Monday, August 19, 2013

Vacation week 3 of 3 and the year ahead (never drafted--2011!)

(Ended: Jan 9)

...was probably too good or too bad, and hence never written about. Or, maybe I was just too busy. However, many good things happened in the following months.

In February, I traveled to California for the third time--this time with colleagues, and we had a good, productive week there. After I returned, Phoebe and Mojo mated, which meant that their first litter would be around in a couple of months. I was planning on taking an extended unpaid leave, but I had no idea how long it would take for me to find good homes for all the pups. I finally decided to quit because I didn't want the suspense to take a toll on my time either at home or at work.

My last day at work was a week before Phoebe was due. I prepared for the arrival of the little monsters, although, back then I had no idea how they would turn to be. They turned out to be true blue Dals... vocal from the moment they were born... it was such an awesome experience to witness their arrival. My life revolved around them for the next few months. It was almost 4 months by the time all of them went to their permanent homes.

Then, I got busy tending to our house... gathered quotations from multiple vendors that went upto 70000 bucks! Finally, found a trusty old contact who did a very good job for us at half that price! By the time I could recover from that chore, Mojo decided to have his was with Phoebe and before we knew it, we were expecting another litter. We were not going to let them mate for another year at least, but this was unexpected. I sighed and readied myself for all the chores that lay ahead.

I started applying for jobs, planning the annual vacation with both parents, preparing for the arrival of the pups, and their care while we were traveling. Meanwhile, I also worked part time and from home at the organization where I started down the Technical Writing path. Exactly a year down the line (since these vacation posts), I was celebrating our 5-year wedding anniversary with the second set of pups arriving the same day (best. gift. ever!), traveling to my dad's home town with the hubs' parents for the first time, wrapping up a temporary job, and readying myself for a new one.

Oh, and in the midst of all this, we switched from a hatchback to a sedan... on a whim... amidst rising fuel prices, and we also had our longest road trip yet--to Hampi, no less! 2011 turned out to be a thrilling, productive, and fun year!

Vacation week 2 of 3 (old draft--2010!)

(Continued: Dec 2010 - Jan 2011)

...turns me into a bleddy housfrau--no offense to anyone--just not what a vacation is supposed to be.

  1. Walked the dogs and fed them.
  2. Prepared breakfast and cleaned up afterwards.
  3. Apartment-complex-related activities:
    1. Called up auditor and gave inputs about previous fiscal year's transactions.
    2. Visited the bank for updating the passbook and inquiring about fixed deposit renewal.
    3. Informed members about ongoing and pending tasks.
  4. Bought oranges on the way back from the bank--special note because we never remember to buy and consume fruits regularly--ate one and left the peels to dry so that I can powder them to use as flavoring or body scrub.
  5. Walked the dogs.
  6. Washed and dried bedsheets.
  7. Washed utensils.
  8. Cooked dinner and cleaned up afterwards.
  9. Prepared a home-remedy for cold / cough / fever, which the ungrateful husband refused to drink because it might not taste good.
  10. Warmed water and stored in a flask to drink during the night--otherwise our jaws go into shock thanks to the cold that seeps into the water.
  1. Prepared breakfast and cleaned up afterwards.
  2. Walked the dogs and fed them.
  3. Washed utensils.
  4. Washed the oily dog-food container.
  5. Washed and dried doormats.
  6. Apartment-complex-related activities:
    1. Visited the bank to apply for a new cheque book and give instructions about fixed deposit renewal.
    2. Looked through documents for further information about previous fiscal year's transactions, and informed the auditor.
    3. Informed members about the status of tasks.
  7. Refueled the car for use until it's taken away for servicing.
  8. Called up mom to fix a date and time for taking her to a place about 30 kms out of town that she wants to visit. Called up other aunts who might want to tag along. Called up hubs to ask about his birthday plans--obviously, he has none, he isn't even sure whether he wants the day off.
  9. Walked the dogs.
  10. Cooked dinner and cleaned up afterwards.
  11. Warmed up aforementioned home remedy. Yet, no sign of hubs' readiness to consume it.
  12. Warmed water and stored in a flask to drink during the night.
  1. Cleaned up after breakfast.
  2. Fed the dogs.
  3. Washed utensils.
  4. Cleaned veggies to be cooked for dinner.
  5. Checked work-related emails and responded to important ones. (This one turned out to be a source of much happiness. You shoulda seen me skipping away for the next activity.)
  6. Walked the dogs.
  7. Investment activities for hubs and self:
    1. Researched existing documents about investments, called up concerned customer care representatives, planned to submit necessary documents tomorrow.
    2. Called up dad to find out about available investment options and planned to submit the necessary amount and documents tomorrow.
  8. Walked the dogs.
  9. Cooked dinner and cleaned up afterwards.
  10. Warmed water and stored in a flask to drink during the night.
  1. Prepared sev-puri (a chaat variant) for hubs (with some ready-to-use ingredients, of course) as a birthday breakfast treat. Yes, we have no concept of appropriate food for any meal.
  2. Cleaned up after breakfast.
  3. Walked and fed the dogs--this includes waiting on them until they gobble up most of it and leave the rest on a whim, then add more meat for flavoring, so that they find it interesting enough to finish, then pat them and appreciate them for being kind enough to eat what was served.
  4. Washed clothes used for cleaning / dusting in the kitchen.
  5. Spent 4 hours preparing investments-related documents for submission at various offices.
  6. Checked work-related emails and responded to important ones.
  7. Walked the dogs.
  8. Prepared paav-bhaaji for hubs as a birthday dinner treat (called a cousin over to help and also enjoy the feast--it's rare that I'm in a mood to cook something special). Also presented to him with flourish the chocolate cake I bought in the afternoon. Don't accuse me of being boring, people. I wanted to buy a nice, colorful fruit-cake, but they didn't have any at Monginis. Besides, the husband's a girl when it comes to chocolates. So I thought I'd keep him happy. It's his birthday after all.
  9. Cleaned up after dinner.
  10. Walked the dogs.
  11. Warmed water and stored in a flask to drink during the night.

