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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Diwali, Kati Bihu Halloween and memory lane

      15 years back I left Assam, India making a new home in Connecticut, USA. I left few festive, fair, smell, fragrance, family, friends and much more. While you leave something at the same time you gain a few too. You all might know that at this time in India, Indians celebrate the most glorious festival Diwali "A celebration of light". As I am from the eastern part of India, Bihu is the fulcrum festival. After coming to the USA, we started celebrating Diwali as equally as Bihu. We love preparing sweets and exchanging with friends and putting lights to decorate the house with candles and Diyas earthen lamps. With our neighbor, we celebrate Diwali where kids perform dance and music with all the cultural programs and an array of good Indian food. We celebrate our roots and heritage, trying to give kids the essence of India. 

Kati Bihu celebration. Photo Credit - Parasha Konwer

      Along with Diwali, back in Assam India, we celebrate one festival called Kati Bihu or Kongali Bihu. This Bihu is not as grand as Rongali Bihu or Bhogali Bihu. All assamese festivals are associated with harvest. Since this Bihu falls before the harvest that's why it is called kongali Bihu, Kongali means poor. Place Earthen lamps (diyas) in storage (bhoral), gate and front of the kitchen for praying for good harvest according to local belief. Planting basil tree and placing earthen diyas and offering prasad (Soak chickpeas and Moog with fresh cut fruit) is a ritual and kids visit you for prasad. As a kid, I used to visit our neighbors and friends. But later when I grew up, I recall kids were not coming for prasad and the tradition slowly becoming extinct. Now when I look back at those nostalgic years, it lights up my heart just like Diwali Diyas. Here along with Diwali, we celebrate Halloween too. My kids go for Halloween Trick or Treat in our close tidy neighborhood for candies. I see a glimpse of my childhood in them, celebrating Kati Bihu. With our Halloween decore Diwali Diyas and candles get equally placed too. Our whole neighboorhood fills up with Halloween decore and Diwali Diyas. Everything oozes same merriment and joy of festivity. I couldn't differentiate because of Halloween or Diwali. Have a great Diwali guys.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Burlington, Vermont Experience the New England offbeat charm

      When it comes to travel, I'm always intrigued by unique and offbeat places more than a commercial tourist attraction. Living in New England offers me plenty of such place choices. Burlington, Vermont is one of such place I have ever visited with the serene shore of Lake Champlain and quiet Canadian border. A perfect destination for your weekend getaway. Some of my favorite things to offer for each and everyone.

Church Street Market PLace
      Experience the history and liveliness of church street marketplace. This four-block pedestrian zone with endless shops, eatery and unique art galleries with view surrounded by pristine Lake Champlain. Walk along with all the happy people feel of festivity with fashion, fun, food, and frolic just name it.

Waterfront Park
      Just takes your walk a few steps forward to the 7.5-mile bike path, a pier for Lake Champlain boat trips, the Echo aquarium and Discovery church street marketplace. There you are, experience the vast view of Lake Champlain. Take a walk or a bike and unwind all your hassle. Either busk in the sun or soak the sunset or swing in a bench, sip your chai or coffee.

ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain Burlington, VT 
      Visit would not be complete without taking a tour of ECHO's 70 live species, over 100
Interactive experiences, and seasonal changing exhibits and events. Great experience for the tender learner to learn the marine life and about marina and biology with hands-on experience. Butterfly exhibits, weather report exhibits, sand table and much more. Also, ECHO top level has a stunning view of the lake and surrounding serene mountains.

Enter and experience the food scene. Yes, please. Burlington offers a vast variety of food experience from upscale to casual healthy to indulgence alley of great breakfast, lunch, and dinner options.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

India, West Hartford Sunday brunch review

A true blue foodie myself, lazy days especially Sundays, I look for Sunday brunches. As Sundays are also associated with Monday mania, I prefer brunches as there is no hurry to get up, devour and savor your food, yet you have time left to merge in Monday Mania.
Last weekend was such a savory Sunday, and we went to India, West Hartford for Sunday brunch.

     If you follow me, you might have read India West Hartford lunch review earlier, here is the post. India West Hartford has an interior that blends India intricates with urban design, and we were humbly and quickly greeted. They have an optional entry of menu where you can choose street style India food. The menu is not too extensive to overwhelm yet consisting most Indian street style food.

