Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My 2015: A Visual Anthology

As the glorious end to 2015 fast approaches, I'd like to take a self-indulgent moment to look back upon the year that was, and anticipate the year that will's presenting to you, my dear readers, a visual anthology of my very interesting 2015.

Replete with travel across the USA, to beaches, conferences, theme parks, workshops and strategy sessions, I raked up some airline miles, and decided which were my favorite airports. Although faced with the awful conundrum of being away from my kids, I must admit I did have guilty pleasure in "me" time and room service.

I did have some culinary adventures (and misadventures) at home with Mexican, Thai and Italian food (my family and friends recipe book is growing now!!). Of course, I had fun whipping up some crazy heavy Indian desserts (Kesar Kalakhand anyone?) and signature family favorites.

Home decor and blogging took a back seat this year, with in-laws visiting and all the above mentioned travel. I chose to be at the beck and call of my husband's parents, be the traditional bahu that they anticipated me to be, juggling expectations, temperaments and temper tantrums. Primarily my performance anxiety gave me a hard time, as I was balancing my desire to be the best at the home front too, even under sub-optimal circumstances.

Parenting presented it's own challenges, with alternatively recalcitrant and angelic girls, who grew taller, more articulate, more well read and stylish as the year progressed.

Travel, culture, food and festival came in equal parts. 2015 was a salvation to my wanderlust and culture savvy!

I had the privilege of meeting my best and closest friends, catching up for laughs after a decade of being in touch only virtually. And we had not missed a beat!

Home became a sanctuary as Fall approached, as I got ready to get my almost 6 year olds into First Grade, breaking the State of Virginia September 30th school age cut off. And Yes, they made it to First Grade, although they were not 6 years old at that time!! (Woot Woot, Parenting win!). Who knew, First Graders had school readiness evaluations!

I had the amazing opportunity to meet my blogging partner in crime - Deepa! As you all know by now, she is the proud momma of a cute lil baby girl, who joined the Aalayam family in 2015. I had the privilege of being one of the co-hosts of Deepa's gorgeous baby shower! Fun times.

Oh, and we lost our first tooth in our household. Amidst much excitement, and joyful yelling (mostly from me!), the tooth fairy made her first visit to our home, and promptly followed up with many more!!

And of course, there were some bittersweet moments of Parenting..knowing what to say when kids win...and don't. Managing the fine balance of teaching kids a strong work ethic, but watching over them so they don't beat themselves up (too hard) if they did not do a good enough job. (Tiger Mom much?) 

Lots of Desi Chaat party hosting!

Some DIY Dasara decorating!

Some Butta chomping ! (look out for my Seattle Travel Ramble in 2016!)

Some controlled excitement and angst about my kids' first Bharatanatyam performance! (ever secured a long braid (times 2) on 6 year olds with really short curly hair? Now I am a pro at this! But it took quite a lot of bobby pins, some deep breaths and a few anxiety management lessons)

Lots of holiday baking! (pictured below is a birthday cake I baked for my baby sister, who joined us for the holidays from Germany!)

And uncontrollable family giggling! (Yaay, to my parents visiting in 2015!)

And the cherry on top of the cake - my closest friends and their families got together over the Christmas holiday in our home in Virginia!

Amidst countless selfies, dressathons, non-stop food, and oh-so-fantastic memorable gift exchanges, we got a chance to chill, be ourselves and get to know each other all over again, not just as friends, but as wives, moms and daughters-in-law.

Here's to evolving friendships!

As I wrap up this visual anthology, I humbly thank my people - my husband, my parents, my kids, my friends, my clients and coworkers, Deepa and you, my dear readers for a fantabulous 2015.

Here's looking forward to a gorgeous and stimulating 2016! Do share with us how your 2015 went. I am curious to take a quick peek at your year's highlights!


p.s all pictures in this visual anthology are mine, and mine alone, so please do not bother copying/reusing it!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Aalayam's holiday editorial

Hello! Merry Christmas. Hope you are all having a lot of fun counting down to 2016. We wish you a Charlie Brown Christmas - wholesome holiday cheer and lots of good will as you revel in the Joy of the season. I leave you with some images of Charlie Brown's Christmas as well as our parlor decked for the holidays -our tree is swathed in pink this year and you know why!
Thank you for another great Aalayam year dear readers!

