Do You Like Phone Calls?

I realized something last night…

…phone calls give me anxiety. Is that normal? Am I the only one? 

I used to be that girl, who could spend hours on the phone with a friend. There was a day when my mother unplugged the phone on me, because even after she told me a million times to wind down the convo, I was going strong 4 hours in. I used to think, talking on the phone was the coolest thing you could do at the time. Every time the telephone rang in in my house, my sisters and I used race to it because we all wanted to be the first to pick. I also loved all the secondary activity that came naturally with a phone call; playing with the curly cord, drawing or writing on the phone book, applying nail polish and so many more.

But nowadays, it’s a whole different story. If I am not expecting any calls, and I receive one from family or friends, I immediately think something bad has happened or I am in trouble. It makes my heart race a million miles and you can hear the nervousness in my voice. Most of the time, they just called to say hi!

I prefer text messages even when a friend wants to call me, I’d rather they text me first. No doubt, they have made lives easier, but I think they also lack intimacy. Emotions are not expressed properly over a text. There are times, when the news is so exciting that a happy scream with a friend is must, and those times, I dislike text messages. I just type as fast as I can, whispering my scream, which leads to aching fingers and a dry throat. A call is more celebratory.

Text messages have also made us into people who overpromise and underdeliver.

According to The New York Times, we now live in the “golden age of bailing”. I am guilty of bailing too. If I am feeling lazy to hangout, I just send a quick text, “sorry”, followed by an excuse. I admit, at times I do it because it is so convenient to just send a text and cancel. I wonder if I would still be bailing if I had to make a phone call to cancel. I think not, because if I am making up an excuse, it gets harder to keep up with it over the phone. One question can lead to many others, and unless you’re a badass that would just abruptly put the phone down, you’re stuck. It’s easier to pretend you are too busy to text back.

I will still text on a regular basis but I have given myself two occasions where a phone call is must.

First, I must call if I am baling. It not only makes me want to bail less, but if I have an honest reason, it comes across much better over a phone call, and has a higher chance of leading to setting another date.

Second, a big news occasion deserves a phone call. I wouldn’t want to spend such a day replying to text messages. Ask me about the lead up to it and we shall scream and laugh together! With how rare phone calls have become, it makes the day even more special.

Like The New York Times states, “reliability is a core element of treating people well, that how you spend your time is how you spend your life, and that if you don’t flake on people who mater you have  a chance to build deeper and better friendships and live in a better and more respectful way.”

Photo: “Martian Woman on the Telephone” by Weegee.

What Makes Your Hair Shine?

A few months ago, my hair took a turn for the worse. All of sudden, it became so dry and brittle at the ends. Then when the NYC summer himidity kicked in, it got worse. I cut off a couple of inches from my hair thinking it would help. It did, for few days, and then, it was back to dry. After much trial and money spent, I discovered a product that has given me hair as soft as a baby’s!

Turns out, conditioner is a crucial step in hair washing which was missing in my routine. I had used conditioner once in my life, and totally dismissed it. It made my already flat and thin hair, somehow, more flat.

I did some sleuthing, and discovered Leonor Greyl Masque Fluers de Jasmin. I kept reading how this masque is very different from your regular conditioner. Regular conditioners have silicon in them, which means the silicone just coat your hair strands, and make them soft temporarily. But this one, made from natural ingredients, actually nourish your hair from within. Reviewers have rated this highly, saying, “A saviour for my super-fine damaged hair” and “I’m addicted”. I decided to buy the travel size.

It is a deep conditioning masque for dry hair. I use about a teaspoon of it, twice a week, on damp hair and leave it on to wash at the end with cold water. I saw a difference within one use. My hair was soft, shiny and not flat! I let my hair to air dry, and my natural curly hair had more defined bouncy curls. I couldn’t believe how one product changed my hair so much. I wish I had known about this before chopping inches off my hair.

What is your must-have hair product?

Photo of Googoosh. 

Total Solar Eclipse

Are you going to watch the total solar eclipse? It happens today between 1:30 pm and 4:00 pm. The main event, where you will be able to witness the moon blocking the sun, is around 2:44 pm in New York City. The last time a solar eclipse was visible in the U.S, was back in 1918! So it is kind of a big deal. Check your local time if you’re interested in watching it, and don’t forgot to protect your eyes with either the eclipse glasses or other alternatives such as x-ray film and colour film negatives. You can also watch it live online here.

Photo via Getty Images.

Everyday Cotton Underwear

Let’s talk about one of the most important clothing item, underwear. An uncomfortable underwear can make your whole day awkward, don’t you agree? Think about it; you will walk weird, won’t be able to sit still, and the non stop itching.

Finding an underwear that is soft, breathable and doesn’t feel like you’re wearing one is surprisingly easy. The trick is to wear a simple 100% cotton underwear without those pesky lace on the seams. Cotton underwear are great to have; they are soft on the skin, light, facilitates evaporation and, most importantly, extremely comfortable. Since the start of the year, I have gradually replaced all my non cotton underwear with soft cotton ones, and here are some of my favorites…

Briefs : Oddo Body, Hanro and Petite Bateau.

Thongs: Skin and Hanky Panky.

Photo via here.

Home Design TV Show

Have you heard of the recently added TV show on Netflix called ‘Grand Designs’?

It’s a British TV show that some people are calling the best home design TV show in the world, and I would agree! In fact the show is so popular that it has numerous spinoffs such Grand Design Australia and Grand Designs New Zealand. Hosted by Kevin McCloud, a former theatre designer, the show recently concluded its 17th season.

