Monday, December 02, 2013

The List: November 2013

This is a new tradition on One Hot Stove- at the end of the month, I do a round up of the highlights of that month, and invite you to do the same in the comments. Here are the lists for September and October.

Eating

Pie!
A Thanksgiving meal, of course. We were invited to a small Thanksgiving dinner at the home of a senior colleague and her husband. They made a traditional meal but went out of their way to get a Trader Joe's vegan turkey-less stuffed roast for the vegetarians, so it was my very first Thanksgiving with a turkey stand-in! It was delicious, accompanied by the many sides like cranberry relish, mashed sweet potatoes, green beans and mushrooms and buttery rolls with honey. It was so nice to spend Thanksgiving day catching up on chores around the house/yard and then to just show up for a nice feast.

My contribution to the meal was a chocolate pecan pie. This time I used a frozen pie crust from Trader Joe's and I wasn't happy with this pie crust at all. I should have made my own like I usually do or perhaps bought another brand.

Cooking and Baking a few DIY experiments this month.

Naked apple pie with
salted caramel sauce
Salted caramel sauce: Our neighbors invited us for dinner, and I made dessert to take along, continuing the apple baking fest with a naked apple-vanilla pie. At the last minute, I decided to make a salted caramel sauce to drizzle on the pie. I used this recipe, and my only change was to double the amount of heavy cream to a cup. It was amazingly easy to make. I've made caramel many times before and I find it easy to rely on the color of the caramel rather than using a candy thermometer. The resulting sauce is rich and decadent with a distinctly grown-up and gourmet taste thanks to the salt. This sauce takes mere minutes to make, and a few inexpensive ingredients, and would be a lovely holiday gift (it can be enjoyed on ice cream, pancakes, fruit)- just remind the lucky recipient to store it in the fridge.


Chocolate syrup: We were visiting someone's home, and Lila wanted a cup of warm milk. On a whim, I stirred in a bit of chocolate syrup that I found in their fridge- you know, the ubiquitous brown plastic bottle of Hershey's chocolate syrup. Well, that was enough for the kiddo to fall in love with "chocolate duddu". A bit of searching revealed that chocolate syrup is nothing but cocoa powder, sugar and water.
DIY chocolate syrup

I made Lila her very own chocolate syrup: Mix 1/3 cup cocoa powder, 1/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan (these proportions are flexible). Bring to a boil, whisking often to dissolve the cocoa powder. Simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Let the syrup cool and store it in the fridge for a couple of weeks. This is a simple chocolate syrup that is great for stirring up a cup of chocolate milk, also nice for drizzling on waffles and pancakes.




Pumpkin and roasted pumpkin seeds
Pumpkins: We went pumpkin picking with Lila and got home a couple of small pie pumpkins. October turned to November and I knew I had to use up the pumpkins fast and not relegate them to the compost heap. Cutting up pumpkins and other winter squashes seems like such a bother, I always feel like I'm risking my fingers as I hack away at them. This fabulous tip was just what I needed: baking  the whole pumpkins at 300F for about 30 minutes got the skin a bit soft and easier to cut and the whole process was almost fun. The only disappointment was that the pumpkin tasted so very bland.

I rinsed and roasted the pumpkin seeds- it is too easy to over-roast and burn the pumpkin seeds and unfortunately mine were a bit over-done. But pumpkin seeds are so crunchy and tasty- you just eat them shell and all.

Reading 
Image: Goodreads
Brain on Fire: A Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan, a memoir of a young woman who is gripped by a sudden and severe psychosis which turns out to be a rare autoimmune disease. It is an engrossing read (although I felt it could have been better as a long magazine article and not necessarily a whole book) and made me reflect on the stigma of mental illness and how little we understand its physiological causes.

I'm also continuing to follow the adventures of Bertie, the child prodigy and Cyril, the dog with a gold tooth and Domenica, the freelance anthropologist in The Unbearable Lightness of Scones and The Importance of Being Seven, both of the 44 Scotland Street series.

I read many glowing reviews of a cozy mystery called Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann, a novel in which a herd of sheep solve the murder of their shepherd, but unlike all the people who loved this book, I did not enjoy it much and gave up a third of the way into the story.

But the best thing I read all month wasn't in a book but on a blog: Kamini's funny, warm, delightful essays on everyday life in Madras- The Twelve Days of Convalescence and Shopping for Liquid Gold.

