I looked back at the photo album in my phone and realized, I have soooo many updates since the beginning of last month! Good, happy, fun updates! And maybe just a couple of not so great updates… But mostly it’s been a wonderful spring, with so many short trips with my husband and family…
One of the first few memories from earlier this spring is of my husband and I volunteering, at the William L. Dickinson High School in Jersey. It was my first ever volunteering experience here in the States and it felt so nice to know that I was giving back in a small, little way to the community. The program was held by the Jersey Cares group, which invited employees from different companies, as well as their families and friends to come together and volunteer at the school. Many of us were given the task of painting checkerboards onto wooden picnic tables on the front lawn of the school. A couple of others had to work on the mascot, if I remember right. Some took part in planting little seeds to improve the landscaping of the school. It was a Saturday morning. Still chilly, as it was early spring. But very sunny! I was excited to wear the T-shirt with the Jersey Cares logo (because little things like that get me all happy!). And it was a fun experience with my husband, where both of us were ensuring we took the right measurements for the project, delegating amongst each other and so on. Next to our table, there was this cute couple that was all pumped up to finish painting their checkerboards before everyone else! Sounded like quite the competitive bunch! But it was cute to watch! And I think they were quite successful, because they looked like they had a plan from the get-go! They were quick on the job, while there were some others, like my husband and I, who were struggling quite a bit! For the most part, since it was quite windy that morning, we would dip our brushes into the cans of paint, and the paint would fly off and land onto the table or the benches, making quite a mess!! A pair of volunteers was working on each picnic table, and each table had to have two checkerboards painted on. We were struggling painting on just one checkerboard! Thankfully, a bunch of girls and an older lady had the task of simply retouching the checkerboards on one picnic table, which they completed within no time. So they came over and offered to help us. Eventually, I was happy with our checkerboard. The perfectionist in me kept striving to make the squares look as perfect as possible! Anyhow, it was a wonderful, productive morning, which ended with some lovely slices of pizza! My husband and I chit chatted with a few other volunteers, while we munched on some quick lunch, and then we headed back home, feeling fuzzy and warm inside, knowing that we did something nice and good that morning…
Something I stumbled upon last month was this app called Poshmark. It’s basically very similar to EBay, where you can buy and sell used items, but mostly catering to girls and women of all ages. So you’ll find a lot of Poshmark members trying to buy or sell clothes or shoes or bags… What not? And a lot of the items up for sale are by the big brands that you can think of. Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Coach, to name a few! So since spring had begun, and I was in the mood to do a spring cleanup, I found that there was a bunch of stuff that I had not worn for the longest period of time. And it was time to let them go! I have so many clothes since the time of yore! Literally! Like, I have clothes that I bought about a decade ago, which for some reason are still in great condition and fit me just like back in the day! Anyhow, I’m really striving to give away a whole bunch of my clothing and some ill-fitting shoes. I have been successful twice on Poshmark. The money that I got back may have been peanuts but at least I don’t have those items hovering around, taking up space or catching dust, and cash-wise, anything is better than nothing, INMHO! So yeah, by the end of this month, I hope to have a successful spring-summer cleanup, and get rid of anything that I’ve not been feeling much towards for the last year or so… And oh, the concept of Poshmark is quite interesting. Each user has a closet on display, where they show what they have up for sale. And there are these ‘parties’ every now and then. So one time, you may get an alert about an ongoing handbags’ party. Another time, it maybe a party, solely for those selling dresses. And sometimes users share or hit the ‘like’ button when they see attractive listings. And the whole shipping of the item process, to the transaction between the buyer and seller is so easy and hassle-free! I haven’t been extremely successful like many users that I’ve come across on Poshmark, who seem to be selling like their selling hot cakes and making 100s of dollars within hours’ time, in the process! But, with whatever experience I’ve had so far, it’s quite a nice app.
