Monthly Favorites | January

I talked about my impulse to share about some things I am loving here & got some really good suggestions on how I can make it interesting.

One of the suggestions by Moksha was to do monthly favorites like the YouTuber Sherry Shroff. A little interesting fact – I have loved Sherry’s monthly favorites videos since a long time. In fact, they are some of my favorite videos on her YouTube but I find doing monthly favorites myself scary. My reasons are no doubt petty, but they matter to me. 😀 First of all, I am not someone who goes through a lot of products to make a good enough monthly favorite products list. However, I am now seeing this as a boon – it means my monthly favorites will be a good mix of experiences & how the month went, instead of only ‘products‘. Secondly, I also fear getting too much into the groove of tracking your favorite stuff throughout the month which may take away the joy of just being, but I hope that doesn’t happen, and, therefore, I am just taking the plunge here.

I now present to you my monthly favorites for January ’22. 😀

RiteBite protein bar: Ritebite is my new favorite snacking brand. You will know when you read my favorite #2. I keep trying a lot of snacking brands and I think food will always be a feature in monthly favorites one way or the other. The biggest reason I like RiteBite is because of favorite #2. Chips is a food category where its difficult to make a healthier alternative for regular chips that just tastes as good. I love their chips & if I go by their claims, one packet of their chips has ~10g protein. As for their protein bar, I like it for a very straight forward reason. It tastes good & is not as expensive as other protein bars available in the online space. Just to be clear, I don’t consume these products as any supplement or meal, its just that I snack a lot and I understand no packaged food is as good as home made, but I just look for healthier alternatives to the regular snacks I am addicted to.

RiteBite chips: I have already explained this.

Crax: Do you remember this brand we grew up eating? This particular variant is very tasty and a good snack for chilled out things like watching a movie. You know, like popcorn.

Cheesecake from ‘Salt & Sugar’: Its a cloud kitchen in Gurgaon that you can easily find on Swiggy/Zomato. We recently got their blueberry cheesecake for our friends’ wedding anniversary & it was a hit. I have had better cheesecakes, but it was a good mix of everything – product, price, promo & packaging. 😀 The taste was such that four of us demolished a full cake in half an hour.

Himalayan Ciders: We recently went on a trip to Shimla & again had the famous Himachal Ciders. Its a lovely drink to try out if you like trying out new things in alcohol. The apple one which is the most common is not that great for me, but I love the ginger ale variant.

Kurkez: There is a famous bakery on Shimla Mall Road called Krishna Bakery. I am not sure what their claim to fame is although most of the stuff I tried, I loved. They have this specialty item called ‘Kurkez’. I really can’t explain what it is. It is such a desi colonial hangover dish. It is a completely Indianized cutlet but looks like a seekh kabab. Just have it with the ‘white sauce’ they give the next time you are there. I don’t know whether you will love it or not, but I for sure miss it!

My new Kaftan: My massi (maternal aunt) gifted me this Kaftan which is a traditional Kashmiri dress & I love it to bits. She is selling Kashmiri clothes until 28th of Feb after which she would move to another handloom product that is seasonal for the North India. In case you want to buy what I am wearing in the picture, please reach out to her – +919216745142

Kindle Cover: This has nothing to do with January and I got it a long time ago last year but its one of the best purchases ever! I was very torn for the perfect Kindle cover and I was being too critical of all the options I had. Finally, went for this one and its so sturdy but also feels good to the touch. I love it!

Aroma Therapy sunscreen: Sunscreen is one thing I am always experimenting with. Reason? I am yet to find a perfect one, but this one’s close. First of all, it smells amazing to me, a fresh herby smell but nothing overpowering. (I have a very sensitive nose). Secondly, it glides on my skin so smoothly and while it may be light for parched skin, but I also have normal to dry skin and this is decently moisturizing for me. To me, the texture seems like it would work for most skin types.