Watching 

I watched the first two seasons of Downton Abbey earlier this year- and the combination of family drama and glamor and social commentary sucked me right in, of course. This month I stumbled on a blog where, to my amazement, I found complete episodes of Seasons 3 and 4 of Downton Abbey- after spending many happy evenings experiencing emotional upheavals with the Crawleys while knitting holiday presents, I'm all caught up.

To drown my disappointment at having no more episodes to watch, I've now turned to another historical British mystery drama, The Bletchley Circle which I found on Netflix.

The best thing I watched this month was not on a screen, though. We got a babysitter (after what seems like months) and went to see a live performance of improv comedy: The Two Man Group of Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood- the guys are regulars on the TV improv show Whose Line is It Anyway which I used to love. They are ridiculously clever and funny.

Making

Our Thanksgiving hosts are avid and knowledgeable birdwatchers. I found fabric with winter birds and made them a pair of potholders as a small hostess gift. Potholders are touted as a beginner-friendly sewing project but I personally find it a bit of a pain to sew those thick multiple layers together.




At my daughter's preschool, they put up wish lists from local families who find themselves unable to afford Christmas gifts for their children. One six year old girl wished for art supplies- the note said she likes Hello Kitty. Well, I found some Hello Kitty fabric and made her an art tote bag (using this very easy pattern) that I filled with coloring books and drawing pads. It has 6 pockets stuffed with little treasures like erasers, stickers, markers and stamps. I hope she likes it.

Happy Birthday, Duncan!

According to the adoption papers, today is Duncan's first birthday. This enormous puppy with the big and gentle heart is the best thing that happened to us this year. Every single person who meets him falls in love with him. This weekend alone, he "converted" a little girl who was visiting us- she is terrified of dogs, but after an evening with Duncan, she was cuddling with him on the sofa and giving him kisses.

Duncan makes our hearts melt every day. Even if he does get in trouble quite often with his puppyish goofiness. His biggest misadventure this month: he was snooping under my sewing table, got his foot entangled in the sewing machine power cord, and when he walked away, he pulled the sewing machine which came crashing on the floor with the most appalling crash. Duncan was terrified and fled. I was furious and yelled at the top of my lungs. By some miracle, the sewing machine has a large crack but it still works fine! Toddlers and puppies- no matter what exasperating thing they do, you can't stay angry with them for long. I mean, just look at that face.

Looking forward to...

...a month of fun and festivities- my calendar is happily packed with events like The Nutcracker ballet and a cookie exchange and a potluck breakfast. I'm also looking forward to participating in Giveaway Day next Monday- so come back next week for a chance to win something I've made.

Happy December, friends! Let's make the best of what's left of 2013. But before then, I've love to hear about how November treated you: What have you been cooking, eating, reading, watching, making and planning? What are you looking forward to in December?

51 comments:

  1. You are the nicest person! Making that beautiful art tote was so thoughtful.
    I think my november just went by. I dont remember doing anything special :)
    I have been thinking recently about ways to get my daughter to play alone. she needs me to play with her constantly. the only way she allows me to do anything is if i show her kid shows on tv. do you or any of the readers have any tips for this?

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    1. Nikita- I don't have any sage advice for you because I struggle with this myself. Lila won't play on her own and also does not watch TV on her own on the rare occasions when I could use an electronic babysitter for just 20 mins to get something important done. These days, what works sometimes is if I let her stand on a stool by the kitchen counter while I cook. This is fun for us both but needless to say it takes much longer to actually get any cooking done because she's constantly wanting to smell and taste everything!

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    2. Nikita,this post seems to have some tips.
      http://sayesha.blogspot.in/2013/11/rules-of-engagement.html

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    3. Good to hear other kids do this too. I thought I was doing something wrong :) I am going to try letting her see me cook. When making rotis I give her a piece of dough which she rolls using her toy rolling pin.

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    4. thanks for the link. it is a great post and makes parenting sound fun. I am going to read it everytime I feel overwhelmed.

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  2. Happy Birthday Duncan! :-) You are so incredibly cute. Lots of love to you!

