Thursday, May 26, 2011

Our Precious Home -- The Earth!

Treat the earth well.
It was not given to you by your parents,
it was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors,
we borrow it from our Children.

The above is a Native American prayer which is more than 100% applicable to my generation. 

We have become such a convenience oriented society that we are generating mounds and mounds of trash that fills the landfills and oceans. We have started behaving as if we were raised using convenience products like paper towels, ziploc bags, plastic bags, aluminum foil, individual snack packs, etc. We have just stopped thinking of alternatives! We have forgotten that there are cloth napkins, glass or stainless steel containers. I agree that there is something called hygiene, but reusable napkins and containers are hygienic enough. The only thing  that does not disturb me much is "Kleenex" because it is a paper product which will easily disintegrate and not land in the land fill for 100 years. I advocate the use of Kleenex only if you are suffering from cold and runny nose. Not to wipe your wet hands.

It sometimes gets me worried because the corporations are making us a convenience oriented society. They want us to get hooked on to their products. But they don't think and we don't think if it is good for the planet or not in the longer run. Even when I go to Costco it disturbs me to see the trash cans full of small, plastic cups and spoons that they use for food trial. They should come up with another option. 

Something that recently caught my attention was individually wrapped prunes! Common people.... can't we just pick one prune from a jar full? What is wrong is the prune is individually wrapped in plastic and all the plastic wrapped prunes are then bagged in plastic. That is a double whammy!!! The worst thing about this packaging is that the nutrition snap shot suggests a serving size of four prunes. Then why not pack them in fours? Gosh.. this is not rocket science!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Staff Appreciation Lunch

 Last week was Staff Appreciation week and I realized that on Friday, 05/20/11.... It completely slipped out of my mind that we do Staff Appreciation lunch during Staff Appreciation week even though I had signed up to send two lunch boxes for two staff members. Normally, in my right mind, I send a small gift every day. Something simple like a flower or a candy with a thank you note and we do a nice gift on Friday. Last year we had prepared a movie package. I hate myself for not taking pictures! I bought plastic popcorn containers and filled it with a microwaveable popcorn bag, some theater candies and two movie tickets for the teacher and their significant other. The year before last, I has sent a plant with a hand written note by IP that said, "Thank you for helping me grow."

But this year.... I don't know what was I thinking? :((

Well, coming back to the lunches.... The PTA needed 55 lunch boxes on 05/20/11. So, I had volunteered to send 2. Being a vegetarian, I thought a lunch from Panera Bread would be my best bet. I ordered the Bacon Turkey bravo on a tomato basil bread sandwich with apple, grape juice and a chocolate chip cookie for dessert. The folks at Panera were very helpful. They designed the box beautifully with the lace doily.

 My boys wrote a general thank you note to the teachers because we did not know which staff member would pick our box. I did not change the note at all. I wanted it to be an original, hand written note without Mommy edits. We also taped the menu on each box for obvious reasons.

Before delivering the lunches, VP and I were feeling very happy and proud about my Panera bread idea. But when I went to school.... boy oh boy!!!! some Parents had done awweessome jobs!! There were decorated baskets with food, reusable lunch bags from Whole Foods filled with freshly prepared items from Whole Foods. There were a couple lunches in sand buckets with a beach theme going on... the Mom had placed flip flops and a beach towel in the sand bucket along with the food. There were some homemade meals and some Starbucks packages. There were a few like me also.... Panera and Subway lunches. But hey... its the thought that counts and now I know better!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Goodwill Finds!!

I walked into my closet today and was shocked at the overwhelming amount of clothes that I don't wear. They are either too big (not that I have lost any weight, I guess I just bought them larger)or faded. I thought I had gotten rid of all the unwanted clothes during spring cleaning, but I guess not!Oh now I remember... I had saved the larger clothes because I wanted to trying refashioning them into something smaller and more stylish. I have never attempted something so huge like refashioning because of a few unsuccessful attempts that were supposedly simple with a sewing machine.

I must be in a weird mood because now that I think about it, I just donated an Aeropostale sweatshirt and my SJSU's sweatshirt!! Why did I do that? I don't care about the Aeropostale sweatshirt, but the SJSU sweatshirt.... :(( I felt good every time I wore it. It would take me back to those days in sunny CA!!I had once worn it on the plane to India and a fellow passenger (an older American gentleman) stopped me and said,"Do you know where is SJSU? I live in Sunnyvale which is very close to SJSU." I remember I had proudly replied, "I am a student at SJSU Sir."

Well, coming back to the topic! When I went to donate my goods at Goodwill (GW), I thought of browsing the store, though it has a drive through drop off facility. The one fact I hate about walking into a GW store is the smell of freshly laundered clothes. I don't know if the donated clothes are washed prior to being brought on the floor, or they spray an air freshener with fresh laundry fragrance, but I can smell the detergent and fabric softener.

