Bharat Babies | Padmini is Powerful

Bharat Babies | Padmini is PowerfulOne of the reasons I love this blog is that I get to meet so many fellow bloggers, momtrepreneurs and liked minded women. Such was the case when I crossed paths with Bharat Babies founder, Sailaja Joshi. Sailaja is a consumer anthropologist and gender sociologist turned entrepreneur. With degrees from Northeastern University, Simmons College and Harvard University she’s used her collective academic wits if you will to help address and fulfill a need she saw first hand as mom to two. She lives just outside of Harvard campus with her husband and two little ones, who constantly help support her in her Bharat Babies work.

I chatted with Sailaja one evening after our little ones had gone to bed and it was like catching up with an old friend. I love her enthusiasm for growing a community, her passion to connect our children to culture through books and her willingness to keep creating.

Bharat Babies | Padmini is PowerfulIn the Spring of 2013, Sailaja Joshi was on a mission to complete her baby registry in preparation for the arrival of her first child. Inline with her “library” themed baby shower, Sailaja went on the hunt to find books about Indian culture that she could share with her newborn daughter. Of the few books that spoke to her Indian heritage, Sailaja realized that none of these books took into account the developmental needs of her growing child. Recognizing this gap in children’s literature, the idea for Bharat Babies was born. The mission of Bharat Babies is simple: design and produce developmentally appropriate books that tell children’s stories about India’s Heritage. Appropriate for infants through elementary school.

Sailaja offered to send me a few Bharat Babies books including a level one book, Padmini is Powerful, perfect for Little Mirchi.

Bharat Babies | Padmini is PowerfulMy first thought was how perfect the book was aesthetically for toddlers, a small colorful board book that can be easily handled and even taken along for car rides, road trips or longer plane journeys. Padmini herself, is simply adorable. Her quirky, nerdy personality is heart warming and brings a realness to her. The book is a fun, easily relatable journey where Hindu gods and their characteristics are introduced. As someone who is trying to raise a culturally and religiously aware child, I love having having a book like this to show and talk through with my little one. It helps relate my daughter to our daily prayers and instill what we can learn from different deities. It’s a great starting point to get children curious and excited about culture and religion.  My favorite part of the book is the end where we are reminded we are just as powerful. The little mirror at the end is empowering and Little Mirchi absolutely loved it!

Bharat Babies is offering our Love Laugh Mirch readers $5 off a purchase of 19.95 or more starting today through August 21st.

Use code LLM5 at checkout!

Bharat Babies | Padmini is Powerful
The sweetness and powerful message behind this simple book prompted me to do a small Q&A with Sailaja about Padmini and the inspiration behind this book.

What or Who was the inspiration behind Padmini?

Amy, our author of Padmini is Powerful often says that Padmini is her spirit animal. Much like her, she’s rough, tumbles and has lots of strength. When I met Padmini in our manuscript, I realized that she was the girl I wish I had seen in my books as a little girl. She’s someone who isn’t perfect and that’s what makes her such an amazing character.

What have people’s reactions been towards Padmini?

Padmini has become a fantastic addition to our Bharat Babies collection. People, don’t just love it, but they truly feel the need to hear “You are powerful.” This past April, we were in LA for the LA Times Festival of Books. The event was a tough one for me as it was the first time I had been away from my children for so long, the first time I had been on the West Coast for Bharat Babies, and the first time we were at such a huge event. And really, the event was a financial failure. The first day of the festival it rained so, so hard to see failure happening. And then, this young Latina mom came up to our booth. She was so sweet and she picked up Padmini is Powerful to read. As she flipped through the pages, she got to the very end, to the mirror where it says “Padmini is Powerful and so are you!” It was here, that her eyes started to fill with tears. I got nervous, that something had happened, but she then quietly told me, “No one ever tells me that I’m powerful. No one tells my sons this.” This book is much more than simply a Hindu God primer, it is a text that allows children (and parents) to see themselves as powerful. It places them as the hero of the story and that is something you don’t see everyday.

Bharat Babies | Padmini is Powerful

Bharat Babies | Padmini is Powerful

Will Padmini be featured in any future books?

Ooooh! Spoilers 🙂 Yes! In fact Padmini is coming back with her friend Harini in our upcoming book Harini and Padmini Say Namaste. Newsletter subscribers will be able to pre-order the book in the upcoming weeks. As a small startup, we rely on our community members to support our pre-order campaigns so we can get the funds necessary to do our print runs! Readers can sign up here and to find out the latest on BB happenings!

Will Bharat Babies be coming out with more board books similar to PIP, geared towards younger toddlers?

