Saturday, December 26, 2015

Event: Mast Santa organised by JAMM's, one bag leading to empowerment

Good day People,
I have recently joined a group called: JAMM's ( Journey About Mast Mother's). This group tries to empower women to get into mainstream after becoming a mother. I have been getting Whatsapp updates dozens in a day, informing about various workshops, events, seminars conducted on these lines. A very active community of mothers helping each other get productive after childbirth, help fulfill their desires and passions. :)

Few days ago I received this on the group page. Its nearing Christmas and End of year time. After Diwali cleaning lot of stuff is ready to be thrown away. How about making it reusable for a needy person and spread the Joy of the Season.

Mast Santa
If you have a spare bag, fill it up daily essentials, hygiene products or eatables. Gift this bag to a lady on the street. We encouraged ladies everywhere to donate such goody bags to ladies on the street. One woman empowering another woman. Also it need not be before 25th Dec. This can be done anytime, anywhere :)

I actually had my office bag gathering dust since I quit work 1.5years ago. I was thinking of what to do with it. This initiative sounded just the thing that would make it useful once more for someone else other than my maids, who get a lot of such things from their employers.

So I volunteered on the group to do it in few days.
Luckily Ritu, the COO of JAMM's got the help of Times of India and Maharashtra Times to help spread the word. So this was the small group who could gather in Thane and were our Mast Santa's. Ritu is in the Center with Antlers ;)

 Here are JAMM's members donating goody bags :)

These ladies on the street are forever on the move. They carry small children with them. We added food items, soaps, shampoos, sanitary pads, old woolen clothes, oil etc.
Some of us had a tough time finding ladies who really needed such bags. My bag went to a ragpicker lady near Thane stadium.

 Apart from doing a good deed, I also got to meet some lovely mommies, each doing something unique. From bloggers to belly dance teachers to volunteers at NGO's.  JAMM's is really motivating mommies to follow their hobbies and then getting mommies to network and spread the word.

Our Mast Santa initiative was covered like this:
On Times of India:

In Maharashtra Times:

I am still getting messages from friends who wanted to gift bags to needy people on the streets.
So whenever you have a spare/old bag, fill it up with daily essentials and gift to a needy person. Anyone,Anytime, Anyplace can do this !

My friend who is a nurse in USA, says they do this around winter in their hospital by filling bags with woolens so that the homeless people can stay warm.

Merry Christmas and Happy New year !!!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Shop: Doyne's creation, Dadar. Dresses for girls

Good day people,

Now-a-days people share photo collection of babies & cute little girls dressed in elegant, lovely dresses. I love those little frilly, fluffy dresses or frocks in common terms.
Since 2007 I have been passing this shop in Dadar where they display such lovely little dresses. But I never got a chance or reason to go and shop there until last year.

My neice was turning one and I thought of gifting the little doll a pretty little dress.

I am against those bling-bling, over-the-top frills, rustling rough material they use for dresses and lining, especially for little children.

So the moment I went inside, I checked the material of the dresses. It was smooth & soft to touch. The dresses have an elegant, royal look & feel to them.

Cute dresses for girls
I got talking to the owner Mrs. Lucia Soares. She started the store 25+ years ago, since 1989. They have dresses for newborns to 12 year olds. Only Girls though ;)

Mrs. Soares herself designs each of them. Personally buys the fabrics from her selected shops. She has a workshop in Mahim where all the dresses get made.

Mrs. Lucia Soares, owner of Doyne's Creation, Dadar
They make few pieces in each size for a particular design. So there is a variety to choose from in each age group. The dresses range from party-wear to casual and daily wear.
They also take Exclusive orders for design dress for Birthday. Also orders in bulk.
They are very popular for designing flower-girls dresses worn in weddings :) I am sure each flower-girl will look cute in those designs.

Can you believe each of these dresses can be hand washed at home. I was like, please mam, design for us older ladies too :D

The prices are perfect. Looking at the dresses and shop one might feel they are expensive but I found them to be worth it. The material, quality of stitching, the soft feel, ease of maintenance and the look are worth it.