And with that, I am signing off for 2015. Have a very merry christmas and a happy new year!

All charlie brown images are from google images and the rest of the images are from my home and may not be used without permission.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Diwali tablescape - ethnic inspiration, the Aalayam way!

Hello! It is Diwali and there will soon be a billion of us celebrating this festival of light and food and cherishing the bond that we share with our friends and family and I hope the preparations have picked up speed at your end as well?

A DIY diwali card ...for that personal touch!
Here is our annual Diwali edition- an Aalayam tradition!

 This time my Diwali tablescape is swathed in earthy colors and carries a haveli-esque feel and this was my attempt at capturing yet another shade of our fascinating culture.  

I have always wanted to travel to color and culture rich Rajasthan – maybe next year… This year though, I brought flavors of Rajasthan to my Diwali dinner table.  

My tablescape is a tribute to the pomp and pageantry of Rajasthan that I have heard so much about. I have combined vibrant hues, miniature paintings, rustic and brass accents to reflect the earthen flavor of the Thar.

This tablescape includes the hallmark of Indian décor –it is full of life and fit for a Maharajah! I had fun working with this exciting palette of colors and patterns. Did you like this Diwali composition? Write to me.

It is going to be a quiet Diwali at home for us this year but I still want to savor mom’s epicurean delights, relive childhood traditions and soak in the sparkle that only Diwali night brings. And here is a simple attempt at creating a setting that appeals to the senses. This is going to be a festival seasoned with meaning and gratitude and we have much to thank for. The tepid glow of the flickering lights that metaphorically represent the essence of Diwali will serve as a gentle reminder of all our blessings.

Supriya and I want to wish all of you a very happy Deepavali. I hope you all revel in the symbolism and gaiety and indulge in beautifying your homes as an uplifting reminder of the spirit of Diwali!  We hope your celebration is beautiful regardless of whether you are honoring religious traditions or cultural customs. And we also wish that all of your dreams come true this Diwali.

Wishing you all love and peace this Diwali!



P.S: All images in this post are from my home and subject to copyright

Saturday, November 7, 2015

At home this Deepavali - Inspirations from a guest blogger.

And it is that time of the year again- when light prevails over darkness and fills our heart with hope and optimism. It is that time of the year when we tend to reflect on ideals such as compassion and empathy in the backdrop of twinkling diyas. It is that time of the year when our homes are filled with a festive glow and our hearts are full of gratitude for life’s little blessings. And as always, we are thrilled to celebrate Diwali with you.

This Deepavali, I am elated to invite Pinky of Pinkz Passionto Aalayam. She shares her thoughts on adding a magical elegance to your Diwali décorscape with brass, flowers and twinkling diyas! 

Take note dear readers and join Pinky as she rings in festive cheer with a beautiful Diwali tablescape. The magic of Diwali beckons and without much further ado, I present Pinky’s Diwali tablescape. We love to bring you décor ideas that you can recreate in your home and we hope Pinky’s beautiful Diwali images will encourage you to conjure up fond Diwali memories of your own as you gather around the dinner table with friends and family. 

We hope you will be that intrepid hostess hosting the most recherché Diwali dinner this year and Aalayam will be your go–to resource for ideas and inspirations.
I absolutely loved her sparkly and celebratory images. Thank you Pinky for showing us how to pack style and substance as we attempt to savor the warm glow of Diwali diyas.

 Pinky blogs at Pinkz Passion and her blog just celebrated its one year anniversary – congratulations!

Pinky is an inspiring stylist and photographer and keeps a beautiful home in Toronto. 

You can catch her creative work and seasonal inspirations over at pinkz passion. It was my absolute pleasure to collaborate with her for this Diwali feature. Thank you Pinky!

Next up is Aalayam’s annual Diwali post – the one that I love putting together just for you dear readers. Let me inspire you to create a festive ambience at home the Aalayam way! Rustic and haveli-esque, my Diwali décor this year is influenced by the earthy flavors and variegated textures of Rajasthan! Piqued? Join me tomorrow, will you?

p.s: Images in this post are the property of Pinky and subject to copyright.