Thursday, 27 October 2016

Diwali ~The Hindu Festival and a gift from Asda.

Diwali is a Hindu celebration that is celebrated by all Hindus.It  usually falls late October to early November time depending on the Hindu calendar. It spans over 4 days with festivities, meeting, greeting, praying and celebrations with lamps and fireworks. It a time for families to get together, forgive and forget and celebrate this joyous Occasion.

Day one is Dhanteras- This is the day when Hindus worship the goddess Laxmi, the god of wealth. They welcome her into their homes offering prayers to her for giving them wealth.

Day two  is Kali Chaudas- This day is when Hindus remember their ancestors and family members that are deceased, they offer prayers for their souls to rest in peace.

Day three is Diwali day- This is the day when families wear new cloths, exchange gifts, enjoy a Diwali banquet and celebrate by lighting oil lamps, candles and light fireworks.

Day Four is New Years Day  -This is the day when families visit each others houses to greet them and share indulgent platters of Indian sweets.

The run up to Diwali is a very busy period for Hindus, people spring clean their houses and make delicious savouries, Indian sweets and decorate their houses with rangolis which are intricut patterns drawn on the floor with powdered paint, coloured rice, and flowers.

The house is adorned with earthen oil lamps and Torans of flowers (buntings) are tied to the front door in preparation to welcome the goddess Laxmi to the house.

Cleaning the house is an important part of the preparations as is shopping for ingredients to cook with for the festival. This year I have been lucky as Asda has come to my rescue, they have sent me a lovely hamper full of cleaning products and Asian ingredients to start my preparations. At Asda there is a whole range of Asian groceries available with many special offers for Diwali.

 I have made some pretty platters that I have gift packed with Indian sweets and biscuits to give to my family. The Ingredients in the hamper were indeed useful as were all the cleaning products.

I would like to Thank Asda for the lovely hamper that has helped me to make my Diwali preparations a little easier.

I would like to wish all my readers a very Happy Diwali and Very Happy New years. I appreciate all your support in the form of visits and comments that truly inspire me to blog.

For ideas for some Diwali sweets, that I have made do check out my recipes below.

Kaju Katli- Indian Cashewnut sweet.

Coconut Delight Roses - Tutti frutti and Coconut layered on delicious white chocolate.

Caramel Peda- Indian fudge-Delectable pieces of melt in the mouth soft brown fudge topped with 
flaked almonds. 

Chocolate Crunch Nut Barfi-A lovely sweet made with chopped cashew nuts, almonds,pistachio nuts, cereal-corn flakes, rice crispies ,cocoa and golden syrup .Topped with delicious smooth milk chocolate. 

Rose Barfi-Rose flavoured Milk Fudge

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

India ~a magical Journey

Spices and flavours are the two  things that are most important to me when I cook. I love the balance of sweet with sour, spicy with tangy and delicate fragrance of cardamom and saffron. Having Indian roots of course I grew up with spices, the aromas that filled our kitchen and from my mum's spice box was something I will never forget.

Originally from East Africa I grew up in the UK and I had always dreamt that one day I would go to India, the country that is the king of spice. India is a city of diverse cultures and you will be greeted with a rainbow of colours, flavours, sights and sounds. A country that is so full of tradition and culture that it will leave you mesmerised.

Years went by and the trip never happened for one reason or another. This didn't stop me planning my itinerary and dreaming of visiting the Golden temple in Amritsar, the Red fort in Delhi, Jaipur the pink city, the romantic and beautiful Taj mahal. I dreamt of visiting the golden deserts of Jaisalmer, and the beautiful Lake Palace at Udaipur.

I wanted to bathe in the Ganges, a must for any hindu once in their lifetime. I wanted to hear the cars honking and take a ride in rickshaw. I wanted to enjoy the sounds of  Ganges flowing from the mountain tops in Rishikesh.

I dreamt of tasting Indian Street food such as spicy chilli fritters and pav bhaji. Of course not forgetting vada pavs and the tangy hot and spicy pani puris, bhel puris and masala tea all served by street vendors.I wanted to taste the hot aloo parathas oozing with desi ghee(clarified butter) in the dabbas of punjab and savour the beautiful gujarati thali, a variety of gujarati cuisine served in little brass dishes .

How I longed to taste the sweet coconut water, savour the taste of sugar cane juice and enjoy refreshing squeezed tangerine juice all freshly squeezed on the spot by street vendors.