B&BW Vanilla Lavender Candle: This is my first ever Bath & Body Works candle and its a bit controversial that this product is on my favorites list. Let me explain. I have used some of their cosmetics in the past & they are known for having amazing fragrances. This also means that most of their products are heavily fragranced, I have ended up loving some of those fragrances, but the fact that they are heavily fragranced made me feel uncomfortable about using them a lot. Same goes for the candles. They smell amazing and the fragrances are very long lasting. However, no doubt they are overpowering and in this age of soy candles which are more environment & inhaling friendly, they continue to be made of paraffin. I don’t think I’ll be repurchasing these any time soon but there are 2 reasons why its on my favorites list – 1) I love this fragrance & since its long lasting, I use it very, very often to create an ambience. this itself is a good enough reason, but 2) I have tried a couple of Indian newer brands for candles and my experience hasn’t been even decent, forget being good. So, if you are completely satisfied with any soy candles that smell amazing & are available in India, please share your suggestions in the comments.

Trip to Shimla: We recently did a cousins trip to Shimla which was a lot of fun. This trip came with its own challenges due to the friction of finalizing plans, this and that. However, Shimla is one place I always love to be, no matter how crowded and commercialized its getting. The weather was chilly but with that sweet sunshine and we also got to witness snow at Narkanda (although not snowfall). However, the biggest highlight of this trip was the place we stayed at which brings me to my next favorite.

Marley Villa: This was your typical villa with a swing, tiny garden to play cricket in, wind chimes, creaky floors and a colonial interior. So heritage feels, such beautiful bar glasses. They have a functioning kitchen from where two caretakers & a cook serve all meals. The view from the garden is top-notch. The best part – its located slightly away from the mall road so you don’t witness the typical crowd but its close enough for an appetite building walk up the mall road. My favorite part was the garden. If I had to find cons with this place, one is that its not completely private. It is basically a set of two villas that are connected to each other, which didn’t bother our group in any way by the way but parking gets tricky up the hill. The other con is that we stayed in a 5-room villa as we were 9 people and there are two rooms in that villa which don’t have a door separating them, only a curtain. Depending on who you are travelling with, this may matter with regards to privacy.

So, these were my monthly favorites and I would love to know some (or all) of yours now. Please comment your favorites or leave a link to your blog if you do similar posts.

If you liked this, check out more of my latest posts:

So I colored my hair blue | Blogmas 6

I have been wanting to do this for a while now. And it had to be blue. I love seeing blue colored hair on people. So much so that I don’t know which color to go for if I do this again. Because I don’t feel that attracted to any color on hair other than blue.

It’s a bit more special to me because I have never colored my hair. I haven’t done many hair treatments either, a keratin once and a couple of hair spas ( does that even count as treatment? I think treatment yes, but definitely not experimental stuff). I have had many hairstyles over the years and I would still say that I have experimented with hairstyles compared to many other people but hair color i haven’t. And I know this color is out of comfort zone for many people. I was clear, though, this is the color I wanted. In fact, the fact that I wanted this color on my hair made me do it.

A little about how I went about it. I had a vague idea that I wanted to color my hair blue. There’s this salon called Neu Salonz in Gurgaon whom I have seen doing beautiful colors on many influencers. I had kind of already thought seeing many pictures that I’ll get my hair done from them. Then, as luck would have it, I also came across this below picture from them.

This was it. This is exactly what I wanted.

One day I finally called up the salon, took an idea of how much time it takes etc. I kind of knew that this salon is overcharging since they spend a lot on marketing etc, something confirmed by a friend who was also getting her hair colored at the same time for way cheaper. I still wanted to get my first time hair color by this salon only, because I was convinced a bit too much seeing the pictures online.

As some of you may know, it’s wedding season in India right now and I decided to go to the salon right before a friend’s wedding. it seemed like a very time taking process at the salon and we were running a bit late so I was in dilemma about whether to come again some day. My husband, who strictly hates any sort of hair colors by the way, convinced me to go for it right away so that at least I have newly styled hair for the wedding. 😀 Before you all go awww, he was irritated by my to and fro to the core.

I have to say, it is a boring process to sit in a salon while they wash and re-wash your hair and keep putting various stuffs on it. But the end result delighted me. I am so happy that I did this. I am going to share some pictures below and it’s totally okay if you think you don’t like it, do share that feedback too. I, for one, love it. I also in general like the idea of experimenting with hair (even though i dont end up doing it because of laziness). I’ll tell you why i like it though – 1) i am fairly confident in my skin if someone judges my hair experiments, sure it bothers me when people stare but its not that much. i make my peace with it, 2) i have really bad quality hair so i am not scared of what may come 😀 i think the only badass thing i do in life is be okay with my hair doing whatever the f*ck they want.

