Pictures from my India trip

Hello lovely people! It feels good to be back….

I know I have been missing in action for an entire season now. You know why? I was holidaying almost the whole of summer back home in India.

And I seldom cooked. Never missed on eating though. I got to feast on the bounty of the season – golden ripe mangoes and saffron hued jackfruits and all the home made foods that I craved for, the last couple of years.

I did have all the intentions to blog while I was there, about the traditional foods mom, aunt and mom-in-law made. That did not happen as I just let myself be in the moment. Then, I intended to bring back some pictures of the places I visited like a diligent blogger. That did not happen much as well, as for a change I felt good enjoying the simple pleasures without lugging my camera around. Luckily, after scrambling through my hard drive, I found some that I could share with you..

So take a look at these from my trip back home.. I’ll forewarn you, they may not be what you expect to see.. I hope you them enjoy nonetheless..

 On the way to Kukke Subrahmanya, when we stopped at a tea shop in Sakaleshpur (near Hassan), this winding road and the lone tree added to the serenity of the place

A distant view of the Mysore Palace minarets from the terrace at my grand-dad’s house. can u spot them?. Yes, it is at a walking distance, say 10 mins of brisk walk..

Inside view of the narrow corridor (aka “woni in kannada) and the tiled roof at my Grand dad’s house.

A tulsi sapling and some traditional water containers on the well inside the house.

My all time favorite flower – “Jaaji” as dainty as it looks and smells just divine..

It is hard to find these even outside of Mysore

One of the hundred plants from the terrace garden at my grand dad’s house, Mangaravalli (kannada) and Perandai (Tamil) is supposed to have digestive qualities. My grand dad’s sister whom we fondly called Attapaati would make and out of the world tasting chutney out of this. Most modern families are losing touch eating or cooking this now-a-days rare to be seen plant.

It is notorious to be highly itch inducing when it comes in contact with the skin. So knowing how to properly cook it is very important.

A darker variety of Tulasi and I love these. They have a stronger taste and scent.

 The next few plants are from my mom’s garden.

This one is called “Insulin plant” as it is supposed to have a positive effect on blood sugar levels. Very popular among the diabetes patients.

What you see are just the leaves. Turmeric roots are underground.

Amruthaballi (Guduchi)

Remember the saying on “Apple a day”? Something very similar goes for this one as well. An Amruthaballi leaf a day chewed first thing in the morning on empty stomach is supposed to keep all illness away.

If you remember, I had enquired about this plant some weeks back on my facebook page.

Last but not the least, some green mangoes from the season gone by. 

What did you’ll do this summer?

Treat yourself to more :


Balcony Garden

“Gardening is an active participation in the deepest mysteries of the universe.” ~ Thomas Berry

While I’m busy with other things needing priority, thought I’ll show you around my little balcony garden. So come on.. enter my little green space..

Gardening – My way to connect with nature, an everyday proof of life

“Where you have a plot of land, however small, plant a garden. Staying close to the soil is good for the soul.” ~ Spencer W. Kimball

A friend gave this tomato plant when she moved to another state in winter

My little girl planted these. She makes sure to water them everyday and checks on them to see if she can find peas yet.

I read somewhere, it seems, if we let mint, it would take over the garden. I’d say, if you want to be sure about your green thumb, try planting mint.

I’d buy organic herbs for a steep price just to use once or twice and before I knew the whole thing rotted sitting in the refrigerator. Growing my own “lesser used” herbs such as rosemary, parsley and thyme lets me use a sprig as two as needed.

“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul” ~ Alfred Austin

After an episode of mealy bugs, a home remedy solution of baking soda, salt and soap didn’t seem to help my dying curry leaf plant. I had lost all hopes when she started showing new signs of life.

Fingers crossed, she’ll make it..

If you have special tips for any of these or any plant for that matter, I’d love to hear from you..

Treat yourself to more:

Plate to Pixel Photography Workshop by Helene Dujardin | Got Lucky!