    I love these end of the month updates and I enjoyed reading this one so much. Kudos to you for making the chocolate syrup from scratch and the art supply tote for the lucky kid. Both these things can be easily bought but I really appreciate that you take the time and find a way to make them yourself and add your own special touch. It really makes them so much more special and in case of the chocolate syrup so much better than the store bought stuff which always has an endless list of unfamiliar ingredients.

    Here's my update:

    Cooking and Eating: I've been making a lots of different soups every week. I highly recommend the Roasted Vegetable Minestrone from The Pioneer woman site, it's amazing!

    Reading: I read two more books from the Ladies No.1 Detective Series and enjoyed them a lot. I am in love with the characters and the term 'Traditionally Built' :-) it suits me just fine.

    Watching: Sweet and heart warming Basu Chatterjee movies, most of them have Amol Palekar or Sanjeev Kumar both are my favorites. I have been hit by the old-movies bug and enjoying some bollywood classics.

    Making: Making a big pile of things to donate and sorting it out. Can't help feeling so grateful for the abundance in our lives and thankful for the opportunity to share it.

    Planning: Things for the next year, already! Lots of busy happy times ahead and some exciting places to travel.

    - Priti

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    1. Priti- Duncan says you're making him blush! The chocolate syrup was such a no-brainer once I saw that it takes 3 ingredients and 10 minutes to make.

      Thanks for your lovely list! The roasted veg minestrone sounds incredible. So where did you find these bollywood classics? I'd love to see them- love Amol Palekar! Next year is only 4 weeks away, hard to believe.

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  3. Dear Nupur, Happy birthday to Duncan. He is so adorable. :-) I love the story of Lila and the chocolate duddhu. So glad you are finally caught up with Downton Abbey! I have been watching the sad Auschwitz documentary on Netflix. The bird potholders are beautiful and it is really sweet of you to make the hello kitty bag. The best thing I made were the Kolhapuri dal and the artisan bread inspired by you.Brain Fever sounds very interesting. We are going to see nutcracker this weekend too. Last week I read The Light across the Oceans (a tear-jerker - I was crying at the end, could have been written more tautly, and has too many "lucky escapes" for the little girl, but still good) and listened to Pat Conroy narrate My Reading Life (it's made me check out James Dickey's poetry and really want to read War and Peace now.) Now I'm reading the Language Instinct by Steven Pinker which is fascinating. Too I loved Life after Life so much that I picked up Behind the Scenes at the Museum. My daughter discovered the Velveteen Rabbit (narrated beautifully - of course- by Meryl Streep), and the poor Baudelaire Orphans from Lemony Snickett's books. My son is reading 100 Cupboards. Happy December to your families, Nupur- actual and blog. :-) R

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    1. R- Duncan says thanks for the compliment :) The Light Across Oceans is on my infernally tall TBR pile. Why are the good books so sad :(

      You are truly a voracious reader, and so are your kids by the sound of it. Every time I talk to you my TBR pile gets higher ;) I'll be looking for My Reading Life and The Language Instinct. I heard Noam Chomsky talk in the Bronx many years ago- a brilliant lecture on linguistics.

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  4. duncan and lila are both sweethearts! Have you seen the movie Haachi? I have never been too intent on having pets because of the doggy hair getting in the house, but my hubby (who loves to have pets) made me see the movie, and I have been a convert ever since. I promised him that we would be getting a pet dog once we move back to India next year!
    List:
    Eating: more than my share of chocolatey treats.

    cooking: I made a soup of all left over veggies in the fridge: quarter red pumpkin, 1 small doodhi, 1 zucchini, half onion, garlic...all roasted in the oven till soft. Then blended and simmered along with spring onion and some thyme. I was really apprehensive about this veggie combo but it tasted surprisingly good and the fridge got cleaned up as well!

    reading: just downloaded 'born to run' on kindle. I have created such an awesome backlog of "books to read" on my kindle. I wish there was little more time!

    watching: absolutely nothing...which is working out fine! :)

    planning: on ways to fix up some sort of sleep schedule for our little guy. He seems to be having his own plans on ruining our plans! Over the weekend we took him downtown to show him the big lit up christmas tree and the lights..he slept through all of it and the moment we sat down for dinner and ordered food, he woke up demanding to be carried! The food came home in boxes with the hungry parents and an over-active infant!