My husband, of course, doesn’t like colored hair, so he keeps noticing people around him who are staring at me. Something that happens a lot more in wedding season.

Do share your thoughts as well. 😀

Posts I worked hard for but didn’t get the love | Blogmas 3

I have been meaning to do this post since a long time because there are some old posts on this blog which have a common theme – they are long and very word heavy, took me a long time to write but they barely got any love. Now I understand that I haven’t been getting any traction since the recent past because I post very inconsistently and, in such scenarios, not getting any traction is sort of anticipated. However, the posts I am mentioning are from the time when I expected traction.

I have decided to link them here today in the hope that you would be considerate enough to read them. 🙂

The Tale of the most ornate blouse: you know what, I would love to write more posts like this as I love restyling clothes. Loved the concept of reuse and reduce before it became cool.

Blogmas Day 5 | My 2020 Favorites! The year that was!: Why did this post not get the love it deserves? Who doesn’t want to know other people’s favorites? 😀

My 2 year long relationship with Earth Rhythm: A recent post which is detailed on a skin care brand My Hair Story & the entry of a recent miracle

My Hair Story & the entry of a recent miracle: this is a very, very old post and my hair care routine (or the lack of one – it’s just oil and shampoo) has seen many new things since then. Recent addition – a blue hair color. Seems like a good idea to document that. 😀 That aside though, this post may still be relevant for someone with similar hair, so, go read maybe?

Blogmas Day 5 | My 2020 Favorites! The year that was!

Ushering in the new year watching Mirzapur in bed (truly grateful <3). I had one more new year plan which didn’t quite materialize – put a besan (gram flour) face mask on with Rahul – this Rahul refuses because it’s cold. So, well, Mirzapur it is.

I don’t want to end this year without doing a roundup of my favorites, because it would be a nice recollection of the year that went by:

Favorite movie
Cannot say that I watched too many, but still from the limited ones, I don’t have a favorite. In fact, I would rather link this list of my favorite re-watches. I watched most of these in 2020 as well.

Favorite Show
I watched quite some shows online this year, especially with the lockdown. I know I am still far behind what with people consuming every new show on Netflix these days (something which you may have guessed because of my watching Mirzapur in end of Dec!) but by own standards, I watched quite some. Among these, Panchayat was my favorite, simply because it was a refreshing concept.

Favorite Food
Well, well, well. This is a tough one, because I love food too much to pick just one favorite. However, I am going to pick an unexpected one – Momos is one of my most favorite things on Earth and I didn’t expect to find them in Surat, but forget finding them, I got to sample some of the best ones I have ever had here in Surat. There is a ‘Darjeeling Momos’ stall right next to where I live and the people selling the momos seem to be from North East, some of the best ones I have ever had!

Favorite Outfit
I scored a pair of Zara formal pants at Brand Factory on great discount and it was everything I have ever wanted in a pant – well fitted but flared bottom and that steely Grey color! I love it and am itching to wear it to work, except that I don’t want to go to work, I am quite happy with wfh now!

Favorite Skin Care Product
None. I tried a lot of new stuff this year and I was so looking forward to chemical exfoliation changing the game for me but nothing really worked. As in, nothing bad happened, but nothing good happened either. On the other hand, this was an year of all the random make-up purchases working awesomely. The irony is that there were not much occasions to wear them to. 😀

Favorite Book
I am going to pick 3 here because I enjoyed all of them equally – 1) A Man called Ove – endearing & emotional, I have logged down my love for this one here at Instagram, 2) I’ve Got Your Number – nothing new here, it never happens that I read a Kinsella and don’t enjoy it to the core and 3) Shoe Dog – this was an unexpected one. Phil Knight’s autobiography on how he set up Nike was one of the best stories I read this year and a lot of people will relate to this feeling. So well written! As the testimonials on the book say, Phil is a great storyteller.

