Saturday, February 28, 2015

NaBloPoMo: Make...Another Friend Online!


Today there is no NaBloPoMo prompt as it is a weekend though on the theme of the word "make" I would presume. It is also the last day of NaBloPoMo challenge for this month. Woohoo! I survived!!

I say that because it's not only a matter of writing and posting, but also of reading and commenting on other bloggers' posts, preferably those part of the challenge. And I am already actively involved in one blogging community, another I let go in part due to time commitments.

Having just met with blogger and author Carol Graham for the second time this past weekend after having read her book Battered Hope, I followed with another blogger's book. And I did this in between the schedule of my full-time work and the busyness of my life, primarily while travelling to and from work. And thus the fate for today's post came to be.

Usha Menon's book

This particular blogger I met online and then indirectly in person. I will explain that below.

I just finished reading this blogger's book where I got to come to know and understand more of this remarkable woman. She is, I believe, one of the first bloggers I met online in a blogging community I am involved with (as mentioned above). I met her on what is currently known as the Blog-A-Rhythm (BAR) blog site.

This blog site is comprised primarily of Indian bloggers, I would say at least 80% though I think it may be more like 90% or even 95%.

What I immediately admired about this blogger's posts was her ability to write Japanese haiku which is a short three-lined, structured poem. I think she is a natural at it, meaning brilliant! At least I see it that way. Along with the poems, she would feature delightful or interesting photos, some taken by her.

I say that in part as I have attempted to write some haiku in past with extreme difficulty. It is due to the number of words per line along with the last line standing in sharp contrast from the first two.

Additionally, I have read quite a number of her other posts which are mainly non-fiction and primarily related to the topics of education, society, and family - hers of course - in India. These themes also comprise her book which I finished reading today.

Furthermore, she is rather adept at technology blowing me away with her knowledge and skill. I am more like a dinosaur in comparison! ;)

Usha Menon is an avid blogger and part of the BAR (Blog-A-Rhythm) community, though I initially met her by one of this blog's previous names: see photo of Usha in front of her desk with her laptop; photo courtesy of Usha herself.

And how did I meet her indirectly you may wonder? This is a two-fold question:

Most recently Usha actually phoned me long distance, not once but twice. The first time was earlier in the week. She tells me she hung up thinking it was midnight. It was actually only 10 pm my time and not late for her to call me.

I first thought it was a misdialled number - occasionally I get calls from Malaysia and elsewhere - and then I wondered if it might have been Usha; however, she had hung up after one ring possibly two.

The second time she asked if she could phone me and I knew intuitively I couldn't stop her as I knew she wanted to and would sooner or later. She explained to me that she "wanted to hear my voice."

According to Usha, I sounded just like she imagined; however, on my end I heard a voice that belied her age, sounding much younger woman than her almost 80 years! And I loved her laugh too! ;)

We even texted on our mobile phones, the latter for a few minutes at one point about a week prior to that. And before that, we would communicate via social media (Facebook). I had asked her some questions including that of her book. This is what she 'told' me: "I want people to know that I did my best for everyone i knew, whether professionally or in a family."

Isn't that sweet? Isn't she a dear? Though she terms herself 'eccentricgrandmum' on her blog, I find her so endearing that I too think of her as 'Nani' which is my affectionate term for her meaning 'maternal grandmother.' She has that quality, that sense, that feel about her...at least for me! ;)

How would I describe Usha? In no particular order: intelligent, compassionate, kind, polite, sweet, firm but loving (via her book), humorous, delightful! ...

I affectionally nickname her 'grandma' (short for 'grandmother') after she nominated me for a blogging award. And I later read an online communication between us where she informs me that she has "a motherly affection for me." ;)

Elly with Usha's son

Only two weeks ago, I met Usha's son Deepak and also met Rajeev upon her son's visit to Canada. (*According to Deepti, Rajeev's wife, she herself is Usha's grandniece so that makes Rajeev, Usha's .... [fill in the blank as I'm not great at figuring out the family tree!].

Usha had messaged me stating she had "a small gift" for me as a token of her friendship which Deepak had bestowed upon me. (I normally don't speak so formally but that is the word that came to me!)