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    1. Neha- I haven't seen Haachi but I know the story and it made me cry just hearing it. I do hope someday you'll have a dog. In return for putting up with some dog hair in the house, you'll get unconditional love and loyalty. Pretty good deal, na? And I hope you'll adopt a stray or a rescue dog!

      I've read about Born to Run and it sounds very interesting! Having a good pile of books to read only means that there are exciting things ahead in life :) I have 200+ books on my list. The list will likely outlive me.

      Good luck with the sleep schedule- I mean it. I have a 2 yr old and I haven't had a good night's sleep since my third trimester! Not to alarm you or anything :D

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    2. Yup, adopting a dog is another reason that makes me want to have a pet at home :).
      and @sleep: seriously, 2 years without a good night's sleep? How do you manage to be so nice and get so many artsy stuff done, nupur? Its been just 3 months for me now, and I find myself snapping at people so often because I feel so sleep deprived..and in the process feeling so ashamed of myself for turning into a nasty person :( . Maybe I should put this point in my "planning" list..not to snap at the hubby or at random people! ;)

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    3. Neha- I write this blog once when I am a good and relaxed mood so luckily you all are spared my sleep-deprived rants ;) I'm a very moody person at times. I urge you- please don't be hard on yourself. Just put yourself first and get rest when you can.

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  5. Everything you've posted seems fun, as usual. The sewing work is beautiful.
    I am
    Eating: Left over pumpkin-chocolate pie and too many other sugary treats.
    Cooking: I cooked a full Thanksgiving meal for my friends. The dinner was quite a hit. I'm sticking to simple salads and sandwiches after all the gluttony.
    Reading: I found 'Cheaper by the Dozen' translated in Marathi at our Marathi Mandal library. Read that over the weekend - an example of how poorly one can translate :-/.
    Watching - we are hooked to Frasier, an old sitcom from the 90's. Clean, witty humor which is rare to find these days.
    Making - lots of crochet work. I made a dress scarf for my friend who visited us over Thanksgiving. I have a blanket, a bag, and 2 scarves in the making.
    planning - a weekend trip with my friends to see some snow in the mountains, holiday potluck at work, and my cousin's visit over Christmas. Good times ahead!

    H

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    1. Snehal- Kudos on cooking a full Thanksgiving meal- that's a lot of hard work right there!

      Have you read the original Cheaper by the Dozen? I remember it was a really fun read. Too bad the Marathi translation was not up to par. I'm a fan of Frasier too!

      What fun to crochet up lots of gifts. Are you on Ravelry? I'd love to see what you make. I hope you enjoy your month.

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    2. I didn't know about Ravelry. Thanks for introducing me to it - I just signed up and am already loving the layout. I am not very good at keeping track of what I make through pictures though =/

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    3. Snehal- Ravelry is a truly awesome site and I hope you enjoy it. You can use it however you wish- if you don't want to record your work, you certainly don't have to. You can use the site just for pattern searches and such. But I find it very useful to record my projects because I often want to go back and make something again, and it helps me remember what yarn I used, modifications I made etc.

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  6. the hello kitty bag looks awesome! so sweet of you to do that! I am sure the little girl will LOVE it :) my hug to your little one!

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    1. Mona- It has been fun to slowly try new patterns and learn to sew. You're such a sewing expert- what have you been sewing these days? I hope your little one is doing well too!

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  7. Oh wow, Nupur, thanks so much for that lovely mention! I really, really appreciate it, it means a lot to me.
    Duncan is such a fantastic pooch - those eyes, those paws, those ears! How can anyone remain angry with him? My dog, Roger, is always up to some mischief or the other and he gets away with most of it because it's usually very funny and he realizes that my laughter-choked yelling carries no threat at all!

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    1. Kamini- I loved your essays! You have a way with words- I say it all the time because it is true.

      Our dogs have us wrapped around their paws, don't they? Right now, Duncan is trying to squeeze me off the couch so he can stretch out luxuriously.