I was having a bit of a starting trouble with this post, otherwise it shouldn’t have taken this long to see the light of the world-wide web. Anyways, after much typing, erasing and re-typing I could at last come up with this.
In the middle of last week on Wednesday, July 6th I was at a photography workshop one timezone away from where I live, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The turn of events that flew me to this awesome event is an interesting story, which I thought is worth this post.
If one has been blogging even for a little while, it is not only hard to not take notice of but also equally difficult to not adore the beautiful blog Tartelette and its immensely talented creator Helene Dujardin. Her blog is bejeweled with a ton of beautifully made photographs and each one speaks a thousand words. Little wonder that I instantly fell in love with her photography, like the gazillion others in the blogging universe.
{Helene Dujardin of Tartelette}
Quite naturally when she released her photography book “Plate to Pixel” recently, I wanted a copy too. And if it could come as a giveaway, why not?  Twitter is very resourceful for such things, where it is much easier to learn about such giveaways. So, I religiously left comments, tweeted about and followed every other instruction that the blog give away rules stated on the umpteen blogs I must have tried my luck at, crossing all my fingers and toes each time. The last one of them was a giveaway on Foodiecrush – a spot in the photography workshop for FREE to learn personally from Helene herself only for a small set of 12 students, sounding too good to be true.
Later one day, when I was routinely analyzing my stats (which every upcoming blogger does very diligently,  I’m sure!), I noticed a sizable number of hits coming from “and-the winner-of-the-tartelettehele-dujardin-photo-workshop-is” and that is how I discovered that the winner was none other than “just home made”, ahem me! 
I was at home with my little girl at that time and ecstatic or giddy with excitement I lifted her up and swirled away like a nincompoop and screamed “yes” “yes” “yes”. I stopped it soon enough though, when she gave me the “what’s wrong with mommy” look. My joy knew no bounds and I literally pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t day dreaming!
Heidi Larsen, the author of Foodiecrush and sponsor for the photography workshop was extremely generous and understanding. She not only gave away a spot in the workshop but also a place for me to stay in her own house, when travelling all the way from Houston to Salt Lake City for a single day right after the July 4th weekend seemed unreasonable. I was humbled by her act of kindness and so thankful for blogging, for it made me new friends from the virtual world in the real.
The place where I stayed was picturesque with lovely green mountains in the back drop. If one has never been to SLC, it is impossible to imagine its natural beauty with the salt lake on one side and the snow-capped mountains on the other. With such a place to live in, every day might seem like a vacation!
Heidi did a fantastic job of organizing the event from start to finish. A lovely venue with plenty of natural light, at the bottom of cottonwood canyons, a pampering goodie bag (with gourmet mini cake, artisan chocolate, BareMinerals make up, pen and notepad with one of Helene’s photographs as the front page, all in a cute braided straw bag), yummy food (I had Four cheese Ravioli) and challenging food to photograph.
Don’t forget to read on recap of the event as Heidi sees it.

{Helene, focused}
Workshop byHelene Dujardin of Tartelette and author of the book Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography and Styling
Organized byHeidi Larsen of Foodie Crush online magazine
VenueMarket Street Grill, Cottonwood
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Attendees: 13
{Helene twirls the spaghetti methodically in preparation for the shoot}
Three words about Helene: meticulous, gifted, persistent
Here are some of the tips she shared with us, thought you could use them too:
  • Let food be the star, use props to weave a relevant story. For instance, use of fine china with a homey comfort food makes it seem out-of-place.
  • Use simple white foam core boards to bounce light. Similarly black boards to cut out light or reflections.
  • Quality of the pictures depends on the direction and quality of light. what kind/brand of camera you own doesn’t really matter.
  • Study other’s well made photographs. Do not copy, but take the idea with you.
  • Her food styling kit contains tweezers, cotton buds, brush, straw, water spray
Did you know? Helene shot with a point and shoot camera up until 2 years back.

Here are the other passionate bloggers who came to learn. All of them except me were local.

 {Helene, Maria of Twopeasandtheirpod, Me and Heidi of Foodiecrush}

{A picture with Sasha, we shared the same table along with similar photography interests}
After the workshop, I got to shop around for some cool props with Heidi’s help. Can’t wait to bring them out on the blog.
Last but not the least, here’s my most cherished souvenir from the trip.

 To me, it was much more than just a photography workshop. When you meet people like Helene, their passion, spirit and energy rubs off as an undying inspiration!

Hope you enjoyed reading my story as much as I did narrating…
Now, tell me a little about your favorite food photographer. Who inspires you the most? 

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