Monthly Archives: February 2013

Blueberry muffins

When I was in Nepal, I baked blueberry muffins in my new home. All the family members loved it so I am sharing the recipe here. It is really easy and simple.

Makka ku (7)

Ingredients

  • 2½ cups self-rising flour
  • 90g butter, chopped
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 125g fresh blueberries (I used canned ones as I couldn’t find fresh ones in Nepal)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Steps

  • Preheat oven to 180°C or 160°C fan-forced.
  • Lightly dust muffin tray with flour.

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  • Sift flour into a bowl. Add sugar and butter and mix well with hand.
  • Make a well in the centre of flour mixture.

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  • Add blueberries, milk and egg. Gently stir until just combined using wooden spoon

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  • Spoon mixture into prepared holes.

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  • Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in center of 1 muffin comes out clean.

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  • Stand in pan for 5 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

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  • Enjoy with tea or coffee.

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From independent, confident strong women to dependent, needy wife

I am not sure when I crossed the bridge but I recently realised that I have turned from a strong, confident, independent woman into a very dependent, needy wife.

Before I got married, I used to do everything on my own. Most importantly I made my own decisions and went everywhere on my own. I travelled to the US on my own and I was just glad that I had so many friends there. I always went shopping on my own and made decisions on my own. I never felt the need for anyone to be there constantly for me and definitely not to make any decisions for me.

But these days, for even small decisions I need to ask AS for his opinion. Is it really normal or do I really need to pick up my act?

I call AS and ask things like,

“Do you want me to buy a red towel or a maroon one?”

“I really like this dress but should I buy it?”

“I am in the supermarket and I saw this new laundry powder, shall I buy it or buy our regular powder?”

“Do you want to eat lamb or chicken for dinner tonight?”

Some days I even ask him what should I eat for lunch as I can’t make a decision and I am already in front of food court or outside some restaurant.

Seriously, is this normal once you are married or I am becoming overly dependent on him?

It is not only me who has noticed this changed. When AS left from Kathmandu 2 weeks before me, I was on my own. In those 14 days I mentioned that I missed him to everyone. Really, I was telling my cousins and friends so often that they told me the same thing, I have become very dependent. I have really begun to rely on him in so many things that I can’t live even a week away from him.

For the last few years I have told myself that all these changes are because of love. I love him so much that I can’t imagine my life without him. And I thought it was normal to change and feel the way I do but today I feel like asking all of you.

Is this love or dependency?

Do you think I am on the right path?

Do I need to change and start becoming independent again?

Anyone there feels the same as way I do?

P.S: AS consults with me for all his decisions as well.

You may also like :

*Arranged marriage: My perspective *Ta, Timi, Tapai and Hajoor *With love, to my dear husband

Swayambhunath: Kathmandu, Nepal

Going regularly to a temple is big part of Nepali culture. You will often see people of all age going to a temple early in the mornings. While in Nepal, we tried to go to different temples as well. For us it was more of going to see the place than for religion but if we were to get blessed while we were there then even better :). One of the temples we visited was Swayambhunath, also know was Monkey Temple by tourist in Kathmandu.

One day we were invited for lunch to our aunt’s house, which is near to Swayambhunath, so we decided to visit the temple before we went for lunch. Swayambhunath is an ancient religious complex atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley, west of Kathmandu city. Even though Swayambhunath is a Buddhist stupa, yet it is equally popular with the Hindu pilgrims as well.

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Legend has it that Kathmandu Valley was once an enormous lake, out of which grew a lotus. The valley came to be known as Swayambhu, meaning “Self-Created.” The name comes from an eternal self-existent flame (svyaṃbhu) over which a stupa was later built.

Swayambhunath is also known as the Monkey Temple as there are holy monkeys living in the north-west parts of the temple. They are holy because Manjushree, the bodhisattva of wisdom and learning was raising the hill which the Swayambhunath Temple stands on. He was supposed to leave his hair short but he made it grow long and so head lice grew on them. It is said that the head lice transformed into these monkeys.

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The Bodhisattva Manjusri had a vision of the lotus at Swayambhu and traveled there to worship it. Seeing that the valley could be a good place for settlement and to make the site more accessible to human pilgrims, Manjusri cut a gorge at Chovar. The water drained out of the lake, leaving the valley in which Kathmandu now lies. The lotus was transformed into a hill and the flower became the Swayambhunath stupa.

As we were driving to the hill where Swayambhunath stupa is, we could really see how beautiful the temple is.  Around the bend of some roads, the temple comes into full view, and we can see the large Buddha’s eyes, sitting below a golden roof at the peak, keeping watch over the valley.