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  8. That sounds awesome - here's my update

    Eating: Like everyone else too many different kinds of food - notable was some roasted brussels sprouts at a gourmet restaurant in Paso Robles.
    Cooking: Cooked a mallu chicken roast for the first time for a brother-in-law and also made a chocolate buttermilk with same said BIL
    Making: Time to spend with my two young nieces who were visiting
    Going: places - to Hearst Castle in particular
    Organizing: a 10th wedding anniversary party for the SIL&BIL
    Watching: Flight - avoid like the plague what a waste of some sleeping time. Nupur - Bletchly Circle is amazing. Also try Last Tango in Halifax you will like it. Also watched our local high school girls volleyball team play some pretty cool ball - we are the league champions!
    Reading: Nothing really and am bummed about that (well your blog is always on my reading list) but I am craving some book time and book recommendation to go with that time.

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    1. How sweet of you to organize a special anniversary party!

      I finished watching Bletchley yesterday and liked many things about it but thought the plot was really implausible. I'll look for Last Tango now.

      Hope the holidays in the coming weeks open up some reading time for you! What are you in the mood to read? I am sure we can come up with lots of recommendations ;)

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  9. Happy Birthday, Dunkie boy! Vaghoba :)
    Like little kids, little dogs are always up to something. And one look into those soulful eyes and you know ( as do they) that you love them.

    The art tote is adorable x 10.

    I watched Downton Abbey (on netflix) and they did not upload the next season, the thing is, over time, I forget the characters and related drama :(
    I am now watching Emily Owens M.D on netflix, just for TP.

    Reading: Kids books, for my kindergartner.

    cooking, lots of stuff from other blogs (pins).

    Looking Forward to: a peaceful time. No more upsets or upheavals, I have really had enough of those. We had a break in in my apartment and my DSLR was stolen :(( I feel miserable. just so drained out with all the drama in my life.

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    1. Oh Manasi- I am so sad it has been one thing after another for you. A break in is especially traumatic :( I am glad you all are OK, still sucks to lose an expensive camera. My very best wishes that the new year brings a fresh start and happy, peaceful times!

      Yes, our Dunkie looks like a total vaghoba, he is the heart of a kitty cat in a tiger's costume :)

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  10. Nupur, sounds like November was pretty good to you:) We have been watching house of cards on netflix, eating pumpkin in all its avatars and enjoying laughing at our 15 month old's antics - she loves her duddu too! Ive also dusted my sewing machine and made a crayon roll ( my first time using a machine ever!) and it was pretty decent for a first-time project. I did not know what a crayon roll was until I read your blog - so thank you! I have one request - could you link your sewing projects on the blog so a beginner like me could go to those pages? There's a plethora of stuff on the internet which is sometimes overwhelming. Thanks:) - SJ

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    1. SJ- congrats on your first time project! Crayon rolls make nice little gifts. Isn't it a nice feeling to actually use the sewing machine instead of letting it sit there? I'll definitely make a page with a list of my sewing projects to make it convenient to find them on the blog.

      I'm collecting simple sewing tutorials on this pinterest page: http://www.pinterest.com/nupur_ohs/sew-sweet/

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    2. Thanks Nupur! Yes, I do see myself giving crayon rolls and coloring books as gifts:) I'm eager to see how you made the tote although I must say it looks slightly intimidating!

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    3. Here's the pattern I used for the tote: http://www.bhg.com/crafts/sewing/accessories/six-pocket-bag/

      It is beginner- friendly- give it a try!

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  11. Belated Thanksgiving wishes to you Nupur. I've used Trader Joes pie crust once before and found it way too crumbly. I'm yet to try my hands at making a pie, pie crust scares me a bit.
    We hosted our first ever Thanksgiving party this year and I'm happy that our friends were game for a turkey-free vegetarian Thanksgiving. I wanted to get tofurky, but my husband didn't want to take a risk at the party since we have never tasted it before.
    I have to try making that caramel sauce. I burnt it couple of times before. It will make a great homemade gift for the holidays.
    Happy Happy Birthday Duncan!!

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    1. Pavani- Duncan says thanks :)

      I definitely won't be buying TJ's pie crust again. Pie crust really isn't that challenging especially for an experienced cook/baker like you. Try a pat-in crust to begin with if you like- those are ridiculously easy.

      There are different faux turkeys and I have heard much better reviews of the TJ brand than of the tofurky brand. The TJ faux turkey was quite tasty, I've never tried tofurky.

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  12. Awwww… happy birthday Duncan .. loads of love and hugs ! and double awww for Lila and duddu .. loads of love !