 I love their book section though! I have been able to get some good reference books in the past for just $1.79 fixed rate for hard cover books.
I particularly thought today's trip was extremely successful because I managed to bag 9 out of 13 books of the Series of Unfortunate Events (SoUE) at $0.59. Of course, it is GW after all..... so the books are not grouped together or neatly stacked... you have to finger through each book individually. At first I just glimpsed through the book section and thought it wasn't a good day when I saw book #2 of SoUE. I was actually looking for The Magic Tree House books that SP loves to read and thought of holding on to book #2 of SoUE while I look for more Magic Tree House books.

I  found only two Magic Tree House books, but I found 9 SoUE books. I was so happy!!!
When I got home, IP and SP were overjoyed on seeing the loot! We attacked the SoUE that same night and I found it extremely interesting. I finished the first book that night....I am on book 4 but now I am getting a little annoyed with Violet and Klaus Baudelaire for blurting out things in front of Count Olaf when they are supposedly extremely smart and well read kids; and Sunny on the other hand is extremely understanding for her age. I hope all toddlers were like that!

Overall, it was a good day at GW.... got rid of unnecessary things and got some necessary things!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Virgin Sangria

The second drink in the above picture is featured in this post.

I love the name Sangria for a drink! It is a wine punch typical of Spain and Portugal. It normally consists of red wine, sliced fruit, some spices like cinnamon, small amount of brandy, triple sec or other spirits, orange juice and some sort of sweetener like agave nectar, honey or simple syrup. There are a lot of variations. One can vary the fruits, wines, etc. If white wine is used in place of red, it is called Sangria blanca (makes sense).

Ever since I started planning a surprise party for a dear friend, I was on a hunt for non alcoholic drinks for adults and children. I was tired of boring drinks like coke and his cousins, pepsi and her cousins and their extended families. I came across Mock Champagne which is amazingly refreshing! I wanted one more drink and I found this at a sweet pea chefLacey has awesome pictures on her website. Just looking at the pictures I was drooling all over. My picture above does not do any justice to the drink and is nothing compared to those of Lacey's. Please do visit Lacey for some great recipes.

There are certain things in a recipe that make you want to try it. One of them is the ingredients and their chemistry. Since I hate do not like grape juice, apple juice or orange juice, I don't think I would have given this recipe a shot had it not been for the pictures. I was visually talked into trying this recipe.

Well, enough said. If the links above do not work (I am a newbie blogger and I am still learning), here is the recipe:
(Once again, the credit goes completely to Lacey for this refreshing drink). I followed it to the T.

Virgin Sangria

3 cups grape juice
3/4 cup apple juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 lemon, thinly sliced, with peel
1/2 lime, thinly sliced, with peel
1 medium orange, thinly sliced, with peel
1 small apple, cored, sliced into 8ths, with peel
1 small black plum, thinly sliced, with peel
2-3 cups sparkling mineral water or club soda, to taste


Combine the fruits and juices in a large pitcher. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, overnight preferably, to allow for flavors to combine. Prior to serving, add mineral water and stir together.

I had used 3 cups of club soda.

Like the Mock Champagne, this recipe was a huge hit with adults and children! The moment I utter the word Sangria, my kids get excited. They love to help me prepare it. Their favorite part is the measuring and tossing all the fruits that I cut. My favorite part is slicing the citrus fruits and just looking at my drink server filled with a dark red colored drink with fruits floating in it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mock Champagne

The yellow drink in the above picture is the drink featured in this post. The red one is Sangria which will follow shortly and the clear one is the biggest thirst quencher - our dear old H2O.

I came across this recipe by accident. I was looking for a virgin mocktail with minimum ingredients. Since I am not a fan of drinks or juices, I wasn't too sure about the taste, but I had a feeling it wouldn't taste that bad. The gingerale was making me a little skeptical but the other ingredients sounded yummy! So, without giving it a second thought, I gave it a try and boy was it a hit or what?

The recipe is pretty simple! All you need is ~
  • 1 (2 liter) bottles ginger ale, chilled
  • 1 (46 fluid ounce) can pineapple juice, chilled
  • 1 (64 fluid ounce) bottle white grape juice, chilled
and all you have to do is mix all the ingredients right before serving. I combined the pineapple juice and white grape juice about two hours before serving and then added the ginger ale right before serving.

All the guests loved it. I had a lot of requests for the recipe. It was a big hit with the kids at the party also. My kids loooovvvee it!
Personally, I am not a fan of carbonated drinks. I enjoyed it after an hour when the carbonation in the ginger ale got to do it's thing and settle down.
It is great the way it is, however, some adults did add vodka to make it a grown up drink. One thing I would recommend is that give it a stir every now and then because the pineapple juice tends to settle down like you see in the picture. The lighter yellow on the bottom is pineapple juice.

Other than that, it is pretty simple and delectable!!

Serve it chilled and enjoy!

Recipe courtsey :