"Amma, tell me" Book Series

Bhakti Mathur, That's what mommies do

If you know me well, you know how much I love Indian mythological stories. It feels like some other world; full of mighty kings, courageous queens, brave warriors and cruel demons. And the tales have so much depth to it. I always wished my kids would enjoy our Indian mythological stories and characters as much as they enjoy princess fairytales, superhero characters and Santa. So when I heard about the ‘Amma, tell me” book series, I was really looking forward to them.
“Amma, tell me” series is written by Bhakti Mathur and has a total of 10 picture books on Indian Mythology. Bhakti is a perfect example of That's what mommies do! After failing to find perfect books on Indian mythology and festivals that catered to young kids, Bhakti decided to write the books herself that would be fun for kids. There are 2 books on the Indian festivals - Holi, which is the first book in her series and the other one is about Diwali. There is a book on epic Ramayana.Then there are books about mythological figures Krishna, Hanuman and Ganesha. Hanuman and Krishna both have trilogies written about them.

Amma tell me about Diwali
amma tell me about Ramayana
That's what mommies do
That's what mommies do

Let me start by saying that I was not at all disappointed. The stories are written in such rhyming couplets that are fun to read; and simple language that is easy for the kids to understand. Every story starts with a modern day boy named Klaka and his brother Kiki; and how their Amma (mother) tells them tales about our mythological figures, festivals and why we celebrate them. I feel this is a great resource for Indian parents living abroad. The author beautifully tells the stories to the point without dragging and in no way preaches Hinduism. All the stories have meaningful moral to them.
The illustrations by Maulshree Somani are out of the world and just perfect to enrich child’s imagination. They bring the stories to life in a very modern way without taking away from the reality. 
The books are paperback but don’t mistake them to be flimsy. They are very well made from thick paper and are sure to last.
These books are targeted towards the kids ages 3-9 years but I don’t think I am going to ever part from them. I am going to add ‘reading these books during festivals’ to my list of family traditions.
You can buy the books on Amazon here. Check out more about the author Bhakti Mathur here.

Bhakti Mathur That's what mommies do

I received these books to review and all the opinions are my own. The Amazon links are affiliate links.

Princess Sophia Dress Cupcakes Cake


Princess Dress cake

Yes! You read it right. This yummy delicacy that looks like a giant cake is actually the cluster of cupcakes. The placement of the cupcakes make it look like a Princess Dress cake.
I love making the such cakes that are super easy to assemble but look like you worked on them very hard. 


You can pretty much prep the board ahead of time like I did here. I took a foam board and decorated the border with glitter ribbon and glued the cupcake liners on the board in the shape of a princess dress.


Now on the day of the party, I had to make the cupcakes, ice them and trim the dress. Using the Wilton 2D piping nozzle, create the roses on the cupcakes. It is not very difficult, trust me.
Now using the edible sugar balls and other bling, decorate the dress the way you want. 


And when you are ready to serve, just pull apart, no cutting needed. Your princess is sure to love this pretty dress.

Princess Dress Cupcake Cake

5 ways to start your day right

5 ways to start your day!

"Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." I've heard this Benjamin Franklin's quote from my grandfather a lot during my childhood. I am not a morning person at all but now that my life revolves around my kids school and husband's work schedule, it is very important for me to make my mornings productive. I try to follow these 5 things daily to make my mornings proactive.

1. Plan ahead - It is easy to tackle a task if you have a plan. Make a to-do list a night ahead so you know where you want your morning to head. Having a goal makes a lot of difference. You can have an elaborate planner or jot down some to-dos on the back of a receipt. As long as there is a list, it doesn't matter.

2. Make your bed first thing in the morning - You may have heard this a million times but take this from me the million and oneth time(totally made that work up). Making your bed is the easiest way to feel accomplished and organised. And if you feel that way right after you wake up, you know your day is sure to be productive.

3. Empty the Dishwasher - I don't know about you, but this one task can make or break my day. Dealing with the sink full of dishes is what I dread the most. But if I have an empty dishwasher and I can rinse and put the dishes directly in dishwasher rather then piling them in sink, I won't have a bulk load of dishes.

4. Eat that frog - "Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day" - Mark Twain. The idea is that if you do the worst thing on your platter first thing in the morning, the rest of your day will be a cake walk.