This is my neice in one of the dresses I bought here. I loved the colour combo & the sailor cut.
Mrs. Soares says, this design always sells out fast. Glad, I got a piece.
My brother loved it so much, since 1 year he has been buying dresses whenever he is in Dadar area :)

My collegues too are regular customers here.

So if you are in Dadar, please go visit Doyne's creation for sure. Its bang opposite Sena Bhavan and right next to Aaswad Hotel.

Doyne's Creation,
2/215 ,Vavda Building Shivaji Park ,Dadar West, Mumbai, Maharashtra ( South ) - 400028
Landmark: Opp Sena Bhavan. Besides Aaswad Hotel
Contact number: 022-24452086, 022-24468000

Like they say in the nursery rhyme-Hot Cross buns:
If you have no daughter, give them to your son... You may buy and gift to any little girls in your family or friends :)

Say Hello to Mrs. Soares from side, please ;)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Food: Oriental Spice,A Chinese Restaurant, Thane

Good day people,
As my mom will say, We have been doing a lot of  'Hotelling' these days.
And I have taken it upon myself to Review each of these places.

So another family favorite for Authentic Chinese in Thane is 'Oriental Spice'.

It was one of the first Authentic Chinese Restaurant in Thane. Even with big malls like Viviana & Korum and Chinese restaurant chains like Mainland Chinese, China Bistro,... Oriental Spice has a loyal fan following.

Oriental Spice, Thane

Be prepared to be in Waiting queue on weekends. Its turn around is fast, without giving the feeling of being rushed, so you wont lose your appetite waiting outside :)

We frequent Oriental Spice couple of times in a year even though our usual favorite Chinese restaurant (China Bistro) being walking distance away.

So this time we landed here on a Sunday for lunch. Thankfully we got a table for 3 immediately. I am Eggetarian, my 2 year old son and hubby enjoy non-vegetarian food. Here though the menu is well set and you will love any dish you order, we prefer to let our Captain suggest the dishes.

They always make some lovely, unique, authentic Chinese dishes albeit suiting the Indian palete but never over the top.
We opted for 1 Soup veg, non-veg each and 1 Veg Starter.
 Since my son loves mushroom, we opted for Mushroom Tofu soup Veg and Spicy Crab meat soup for my husband.

Mushroom Tofu veg soup, it was hot & filling

Spicy crab meat soup, it was perfect remedy for cold
 I cant finish 1 whole veg starter dish, my husband then ends up finishing it instead of tasting along with his non veg dish. So we opted only for 1 veg starter.

The Captain suggested Mushroom and Baby corn in pepper sauce. It was really awesome, peppery and lil tinge of sweet. If I had tried I could have finished the whole dish :D

Mushroom & Baby corn in Pepper sauce
If we are in Oriental Spice, my husband will always want to end the meal with its Pot rice, this time Veg cause I was sharing it.
It a superb combination of rice and noodles in hot and sweet sauce  with lot of veggies in it. You should really try it. I am now tired of Thai curry rice in all restaurants and weddings.

Veg Pot rice in a clay pot
 The entire meal is quick with its attentive staff always around to serve and help without hovering around tables. They are good with kids too, so you can be assured your kids will enjoy being there instead of being intimidated or bored. My kid was at his jumping best that day and almost knocked down the sofa's upright cushions. He was scared of a scolding but our friendly waiter smilingly offered him litchi candies they offer as mouth fresheners with the bill.

Chocolate Mousse

I cant go without desert or a Mock-tail. This time since I had a filing Soup, I let the Mock-tail pass. So Dessert was a must have. The Captain rolled off a few fresh dessert names. I quickly picked up Chocolate mousse, no one can go wrong with a Mousse. My hubby opted for Apple cinnamon cake.