The show offers a realistic, often brutal, look at how couples put in time, money and effort into building or renovating their house. Each episode is an hour long showing the entire process of building an ambitious home from start to finish - no matter the duration. The host will visit as often as he can during the process and is never shy to give his critique. What makes the show very interesting is the honest interviews with the couples going through the process. Their stories, including disagreements and monetary issues are shared in the most honest way possible. And if the home is completed, you feel a sense of relief and happiness for the couple for building, almost every time, a very stunning house. You might already be aware of my obsession with home design and architecture, and this show is a brilliant mix of the two. I would highly recommend you give it a watch.

Photo of a house featured on the show. 

Fried Zucchini Blossoms

Fried zucchini blossoms are one of the most delicious things you can eat! They are crisp and delicate, and makes for a perfect appetizer or a mid afternoon snack. The recipe is so simple; blossoms are dipped in a batter and deep fried. The batter usually is a basic one with all purpose flour, salt and water but I swapped all purpose flour for gram flour which has a slight nutty flavor, also perfect for gluten free eaters. The nuttiness turned out to be a great match for the blossoms. Here’s how I made it;

P.S. You can find zucchini blossoms at farmers market.

Recipe: Fried zucchini blossoms

Ingredients

8 - 12 Zucchini blossoms
1 cup of gram flour
½ teaspoon of turmeric
½ teaspoon Sea Salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground Black pepper
Seltzer water
Sunflower seed oil for deep frying

Method

Heat frying oil to about 350F. Combine gram flour, turmeric, salt and pepper then whisk in seltzer water to form an almost smooth batter. Small lumps are fine. The batter should be just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

One by one, coat the blossoms in batter, and gently lay them in oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan. Cook flipping once, until golden brown. It takes about 3 - 5 minutes total. Once cooked, transfer to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve hot.

The Best Butter I’ve Spread on My Toast


I have butter with toast only once in a while, and whenever I do it feels like such a treat. Recently though, I came across a butter that for the first time, in the longest time, makes my butter with toast truly a treat. Allow me to tell you about my new discovery called Rodolphe Le Meunier Beurre de Baratte. A french butter that is ridiculously tasty. This is the best butter I’ve eaten in the U.S.

It is expensive compared to other brands but once you try this, it will make the others seem insipid. The butter is made using traditional methods and techniques in Normandy, France by the Le Meunier family who have been in this business for 3 generations. It is generously salted with fleur de sel, has a deep golden colour and tastes so delicious that some people say it’s flavored like cheese. Spread this creamy butter on your homemade or bakery made sourdough and it’s instantly transformed to, dare I say, something out of a fine dining kitchen.

Photo taken on my iPhone.

Friday Links

A movie recommendation for this week is Hell or High Water.

I love the crisp architecture of this 
home.

This 
tee is so chic.

The use of algorithms on social media nowadays is disliked by everyone, and this 
article on the topic is very thoughtful.

This
 melts my heart.

Food tutorial videos
 if they were directed by famous directors. I especially love the Wes Anderson inspired one.

These 
church signs made me laugh.

I had never heard of the phrase “parenting is a hard job” before moving here. Not everything has to be “
work

These 
cement pearl earrings are beautiful.

Photo taken on my iPhone.

Let’s Talk About Cooking Oils

When I started to cook, I used to wonder how many cooking oils I should have in my pantry on a regular basis. I also wanted to know the best use of each cooking oil. Cooking oils can be a bit tricky because if their flavor is too strong in a dish where it’s not required to be, it can mess up the taste. Or a dish might need the nuttiness of an oil but because the wrong oil was used, the dish lacks flavor. There are ways to avoid that such as following a recipe exactly or by experimenting with cooking oils like I did.

I experimented with different cooking oils for about a year, and narrowed down my list to 5 I use most often. I figured this out by how many times I had to restock each oil. These oils and their best use are explained below.

Ghee : If asked to pick just one oil, being from South Asia, I would pick ghee. I think it
s the most versatile, and can be used in any dish from any part of the world. It can also be used for deep frying and baking because of its high smoke point. Ghee is also a very healthy fat and  suitable for vegans. Although I use ghee in almost every dish, it is most suitable for South Asian dishes, pan frying a protein and grilling. This is a must have in every kitchen. It is important to pick a good quality ghee. The trick to knowing one from the other is by looking at the texture of the ghee. It has to be smooth and thick like a lush face cream. My favorite ghee brands are this and this.

Olive oil : The only draw back to ghee is you can’t drizzle it on anything like olive oil. Olive oil is always present in my kitchen. I use it just as much as I use ghee, and sometimes I mix the two together. Mixed together, they make the most glorious base for any dish. It is also important to pick a good quality olive oil. There are a number of ways you can test an olive oil for quality but the easiest way is to just buy from a reputed shop. My favorite place for olive oil is this.

Sesame seed oil : This is another great option to have in your kitchen especially if you love to cook food from basically all over Asia. It has a distinctive nutty aroma and taste making it great in marinates, salad dressing and when used as a flavor enhancer. The best type of sesame seed oil is the unrefined cold pressed one.

Sunflower seed oil : This is my go-to oil for deep frying. Anything deep fried is already very delicious but when fried in this, it give it that extra nutty deliciousness. My favorite brand is this.

Red palm oil : Palm oil gets a lot of negative press nowadays but what is important to know is that not all of them are bad. Sustainably grown unrefined unprocessed one is not only great but also has many health benefits. To make sure the oil I buy is sustainably grown, I exclusively buy West African red palm oil. Palm oil is great for making slow cooked dishes such as stews because it gives the dish rich colour and taste. The longer you cook food with palm oil in it, the more delicious and aromatic it becomes. For example, if you’re making beef stew, you would want the colour to be a deep red and palm oil is perfect for that. Generally, the best place to buy it is from your local African shop. 


Photo via here