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. πŸ˜€ 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. πŸ˜€

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. πŸ˜€ 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:

Book 1 of 2022 | Queeristan by Parmesh Shahani

Keeping up with sharing of what I read, and also my wish to ‘read with more intent’, here are my thoughts on my first read of this year. I mentioned here that I didn’t post about my first book of the year because my notes were somewhere else. I got hold of my notes finally and here’s my opinion on my first read of 2022.

But before that, I wanted to share something fun with you (fun if you like to read). Remember this post? A lot of you appreciated it and while I barely continued this practice, at least it initiated me into reading articles more mindfully. As for books, I already used to savor what I read but I don’t have a good memory with books and I don’t like the fact that I mostly forget what I read. Hence, I decided to be active with a book journal, basically a place where I make notes while reading. Today, I came across an awesome Instagram post about how to read more mindfully, which gave me pointers to better my notes. For example, from now on, I’ll also write why I chose to read a book. It will sort of help me take a mental picture of the time I was reading that book in. I want to clarify here that I don’t read for ROI (not that that’s a bad thing) but the note-taking may sound like tedious to some of you and that’s totally understandable, but I do it to savor the book reading experience more. Goes without saying that I only do it when I like to.

With that out of the way, here are some thoughts on Queeristan, my first read of 2022. Still pretty fresh in my mind due to my notes. πŸ˜›

First of all, why I chose this book. That’s because it was available for free in one of the sales and I wanted to get my hands on something queer. I went into it without knowing that this is not a book to acquaint you with why you should support queer people, but rather a queer person’s view in a corporate leadership position in one of India’s top FMCGs on how one can make use of their privilege in corporates to improve lives for queer people. Fair enough. However, the book sort of became a compilation of author’s own and other entities’ efforts towards improving queer lives. In the end, it sort of feels like a record keeping, than a book. Had it been an article, it would have been okay to read, but you know how it is with reading this many pages of just factual details on efforts. Some stories, of course, were very engaging, especially since they are real.

What I liked: I essentially liked two things in the book. One, the author’s zest for life and his recognition of his own privilege. If you were to draw a character sketch of the author from the book, he feels like someone full of life, which is great for him! The other thing I liked is kind of related to this first thing. The first part of the book is all about how he leverages his position in the corporate world to further his queer agenda. I think its a great thing to recognize your position & leverage it for betterment of society. Although how exactly he is helping apart from making inclusion & diversity policies better in offices , that’s not too clear for me. Another thing I liked was how he tried to explain that hiring more queer people is not just beneficial to the queer people, but business & society as well.

What I didn’t like: Second part of the book is more on referencing to conferences, initiatives etc which feels a lot like record keeping. The book didn’t touch upon why becoming an LGBTQ+ ally is needed. I understand that was probably not the intent, but for a book about how LGBTQ+ allies help improve lives of LGBTQ+, it should be called out I feel.

As a final summary of sorts, I didn’t enjoy reading this book, but it was informative for someone like me with limited context.

2,3,4,5th reads of 2022

Hello! I am bringing back book opinions it seems. Let’s see how that goes. πŸ˜€

If you are thinking why I didn’t mention book 1, that’s because I had some notes for it which are at my home and i am visiting my dad in Raipur (where he is posted currently). So, more on book 1 later.

Now all these 4 books are special as these are written by one of my favorite instagrammers, Pooja – thewhimsybookworm. I am linking her blog but you can find her on Instagram by the same name. I always knew I would love whatever she writes because of two reasons – 1) i relate to the books she likes, as in i know I’ll like them too, 2) she posts a lot of tiny stories (more like day to day events explained as stories) on Instagram and they are total page turners! My only gripe with these was that I am scared to read horror stories even though I enjoy them, but since it’s by Pooja, there was no way i won’t read them. I was just waiting for the right opportunity. All of these are short stories, so i read them one after the other pretty quickly and, needless to say, loved them to bits! Pooja’s tales, whether these or on Instagram, always engross me in their funny, scary, sarcastic and sometimes even toxic mesh! Below are some highlights from the 4 books for you to savor!

2nd of 2022, The Stranger in the Hotel Room: This is one of her finest works. Before you diss me for writing something like this for an author who has just about 4 short story books published, I’ll tell you why I said this. This book has a very vintage Bengal vibes, where there’s a colonial hotel in which a woman gets stuck, in times when it wasn’t common for women in India to travel alone. Also, the book is narrated from the pov of the author herself as she recalls her mom’s friends’ hangouts with such gossips. Despite being a scary story, it has a light hearted humourous vibe. This vibe stays through the book thus making it a scary but light hearted story. Hence, the tag of being a fine work.

3rd of 2022, A Girl Possessed: the story telling is great but once you know that a story about getting possessed is based on real life events, it always leaves you feeling sad. Especially so when it’s about a young school going girl who had her whole life in front of her.

4th of 2022, The Night of the Flood: this was the creepiest of all, as it was a mix of spookiness & something tangible at play. Totally motion picture material spanning across eras and generations and unrelated characters getting connected.

5th of 2022, Stree – Collection of 3 short stories: all good, endearing tales with woman protagonists. I only didn’t like the last one as i prefer more solid kind of endings rather than open ended ones. It also ended a bit abruptly.

This was it! A women’s day relevant post afterall πŸ˜€ do share what you are reading

When to find time to read?

Read in metro queues

Read in passport renewal lines

Read on your way to work (if you aren’t driving or else listen to an audio book πŸ˜€)

Read while on solo dates in cozy cafes

Read while waiting for someone

Read when you are out on a lunch date with self

Read in book fairs in stalls that have chairs

Read before napping in afternoons

Read right after napping

Read before sleeping

Read in parks sitting on cute benches

Read on weekends

Read when soaking sun on the weekends

Read when you can, as that is what matters. Not how much or what you read.

Need follow-up advice! | Monday Mumbles

Hello guys!

I wrote this post asking for advice on product opinions kind of posts & the few answers I got really helped me plan out some new content. Not sure if anyone loves reading this posts as much, but I, for sure, enjoy favorites kind of content and I would have loved writing it myself too. I wrote out some quick drafts as well, you know! But now there’s a problem.

Amazon closed my Affiliates account as soon as I was planning to make one of the posts live. πŸ˜€ Now I know that Amazon does this if no sale has been made via your account within a certain timeline, but that timeline was not over for me yet. Also, the reason cited for closing my account was “content not being original”. This was not only frustrating but also surprising. I am not sure what part of my content their algorithm picked as not being original. I was all the more concerned as this is the worst form of reason I would want my blog to be associated with. The only post I could think of was about a blog which has now closed and I posted their pinterest screenshot citing complete references. I obviously appealed against this decision but it also turns out that Amazon is stupid enough to directly close accounts like this and even if your appeal is successful, all you can do is create a new account. :/ I would hate to create a new account on Amazon Affiliate again, to be honest. Even though I would think its fairly convenient to use.

Now my question – are you aware of any such simple to use affiliate programs? Preferably free, since I am not using this blog to generate any income yet, but more importantly, a program that helps me link up relevant products across marketplaces, surely Indian marketplaces. I came across this one called ‘Clickbank’ which is supposed to be one of the best out there, but what I understood is that you can only link up products available on their marketplace like Yoga classes or what not. πŸ˜€

Looking forward to get some helpful suggestions yet again! πŸ™‚ Thank you so much!