Upon meeting these two men downstairs in the atrium near my workplace, I was greeted with a relatively large and soft package. I immediately thought "Punjabi suit?! How does she know what size I am?" ;)

After heading back to my office upstairs, I opened the package in shock and surprise to discover not one, not two, not three, but four gifts! That's "small?!" [An aside here to Usha: I knew you had a sense of humour! ;)]

Elly with warm beige shawl over beige warm down coat

The gifts are (1) a beautiful hand-embroidered beige shawl which is almost the same colour - matches - my long beige down coat (2) a necklace made of tiny shells (3) multi-coloured glass earrings and (4) her book that she had written entitled, Reverse gear. (For some reason, I keep thinking it's called Shifting Gears which would have been just as appropriate!)

Elly wearing earrings and necklace (with a pic I took)

I felt extremely humbled and touched by Usha's sweet and kind gesture.

Read more about Usha Menon on and in between the lines of her blog entitled, "Kuch Khatta Kuch Meetha." According to Usha it means as follows: "Khatta means 'sour' and Meetha means 'sweet.' Kuch means a little. And the title means some sour and some sweet."

Namaste nani Usha, my dear sweet blogging friend!

Have you ever connected with someone online not only because of what they had written but because of what you sensed about them?

Friday, February 27, 2015

NaBloPoMo: Make...or Read a Food Blog!


Some of my organic veggies in the fridge

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt is the following, "Tell us about your favourite DIY, craft, or cooking blog?"

I need to keep my posts very brief this week as something important that I need to attend to has come up.

Since I don't really have time for craft or do-it-yourself projects, I will settle on a cooking blog. I have met a few online. Hard not to miss as there are tons out there on cyber space.

Lynn Ward's blog, a blog on recipes and food entitled "New Adventures In Healthy Eating" comes first and foremost in my mind. I haven't read her blog for awhile unfortunately due to various reasons, nothing to do with her and I see she hasn't posted in awhile either unfortunately. (However, after some messaging back and forth, she informs me that she hopes to get back to blogging ... hopefully soon.)

Her blog boasts - okay, I do of her - of mouth-watering, nutritious and delicious organic recipes. Sometimes she shares tidbits of news regarding the food industry that are very important to know.

Do you have a favourite DIY (do-it-yourself), craft, or cooking blog?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

NaBloPoMo: Make...or Buy?


My leather wallet

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt is the following, "What is something you would never attempt to make yourself and would only feel good buying pre-made?"

I need to keep my posts very brief this week as something important came up that I need to attend to.

My immediate answer to this is three-fold: (1) sewing, possibly because of my post two days ago on making clothes (2) furniture and (3) a house!

Now your turn to answer this question: What would you never make but buy instead?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

NaBloPoMo: Make...My Own Recipe?


Clip art image

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt: "Have you ever made up your own recipe? Tell us about it."

Before I do though, just to let you know that I need to keep my posts relatively brief this week; something important that I need to attend to has come up recently.

The quick answer to the question above is that I think I do this all the time; however, I'm not sure it deserves the title of 'recipe.' Let me tell you why.

Have you ever seen the Swedish chef muppet? He speaks Swedish primarily with the odd English word while attempting to cook? Well, I feel like him, some of the time at least.

In the video below, he is making hot sauce of all things! ;)


Muppets - Swedish Chef - Hotsauce by beautifulcynic

You see, I basically throw stuff together like he does, both by his throwing of two large utensils up in the air as well as his use of hot spices and pepper sauce.

How I usually cook is as follows: I first look in the fridge and/or pantry, decide what needs to be eaten based on freshness and expiry date, and then concoct my own recipe. I usually make something familiar as a base for a background such as rice as in stir-fried rice for example.

It's oftentimes no masterpiece, albeit at times I do surprise myself. More often that not though, it tastes good, sometimes just okay. And occasionally I confess, it tastes horrid.

If anyone was to ask for a recipe for my creative dish, I probably couldn't tell you in terms of amounts of things. Thus, not sure if the word "recipe" qualifies here.

Truly, I would rather someone cook for me!

Do you make your own recipes and/or do you follow those in a cookbook?