These large pair of eyes, which represent Wisdom and Compassion, on each of the four sides of the main stupa. Above each pair of eyes is another eye, the third eye. It is said that when Buddha preaches, cosmic rays emanate from the third eye which act as messages to heavenly beings, so that those interested can come down to earth to listen to the Buddha. The hellish beings and beings below the human realm cannot come to earth to listen to the Buddha’s teaching, however, the cosmic rays relieve their suffering when Buddha preaches.

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The dome at the base represents the entire world. When a person awakes (represented by eyes of wisdom and compassion) from the bonds of the world, the person reaches the state of enlightenment. The thirteen pinnacles on the top symbolize that sentient beings have to go through the thirteen stages of spiritual realizations to reach enlightenment or Buddhahood.

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When we reached the gate leading to the steps, there were many monkeys all over the place. Some people were feeding monkeys which were running everywhere. I am scared of monkeys as a monkey had snatched a bag from my hand when I was kid so I went and hid behind my husband and brother when I saw them running towards us. I have to say they are pretty well behaved as they don’t bother you unless you annoy them.

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On the side of the gates, there were ladies selling Puja items like candle, flowers and souvenirs.

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There are 365 steps and it is believed that there’s a step for each day of the year, starting at the gate and ending at the stupa. We started to climb the stairs and more monkeys emerged. I stayed close to AS and I was fine. We took a few photos as we climbed up and as we went higher the view got even better. There were many beggars sitting on either sides of the stairs as well and some of them I felt really sorry for as they had small children with them.

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As we reached the top, we could see more monkeys everywhere. There were also stalls selling the usual touristy items. There were many interesting, well-done acrylic paintings of the Himalayas, Nepali hand puppets and other handicrafts.

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There were also lots of people worshipping in the temple with diyo and candles. I could see prayer flags around the stupa and lots of diyo lit in front of the temple next to stupa. The Swayambhunath complex consists of a stupa, a variety of shrines and temples, some dating back to the Licchavi period as well as a Tibetan monastery, a museum and a library.

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 As we walked around the temple, we rotated the prayer wheels. A prayer wheel is a cylindrical “wheel” on a spindle made from metal, wood, stone, leather or coarse cotton. Traditionally, the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is written in Sanskrit on the outside of the wheel. According to the lineage texts on prayer wheels, prayer wheels are used to accumulate wisdom and merit (good karma) and to purify negativities (bad karma).

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At one end of the temple area, there is a viewpoint from where you can see the entire Kathmandu. I remember coming there when we were young and we used to try to find our house from there but these days due to population and pollution, you can’t see very far. I felt really sad to see how Kathmandu has changed in the last decade and definitely not for the better in terms of the environment.

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After looking around for a few more minutes, we decided to back down to the car. As you come down, there is a golden statue of Buddha surrounded by water. People were throwing coins into a bucket there and it is believed if your coin enters the bucket, it will bring good luck. My brother and SIL were trying their luck so AS asked me to throw some coins as well. It reminded me of the Trevi fountain when we were in Italy. There were lots of coins lying around the statue there as well but I am sure, the amount of money thrown here is nowhere near the amount in the Trevi fountain.

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After our visit to the temple, we were really hungry so we went to our aunt’s house for lunch 🙂

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Aastha journey’s in Asia’s Next Top Model

I am sure you remember Aastha Pokharel who was representing Nepal for Asia’s next Top Model here.  I was really busy lately so didn’t have time to catch up but finally I was able to watch up to Episode 10 over the weekend. I am already a big fan of this show as it gives aspiring models a big chance in their career and at the same time teachs them how to be a better model giving them opportunities to learn during the show.

Asia’s Next Top Model started out with 14 contestants from all over Asia and Aastha was representing Nepal. The show is doing really well and I love every challenge they get.

Here is what has happened with Aastha so far. I really thinking she is doing a great job and has a huge potential to be a world class model.

Episode 1 Little India Shoot

Episode 2 Wearing Prada for Harper’s Bazaar

Her group won the best group and she won best photo for this shoot and she deserve it.

Episode 3 Chinese Zodiac Shoot: Aastha as a rat

In this episode all the girls were given a makeover and Aastha’s long hair was cut short. She was really not happy with her new look and it took its toll on her photo-shoot. I do like her new look .

Episode 4 Photo with hot Jason Godfrey

Aastha really impressed judges with this shot and was the runner up on the ‘Be Sexy’ shoot.

Episode 5 French Riviera shoots

I really like this photo of Aastha. She was runner up on this shot as well but I really think it was the best shot.