5. Eat healthy breakfast - If you make right food choice in the morning, you are likely to do so thru out the day. And for some reason if you can not eat healthy during the day, you have at least had one healthy meal in morning. Drinking water in morning helps too.

Is there anything you do specifically in the morning to make you day productive?

How to prevent apples from turning brown?

science fair
"Apple contains an enzyme called Polyphenol Oxidase that reacts with the oxygen in the.........." Okay, now that's too scientific. But cooking is a science too.
Few weeks ago, my daughter participated in a science fair at her school and was supposed to do an experiment. She picked "Apples and oxidation" as her topic. I won't go in detail about her project. But I want to share the results of her experiment with you guys as I think its useful in our daily lives.
Apple oxidizes and turns brown in few hours after you cut it because the oxygen reacts with the enzymes present in apple. There are few ways you can avoid apple from browning. Coating the apple with an antioxidant can slow down the oxidation process. 
We used 9 different ingredients to coat the apple. Not everything we used was an antioxidant but we used them for experiment purposes. 
Here's what we used- salt water, sugar water, lemon juice, honey, citric acid solution, vinegar and baking soda solution. We cut the apple in 8 slices and put them in 8 different bowls. Then we coated apple with different 7 ingredients and left the 8th slice as is without any coating. For example, we mixed salt in water and soaked an apple slice in it for 30 seconds and then drained the liquid out.
The apple slice coated with nothing, honey, sugar water and the baking soda were the first ones to turn brown. 
Vinegar, lemon juice and salt water coated slices lasted for good 5-6 hours before starting to turn brown. But the one that lasted more than a day was the slice covered in citric acid solution.

I still use salt water to soak my apple slices for my daughters lunch and it doesn't turn brown by the time she eats it. The taste is also not bad but its still more sodium. So I am going to give lemon a try and see if she likes it.
What do you do to prevent apples from turning brown?



Who helps your kids with homework?


It’s always me in our household. I am the person in charge of my kids school projects, homework and learning. So when I was contacted by people at FutureSchool to try and review their educational website, I jumped on it. What better way to give my kids that extra help from the comfort of my home.
FutureSchool is an online tutoring site for kids, parents as well as teachers. It covers content from kindergarten through to Year 12. Online Math and online English tutors are among the many other tutors available through the online tutoring site.
As a parent, we all want to give our kids the extra help they need to exceed in school. With FutureSchool, you can add all your kids (max. 5) on the same account. You can set a personalized tutor system for each of your child according to their grade and learning ability. There are lesson content aligned to your kids classroom work that they can practice plus some video tutorials too. You will also be able to monitor their progress. And if you are worried about the writing skills, there is an option to print out some assignment sheets. There are online tutors available in case the kids have any questions.
Homeschooling parents can use this online tutor site for making a lesson plan for their kids and teaching them as well.
FutureSchool also has a program for teachers and schools.
Registration is pretty simple and you get 30 days to try FutureSchool for free. Once you sign in, you will get an email with a video explaining how to get started. 
To learn more about the program, visit www.futureschool.com

*Disclaimer: I was compensated for my time to write this review. All the opinions expressed are my own. 

One Dip, Three Ways - Cream cheese Dip

pinwheels, sandwich, dip

Keep these simple ingredients on hand to make this creamy and cheesy dip that you can serve not 1, not 2 but 3 ways.


Ingredients for the dip-

Cream Cheese - 1/2 cup
Sour Cream - 1/2 cup
Diced colored peppers - 1/2 cup
Diced olives - 1/4 cup
Diced Jalapenos pepper - 1/4 cup
Salt to taste


Method - Mix all the ingredients mentioned and your dip is ready. Below are the 3 ways you can serve this quick and easy yet tasty dip.


1. Pinwheels - Spread the dip on flour tortillas and roll them up. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or overnight. Cut them into 1/2 inch slices and serve them cold.


2. Crackers and dip - Put a spoonful of dip on top of a cracker and drizzle some cheese on it. You can also serve both of the things separately with dip in a bowl with crackers on side.


3. Cold Sandwich - Cut the edges of wheat/white bread and spread the dip in between 2 slices. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Cut it diagonally and serve.

cream cheese dip

This Oh-so simple dip can be prepared ahead of time. 
Let me know if you try out this dip. Do you have ant favorite?