Apple Cinnamon cake with a dollop of Vanilla ice cream
The Mousse was perfect in sweetness and rich in creaminess. The Cinnamon smell was wafting even before it reached our table. My son had a go at the ice cream, I tasted the cake to compare it with the one I make. This was way better :D so much that next day I tried to bake one :D

I forgot to mention the Ambiance, The food is so good :)

The place is small but beautifully arranged, with sections for large group seating to small corners for couples and families. The furniture is sturdy wooden made and gives a quaint feel to the place, but the lighting and big windows keeps it feeling fresh.

They make sure everyone is seated comfortably and served well.
Some people think its a little expensive, but for the menu, quality of food, service, ambiance I believe its worth it.
Even though they don't serve alcohol.

Our bill with 2 soups, 1 starter, 1rice dish, 2 desserts came around Rs.1500. Worth it, I believe.

More details about this Restaurant:
Name: Oriental Spice, A Chinese Restaurant, Thane
Location: Shreeji Arcade, Almeda Road, Panch Pakhadi, Panch Pakhadi, Thane West, Thane.
Phone number: 022 25421111, 022 25394917
Cuisine: Authentic Chinese

Do try it out if you are in Thane.

Other eating places we have reviewed ;)
Food: China Bistro, Shivaji Park.

Food: Prakash Shakahari Upahar Kendra, Dadar

Food: Status restaurant, Mahim west

Food: Lassi near Dadar Station, Jai Shri Krishna Dairy Farm

Irani snack time,Crown Bakery, Mahim

Travel : Jaipur visit in 1 day

Stay tuned for more Food reviews coming up. 2 to be exact :D

Bye. Take care. Have a blessed week ahead :)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Nature: Lilies

Good day people !
The monsoon brings a lot of greenery around us. Our small garden at home is in full bloom loaded with freshly washed leaves, smell of wet soil, birds chirping away, butterflies a plenty.

My favorite flowering plant at the moment, Lily is in full spirit.

Lily in bloom, love its innocence & feisty look
 If you see my profile pic, it is also a close up of the tiny pink lily bud. This one is at my mom's place

Yellow Lily

My mother-n-law has planted a variety of Lily saplings. The bulb for this one was borrowed from a neighbor. Its a lovely, bright yellow. Ignore the leaves, there are 2 plants mixed in this 1 pot ;)

Pink Lily
These Pink Lilies, bloom in bunches together during rainy season. There might 2-3 such bunches when they bloom.
 The same plant blooming at my Mom's place.

White Lily
The White Lily & Pink Lily, my mother-in-law nurtures them dearly. So once a year in return, they bloom in abundance for a few days.

Tagar, multiple petals
The Tagar plant in the picture, didnt bloom at all & suddenly this year is blossoming in full spirit.
The Tagar flower can be found in many varieties. In our garden itself we have 3 types.
One has 5petals & looks like Stars. My mom says they look like Chandni or Moon Beam, coz at night the flowers strewn around the tree actually look like small white stars. But the sticky juice oozing out has a pungent smell.
The other two types have multiple petals & lovely smell.

Its lovely to watch such beautiful sights from your own windows.
So know more about trees and plant some around you.
Its a beneficial investments in terms of time, efforts and health.

Go through our posts about plants.
Nature-Walk the Mumbai Trees-Part 1
Nature-Walk the Mumbai Trees-Part 2
Event:Vrukshavali,Thane: Flower & Vegetable exhibition
Save the Tigers :P

Bye. Take care.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Trek: Sandhan Valley, Asia's 2nd most beautiful valley

Hello people,
Monsoon is here. So take a break & let me take you a Visual tour of my trek to Sandhan Valley. Asia's 2nd most Beautiful valley.

My colleague & Friend Reuben messaged me that his group is conducting a trek to Sandhan Valley on 22nd August 2015. I have trekked with his group before to Ajoba Parvat, again a monsoon trek.
This was a 1 day trek & on a Saturday, so I agreed immediately. I messaged my younger sister Asawari & she agreed to join in. My mom's friends daughter Bhakti wanted to join too. Both of them 1st time trekkers. So I HAD to go now ;)

Sandhan valley also called the Valley of Shadows is located in Nashik region. 165kms from Igatpuri. The base village is called Samrad. We started from Thane at 7:30 am, reached the base village at 12pm with one halt.