Favorite Event
One of my closest friends got married this year in November. This was a wedding which I was waiting for since the beginning of the year because it was the last wedding of my friend circle of post grad. We were really hoping that it doesn’t happen during Corona, but it did and while we were in extreme dilemma about attending, but since the beginning we knew it will be a huge regret if we skip this wedding. Hence, we went and it was truly one of the funnest times of my year. I just realized that even the other two of my friends from my post grad group got married to each other this year as well, in Jan, when Corona didn’t exist for us. Aside this, small joys like watching random things on tv with family when lockdown had just started counts big time too. I have always enjoyed watching Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana and it started airing like a proper show on TV during the beginning of lockdown. We recently went to a beach resort here near to Surat and it was a lovely experience too. I also want to give a special mention to an amazing product that I bought this year in the middle of lockdown – it was my first non-essential purchase after March. The below lovely Parama blouse.

While typing out this post, the new year has just begun. I wish you a very happy, healthy and successful new year! Hope this new year brings tons of luck and happiness for all of us! I couldn’t be more thankful for 2020, even though it was the oddest year that we have been alive for but still there’s a lot to be grateful for – being near to your parents more often, a healthy life, food and roof, a fulfilling life. Truly grateful.

36 | The Tale of the Most Ornate Blouse

Let me tell you a little bit about my sartorial choices – Whenever I have to decide on Indian festive wear outfits, say, for weddings, Indian festivals or parties where ideally you should wear Indian, I always try to get something unique. What I mean is I am sure a lot of people want that, but I am willing to go that extra mile. Basically, I don’t stick to just looking for ready-made garments, I try to have a picture in my mind of what I want to wear & then actively work towards making it come together. This is not so difficult if you do not care about how much you spend on the said outfit, because then you can simply leave it to a designer and tell her your vision, but I try to get these outfits for cheaper than the most obvious way to get them, because let’s face it, these outfits only have a face value & you cannot get a lot of re-use out of them.

More importantly, I love working on making these outfits come together, then just handing over the task to an expert, because I love when the end result is a fruit of MY vision!

I thought I’ll share some of these outfits on the blog from time to time, because the stories about how I ended up getting these made excite me a lot 🙂 Maybe, you will also find them as interesting!

Onto the story of the most ornate blouse:

When I graduated engineering college, we were preparing for our farewell & one of the most important bits for such events (especially when you’re young :P) is what to wear. Since we were supposed to wear a saree, I had a clear vision in mind of a plain thin material (like georgette) sari in hot pink! Being in the student life, I wanted to go as cheap as possible, so I bought a very pretty looking hot pink fabric for sari but it was a mixed fabric, not pure georgette, so it came for dirt cheap price-wise. Then, I looked for a border to put on the sari and another pretty sequin fabric for the blouse. This sari turned out way, way better than my expectations. Both I and my mom have re-worn it several times afterwards and I for one do not seem to get over it even after 6 years!! I am pretty sure I’ll re-wear it sometime again! Below is a bad quality picture from 2013. 🙂 That’s me wearing the sari for the first time. 🙂

Afterwards, I planned to wear this sari again for a close friend’s sister’s wedding in 2015 & I really wanted to do something new with the sari this time. I already had this purple blouse made and I paired the hot pink sari with the purple blouse. I would like to believe that this combination is match made in heaven.

But when did this ornate blouse happen? Come on, woman, people do not have time for so many of your silly stories!  I had gone to the Gujarati market in Janpath to look for something, don’t remember what and I was just walking back in disappointment on not finding it when my eyes fell upon this really ornate kurta. It was bright purple & full of golden & pink embroidery all over. It immediately reminded me of Madhuri Dixit’s ornate blouse in the song ‘Didi tera dewar diwana’ because of the color! Now, the Janpath Gujarati market deserves a post of its own because of its uniqueness. You end up finding absolutely one-of-a-kind fabric pieces or clothes there because its mostly hand-embroidered stuff which Gujarati families make & bring there to sell. I love going there because even if I don’t buy something, there will be just so much artistic stuff to look at! Sorry, back to the ornate purple kurta. It was a kurta but it reminded me of Madhuri’s blouse as mentioned above. Immediately I envisioned that I will get this made into a blouse & pair it with plain sarees or lehengas or whatever works! I ran to the shop and bargained the kurta from 1500 to 600 INR probably 🙂 (it was a long time ago!) and ran back with my prized possession! I was elated with my vision.

