Sunday, October 17, 2010

Recycled Magazine Wreath

There are several versions of these also, so I had to try my hand on making a book wreath!! It sounded very easy and I was interested in making it because it is a green and upcycled project. I used a foam wreath form from the dollar store, hot glue gun, modgepodge and pages from Real Simple magazine.

I first modge podged long strips of paper on the wreath form. Then, I rolled and folded the paper in half and stuck it on the wreath form with hot glue gun. That's it. It sounds simple, but it was a little time consuming. I don't know if I will be making it again, but my kids enjoyed helping me. I was not all that impressed by the final product.... but you never know until you try.

William Sonoma Knock off Hurricanes

I know... I know these are all over blogland, but I had to try my hand on them. They sounded very easy to make and they really are!

All that is required is:
1. Vases from the dollar store.
2. Taper candle holders from the dollar store.
3. E6000 glue.

Here's how you proceed:
Remove the label from the vases and candle holders.
Apply glue around the edge of the candle holder and gently invert it in the center of the bottom of the vases.
Put some weight on the candle holders and allow them to dry for a few hours.
That's it! They are ready to be filled with candles, rocks, beads, decorative balls, christmas ornaments.... let your imagination run wild!!

Total cost is $2.00 per hurricane.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Achievement Wall

Look at what I came up with to store and display my kids' achievements. Now everything is on one wall. While I was working on the wall, my kids were at the pool beating the scorching heat. When they came back, they were so happy to see this. It makes me proud of my kids. It also encourages my kids a lot!!
Now I don't feel bad because all the ribbons earned from swim meets are not boxed up or all the Tae Kwon Do belts are not lying on the floor or hanging in the closet.
They all have a home now!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Blessings in disguise!

Ever since we have moved to the Chicagoland area from California, I have been missing the folks in California a lot. I feel that I am all alone over here since VP (my hubby) is at the store all day. I have even felt like I am living the life of a single Mom juggling work, school, home work, activities, etc. I have always grumbled about how I am all alone, people don't care about me or are not concerned.... poor VP he has quietly listened to everything that I have thrown at him.

But now that I look back and think about the people I have met in the last four long years, I feel so happy knowing that I was and am surrounded by people who really care for me and are my true well wishers!

I have made amazing friends over here! We have been friends for a short amount of time but it feels like we have been friends forever. Anchal, Pallavi and Daniela are the three amazing ladies whom I have trusted with my kids. They have always been there for me no matter what. Their spouses have been equally helpful. Even VP feels a sense of security knowing that my friends and their families are around while he is at the store working late.

Not only friends, even my customers who were complete strangers to us are the nicest people on Earth. We have one customer who is a farmer and grows tomatoes and cabbage. In the summer we get to enjoy a lot of his harvest completely free of charge!! We reach a point where I have to tell him that we do not need anymore tomatoes, green cabbage or red cabbage. Another gentleman has filled two shelves of our storage room with cleaning supplies! All completely free of charge again! He said, "I know the economy is bad and you guys have two must have slowed down. This is how I can help you guys. At least you don't have to buy cleaning supplies for a year!" I am talking about Oxiclean products which easily retail for $3.50 - $5.00 each.

Yesterday, I was talking to Don, another customer, about lunch options available in Yorkville. He said, "You know there are not too many choices in Yorkville and the ones available are all unhealthy. I am heading home and making some steak, broccoli and salad. If you want I can drop some off for you." Too bad that I am vegetarian!!!!

