to make one for the sake of yourself. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. Something that is easy to maintain, works well. You can use one book for all your kids or different books for each kids. I like having to maintain only one book between all my children. Let me know if you have something similar.
What’s the funniest thing one of your kids has said recently?