India, a country that has extreme poverty and slums but on the other hand there are rich  maharajas who live in palaces. You can hear the blaring sounds of the Bollywood  movie songs to the serene chants of the temple bells in the morning and evening. How I wanted to explore all this and much more. I dreamt and dreamt and my longing to visit India grew more and more each day.

I really wanted my dream to come true and like they say if you dream hard and you dream long you CAN make your dream come true and it certainly did....
Bags packed, jabs sorted, visas stamped and  flights finally booked, I left behind my two daughters and hubby  to go and live my dream for 4 weeks.(Ok not totally alone but with my sister)

I visited all the places I had dreamed of and many more over a four week period. I enjoyed the peace and serenity of the Golden Temple in Punjab, enjoyed  a camel ride on the sands of Jaisalmer, savoured the amazing sight of the Taj Mahal and visited Jaipur the beautiful Pink city.

I took a hair raising ride up the mountains to see the Ganges flowing at Rishikesh and I was fortunate to attend the Evening prayers to the Mother Ganges at Haridwar.
I also took a holy dip in the ice cold freezing waters of the Ganges a must for any Hindu to wash away ones sins.  I was crazy but this was a lifetime opportunity how can I go to Haridwar and not take the Dip!!! (Proof in the picture below)

I visited the slums to the palaces and saw the diversity of India. I visited mosques, temples and gurudwaras and prayed to all the incarnations of god. I ate to my content street foods I had dreamt of and enjoyed the sights and sounds of India to the fullest.

And finally I shopped till I dropped, I bought aromatic pungent spices, photography props, beautiful ornate sarees and kurtas and bangles all the colours of the rainbow till my suitcase was bursting at the seams. I wanted to bring back India with me and that I certainly did in my memories.

What a beautiful place my homeland is, this is where my roots are, how I wish I can return to savour and revisit this magical country once again.
Like I said "Dreams do come true" you just have to work hard at them.... so I shall start weaving my dream once more so that I can revisit this magical country once again.

This post is an entry in to the Trips100/Family Adventure Company blogger challenge.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Bonfire Night Photo Frame # Bostik Challenge

Its again time of the month when the lovely people at Bostik send their arts and crafts box. This month the theme is Bonfire. The box had lots of sparkly stars, colourful lolly sticks, glitter card , foliage and pipe cleaners. I always save the box so that Little M  my niece and I can create the craft together, so this weekend she came over on Sunday afternoon and we had our usual cake and smoothie.

This week I had lots of apples and pears that I had picked from my neighbours garden so we set about making an apple and pear smoothie and I added a handful of baby spinach just to make it a little more healthy. Little M did not complain and in fact she liked it so much she asked for a second helping. We played in the garden for a while and Little M collected some pretty leaves,but it started to rain so we went indoors only to realise that the box of leaves were still outside in the rain. Little M was a little upset so I let her look through the bostik craft box to see what she wanted to make.

She really liked the leaves and foliage in the box (thank god they were in there as it made her forget about the leaves we had collected in the garden which were now drenched). We decided to create a collage with them. Whilst I was looking for some card, I found an old picture frame that was sitting in one of the drawers so I gave it to little M and we decided to stick the leaves and stars to the photo frame to make a little Bonfire night theme present.

The frame turned out really pretty and we wrote a message and put the card in where the photo goes to create a perfect photo frame. Little M said that the lolly sticks with the stars looked like fire works.

To create your own Bonfire night photo frame you will need:

  • A photo frame with a wide edging (minimum 1 inch wide)
  • Bostil spray glue
  • Foliage, leaves in different colours, 
  • Coloured lolly sticks
  • Silver stars and sequins
  • Black card and silver pen to write message.
  • Scissors
How to make:

1. Remove the back from the photo frame and take the card out. using this card as the template cut a piece of the same size in black card.
2. Write your desired message on the black card with a silver pen and then place the black card inside the frame and fit the back on again.

3. Spray some bostik glue on the right side of the picture frame very carefully as not to spray the glass.

4. Arrange the lolly sticks and leaves on the frame as you like and then using either the bostik glue or bostik glue dots stick stars at the end of the lolly sticks to make them look like fire works.

5. Leave to dry and the photo frame is ready.

Little M is thrilled with her frame and proudly took it home to gift to her parents. This would be the perfect gift to make during half term with youngsters as its really simple to make.

Being part of the Bostik 2016 bloggers with Tots100 and Merrily Crafts, I was sent some craft items in a box to create this project.