Singing all the way. Gana Bajana full on !

 If you are with Reuben, Sumi & Salil there has to be a Live orchestra playing non-stop on both sides of the way. Reuben is an exceptional singer, can belt out oldies, jingles with full background score. Plus if the crowd joins in then its Super fun. This was what happened on this trek too.
We were 43 of us including 3 young boys.

Fog, showers, smell of wet mud, cool winds, streams,waterfalls,.... everywhere.

Beautiful na? Check the lil island.
A part of the Bhandardara dam

Sandhan Valley, base village Samrad
If you can read Marathi, check the sign post giving directions & declaring Sandhan Valley, Asia's 2nd most beautiful valley. This was the base village, Samrad. 
Here our Guide Dutta, had a house where we freshened up & kept our bags. We were advised to carry only our windcheaters/raincoats, caps. Water was being carried by the team leaders.
There are no shops around here. Nor toilets, so be prepared to go in the open :D

Thumbalina, guess this one is called.
The mountains continued to play hide and seek with fog & clouds. Slight drizzles to cool us down in between.

We trekked for 30-40 mins and came to this cliff. There it was drizzling or so we thought from far off.
On nearing we saw water getting sprayed, but couldnt figure out from where. Once there we saw the waterfall and the valley below. The wind was blowing so hard in the valley, it sprayed the water upwards.
Pleasant and Super Phenomena to experience LIVE. Full paisa vasool :)

Check the video to Re Live it :)


The waterfall and the spray. Its not haze, I tell you.
In winter, you can sit here like its a Jacuzzi. Pitch your tents, no one to disturb. Hardly a soul stirs here. Till few years ago, the village and the valley was hardly known.

The Konkan kadda.

Such picturesque waterfalls throughout the way

Same waterfall from opposite side
Check, the wind hardly lets the water reach the base of the water. It tosses it back up :D

Waterfalls, streams, lush green mountain range
Our guide Dutta, guided us towards the Sandhan valley now. He said we could go on top of the mountains where the edges meet each other. The distance between them were so small you would think you can jump and cross over. But even experienced, lithe mountain goats dropped down the fatal gaps. So we just hiked towards the mouth of the valley.

Mouth of the valley with gushing water.
The valley in monsoon fills up with strong current of waters. Right now the water was neck deep. Our group of novice trekkers and kids was not fit to make the trek. So we decided to just check the mouth of the valley and return to base village.

Mouth of valley
The mouth of the valley. Google images to get an idea of how deep and narrow the passage into the valley is.

A natural pool with a strong shower
Our PS3 loving and resort experienced young trekkers were hooked to this natural water ride after the first forced head dunking. Most of us cooled ourselves here. Experienced trekker now Sumi, hiked down some more.
My sis Asawari, unfortunately slipped and got a cut on her ear. She was given immediate first-aid and she enjoyed the trek back.
After returning and changing our wet clothes, we were served authentic Maharashtrian food. We had given our food preference of Veg/Non veg when registering. Zunka bhakar, batata rasa, varan bhat. Slurp. It was a much needed and loved by all.

My veg authentic Maharashtrian thali. Followed by varan bhat, yummy !

Our trek organizers having their well deserved lunch

Last roll call for the day

Vote of thanks for the day to our Dutta in yellow Tshirt. He has been trained by a Trekking group and has equipment, knowledge, experience to cross this adventurous Valley of Shadow.

I hope to do the full trek sometime in winter. Obviously it will be a night stay in the open below the stars lit sky.
Would love it, I am sure.

Check out some more Trekking posts to get in the mood ;)Travel
Trek: Ajoba Mountain, Valmiki ashram-samadhi, luv-kush cave 
Trek: Kalsubai peak Maharashtra's Mount Everest 6th nov 2011 
Travel: Raigad Fort Trek 2009
Trek:Karnala Fort
Trek-River rafting at Kolad
Travel- Kanheri caves !
Trek: Tungareshwar-2010

Bye. Take care. Go Trekking this monsoon season.