Never even once did it cross my mind that tailors will refuse to cut apart a kurta and stitch it into a brand new blouse because its extremely difficult to re-stitch something which has such heavy embroidery. I got refused by several tailors and my mom, who is anyway not into experimenting for outfits, suggested that I should simply wear the kurta as a kurta because who knows it will end up well even if some tailor agrees to put so much effort for us. This was unacceptable to me! My mind was set on the blouse. Finally, after a lot of coaxing, one tailor relented and the best part is that he stitched it very well also. 🙂

Afterwards, I also got a plain lehenga made to go with this blouse for another occasion. Whenever someone compliments this blouse or asks about it, and I tell them that it was a kurta I saw hanging in some market, they find it unbelievable. I am just happy that it’s a very unique piece.

10 | My Hair Story & the entry of a recent miracle

I woke up in the morning today & the first thing I realize is that I forgot to put up a post yesterday. Anyhow, here we are today and while I was thinking about what to write, I got reminded of something.

Something which I was uncomfortable writing (to avoid sounding vain talking about vanity) but it will be worse not sharing it.

Additionally, I think this will make me feel more at ease with posting about vanity related stuff which might make me happy or which might be useful to some or which might turn up as good content.

If you are already bored, sorry about that but since its a topic sensitive and close to many a heart\n, I know you can’t go back now. #evil

Is it okay if I write it like a list? Helps organize my thoughts better (please let me know in comments if that’s a put off though):

  1. I have never had good quality hair. I don’t fall into that category of people who can say “Oh! I used to have such healthy hair but this pollution or this hard water or etc etc”. No, I never had the good stuff to begin with. Of course, all the external factors might have had their share of fun on my mane but the point is, my mom got my head shaved thrice as a child in the belief that eventually good hair will come.
  2. In my later teens, when I started to become conscious about my looks, I used to hate my hair’s behavior. You see I had a “boy cut” (fancily known as Pixie/bob etc) in my early teens and since I had just started growing out my hair in late teens, they used to have a mind of their own. Eventually over the years, my hair length grew and with longer length came slightly saner hair as well, because the shorter they are, the more they start waving around and doing their own thing. I don’t know why I just feel straight, clean hair look better on me than wavy or curly.
  3. But, more importantly, what happened over the years was that I became perfectly comfortable and actually started to love my hair the way they are. Reason? They are not luscious or healthy, but they look good or just fine. So, the main reason why you want your hair to be healthy is kind of taken care of. 😛 And why I used to hate them initially was because I really, really wanted straight hair. The acceptance came eventually that I am always going to have wavy hair, if I want them poker straight sometimes, I can always get them done.
  4. Now that its clear that I like my hair the way they are, I also became okay with the fact that they are never going to be super healthy. I became okay with everything that comes with hair – hairfall, dandruff etc etc. Thank God my hair don’t get very frizzy, I hate that!!!!!! And I do not use any additional products on my hair other than shampoo and oil. No, I do not even use a conditioner because I feel my hair work better off it. The only thing I do is keep trying gharelu nuskhe (natural tricks) every once in a while (very rarely actually) and switching between shampoos in the hope that maybe I’ll come across a miraculous one some day.
  5. And that happened. Yes, I did land a shampoo which is suiting me like anything and my hair have never felt and looked this good on a normal day. Please see the picture below for the shampoo. There’s a disclaimer though. This is the first time I am using a shampoo (heck! any product) bought from a salon person, so it’s quite possible that there are other such products sitting on salon counters but since I never wanted to go into that loop of buying shiny products from the salon, I never really knew. Still, just try it out if its available where you live. 🙂

PS: Please don’t think I am some kind of psycho who sits and thinks about their hair all day long. Its just that before using this shampoo, many times I used to think is there anything that has changed the game for my hair since childhood. And then I got reminded of how much I used to hate my hair back then and now I love them, it may deserve a post some day! 😛

Edit: Also wanted to mention this other product which is giving my ends a really smooth finish and an overall smoother, shinier mane. But I feel both of these are the kind of products which show instant results but if I stop using them, effects won’t last.