Chocolate Drizzled Popcorn

valentines day treat

I enjoy baking.... lets say for most of the time. Every few weeks I try to make a yummy dessert for my kids and hubby. But there are times when I just don't feel like it. Some days you just want the same "ohhs" and "aahs" from your family but without spending more than 5 minutes in the kitchen. This treat is the answer for those times. It is so easy, even a kid can make it.
All you need is a microwavable popcorn packet and some baking chocolate(candy melts).
Pop the popcorn and melt the candy melt in the microwave. Empty the popcorn in a baking tray or a large place and drizzle some melted chocolate over it. Let the drizzled chocolate harden for a minute or so. That's it! Yummy treat with big impact and less effort is ready.





13 Snow day activities for kids


Snow Day? Worry Not!
Here's the list of 13 snow day activities to do with the kids at home.

1. Fun shaped pancakes - Start your day making some fun pancakes with kids using the squeeze bottles. Pour your pancake batter in squeeze bottles and make some yummy and cute looking pancakes. How about making some snowflake pattern.

2. Play Video games/ Wii/ Watch Movie - I know, that's usually the last resort for the parents but if I fear any power outage due to the storm I let them have some screen time while we still have electricity.

3. Bake a cake - or cupcakes or brownie or make a no-bake dessert. Snow day is the best time to experiment making some delicious treats with your kids.

4. Snowflake Garland - Make Snowflake garlands out of coffee filters. There is no right and wrong in this craft and each snowflake you make turns out unique. Just fold up the coffee filters 6-8 times and cut up some shapes. Open it to find how your snowflake looks like.

5. Spa Day - My kids are too little for a spa but at home spa sounds good. Mix up some crushed fresh fruits like strawberry, banana or papaya with honey for a moisturizing face mask safe on kids skin. Exfoliate their feet with a homemade body scrub and paint their nails like MnM's.



6. Make Hot Chocolate - What is more satisfying on a cold day then a mug of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and some chocolate shavings. Yum!

7. Practice making some snowman indoor - We are no Queen Elsa to just built a snowman like this (imagine me snapping my fingers).Yes, we need to master our Olafs before we get out there after the snowfall and make our real snowman. How about making some little ones with playdough. Use buttons, small branches and ribbons to decorate them.

8. Board Games - We have tons of board games and each kids have their favorites that they insist on playing every time. Today is the day to play with those forgotten board games. If needed, change them up a bit so kids enjoy them. This also helps sort our the board games pile so we can truly decide what we can get rid of and what stays. Early Spring cleaning, huh!

9. Photo shoot - If I don't have to, I will never get out of my pajamas and change. How about plan a crazy photo shoot you have been wanting to do since a long time.Use some props or customize the shoot for a milestone birthday. These memories are best treasured as the kids grow up in no time.

10. Measure up the snow - 2 inches, 3 inches, 5 inches, 9 inches..... Oh man a foot! What? 18 inches!
Yes that will be fun. Make a snow measuring chart and let the kids keep track of the snowfall hourly.

11. Built a fort - Put some blankets over pieces of furniture and make a fort. Give kids some flash lights or glow sticks and let them have fun.

12. Jump start on your Valentines - This is a great time to start making valentines day cards and gifts for school friends. If you don't send those to school during valentines day then make some cards for friends and family.

13. Little inventors - Give your kids some card board boxes, toilet paper rolls, milk gallon, scissors, masking tape, markers and other more junk to create their own toy. You can help them create too. Some ideas- make a doll house, race car tracks, pirate ship, paper jewelry, etc

Snow day can be a fun day if planned correctly. Lot of activity ideas mentioned here can be free play too. The idea is to involve kids in different activities and make this day count. To check out what we did on snow day follow me on Instagram here.

DIY Jewelry dish with Polymer Clay

Jewelry Dish

There are lot of DIY gifts to make for your loved ones, most just end up in storage boxes or trash. And then there are some that you can use everyday and remember the unsaid words of love. This jewelry dish is one of those valentines gifts that is not just cute but also very useful. It is very simple to make and the charm is in its imperfection.