Episode 6 Tresemme Beauty Shoot

For this episode, everyone made an ad for Tresemme writing their own script and performing in a commercial.  Aastha won this challenge with the following ad.

Episode 7 Environmental campaign

In this one Aastha struggled and her photo was not so great.

Episode 8 A haute couture red dress

During this shoot Aastha was told she needs to keep her energy up during the shoot. But I loved this shot of her. Aastha came third.

Episode 9 Underwater photo-shoot

This was one of the worst one for Aastha was it was an underwater shot and she cannot swim. But I am so proud of her since she managed to overcome her fear of the water and gave a great shot.

Episode 10 Movement and passion

I really like her ad for Suvaru with Girls on the Move concept.

Later during the photo-shoot, Aastha complained that her dress and hair wasn’t working for her. I felt bad for her but she still managed to give nice shot which judges thought had a great pose but her face was blank.

If you are interested please click the following to watch it from the start. I am waiting for the last 2 episodes to come on YouTube now  🙂

You may also like :

*Aastha Pokharel representing Nepal on Asia’s Next Top Model  *More stars shines under Prabal Gurung’s collection *Varsha Thapa: First international fashion model from Nepal

Valentine’s day 2013

Like every year, Valentine’s Day, the day for love, has arrived this year as well. I am sure you know I am crazy about love from my previous posts here and here.

If you don’t know, I am telling you that I am a hopelessly romantic person and my husband knows that. It is not that I want him to spend lots of money and spoil me rotten on this day but at the same time I don’t want not to celebrate this day like many of my friends who think it is too commercialised to care about. I know Hallmark and florists are making lots of money on this day by selling emotions but I really don’t need roses, romantic cards or heart shaped chocolate to feel spoilt.  Simple gestures like breakfast or home-made dinner will make me super happy for sure. I will even be happy with just a big hug and cuddle.

I am really happy to have a hubby who is so caring and loving in my life. He always makes me feel very special and I am so incredibly blessed to have him as my partner and my best friend. He has endured so much, including leaving everything that he has known his entire life behind and moving to Australia just for me and that means more to me than I can express in words. I treasure the good as well as the difficult moments we have shared together.

This year, as I was still very unsettled from my recent holiday and with a mid-week Valentine’s Day we didn’t really plan what we were going to do. We just thought it will be nice to have a dinner out and that was it.

So like every other day, on 14 Feb 2013, my alarm woke me up at 6:00 am. Lazily I work up and went to the bathroom. I was half asleep when I came back to the room and I saw there was something on my bedside table. When I went closer, I realised that it was a bunch of red roses! I turned around and he was lying there with a big smile, the smile that I fell in love with.

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I kind of knew I would be getting some red roses that day. Normally he comes home with it in the evening. I have always told him not to spend too much on Valentine’s Day roses. I know that it is a big waste of money as they are super expensive that day.

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Anyway, back to Valentine’s Day morning, I was so happy seeing the flowers that I was lost for words. All I could do was hug him tight. I don’t know how he smuggled flowers to our place the day before but he did a damn good job. Even though I didn’t expect this it was such a great feeling to be loved. To top it off, he told me that we were going for a massage after dinner and that was all that I had wished for.

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I really wished it had been a day off but I needed to get out of bed to go to work. As we were going straight from work to dinner, I wore a red dress with matching red shoes.

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Work hours felt long but finally it was time for me to meet my baby again. We met and went for dinner. We chose a low key place over big fancy ones as most of these places would be too crowded. The Thai restaurant we went to was not very busy so we were served quickly. We had Satay Chicken for entrée followed by some curries and special fried rice for main. We skipped desert as we were going for a massage and didn’t want to be too full.

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Also I had bought some really cute cupcakes for my hubby (he didn’t know I had them in the car).

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The massage place was a few blocks walk away from the restaurant so we strolled hand in hand until we reached the place. We had been there before and AS knew I had loved it. I just love the vibe of this place because even as you walk in, you can feel very relaxed because of the ambiance and of the sweet aromas. We waited for a few minutes and it was our time to relax under competent hands.

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We always go for Aromatherapy Thai massage and we went for the same this time as well. As the lady massaged each part of my body; my stress reduced and my body was relaxing. I just loved the feeling you have when you get a good massage. An hour passed so quickly and we were done. But my body was thankful for every minute of the awesome massage.

We drove home and when we got to our apartment, I gave AS his Valentine’s gift; lots of mini cupcakes which were beautifully decorated with a cupid, hearts, and romantic words. He was really pleased with his cakes and enjoyed his desert. I am really happy that he loved it as it tasted so fresh and soft.

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And this is how I spent my Valentine’s day this year. Do share how yours was?