        Most Indian street style foods are indulgent. Here I indulged with chili chicken, Indochinese. Delicately deep fried chicken pieces with relishing red sauce, crispy veggies, succulent-chunky onion pieces and green pepper fiercely flavorful. A full of high on sin yet worth the sin decadent. A must try if you happen to be into Sunday brunches.

          For my son, he had veg Manchurian. Vegetable balls dipped in soy and garlic based sauce on a bed of basmati rice. It was absolutely delectable with the perfect pair of the mouth-watering Manchurian.

       Then came the chicken Kathi roll for my husband. A cooked to perfection chicken with yogurt and medley of masalas and wrapped in a wholesome wholewheat wrap.  Served with healthful veggies. The raving part of India West Hartford is that it sources its vegetables from the local organic farms. You can sense that in your every bite, the twists of restaurant style yet goodness of healthy home cooking.

      My daughter opted for Gobhi Paratha, cauliflower bread. An Indian cauliflower whole wheat bread, a bread stuffed with hearty cauliflower and carefully cooked in clarified butter. A great for picky eaters for fulfilling and satisfying.
           Our Sunday brunch in India West Hartford was certainly satisfying and ended there, but the taste and flavor keep inviting us over again. Have great weekend guys.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Bridging two cultures and outfit of the day

      The last couple of days had been really warm here, almost felt like mid-July. Not that I don't like warm days of New England when we always complain about the long winter. Yesterday temperature dropped to a little chili. Feeling of the Fall is always wonderful. I felt like as if I am in India, Assam my home state. Felt like waking up in the morning walking on the lawn barefoot, foggy and hued and with all the festive buzz around. Now I am in New England, missing Indian festivities, so thought of posting a custom made Mekhela Chadar grey and orange, which I got from Assam when I visited last time from Xipini By Kanishka Gogoi Mahanta. A very contemporary appeal with a traditional touch. I accessorized it with antique finish gold jewelry. The outfit is ideal for both day and night. Also, the melange of the two colors, the brightness of orange and mildness of grey portraits the balance of Fall between summer and winter.

      As you all know, how I make so many trips in my mind, back and forth from Connecticut to Assam, my thought of making a bridge between Fall and Dussehra connecting the two cultures. Today is Dussehra a major Indian festival. I love the significance of this festival, win of good over evil, associated with the great Indian epic Ramayana, where prince Ram's homecoming with the glory of winning good over evil celebrated. Let the good be the winner in our lives and love over hate today and every day. Happy Dussehra and happy fall folks!

P. S. Mekhela chadar is an Assamese ethnic outfit. It can be easily disguised as a saree. Saree is one piece attire, and mekhela chadar is two-piece, a skirt(mekhela) and scarf(chadar).

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Hello Fall, my favorite things...

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth

seeking the successive autumns."

- George Eliot 

      Hello, Now the favorite time of the year approaches. In my previous post, I mentioned how I miss India during this time. But, after living in New England, fall has become my favorite season of the year. How magical it is to see the changing colors of the trees from green to pink, purple, red and brown. It is neither hot nor cold, enjoy the pleasant weather. There are several reasons why fall is my favorite in New England...

Be Romantic... 

      Driving through the foliage is one of the best fall activity. Before having kids, we used to take long drives and enjoy the view. That's a great idea for couples or a dating idea with crisp trees and fall color. Now with kids, we still take the drive and have great family time. 

Be Creative... 

      Visiting farms is one of my favorite activity. Picking pumpkins for carving are very creative for kids. Along with it, you can enjoy hayrides and corn mazes too. 

Fall Flavors... 

      Fall is the season where you can devour the flavors, whether pumpkin spice, apple cider, great pies or baked goodies. Even though I am not a great fan of giving kids sugary snacks, fall flavorful donuts are an absolute favorite. Avid tea lover, I can't deny the fact how much I enjoy fall seasonal spice coffees. 

Be Active...

      Hiking a mountain trail with family is a great fun activity. My kids love to collect fall leaves. Enjoy the nature while hiking. We visit nearby state parks for fall hikes. We love to discover the reflection of the colorful fall leaves on a lake or small creeks. 

Take the Adventure...