A few days ago I met a nice, sweet Polish lady named Jennifer who came to the store with her 14 month old son, Nikhil. I was surprised to hear that she had given her son an Indian name! Over the next few days, she came in everyday and we would have a little chit chat. Today, she came in as soon as I opened the store. Again, we had our little chit chat... I played a little with Nikhil and I came to know that Jennifer's husband hails from the same region that I come from in India. She asked me my name and immediately told her son, "Nikhil, this is Hetal aunty." I felt really nice hearing that because non Indians usually don't have their kids call you aunty right a way. We exchanged phone numbers and I gave her some of the cleaning supplies. I continued with my daily routine at the store and at about 1:00 PM I receive a bouquet from Jennifer! I was shocked, emotional, happy, surprised, overwhelmed... you name it and I felt all the emotions simultaneously. I cried reading her card.... it said 'You deserve it.. enjoy! From your Gujarati sister Jennifer.' I called to thank her and again she said, "There are nice people in the World, but not as nice as you." Can you believe it? When I am surrounded by such nice people, why should I worry about the few who don't care?
Most importantly, I am also thankful for Nimisha... not that she is a stranger or a 'new' friend... in fact she is my best friend from elementary school. She managed to take one weekend out of her hectic schedule to come see me when SP was undergoing all the medical issues. She understood without me saying it that I needed her. We had tried to meet a lot of times, but were never able to accommodate it in our schedules, but in my time of need she was there for me MBBS (Mia Biwi Baccho Samet)!

There are a lot of people in my family and VP's family who truly care for us and I am grateful for them!! But this is just a recap of the last four years where I have met strangers who have touched our lives for ever... who have brought us joy and have come in our lives like a ray of hope. They are truly blessings in disguise... now it is up to me... whether I want to feel blessed by being surrounded by such lovely people or whether I want to keep sulking about the few that are too busy to care!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Teacher Appreciation Gift

This year my kids made cute cork boards for their teachers as an appreciation gift.
I found these cork boards at Michael's Craft Store for $2.49 on clearance. IP and SP glued crayons on the border to give it a framed look. (see the third and fourth picture). They both poked their teacher's initials with the jeweled push pins and wrote a thank you note. IP wanted to use a big word instead of 'from' so he tried sincerely.... misspelled it! Good try though. Btw, SP does not like to copy IP. Since IP had both initials of his teacher, SP decided to drop the last name of his teacher and use the rest of the pins to make a line. Because IP made a frame with two crayons, he made it with one. He likes to be different!
Their teacher's were very happy because it was not another mug or lotion or candle. It was something that they could actually use in the classroom.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Silly Bands are not so silly any more!!

Those things called silly bands or zany bands that are a wild craze among kids are driving me crazy. It is a rubber band shaped like an animal, dress, dessert, bugs, cars, shoes,dragon, dinosaurs and now USA... that packet includes the map of USA, a dollar sign, the liberty bell, the eagle... Pretty soon I think they will come up with President Obama's face. IP is pictured with his initial collection of 70 rubberbands. Now he has way more than that because they trade them with friends. Some of them are highly rare and precious. I even see a lot of adults wearing those.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Be the change that you wish to see in the World!!

I truly believe in, 'be the change that you wish to see in the World'. In fact we even had a saying in India that 'social work begins at home.' After I became the chair person of the Environmental Committee at my kids' school, we introduced Waste Free Wednesday in school which means kids are supposed to bring a waste free lunch to school on Wednesdays. A lunch room audit left me completely shocked!!!!!!!! There was enormous amount of food being wasted. Other than food, the biggest waste I thought was ziploc bags. My Gosh... have we become one disposable society or what?? Now that I think about it we are so dependent on convenience that ziploc bags have become a part of our grocery budget. Luckily for me I have stuck to lowering my ziploc bag usage and I am still on the box of sandwich size ziploc bags that my friend PM gave me in March 2009 because she was moving to India. I barely have any use for it. To add to this I came across snacktaxis. They are the best things that could happen to someone trying to go 'green'. They are so convenient to carry sandwiches or snacks. The best part is they are washable. The owner, Erin is also a very nice person. She gladly sent me samples of the snack taxis to display at the funfair in school. A lot of parents liked those.
Secondly, I also found the Go Green Lunch Box. I love these, but they are slightly pricey. The coolest thing about these is that the raised lips on the lid become the lid for each compartment. This prevents food mix up during transportation. The lid of the carry bag has a dry erase board so parents can write little notes to kids. The owner, Kim was also kind enough to send me a sample.
Thirdly, I found these glass straws online. I know there are many bamboo, stainless steel and glass options available, but this website is the cheapest. At first it did feel like I am in a chemistry lab sipping my drink from a pipette, but then I got used to it. Moreover, I don't use straws that much. It was mainly for my kids and they love it! Every time they use it, I remind them that each of them saved one plastic straw from reaching the landfill.
We also encouraged kids to bring a reusable napkins. Here's a sample of what I did with my kids. They turned out really cute!
It is a nice rainy day activity and the napkin becomes special. I displayed these at the fun fair to give some ideas to parents. A lot of parents inquired whether they were for sale.
Yes, it is a little effort on the Parents' part to pack a waste free lunch, but we have to leave a better world for our kids!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Father's Day Gift