Here's what you will need to make the DIY Jewelry Dish

Oven bake polymer clay in Red
Gold gilding paint
Paint brush
4 pearls
Tacky glue
Rolling pin
Baking tray lined with parchment paper/silicone mat
Oven safe bowl
Round shape cutter (optional)
Oven (to bake the clay)


Method-

Knead approximately 2 ounce of the Polymer clay till it is mold-able. Now using the rolling pin, roll the clay in a round shape with 1/4 of an inch thick. Don't roll it too thin. If your shape is not roundish you can use a cutter with round shape to guide you.


Now place your clay on a upside down oven safe bowl to give a cupcake liner look.
Once you are happy with how it looks, bake it in an preheated oven at 275 degree F. for 15 minutes. After it is baked, let it cool for 30 minutes.


You can now paint the ruffled edged with gold gilding paint in a well ventilated area. Also paint the pearls with gold paint at this time and let them dry.


Once dried, glue the pearls on the bottom of the clay jewelry dish.


Let it adhere properly before turning it back right side up.


Your beautiful gift for your loved one is ready. You can gift it with or without jewelry in it.
Don't forget you can use this gift for loose coins, keys or any other trinkets too.
Look how beautiful my jewelry dish turned out.

Jewelry dish from clay


valentines day

Do It Yourself

My Little Pony Birthday Party - Rainbow Dash


2 years ago we celebrated my daughter's third birthday party, a my little pony themed party. I personally like having a themed party as it helps in giving all the planning a direction. My daughter wasn't much into all of the pony characters but she loved Pinkie Pie (yes, because it is pink!) and I wanted Rainbow Dash (for all the decoration options). So My Little Pony it was.

Check these DIY decorations we made for this party. This pastel colored balloon rainbow is perfect decoration for a little girls birthday.

  
These rainbow flowers are made from colorful gift wrapping tissue. They are very simple to make. In the center I cut out a piece from my little pony themed paper table cloth to cover up our frame.

tissue flowers

I used the remaining (side edges) of the same table cloth on this wall and placed a poster of My little pony Pinkie Pie in the center. This Poster is actually from the 'pin the tail' game that we were going to play in the party.


A closer look at the poster



I also set up a little table with fun stuff for kids. We had some bracelets and pony hair clips for girls and some sunglasses from party city for boys; all in different colors. And to add a little more pop of color added a jar full of MnM's in rainbow shades. Sorry for the crappy photo.


I got this rainbow tissue fan from party city too and it looks lovely on the inside of the front door.


After spending an evening trying to wrap those odd shaped return gifts, I gave up. Later, I found this idea on pinterest with brown lunch bags and gift tissue paper. It really turned out great and added a decor in itself.


And finally the cake, I had 2 cakes as you see. Blue frosting cake is the rainbow dyed vanilla cake (detailed post on Rainbow cake to come soon) and the white frosting cake is chocolate flavored. I used the My little pony toys sold at target as decoration on the cake.


All in all it turned out to be a nice 'my little pony' party on 'my little budget'.

Homemade Body Scrub for Kids

Sugar Scrub

It is that time of the year, when our skin gets very dry and we really want to exfoliate and moisturize it more often. The best way to do that is using a body scrub. With all that lathering of sunscreen and lotions, not only adults but kids too need gentle exfoliating. Most store bought body scrubs contain so many unknown ingredients and are really harsh on our skin, let alone using them on kids skin. Last year I made my very own moisturizing body scrub for kids. It is so gentle yet exfoliating and also perfect during winters as it leaves the skin feeling so soft and moisturized.
Its pretty simple to make. And all the ingredients are safe for the kids.
Here's how I make kid friendly body scrub.

Ingredients-
11/2 cup Brown Sugar - I use brown sugar because I like its texture which is not very grainy
1/4 cup Coconut Oil - It is not very greasy and is perfect to keep the skin moisturized
1/4 cup Kids Body Wash - I like my scrub foamy. So I also mix in the body wash in my scrub. You could use any body wash you use on a daily basis
5-7 drops Lavender Essential Oil - Lavender has a calming and soothing property which is great for kids and it smells good as well. You could totally exclude the essential oil if you don't want it.


Method-
Mix all the ingredients mentioned above. The hardened coconut oil works better than the melted one. It mixes evenly and stores better.




Store the homemade sugar body scrub in the glass bottle and use it once a week. This also works great as face scrub or a lip scrub.

sugar scrub