P.S I think I am more romantic than I care to admit as I just realised today that I have a special category called Valentine’s day in my blog. Seriously, who does that!

Pretty in Pastels this SUMMER

This article was published in +977 (a Nepalese Lifestyle Magazine in Australia) in Feb 2012 issue.

977fashion

Pastels are so sweet, soft, romantic and ethereal. Pastels may be pale in hue, but combined with right jewellery and shoes give them a bright look. This summer pastel is not only for kids but everyone who wants to make a fashion statement. You can look sweet despite the heat in a rainbow of taffy-coloured hues.

You can choose outfits from a beautiful pale pink, gold, green, blue, salmon rose, milk caramel, velvety peach, powdery mint, banana, guava, lavender, baby blue and many more. Bags in pale pink, banana, lilac or mint are winners this summer.

Tips to wear pastel colour

  • The most important rule of pastel shades is not to overdo it
  • Wear with a neutral colour like beige, black or white.
  • When wearing pastel make sure to put on more cheek and lip colour
  • Highlight the look with statement accessories
  • Metallic gives pastels a glamorous edge
  • Combine pastel jeans with a white and black top
  • Accessories in pastel shades can also be used separately with full black attire
  • Pastel shoes look amazing in combination with white pants or a light coloured dress
  • Try using a pastel coloured nail polish.
  • A scarf is always a good way to add a touch of pastel to your outfit.

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*Autumn Trend Alert: “Dot On” *Fashion from Nepal
*Spring 2012 Trend Alert: Hello, PETAL!

Forever Blackout

This article was published in +977 (a Nepalese Lifestyle Magazine in Australia) in Feb 2013 issue.

977post

Living in Australia we always hear things happening in Nepal like strikes, Nepal Band, political instability, traffic problem, pollutions and of course load shedding. We always sympathise with the people who have to live with these conditions and we feel sorry for them as they how to put up with all this hardships in life.

I have to admit it is easy to say “Bichara” and move on with our happy life in Australia but it is a different ball game when you are facing the problem first hand. I have been in Nepal for a few weeks now and I had never imagined how much load shedding can affect one’s life until now. How can you lead a normal life if you have to live without electricity for 12 hours a day and it is predicated to be more hours in coming weeks.

Living in Sydney I never have to plan my life around electricity but in Kathmandu you must be a great planer if you want to live a smooth life. Most days, working people of Kathmandu won’t see electricity at their home as there will be no lights when they leave home and there is still no light when they come back  home. It’s like you live in the city that has no electricity at all.

Currently, the only days, I wake up with electricity is twice a week on Sundays and Mondays and rest of the week, no lights during mornings and evenings. If I want to do something that requires electricity, I need to wait till 11 or 12 in the afternoon and quickly finish my chore before electricity goes out again.

It is winter here so if I want to shower with hot water using the hot water geyser, I must run and turn on the geyser as soon as electricity comes on as it is a luxury of only for 4-5 hours. Also I must iron my clothes, charge my entire electrical appliance in that time as well otherwise I have to wait another 7 hours before I can use all the gadgets.

Some people have even water problem because of load shedding. If water is supplied when there is no electricity most people can’t fill their tank which is on their rooftop so they have to ration water to live for day to day life.

We all know that Nepal has a huge hydropower potential. Nepali rivers and the steep gradient of the country’s topography provide ideal conditions for the development of some of the world’s largest hydroelectric projects, approximately 40,000 MW of economically feasible hydropower but currently Nepal has developed only approximately 600 MW of hydropower. Therefore, bulk of the economically feasible generation has not been realized yet.

Nepal is not able to generate even half of the 900 MW peak supply demand during dry season. The electricity demand in Nepal is increasing by about 7-9% per year and so has pollution in major city like Kathmandu so until and unless major hydro electricity projects get started in Nepal, there seems no hope of people of Nepal to expect normal electricity supply in the country.

I hope Nepal will  get its act together soon and generate electricity not only for whole Nepal but also to export electricity to India and China, both of which are in need of more power to fuel their development goals.

There are a few alternatives that people are using in Nepal when power is out like inverter or solar electricity but not everyone can afford this luxury which means people are still using candles everyday like in 1800 in this 21st century to do their everyday tasks.

Most evening if you walk around Kathmandu, the whole street has no light which make the city less safe to go out after sunset affecting lots of shops and restaurants around the country.

Now you can imagine how lucky we are in Australia and rest of the world to have electricity facility and how privileged we are not to have to plan our life around electricity. And I salute all the Nepalis in Nepal who are still happy despite living in a country with major blackouts everyday.