A little late again, but better late than never!!

I did this cute little project with my kids for Father's Day!
I got a blank canvas from Walmart and the kids colored it with green paint with their fingers. After it dried, we did their hand prints in red. IP8 wrote, "No matter how old we get, we will always reach out for you." I think it turned out very cute and regret for not doing it every year. It would look nice on the wall and I would also be able to see my kids' growth by year. It is a good idea for all those Parents whose kiddos are still small.

Love you Costco!

Dear Costco,

This is to inform you that I love you for coming up with the best deals!!

The bestest thing I have ever bought at Costco is the Cuisinart 1-1/2-Quart Automatic Ice Cream Maker in red. It looks super cute on my counter top and the ice cream quality is out of this world. It felt like we ate real ice cream after ages. I have so far made Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Apricot and Mango ice cream and they all turned out great!!! We were not huge on ice cream before,but now we are addicted. Why is your deal the best? Well, it is available for approximately $50.00 online and retail stores like Macy's. At Costco, I paid $39.99. Apart from the price, your package comes with two freezer bowls unlike others that come with one. That is a savings of $28.00 - $30.00 right there. I have even got my friends hooked up to this. Up until they bought their own ice cream makers, I had become the Ice Cream Lady. We all live in the same complex and every time their kids see me, they ask, "what ice cream are we eating today?"

The reusable aluminum bottles that usually retail for $20.00+ each everywhere are 3 for $15.00 at Costco. They are so cool (according to an 8 year old)and they come with a neoprene sleeve. They are great for taking to work, school, soccer games, pool, anywhere and everywhere. Thanks for this fab deal? Why fab? Because I have seen the exact same set retailing from $27.00 - $89.00 on ebay. These bottles have helped me eliminate disposable bottles from my home. Good for the earth and good for my pocket!

You have these cool reusable, cold drink cups. I had searched high and low for these and was ecstatic when I saw them at Costco. Ever since I bought these, they have been used every single day. A pack of three BPA free cups with 6 reusable BPA free straws cost $18.99 at Costco. It is an absolutely great deal! You ask why? Well, here I go....a Mom at my kids' swim lessons told me that she bought one individual cup for $15.00 at Starbucks. I loved the look on her face when I told her what you offered us. Hubby takes a smoothie to work every day. IP loves his fresh watermelon juice in the cup.

Thank you for offering such great products at such reasonable rates! You are the best! I look forward to more deals like these.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

My Latest Creation

My latest creation... I know its not extraordinary for a lot of people, but for me.... I am super PROUD of it! My kids were super excited about it!! IP had it for breakfast and lunch. This made me very happy because he is a very, very picky eater. They called it little tepees!

The picture above is that of rice, toor dal, urad dal, moong dal, moong (whole), kidney beans, black eyed beans and northern beans crepes. I used half white rice and half brown rice. I also added ginger, curry leaves, green chillies, salt, asafoetida (to prevent tooting) during the grinding process. Simple and delicious with coconut and cilantro chutney.

The process is very simple also. No overnight soaking, no fermenting.
All you do is soak the dals and beans together for 2 hours and then add rice and soak it for another 2 hours. Then grind and use it or store it in the refrigerator.

I used 1:1 proportion of rice to dal bean mixture. I know not many people visit my blog for recipes, but if in case the picture tempts you to try it, I hope you understand my recipe. If not leave a comment and I can post a proper recipe.