Wednesday, December 24, 2014


There are many gifts under the Christmas Tree
But the best one is the gift of your Friendship.
Merry Christmas, And A Happy New Year To All My Friends!!

I am sharing with you this Christmas Cake, which I made yesterday. I have been looking for a good  recipe for a Vegan Christmas cake, and finally after searching a lot and seeing various vegan cakes, I chose this  recipe. Though I followed the basic recipe, I added my own choice of dry as well as fresh fruits to it, and also added cocoa powder which is not in the recipe. I used more of Multi grain flour than white flour, and instead of soya milk I added coconut milk. I  had soaked the fruits in rum for about a week. This delicious cake contains absolutely no eggs  and no dairy products.
Veganism is from India basically, but the westerners have made it more popular, and are reaping the innumerable benefits from following it. 
I dedicate this Christmas Cake to my son, who has turned into a vegan, and is enjoying every bit of it. Maybe, from being  just a vegetarian, I might also turn  into a vegan some time in future.
It takes about one hour forty five minutes for the cake to bake. I was worried, as the power cuts are pretty normal and unpredictable here, and just as I feared the power went off after about half an hour, luckily I was there, and I could shift my oven to the point where we have the UPS connection.
With bated breath, I waited to see, the final product, which to my great relief had turned out quite well.

I waited patiently for the cake to cool, and was pleased, when I could easily remove the cake from the pan.I was ready with my camera to shoot some pictures of the cake fresh out of the oven. I just can't tell you how happy I was that my cake was safe and good.
I kept pouring the left over rum from the fruits by spoon, so that the cake remains moist.

The next day, I was shocked to see a slice from the cake had been cut: the culprit, was my husband, he couldn't wait till Christmas to inaugurate it.....
Anyway, it did not matter.
I made some Cranberry sauce too, to go with the Christmas Cake.
I also decorated the cake as best as I could to give it a festive look.
Here are the pictures:

I liked the idea of decorating the cake with gold lace, which I had seen somewhere in the net. I was lucky, I found a gold lace, and I was so happy I could use it. (BTW, I am a lace freak, I have all kinds of lace, to be used at some point or other on my dresses).

How do you like my Christmas Cake story?

All I want for this Christmas :
every friend of mine who is reading this
to be healthy, happy and loved!
Wishing You
Winter Cheer!
Happy Holidays!!!!!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Hello December: Today Is My Birthday!

Today, I have completed 55 years, and stepping into my 56th year,
can't believe, more than half a century has gone by. Like everybody else, I too have gone through many ups and downs in my life, many frustrations, many disappointments, seen many dreams come crashing down.........
Many good things too have happened, and looking back at my life,  I feel the downs were nothing compared to the good things that happened in my life.
I am grateful for everything, that seemed to be bad in my life, for I would not have become the person that I am now without the so called 'downs' in my life. Looking back, I can see how things had happened the way they had, and I have no regrets, for there were some reasons for things to happen the way they did. In fact, I could have handled them better if  only I had the maturity required at that time.
However,  the only way to achieve some maturity, is learn from our mistakes, yet make more mistakes, and then come around to understand how to deal with such situations. We are always learning something new every moment of our lives.
I remember getting very  irritated with my kids, during their growing years, for it was also my own growing years. With absolutely no training in parenting, life was difficult for all of us.
Again, I am really thankful, that my bad parenting skills did not turn them into bad children.

There are many things to be thankful in my life. 
Like, I am happy I was born to my parents, and despite the dis-functional family I belonged to, I have learnt from them and survived.
I have a very tolerant husband, and I am grateful, that despite my occasional nagging he has the patience to put up with me.

I find myself being more understanding of people who have a totally different view about certain things- my views and their views don't match at all.
I am grateful my children have chalked out their life in the way they wanted to, despite having a perpetually nagging, and worrying mother.

I am grateful for having Loki, our daughter's dog, with us, despite my initial hesitation.I am grateful we have two lovable dogs who are so loving- their unconditional love is so over powering, making me feel so bad that initially I did not like the idea of having two dogs in our house.

