Me

53 Week Journey through the Land of Drapes and Colors: Week #3

For details on all the sarees I have posted so far, go here.

On this palindromic day (02/02/2020) that, I am told, occurs once in almost 900 years, I pick this that I wore for the recent festival. Mind you, today is also the 33rd day of the year and 333 more days to go. Seems to be a very special day, if I may say so. May be SuperBowl will see making of history as well. Anyways, back to my post.

Week 3: Happy Sankranthi!!

Makar Sankranthi is the oldest Hindu festival that is observed according to the Solar Cycles, celebrated in the lunar month of Magha, corresponding to January in Gregorian calendar. It is a festival to celebrate the sun god, Surya. This is one of the festivals in India that is celebrated by every region and cultures with few variations, except for the common thread of flying kites. 

Back home, I loved this festival for many reasons: Get to draw various colorful Rangolis; wear beautiful clothes; cook delicious varieties of dishes; parade of traditionally decorated bulls; performing puja and then sharing with community; and above all the competition of flying kites and the sheer energy surrounding it all. I do miss a whole lot of those here in US. However, when weather permits, I do manage to make rangoli in front of my house and of course decking myself in colorful drapes.

For this year I wore this magenta pink georgette saree filled with thread and mirror work. I paired it with a magenta pink blouse (yes, the same one you saw in the past two posts. :)). The border and pallu of the saree is patched on to the saree, though it is again filled with thread and mirror work. Accompanying the saree are gold and glass bangles in same magenta color, with a chain studded with multi-colored stones and long gold earrings. 

Collapse )
Me

Book Critique - Fudge Cupcake Murder (Hannah Swensen Series #5)

For review of all books in this series: Go here

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: A cozy mystery with a pinch of family dynamics, a twist of love triangle along-side a huge dash of mystery, is a recipe that would not only sweeten your tooth while appeasing your stomach, but also increasing your cravings and keep your grey cells active.

Fudge Cupcake Murder is the fifth book in the long-running Hannah Swensen Series by Joanne Fluke published in March of 2004. The plot is set in October of the same year that Andrea got pregnant in Blueberry Muffin Murder, 2 books ago.

Hannah Swensen is back with some more yummy baking treats, while she is busy solving a murder again. This time she is working fast to save her brother-in-law. Bill Todd is running for Sheriff against the current Sheriff, Jim Grant. But someone murders Jim Grant a couple weeks before the final election. And Bill is the primary suspect. Now off goes Hannah on her investigation despite strong objections from Mike Kingston, the resident homicide detective. And we get to solve another case right along her side.

This book was made into the movie as part of Hallmark's Murder, She Baked series. It was released as Murder, She Baked: A Deadly Recipe, in June of 2016. So I was prepared for the scenes in the book to be very similar to what they showed on film. It was no surprise that I found the same differences between the book and movie, as I found when I was reading Blueberry Muffin Murder, and a few more.

Collapse )
Me

53 Week Journey through the Land of Drapes and Colors: Week #2

For details on all the sarees I have posted so far, go here

Week 2 of this post takes me back to September of 2019. Yes, I will be posting a few pictures from 2019 as part of this journey. 

One of the biggest festivals for most Hindus all over the world is Dusshera which falls at the end of the 9-day festival of Navratri. It is a festival of celebrating good overcoming evil and coming out triumph. 

Apart from celebrating the festivities with family, friends, fun and food, we also enjoy it with dancing. One form is Garba, originated in Gujarat, but pretty much everyone in India dances to the beats of drums, regional tunes sung by vocalists and donning traditional attire, aping the culture and heritage from Gujarat. The dance is paired with long sticks to turn it into a second form of dance called Dandiya Raas.

Indian communities across the globe also enjoy Garba within their towns. Similarly we had a few Garba events in our town as well as in the neighboring towns. And yes, I went to one of the events with my parents and friends.

Collapse )
Me

53 Week Journey through the Land of Drapes and Colors: Week #1

For details on all the sarees I have posted so far, go here.

I have been meaning to do this for a long time, but never got around to it. And last year, two of my friends, Smitha and Sravani, tagged into a Saree Challenge, that reminded me of this meme again. Finally starting it in this new decade, with a few pictures from 2019 included. Hopefully I will be able to finish it. And I am behind by three weeks to post, so hoping on catching up as well.