One weekend, last month, my husband and I went out in the morning for a lovely lunch and a visit to a beautiful nursery. We had lunch at the Pandan Room in Hackettstown. First of all, the restaurant looked so adorable from outside. It had a very quaint vibe… And on weekends, the Pandan Room does dim sum for lunch. And their dim sum is of an Asian Fusion kind. So it’s all the regular stuff like shumai, dumplings and so on, but with interesting and different fillings such as kale! The service was a bit slow here. But my husband and I enjoyed all the different kinds of dim sum we tried out. Definitely would consider going back here for dim sum! And after that we each ordered a plate of the roti canai. Now that I remember we both loved! It was yummy! The roti was so similar to the lovely Malabar parathas back home. It was delish! After that sumptuous meal, my husband and I headed of to the Donaldson’s Greenhouse and Nursery. OH MY GOSH! I came across arrays of the most beautiful, bright-colored flowers possible! It was never-ending. While walking through the nursery, I often thought about my mother, who is an avid lover of gardening! I cannot say enough. The flowers were gorgeous! And there was a small pond with Koi fish, as well as a small stable for an oh-so-cute calf. Reconnecting with nature is something I ought to do so much more, but it’s often something I forget about… But that visit to the nursery was lovely indeed! And those were some of the last days, when I had hair all the way down up to my waist! That’s right. I had enough of my wavy long locks and I decided to chop them all off! It felt so good!!! I can’t express it in words. The lightness on my back… oh! It felt delightful! Now my hair is just about till my shoulders and I love it! I don’t see myself growing my hair any further, for a very long time to come… Every time I’ve cut my hair real short, I’ve never felt sad about chopping it all off. I know there are some girls out there who feel really sad and doubtful about whether they should go along with it. But I’ve never felt sad. I’ve actually always felt a rush of getting something new done. Even when I decided a few years ago to cut my hair real short, into a bob! The experience has always been a thrilling one for me… Although, many a times I think about how it would be if I colored my black hair to, say a lovely brown. Now that’s something I really I’m doubtful about! It’s something I’d really like to experiment with but at the same time I get very anxious about the health of my hair post coloring. But for now, I’m a happy girl with short hair!
Some days later, I was so happy to receive my sister and brother-in-law from the airport! They flew in from London and all of us planned on visiting Montreal together. I just want to take the moment to remember how fortunate I am to get to see my family from time to time, even though all of us are miles and miles away from each other… So the next morning, right after the day my sister and brother-in-law arrived, all four of us including my husband hit the road for Montreal, Canada. It was my sister’s and brothers-in-law’s first time to Canada. They were of course a little jet-lagged and ended up snoozing a bit in the car. The drive was lovely! Upstate New York is SO lush! Can never get tired of the view! By the way, my husband LOVES driving, and for him, such road trips are always welcome. On the way, we did make a stop at Lake George for some brunch. Each of us enjoyed our lovely meal of pancakes, sausages, corned beef hash and so on at the lovely Lone Bull Pancake and Steak House. Special mention to our hostess, who was a delight! Lone Bull had a very nice and homely vibe and the food was just right! After that satisfying meal, soon enough, we reached our destination. Altogether it took us just a little over seven hours to drive from Jersey to Montreal. And the best part! There was no traffic on the roads! Me thinks it’s because the following weekend was the Memorial Day weekend, and everyone else was probably thinking about a trip in the long weekend…In Montreal, our accommodation was booked through good ol’, trustworthy Air B ‘n’ B. We stayed at a lovely condo that was just right for our stay of a few days. Had a fully stocked-up, fancy-looking bathroom and all, with funky shower settings! And oh, the owner stayed right above us and he had a cute little dog named Mika. Little Mika barked loudly every now and then, whenever he heard the door open or close! But very cute a dog! Later that evening, we made our first dining stop in Montreal at Kinka Izakaya. It’s a Japanese restaurant as well as a tapas bar with very cool interiors and good music. The crowd was mostly young and added to the super-cool, hip and happening vibe of the place. The people working at Kinka would always happily bid goodbye to each customer that left after a meal there, by yelping out in chorus “Arigatou gozaimasu!!” Fun place, I must say! And the four of us loved the place so much, that we ended up going there twice during the trip! Really good food, for sure! The tapas were amazing and so was the ramen! Oh, how I love ramen! For the first couple of days, we were very much the tourists and decided to use the local metro to get to