      Getting on a scenic train ride is magical. You can relax and soak in the view and kids can experience the excitement of train ride. Let's cover all the unseen views which you couldn't cover while hiking. 

Hello to Fashion... 

      And in terms of fashion, you can still carry your summer pieces and perk with Panchos, cardigans and flaunt your boots. Carry your tan-orange-gold-purple handbags for fall fashions absolute touchups, Love to hear your fall favorites...

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Indian festival wardrobe 101

      Indian festive season just kick-started. If you are passionate about Indian ethnics then definitely, it opens up the plethora of possibilities for wearing Indian wear. If you are following me you know, I am Indian girl staying in the USA for last 15 years. I get very minimal chances to wear Indian wear. The festive season is always one I look forward to use my Indian wardrobe.

      So now, how to prepare or get your wardrobe ready for the festive season. A few tips and tricks from my personal experience:

  1. Always decide on the outfits few weeks before the festive season begins.
  2. Check if your outfits are well ironed. A well-ironed outfit plays significant roles in chic and groomed look.
  3. Did you try the blouses, if they are well fitted or need any alteration? An ill-fitted blouse can ruin the whole look.
  4. After deciding on the dress decide on accessories.
    Must have:
    • Bangles are must have. A pair of bangles or stack of bangles instantly brings ethnic and festive vibes to your outfit. 
    • Any Indian look is incomplete without a bindi big or small according to your personal choice.
    • Good clean nails always elevate any look. Chipped nails are an instant turn off no matter how lovely your outfit is.
    • Decide on your footwear early. Last moment random pick footwear may be uncomfortable or does not gel with your look.
    • I always believe that a good handbag definitely adds up your look. Potlis or embellished clutches are very to go with the ethnic or desi outfit.

      I am looking forward to hearing from you how you decide your wardrobe how you get ready your festive wardrobe no matter where you are from.

      Here you can find the post on Indian Classic Wardrobe.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Lake placid food indulgence and healthy choices part 2

Farm Cafe(Breakfast)... 

      A mindful morning. As a foodie, my mindful morning always has to do with a fresh, scrumptious breakfast. When I was looking for breakfast at lake placid, I came across only a few restaurants. Honestly, the name Farm Cafe magnate me.

      A tidy and cozy set up with a bar Farm Cafe have a great ambiance. As I went through the menu, I was looking for whole wheat or multi grain bread, but they don't have that option. So, I stuck with veg omelet and house fries with coffee. The omelet was deliciously fluffy. Wish the vegetables were little fresher would have made the taste even better.

      Husband got breakfast burritos, again it was a white flour burrito, but stuffing is definitely great with eggs, cheese, and veg fillings.

      Kids got flap jack and hot chocolate. You have an option to add either fruits or chocolate chips to flap jacks, and all came with fresh fruits. There is nothing better about a good breakfast when you get the chance to start with farm fresh fruits. And Farm Cafe sparks every entry with cut fresh fruits. Like fresh fruit, if they also pay little attention to adding farm fresh veggies that will surely perk up Farm Cafe menu.

The good bite kitchen(lunch)...

      When you are in a tourist place lunch is always in a hurry since you want to see all the places and do activities before the sun sets its day. How about some really good food in no time. Yes, that's what came to my mind when I entered Good bite.

      New era innovative, quick and chic food take on vegetarian food. Locally sourced fresh food, this little eatery with six sitting inside and few outside with overlooking the lively downtown alley, Good bite offers bowls, sandwiches, and soup to smoothies and herbal lattes.

      I went for Kara bowl, it came with moong beans, roasted green peppers, kale, Havarti cheese, pumkin seeds and honey mustard and I chose whole wheat pasta base. For bowls, good bite offers options for bases like whole wheat pasta, zucchini noodle or brown rice. It was so refreshing, healthful and mindful at the same time decadent. Slippery soft pasta with moong beans grainy flavor is very palatable, and one can't really think of mixing this together. Yet again proving the point that good food does not need to be guilt food after eating.

      For drinks, I had mango raspberry kale and almond milk smoothie. It surely blows your taste buds even though you are not exactly a smoothie niche like me. The best part is everything is under ten dollars with options of vegan and gluten free. My next visit to lake placid won't be complete without visiting The Good bite kitchen again.

Click here to read the part 1


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