    As always love the post .. even catching up with your previous ones, wonderful tips in the earlier one.
    I’ve told you so many times and once again, you really inspire me in so many things. I’ve been just trying to do small stuffs especially after kiddo, just feel 24 hours are too less in a day. You can post on how you manage a toddler and a Puppy and cook, it must be difficult yet entertaining :)
    Here’s my November :
    Cooking : trying different homemade baby foods .. fruits mash, vegetable soups , porridge. Simple but love doing trying new foods on the little one.
    Reading : Giving a certifications in couple of months so trying to study – books – notes.
    Watching : BBT and Modern family, catching up some missed episodes.
    Making : Nothing :[
    Planning : for couple long weekend trips out of station this month, which will include my babies first train trip. Planning what to and how to take stuffs with the baby !

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    1. Thanks Kanchan- Duncan sends his love too :)

      Time management is a huge problem with an infant/toddler but it is best to just relax, do what you can, it is a cliche but they do grow up fast. I've heard good things about Modern Family maybe that will be my next show to watch.

      Good luck with the travel and more importantly, the studying!!

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  13. Hi Nupur - Loved read your post.

    Will try out the DIY chocolate syrup.

    That tote is amazing. Wish I could learn to use the sewing machine and make projects like that..

    I would love to watch Downtown Abbey.. where did you watch it online.
    I'm in the process of moving so am busy and unable to do much.

    I have a butternut squash and plan to make roasted butternut squash soup.. I also have some pumpkin seeds which I plan to roast.. they are my favourite..Growing up my mom used to save the seeds from the red pumpkin she bought in the market.. I loved eating them.. even if not roasted !!

    Happy Birthday to Duncan. :)

    Waiting to read your next post

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    1. Hi Michelle- do you own a sewing machine? If you do, don't be afraid of it, with a little patience, you'll learn to use it! I never ate pumpkin seeds growing up- at least not that I can remember.

      Search for "Simply June Downton Abbey" to watch them online.

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  14. Ah, my favorite series on your blog Nupur.
    Oh and for Nikita - I just want to say, hang in there with your daughter. It will get better with time. I have a 3.5 yo who was exactly like your daughter up until 6 months ago - wanted ALL my attention all the time, but has slowly had periods of 10-15 mins (time for a shower woohoo) where he will actually play on his own or look at a book. Sometimes I tell him stories (mostly made up) or we make them up together while I am working/cooking and he LOOVES that. But I often have to resort to TV (PBS kids) for an hour somedays to get any serious chores/dinner done. I used to beat myself up about it, but I don't any more because I need that time for my sanity and he really does learns good things from those shows.
    Here's my list:
    Eating - our way through a batch of chocolate peppermint sandwich cookies from the Best Bites blog. My son (a mint chocolate lover) asked for these but too sweet for us. Will not be making it into our Christmas cookie bags this year.
    Cooking - Granola from Alexandras kitchen blog, Vegetarian Enchilada casserole and Meatball shops Vegetarian "meatballs". The granola is a staple in our house, The other two are first tries - making them today and tomorrow.
    Reading - nothing at the moment. My toddlers have been waking up all through the night "newborn" style for some reason. Not much sleep and not much reading either.
    Watching - nothing at present. Looking forward to Downton Abbey 4.
    Making - decorative bunting from my fabric stash for my kids room
    Looking forward to - riding the Christmas train and visiting Santa with my kids (their first time) and a visit for a whole week from sister at Christmas. Its gonna be a good month :-)
    Prashanti

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    1. Prashanti- Thanks for the great advice, it does get better with time- I have to agree with that. I can see my daughter playing independently in small spurts these days. Decorative bunting is so adorable- great way to make a room look festive. I hope you have a awesome month!!

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    2. Thanks for the advice. It was good to hear that. I love the tip about telling made up stories to keep them engaged. I think my daughter will love it too. I just need to brush up my story telling skills :)

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  15. Nupur, I really admire how much you manage to do. Reading your posts is such an inspiration. It makes me want to do so much more with my time. Love the pot holders and that hello kitty bag. Its so awesome that you go all out to make all this yourself. You seem like the most wonderful host and guest ever :)
    I been cooking a whole lot of soups and breads, we've been down with the cold and cough for almost a fortnight now. My favourite is the pumpkin coconut milk soup and pull apart breads.
    Haven't been reading or watching much last month.
    Planning to bake a traditional Christmas cake. Got my fruits soaked and readied :)
    Happy birthday to Duncan !