After a struggle of year and half battling Stage-4 Metastatic Breast Cancer, I was finally cleared in March of 2019 as Cancer Free with being put on "Maintenance Mode". It would mean that another two years to go before I get back to normal. However, my normal will never be the same, it will be a "new normal" as I am told. 

One of the biggest side-affects with cancer treatments for breast cancer was gaining weight. What with after I went through everything with beating cancer (chemotherapy, hormone treatment, radiation and surgery), I put on 40 lbs of weight. So, it was difficult for me to wear the clothes pre-cancer surgery. I did not even fathom that I would be wearing my sarees again. However, finally I decided to start them again. 

While my journey through the battle of cancer is being written elsewhere, let me continue on with the saree meme. As mentioned starting off with this one that was taken in August of 2019.

Collapse )
Me

Kitchen Fun - Hannah's Bananas and Hole In One

On to my next cooking experiments, in this case, baking also included. The next Hannah Swensen's book by Joanne Fluke that I read was the Fudge Cupcake Murder. Another cozy mystery filled with sweet treats to appease your stomach while they tingle your grey cells with the murder mystery to solve. This time around, again, I tried one of her sweet treats and a savory dish,

First up, Hannah's Bananas. Contrary to my previous entry in which I had picked the recipe that went with the title of the book (Blueberry Muffin Murder), this time instead of trying the Fudge Cupcakes, I picked a different one.

One most important reason being that my first attempt at making cookies, I want them at least decently edible enough. Secondly Bananas are my go to fruit at home, so I ended up picking this recipe instead of shopping for newer ingredients.

I followed all the steps Joanne had mentioned in her recipe which you can find here. Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures as I was baking. However, here is the final product.

I made two versions - one without rolling the dough in sugar (blonde colored cookies) and the other with rolling dough in sugar (the darker brown ones). I felt that the second version were very sweet. Although a friend mentioned that I could have gone a little less on baking soda. Perhaps the "teaspoon" what Joanne wanted us to use perhaps was different from what I have. Anyways, lessons-learned, "reduce Baking Soda". Check! Not bad for a first try.

Collapse )
Me

Book Critique - Fractured (Will Trent Series #2)

For review of all books in the anthology: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: Karin's plot truly gets under your skin, keeping you breathless all the time, gluing you to the edge of the seats, while each turn of the page gives you new suspense and unexpected turns.

Fractured is the second book in the Will Trent Series by Karin Slaughter published in July of 2008. The plot revolves around a murder and kidnapping case that Special Agent Will Trent is assigned to solve along with his current partner, Detective Faith Mitchell.

The books in Will Trent Series aka Atlanta Series, as the name suggests, revolve around the various cases handled by Special Agent Will Trent for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation along with his partner Detective Faith Mitchell from Atlanta Police Department and his fiancée Angie Polanski, a Vice Squad Detective. Naturally all the plots are set in Atlanta. He is frequently assigned to cases involving gruesome murders and horrific crimes that delve into the dark, dark recesses of human mind. 

While reading Under Suspicion series co-authored by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke, I came across Karin Slaughter's books. More so because the heroine of the series, Laurie Moran, loves Karin's books. At a local library book sale a few months ago, when I found two of her books, I grabbed them to give them a try. And here is the review of the first of the two books I bought.

Collapse )
Me

Book Critique - Blueberry Muffin Murder (Hannah Swensen Series #3)

For review of all books in this series: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: A cozy mystery with a pinch of family dynamics, a twist of love triangle along-side a huge dash of mystery, is a recipe that would not only sweeten your tooth while appeasing your stomach, but also increasing your cravings and keep your grey cells active.

Blueberry Muffin Murder is the third book in the long-running Hannah Swensen Series by Joanne Fluke published in February of 2001. 

I was first introduced to Hannah Swensen in the Murder, She Baked series of TV films made for the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel during 2015 and 2017. Alison Sweeney had portrayed the role of Hannah Swensen in all of the five movies produced so far. And now finally I got to pick one of the books that became the basis for the series of movies, and my review on it.