From 2005 I have been blogging, and blogging has given me so many friends, and some of them have become so close, that they always make it a point to come and stay with me, even if it is only for a day.
                      This is with Sandhya who is also a blogger and lives in Chennai

Just now I had a call from one of my blogger friend from Atlanta, her name is Anpu.
Anpu, Padmaja, Sandhya, Shanthi,  Rohini, Mytri, Sharon, Patricia, Joseph..... oh, so many of them- such good friends. I am really blessed to have them as my friends. Plus I have made so many friends through the Cloud Formation Society site, from the Light Stalking site. We have shared so much through our photographs in these virtual sites. I think I have managed to have so many friends because I have become more open to friendship.

 I have lived in very small houses/ flats, and also some good decent houses and flats, but I never thought I would be living in such a beautiful house as ours, which we had built with so much love and dedication. Every time I look around me, the beautiful garden, the lovely dogs, I can only say, "Thank you God"

This year,  I had the opportunity to visit 5 European countries too, and it was so good.

By hook or crook, I seem to have done well for myself, survived all the trials and tribulations, enjoyed all the good things, learnt a lot, made a whole lot of good friends, and intend to be more patient, more loving, and more caring as time goes by.

A Very Happy Birthday To Me!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Caged Birds

“Caged Bird

A free bird leaps on the back of the wind

and floats downstream till the current ends

and dips his wing in the orange suns rays and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage

can seldom see through his bars of rage

his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill

of things unknown but longed for still

and his tune is heard on the distant hill

for the caged bird sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze

and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees

and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams

his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream

his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill

of things unknown but longed for still

and his tune is heard on the distant hill

for the caged bird sings of freedom.”

Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Do You Love Me Because I’m Beautiful Or Am I Beautiful Because You Love Me

One Day Man Asks GOD What’s The Difference Between Your Love & My Love! God Smiled & Replied a Bird In Sky Is My Love & a Bird In Cage Is YOUR Love

I really feel it is cruel to keep a bird in a cage, where it can hardly move freely. But who am I to judge, for we do have two dogs as pets, and although they are free all the time, sometimes we do have to tie them up.

I won this Bird Cage in a Diwali photo contest in Facebook. Actually, I was thinking of using it to keep lighted Diyas/ Lamps/ Tea light Candles during the festive seasons.

 This is the photo that won me the prize in Facebook:

    My dear friend Joseph had commented that he was somehow reminded of ABBA song Eagle, So I thought why not place the lyrics of the song here: 

They came flying from far away, now I'm under their spell
I love hearing the stories that they tell
They've seen places beyond my land and they've found new horizons
They speak strangely but I understand

And I dream I'm an eagle
And I dream I can spread my wings

Flying high, high, I'm a bird in the sky
I'm an eagle that rides on the breeze
High, high, what a feeling to fly
Over mountains and forests and seas
And to go anywhere that I please

As all good friends we talk all night, and we fly wing to wing
I have questions and they know everything
There's no limit to what I feel, we climb higher and higher
Am I dreaming or is it all real?

Is it true I'm an eagle?
Is it true I can spread my wings?

Flying high, high, I'm a bird in the sky
(I'm an eagle)
I'm an eagle that rides on the breeze
High, high, what a feeling to fly
(What a feeling)
Over mountains and forests and seas
And to go anywhere that I please

And I dream I'm an eagle
And I dream I can spread my wings

Flying high, high, I'm a bird in the sky
(I'm an eagle)
I'm an eagle that rides on the breeze
High, high, what a feeling to fly
(What a feeling)
Over mountains and forests and seas

Flying high, high, I'm a bird in the sky
(I'm an eagle)
I'm an eagle that rides on the breeze
High, high, what a feeling to fly
(What a feeling)
Over mountains and forests and seas
And to go anywhere that I please.

I too love this song very much. Thanks Joseph for mentioning  it.
By the way, as you must have noticed these are ceramic birds, and they are having fun modelling for me!!!

Instead of writing about my travels, today I have written on a different topic for a change.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Budapest, Hungary

Hungary is a country at the heart of Europe, but it is certainly different too in so many ways!

While not large in terms of population (it has only 10 million inhabitants) Hungary has a wealth of culture and history, complemented by a language so completely different from its neighbours that almost no shared words exist! It can be said this is a land of great contrasts.