places. We did visit the highly talked about Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, which to be very honest, was a bit of a disappointment. I think I have seen grander churches! But nevertheless, it looked nice. We walked through Old Montreal, which is filled with cute little shops on both sides of the roads. On the way, we came across a store called Canadian Maple Delights, which had free tastings of their maple butter and so many other items. Oh, it was yumm! My husband and I bought a small jar of maple butter, which to this day we are trying to savor and hold on to, by enjoying it a little by little… This place also had yummy gelatos and like Kinka, we came here twice as well. I caught sight of a bunch of art galleries and we did enter a couple of them. Stunning works of art! There was this one gallery called Galerie Le Luxart. The art there moved me so much! I still see that gorgeous painting before my eyes of the geisha… Stunning! Some paintings had this effortless three-dimensional quality going on, while some were adorable depicting couples with amusing facial expressions in bed! But the painting of the geisha really stood out for me… I came across the website and it’s not been updated since 2011, from the looks of it. So the site does no justice but I would say for the art aficionado, this is a must-visit! We also went to Galerie Saint Paul, where we actually met one of the artists, 73 year old Richard Riverin. Many of his paintings were up on the walls along with the paintings by artist Daniel Jaugey. I really liked the paintings by Richard Riverin. Most of his work was so beautifully textured and done with the help of a pallet-knife. But my word, it was sure awkward for the four of us when the owner of the gallery and the artist himself were heavily persuading us to buy a painting, which was obviously priced at several grands! And I’m just going to leave it at that, because that was quite an awkward experience… The four of us had a very interesting lunch at Au Pied de Cochon. For the first time in my life, I tried out poutine and foie gras. Poutine is a popular Canadian dish, which simply comprises of French fries topped with a thick gravy-like sauce and cheese curds, while foie gras is the French delicacy that has been banned in the state of California, due to how it’s made. Foie gras is basically the liver of a fattened goose or duck that has been force-fed. Very unethical a procedure, for sure! I for one will never order such a dish. But I’m glad I had the opportunity to try it out at least once. Personally, I wasn’t bowled over by the foie gras. It most definitely felt like something someone should have if they are looking forward to having a heart attack! Very rich… Au Pied de Cochon was definitely one of the most upscale places I’ve ever been to. But I didn’t enjoy the food immensely. Maybe it was too rich for my liking… We even had the melting pot, which was this assortment of various meats, and black pudding! Now what’s black pudding? It is a blood sausage, mostly made out of pork blood!! (Shudders!) I could only have one of them and that was it for me! It irked me out big-time. Nevertheless, I was happy to experience fine dining, the French-Canadian way. Oh, I must mention about a quirky dish we tried out here. It was the ‘duck in a can’ and that’s literally what it is! The server opens the can in front of you and out comes the filet of duck, yet again with foie gras, thick gravy of balsamic sauce, buttered cabbage, roasted garlic and thyme! Very interesting a dining experience… During our trip, we visited the Montreal Botanical Garden, where we specifically visited the Japanese garden and the Chinese garden. The former had some very cute and interesting-looking bonsai trees that were years old, and the latter had some beautiful architecture especially with the different roofs. We also visited the insect planetarium, where the four of us observed some interesting species with our eyes wide open! We then went to the Biodome, which is an establishment with four recreated ecosystems. This was a very unique and fun experience, where we saw beautiful birds, otters, penguins and so much more! The experience was as real, wild and as natural as it gets, with an instance when some bird, I believe, sneakily shat on my arm! But all of us were amazed with the experience for sure! Then we went to the Montreal Tower for a funicular ride, which is situated in the Olympic Park. Going in the funicular was another first for me. A little confession. As I’m getting older, I’m getting a tad bit afraid of heights… It’s actually on and off. I sometimes get a funny feeling in my tummy, and sometimes I’m just all out excited! But it’s an observation of myself that amuses me! Later that afternoon, we had lunch at La Belle et La Boeuf, where my daredevil husband went for the nuclear burger! He did admit that it was pretty spicy! I quite enjoyed my burger with spicy mayo, Monterey Jack cheese, bacon and caramelized onions. Soon enough, our trip came to an end. On the way back to Jersey, we stopped by the Silo restaurant in Queensbury, New York. Another wonderful restaurant, which seemed like a family-run business, where I had a delicious basil pesto