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    1. Archana- These small sewing projects give me instant gratification- and can be done over an evening or two so they work into my schedule! Pumpkin coconut milk soup sounds absolutely wonderful. And you have reminded me to make some fruitcake- tis the season!

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  16. Love to Duncan on his Budday from bay area- Tara our collie says "Woof Woof!" and the rest of us say "Howdy Buddy?". My hubby totally fell in love with his woebegone face in the photo. What breed or mix is he? We're planning on getting another puppy from the shelter are wondering what type of breed/mix would gel well with our slightly hyper and overactive collie.

    Well, I loved your update so how can I not respond.

    Eating: We were in Tahoe skiing the Thanksgiving weekend so heres what I did for a feast. I marinated a whole small chicken in tikka masala paste and carried it on rice to roast in our apartment style suite. We had that with some masala roasted crispy brussel sprouts, roast potatoes, corn bread and a gooey chocolate walnut cake instead of pie because it's my son's favorite type of cake.

    We also had a couple of pumpkins almost going bad so I did the same thing you did. Roast them halved in the oven till the flesh was cooked thru but still firm. Then I peeled and diced the pumpkin and made a sort of bharta out of it with a mustard, curry leaves and ginger tadka with sour cream stirred in just before serving. Somehow it was very tasty- sweet and tangy.

    Reading- a lot of magazines that I tend to subscribe too but pile up in a corner because I end up reading on my kindle or laptop. Light stuff like Vogue and Elle Decor and some tech/biz mags like Inc., Entrepreneur and Forbes.

    Watching- a lot of oldies with my son on a hindi movie site to introduce him to bollywood flicks which he is beginning to enjoy albeit with subtitles and constant demands to know "why?" and "how?".

    Am looking fwd to taking in a holiday concert in SF city at the SF symphony, watch The Book Thief with my son, attend a classmates's holiday dance party and ski some more this winter.

    A lovely holiday season and a very happy new year to all four of you from us. We love your posts. I read them out aloud to my hubby sometimes and he enjoys them just as much as I do.

    Deepa

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    1. Hi Deepa- Thank you so much for this very nice note! Duncan says "How arf you" to Tara :) Our Duncan is a Plott hound and Great Dane mix (that's the best guess from the rescue folks and our vet). He has an awesome easy-going temperament- we contacted a local rescue group and they helped us find a shelter dog that would be a good fit for our family and clearly they knew what they doing. More than a particular breed, it might help you to work with rescue groups who are experienced and can judge temperament. I hope you find a sibling for Tara! I LOVED reading your update- sounds like you had a fabulous month and I hope December is even more so.

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  17. Hi Nupur..

    The art tote looks so good! Happy birthday to Duncan!
    Like everyone else, we did a lot of eating this past weekend. I made Alanna's green bean casserole and cranberry sauce for a potluck. Both were a big hit.
    I'm not reading anything now since we're leaving for India tomorrow and have been busy shopping, packing etc. I'm looking forward to spending time with my family and eating delicious food. Hope V, Lila, Duncan and you have the happiest of holidays and a happy new year.

    -Anu

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    1. Anu- Have a fantastic trip to India!! How exciting!

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  18. Duncan, you goofy boy!! You are soo cute! Wish you a very happy birthday and love ya!!!

    Great update Nupur! I am on a knitting spree! I hope to finish off my projects soon! Reading couple of Marathi books at the same time and experimenting with bread making!

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    1. Oh Mints you have been on a knitting spree for sure- love those hats you are churning out!! Duncan says hello :) He is passed out on the rug right now after a hard day's play.

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  19. I loved reading your blog for the first time today. Thank you for sending in the house block for the neighborhood party! I enjoyed my "visit" with you!

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    1. Hi Beth- I'm glad the blocks reached you. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  20. Missed wishing big boy Duncan on his birthday. Give him a kiss from me and a pawshake from Sage. I loved the art supply tote. so thoughtful and personalised

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  21. Hi, I've watched the 1st season of Downton Abbey on Netflix, and have been waiting to watch 2 and 3. Can you point me to the blog you refer to in your post?

    Thanks Nupur.

    - Ruma

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    1. I found them on a blog called Simply June.

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