Normally I prefer to read a series from the beginning, but this time I am starting at #3, as that is what I have at home. If I like this as a book as well, probably I will start it from the beginning, if not just finish the three books I have in this series and put a full stop there. :)

Hannah Swensen is in full-speed geared up to prepare a feast for the Lake Eden's Winter Carnival festival. However, that honor goes to celebrity chef, Connie "Mac" MacIntyre, the "Cooking Sweetheart" of America. But someone murders Connie Mac and now it's up to Hannah to solve case before the cops do it, so she can get her bakery back before she gets bankrupted in the process.

Collapse )
Me

Kitchen Fun - Blue Blueberry Muffins and Grilled Cream Cheese Sandwich

Happy 2020 everyone!!

This decade started with a cozy mystery for me, Blueberry Muffin Murder by Joanne Fluke. While the review of that will come up in a different post, I want to talk about the recipes I tried from that book.

Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen mysteries are full of sweet treats to appease your stomach while they tingle your grey cells with the murder mystery to solve. Naturally my cooking genes kicked in when I saw some yummy recipes.

However, am not a baker as such. I can cook anything vegetarian, but when it comes to baking, I have not been very successful, except for a few recipes. So, I tried one of Hannah's sweet and one savory recipe — satisfying my cooking genes while spreading out my baking genes wings. :)

What better recipe to pick, than the one the book is named after — Blue Blueberry Muffins. You can find the recipe here. Since, Joanne already published it, I am not going re-publish it. I followed the exact same steps and I managed to come out with somewhat successful muffins. 

Joanne mentions to use the remaining muffin batter to make a tea-bread. And I followed all those instructions to make tea-bread too. Only thing I didnt do was the crumbling topping for the muffins. I am not big on toppings for muffins so I left them naked.

Here they are before they go into the oven —  the muffins followed by the tea-cake.

Collapse )
Me

Book Critique - Chosen To Die (To Die #2)

Note: This would be the last book for 2019. More to come in 2020.

For review of all books in this series: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: Bone-chilling thriller with the touches of romance, lust and twisted minds - a perfect medley to enjoy the plot despite the shivers it leaves in the reader's spine.

Chosen To Die is the second book in the To Die Series by Lisa Jackson, published in January of 2009. The plot is set immediately the day after where the first book, Left To Die, ends.

In Left To Die, we had seen two things. One that Detective Regan Pescoli had become the latest victim of the "Star-Crossed Killer" as dubbed by the press, and is missing. And Second that Lisa Jackson had not given closure to at least one of the antagonist she had introduced. So I had a feeling Lisa would focus her next plot on these two items. And that is exactly what Lisa had done.

Detective Regan Pescoli becomes the latest victim of the Star-Crossed Killer. She is kidnapped, bound and kept in a hidden place for the killer to deal out her fate when he was ready to. Nate Santana, Pescoli's on and off lover, and Detective Serena Avarez, Pescoli's partner, are running a race against time to find her and if possible the killer before the killer makes his decision. In the meanwhile more bodies are piling up, keeping the law enforcement busy and stretched thin.

Collapse )
Me

Book Critique - Left To Die (To Die #1)

For review of all books in this series: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: Bone-chilling thriller with the touches of romance, lust and twisted minds - a perfect medley to enjoy the plot despite the shivers it leaves in the reader's spine.

Left To Die is the first book in the To Die Series by Lisa Jackson, published in January of 2008. Although there are several prominent characters, the primary plot mainly revolves around Jillian White Pescoli  who is rescued from a car wreck by Zane MacGregor while they find their way out of their situation while finding themselves towards each other.

After reading Lisa Jackson's New Orleans Series, when I came across the first two books in her To Die Series in the local library sale, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pick them up. And now for my review.

A serial killer comes to surface in the small town of Grizzly Falls in Pinewood County Montana, with already claiming 3 women and another one missing. Detective Selena Alvarez and Regan Pescoli are tasked to find the killer. They are aided by the Pinewood County police force along with the FBI - Special Agents Craig Halden and Stephanie "Steff" Chandler. And the race is on to find the missing person before the killer strikes again, while the Detectives are losing time.

Collapse )