burger, with a side of lovely sweet potato fries. And Silo also had an adorable gift shop, where my sister and I were oohing and aahing at the adorable items, such as cookbooks, handy kitchen utensils, all up for sale. My sister and brother-in-law stayed with us for a few more days in Jersey and during that time, we went to New York as well as Coney Island, which was their first time there. In Coney Island of course, we had the famous hot dogs from Nathan’s. But we all agreed that Papaya King in New York served much better hot dogs. One evening, we went to the Haven Restaurant and Bar in Edgewater and had some drinks and a little bit to snack on. The food here is amazing! Now it is a three $$$ place, but it’s worth it! Really nice! Later we went to Saigon Café in Jersey City for dinner. My husband and I had been there before, about three times to date. And the food here has always been wonderful. This time, I tried out something different from the usual spicy clay pot. I had the grilled pork with sides of coconut rice and mesclun salad. I loved it! Of late, I have been liking pork quite a lot and the coconut rice was so nice and sweet. Lovely! The next day, my dear sister and brother-in-law were leaving and that morning, we stopped by Brownstone Diner for brunch. Huge portions, as one can imagine! But this is definitely one of the better diners I’ve been to, the best being Tops diner in Newark. Fantastic! Two thumbs up!
Sadly, my sister and brother-in-law had to leave after a very short visit. But oh well… We all had a wonderful time together. And I look forward to seeing them soon again, maybe next time in Europe! Shortly after, in a about a couple of weeks time, my husband and I had to make a short trip to Boston. My sister-in-law’s husband was to graduate from MIT after completing a course in executive MBA. But a week before heading to Boston, for the first time in my life, I experienced one of the worst pains possible in my teeth! One of my wisdom teeth has been trying to emerge above the surface for a very long time. It’s been an ordeal for the last three to four years now. But the pain was never this bad! And I had no idea that oftentimes, people end up extracting their wisdom teeth. So anyways, I did visit the urgent care by which I gained instant relief. I was on medication, antibiotics and painkillers, for a week. And that zapped the pain just like that! Phew! I was groggy, yes, most of the time owing to the sedation but I could deal with that any day over the gruesome pain! I have an appointment coming up next month. So I’ll get to know what has to be done with my wisdom teeth… But coming back to Boston, thankfully, I was no longer experiencing pain and could be a part of the joyous celebration. Again, it was a road trip for my husband and I, which we always love! Just over a four-hour drive. I don’t have a lot of pictures of the places we visited in Boston. I mostly took pictures of the group, especially of my husband, my sister-in-law, and her four-year-old daughter, who is a treat for sure! Utterly amusing a girl! The graduation ceremony at MIT was wonderful to attend, where the Chief Technology Officer of the US, Megan Smith, delivered a truly inspiring speech. Everyone on the dais spoke beautifully, with an expected eloquence. All of us were dressed smart for the occasion, and I loved wearing my new dress from Dressbarn, but nothing could prevent my arms from brutally tanning on that sunny morning! Wish I wore a cardigan that day… But anyhow, on a serious note, it was a lovely event and we were all so happy for my sister-in law’s husband. He, my husband, sister-in-law and I celebrated with a little party of our own, at a very groovy little club, with very interesting sights… I was sober throughout, as I was being very responsible with my ongoing medication, but that didn’t stop me from doing my funny little dance every now and then! We all had signature, amusing moves throughout the night. I guess I dance like a happy little girl, and my husband kind of bounces side to side. But my sister-in-law has this funny and cute move where if a song she knows and likes comes on, she kind of approves by throwing up one finger to the air and then she starts swaying in any which direction! It’s like as if she’s telling the crowd ‘Hey, I’m here and I know that song, and I’m now going to boogie-woogie!!” And her husband, when he dances, it instantly reminds me of bhangra. Balle balle, all the way! That was a fun night for sure! In Boston, we also visited Quincy market, which my husband and I loved the first time also, when we visited with his parents. It was nice to come again and this time, I experienced a rickshaw ride as well, which is so much fun! I love those kinds of rides! Oh, in Boston, we also visited a ‘Ten Thousand Villages’ store, which I absolutely adore! And my husband’s niece had a gala time there, having her own little concert with all the beautiful African handcrafted, musical instruments on display! With the weekend unfortunately coming to an end, we packed up and left Boston, after a nice, short, little trip. But my husband and I were not going back to Jersey just as yet. We planned to stop by at Newport, Rhode Island for a quick sightseeing!