Hungary is landlocked like its neighbours Austria, Slovakia and Serbia though it still deserves the nickname "land of waters", as it holds the largest lake in Europe (Lake Balaton) and is crossed by mighty rivers which divide and define its regions. Even its capital city is split by the Danube River, with Buda on the Western side and Pest on the Eastern bank. As well as water to cool off in, Hungary can be the perfect place to keep warm, as it is located over a very active geo-thermic area and has over a thousand thermal water springs and the second largest thermal Lake in the world for bathing (Lake Hévíz). "Taking the waters" for relaxation or as clinical treatments, is an important part of the Hungarian culture.

Hungarians today are direct descendants of the Magyars that arrived here, by way of Russia, in the ninth century. Hailing originally from the Central Asian steppe, these Magyars brought with them a fiendishly difficult language that has few links to any other, except a very distant relationship to Finnish. Along with the language came a unique culture, which, despite invasion by Mongols in the 13th century, occupation by Turks in the 16th and 17th centuries, Austrian Hapsburg rule in the 18th and 19th centuries, and Communist domination following World War II, has survived more or less intact.

Most Hungarians display a quiet but stoic pride for their nation and cling determinedly to a culture that remains undiminished despite centuries of foreign domination. Such pride is not without foundation: the country is home to some outstanding historic towns and cities, numerous elegant castles, palaces and churches, as well as some attractive – albeit mostly flat – countryside. This bucolic rural landscape is also home to many highly regarded wine growing regions such as those at Tokaj. There are more than 150 thermal spas – some of which date back to Roman times – and elegant bathhouses in some urban areas, most notably in the capital, Budapest.

The Heroes' Square

The Heroes’ square is one of the most visited sights of the Hungarian capital, i is situated in front of the City park, at the end of the Andrássy Avenue, one of the most important streets of Budapest, a World Heritage site. 

The millennial monument was built in 1896 to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the arrival of Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin. The monument consists of two semi- circles on top of which the symbols of War and Peace, Work and Welfare, Knowledge and Glory can be seen.  The niches are decorated by the statues of kings, governors and famous characters of the Hungarian history. At the foot of each statue a small relief depicts the important moment of the life of the personality.

                                     Women selling beautiful hand knitted sweaters

In the middle of Heroes' square  stands a 36 meters high Corinthian column with the statue of Archangel Gabriel on the top, the symbol of the Roman Catholic religion. At the pedestal the equestrian statues commemorate Arpad and the seven chieftains of the Hungarian tribes, who settled their people in the present territory of Hungary. His descendants formed the Hungarian Royal Dynasty.
The biggest gallery of Budapest and Hungary (1895). Temporary exhibitions of contemporary Hungarian and international arts, design, photography, and new artistic trends.

A walk along the Danube Promenade, stretching between Elizabeth Bridge and the Chain Bridge in Pest, provides a beautiful view of the Buda side. The Promenade dates back to the Millennium celebrations in 1896, and is  lined up with trees and benches and lovely colorful flowers in rows and rows of pots. You can see so many 5- star hotels/ restaurants standing  majestically along the walkway.
One can even take a tram (no.2)and enjoy the view of river Danube and the important buildings on its banks, it is cheap and fun.

This is doll we bought here.
These dolls are made of Bisque Porcelain
The handmade dolls and various other handicrafts sold here are simply irresistible. 
Hungary is also famous for its Chillies, they have mild, medium and hot, but don't let the redness fool you to think they are hot, for compared to our Indian chillies even their 'Hot' is no where as hot as our Guntur chillies.  We just had a piece of Pizza with with what they claimed to be the hottest chilli sauce, (it was not hot at all). You have various  roadside food stalls and you can have a variety of drinks here. We tried the Spanish Sangria, which was okay not so great. 
And when you are in Budapest don't miss the New York Cafe, which is famous for its special coffee and chocolates. There may be hundreds of reasons, people might recommend visiting Budapest, but according to me there is just one  reason you should make it a point to visit Budapest is because it is the most romantic city in world. I had to take this weird picture: it is the reflection of a building  on the opposite side. The building looks all broken up and joined together, but it is not.

Hope  you enjoyed the second part of our visit to Budapest.