Washed cleaning / dusting cloth used in the kitchen.

Vacation week 1 of 3 (old draft--2010!)

(Started: Dec 17)

...began with me coming home at 3:20 am on Friday, Dec 17. Couldn't help it--I had work to put in order for others to continue while I am away. Rather, it helped me stay calm--I was bound to have insomnia that night because we were supposed to make a road trip to Vadodara the next day. I would have been much too excited / suffered from HPD (Hyperactive Packing Disorder--one among my various personalized pshychological conditions). Returning home that late kept my disorder at bay and I tried to finish my packing, but felt tired enough to sleep. The alarm woke me up at 7:00 am, which meant I was really sleeping and not wondering whether I slept through the sounds of the alarm.

I was up and packing in no time. Hubs had left clothes and other material out along with the traveling bags--the bugger knows I will not let him pack shabbily and keep repacking until everything is fit into optimal space. A little elf also paid us a visit and did other chores like cleaning the dishes, etc. I excused his laziness to get out of the bed the next morning only thanks to the elf.

The house seemed very quiet and empty because we'd dropped off Mojo and Phoebe at the pet resort the previous day itself. To our surprise and huge relief, they hadn't whined and cried their heads off during the night. The past couple of times that we left them behind, they gave the caretakers much trouble. Mojo would keep yelping for us and Phoebe would join him throwing in barks for good measure. This time I thought of putting them on medication (Anxocare) for calming their nerves, but they surprised us by doing so well without it. We thought of meeting them for a bit before we began the journey and so went to the resort, but the caretaker did not allow us to disturb them.

We were on our way by 9:00 am instead of 7:00 am as initially planned. But that was ok with me. I was the picture of coolness. There was no panic, no hurry, only an adequate sense of urgency to get on the road so as to reach our destination before it became too dark. We took NH-4 to Mumbai, and I drove until we reached NH-8 via Thane. A loo and inform-the-parents-and-remote-road-trip-advisor break later, hubs took over. Bless his soul, he took us through the most boring part of the drive as I caught up on last night's sleep. On a large stretch of NH-8 in Gujarat, bridges connecting smaller roads to villages and towns on either side were being constructed. On the 6-lane road, there were diversions every couple of kilometers, which merged into one lane, so the traffic was considerably slow. Besides, trucks were probably being driven by snakes, because they seemed to be zigzagging all over the place, possibly unaware of something known as a lane system.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Peas-and-cashew fried rice with spicy tomato soup--from a girl who hates to cook!

Saturday evening. After spending a really nice morning catching up with my gal pals for breakfast at Linger On, and then spending the next few hours getting long overdue chores at home done, I thought I should make up a treat for the dear hubs. The initial plan was to make mushroom fried rice, but the mushrooms weren't available, so I made do with what I had at home. And here's what I did...
  1. Cleaned and boiled the tomatoes in a pressure cooker.
  2. Boiled Basmati rice in a microwave oven--used less water and add a little oil so that it didn't turn out sticky and the grains separated easily. Followed it up by boiling frozen peas.
  3. Chopped onions into thin, long slices, and finely chopped garlic cloves, ginger, and some dehydrated coriander (keep a bunch wrapped in tissue paper in a fridge for a few days, and it dries up but stays green).
  4. Peeled the tomatoes and crushed them in a juicer with some black salt and rock salt. The peels were added to Mojo and Phoebe's boiled rice-lentils-veggies mix. Hardly anything goes to waste in our kitchen.
  5. Spread the rice on a tray to cool off, while I gathered all the spices.
  6. Heated oil in a soup pan and let some mustard seeds splutter in it to confirm that the temperature was right. Stirred the chopped coriander, garlic, ginger, some bay leaves, and cinnamon in until they changed color. Added the tomato pulp and a little sugar. Cleaned the juicer with some water and added it too. Set it aside after boiling for couple of minutes.
  7. Heated oil in a kadhaai and let a few cumin and white sesame seeds splutter in it. Added cashew nuts and fried them until they changed color. Stirred a little green chilly-ginger-garlic paste and some grated dry coconut in. Added some turmeric and Biryaani masaala and stirred the whole mixture for a minute. Added the boiled peas and stirred for another minute. Added the cooled rice and mixed everything together and kept it covered for a minute before turning the heat off.
  8. Boiled oil in a mini-kadhaai and fried the onion slices until they turned brown. Spread them on some tissues to cool and get some of the oil off. Then, mixed them into the rice preparation.
Here are some pictures to give you an idea...

I added salt multiple times to various ingredients as per my liking, but you could add it only once to the rice and the soup. I did not mention any portions and avoided mentioning the duration required for each task, because I generally make those up as I go. I am not really a metrics-driven person in this regard. It's got to feel right to me :P

It turned out yummy and the hubs gobbled it up. So did I. Totally worth the effort.

And now, maybe I should change my stance from "I hate cooking" to "I love cooking, at leisure, as hobby to be indulged in, once a month".