This was such a random, unexpected trip, planned by my spontaneous husband! I’m so very much the opposite of him! I’m barely spontaneous, be it in most situations, mostly because I like planning for the day and I like knowing exactly what I’m going to do for the day. But I have to say Newport is maybe the most charming, little place I’ve been to, in the whole of the East Coast! So far the best place I’ve ever been to is perhaps, Punta Cana in Dominican Republic, and also Whistler in Canada. Sorry, it’s a tie. Couldn’t firmly decide! But Newport was absolutely picturesque, with the most beautiful clear blue water, and even the sky, for some reason, was looking so beautiful that day in Newport! My husband and I were blown away, as we drove past several gorgeous homes, all which resembled mansions! We saw a number of people driving in these cute little scooter cars (no idea what they’re actually called!) by the beach side. But they looked really adorable! We stopped by the Midtown Oyster Bar for lunch, and it was amazing! I had probably the best tacos in my life there! They were the tuna tartare tacos and they felt so fresh. Those two tacos were not enormous but they themselves felt so satisfying! After that, each of us had a blackened mahi mahi sandwich. Again, simple flavors but delicious. It was such an elegant meal altogether, without any of the extra frills. Just a straight up good meal with the real deal! I can never get enough of a sweet something and so my husband had no choice but to accompany me to the Newport Fudgery, where we saw fudge being made right in front of us and we even bought a little sampler of a few kinds of the fudge made there. Needless to say, it took care of my sweet cravings for the day! After that delicious meal, my husband and I went for the Cliff Walk, by which you hike and get to see lovely mansions on the way, never-ending beautiful water, beaches… It was lovely. I think we walked around for a good hour and a half, and enjoyed the sights and sounds along the way.
Those were all the beautiful trips I had so far. And now I’m looking forward to going home, to India! I’m flying next month to Kerala, and before reaching there, my husband and I will have a layover at Dubai. So that’s also going to be exciting, because it’s been quite a while since I’ve been to the Emirates. Really looking forward to the trip, and going back home, seeing my family again, is always something I long for with much excitement! So I’m just going to wait patiently for that… Oh, last month, I saw Mad Max: Fury Road. And I quite enjoyed it! I didn’t quite think that I would, and my husband was very skeptical to take me along for this film, just because there have been a few incidents where I’ve actually slept in the theatre, throughout the film! And those films were, if I remember right, Captain America and 300: Rise of an Empire! But surprisingly, I loved Mad Max! The visuals were fabulous and Charlize Theron, what can I say? Beauty of a woman and she gave a power-packed performance in the film, with that super-cool, pixie hairdo! Oh, and special mention to the manic guitarist in the film! How cool was he?! Loved the film! And another wonderful film I saw the other day, was this Malayalam film called Premam. My husband and I loved the film. We are so impressed with how beautifully Indian cinema has evolved, in terms of the story line, the direction, music… It’s great, very simply put. And I’m so happy for the creative progress.
Well, that’s all I can think of for now, updates wise. More adventures hopefully, soon enough! Toodles!