Yes! We’ve heard from our community and the response is YES! YES! We know you want more board books and we want to make them! We have a couple of ideas up our sleeve, but if you want to see more, make sure you support us! As a small business, its always a chicken and egg game for us. To make books, we need lots of money. But we have to sell books first to get said money! It’s a challenge for sure, and we’re hoping to change that in the next couple of months, but until then, make sure you support us!

Bharat Babies | Padmini is PowerfulYou can purchase Padmini is Powerful and the entire collection of Bharat Babies books at BharatBabies.com

Remember to use LLM5 for $5 off a purchase of 19.95 now through August 21st.

Happy Reading!

All images courtesy Taylor Carment Photography

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10 Reasons to Visit Grandparents

10 Reasons to Visit Grandparents, views from a grandchild and parent.

10 Reasons to Visit GrandparentsCurrently we’re in Florida enjoying summer holidays at my parent’s house. It’s a tradition we started when Little Mirchi was just three months old. An extended vacation at my parents, where they get time with her and I get time with them!

Growing up my parents filled our annual summer holidays with trips to Bombay and London, they never wanted us to feel the void of being far from grandparents. I’m so grateful for their efforts, I cooked with my grandmothers, formed close bonds with my cousins and enjoyed the benefits of both sides of my family. My husband often reminisces about his summers as a child on his Nana’s khet (Grandfather’s farm) and the fun he had with cousins. As we both had childhoods filled with grandparents we knew it’s what we wanted for Little Mirchi as well. So every year we make our best efforts to make sure she gets time with both sets of grandparents, after all there’s no love like the love of a grandparent. As a grandchild I savored the days spent with my grandparents. Now as a mother I have a different view, one as a grandchild and one as a parent, and let me tell you, visits to grandparents are equally important from both set of eyes.

10 Reasons to Visit Grandparents

From the eyes of a grandchild:

1. No rules, no schedules
Nani ka ghar (Grandmothers house) means no strict schedules and no strict rules. They did the parenting thing years ago and are now in it for the fun.

2. Getting babied no matter your age
Getting fed by their hands, bedtime stories, cuddles in bed, no matter your age, you’ll always be a baby in the eyes of your grandparents.

3. Tel Malesh
Long day of doing nothing? Oh you poor thing, let’s make it even better by Nani’s warm tel malesh (oil head massage). Grandmothers hands have the magic to put us to sleep with a gentle stroke on the head.

4. Embarrassing stories about your parents
Who else knows your parents like your grandparents? No one. Grandparents will tell you embarrassing stories about your parents, so you have ammunition for the next time they tell you how they walked to school in the rain/snow/heat.

5. Time
Grandparents were busy working/being parents when your parents were young. Now they finally have more relaxed schedules which means more time for you. This means more home cooked foods, more stories and more time spent with your head in Nani’s lap hearing stories about family history.
10 Reasons to Visit Grandparents

nani ke nuskhe

From the eyes of a parent:

6. There is no vacation like a vacation at Moms
Give the kids to your parents, go for a spa day, no mess to come back to, no dinner to cook. It’s the one true vacation that us Moms get, a visit to our own moms house.

7. Nani ke nuskhe
Nazar utaro, remove that evil eye. Haldi Dhood/Turmeric Milk and all the other home remedies your Mom/Mother in law have up their sleeve will be revealed. Save them for later and thank heavens for generations of knowledge.

8. Instilling culture/religion effortlessly
Grandchildren are amazed by the beauty of grandparents day to day lives. They will sit with them in evening Puja (prayers), listen to fables and try on all their jewelry while dancing to the latest Bollywood number, keeping your parents young at heart. For us parents, it’s a sense of pride and relief.

9. They make the best caretakers
Who else can you trust better to take care of your kids then your own parents. Need a girls night out? A date night? Request the help of your parents, your kids won’t even notice you’re gone.

10. They will make your kids do things you can’t
Eating vegetables? Fighting a fear? Letting go of the bottle? Potty training? Grandparents have a magic way of getting grandchildren to try new things and helping with parenting hurdles.

Whatever the reason may be, time with Grandparents is precious. Savor the moments and make memories every chance you get!

10 Reasons to Visit Grandparents

Lychee Rose Mojito

This lychee rose mojito is sweet, refreshing and ready in under 10 minutes. It’s the perfect drink to serve at a party, picnic or enjoy on a warm Summer evening.

Lychee Rose Mojito

In my books, mojitos are the ultimate summer cocktail: mint, lime juice with a bit of fizz – it doesn’t get any better than that. Oh but it can. With summer comes the season of one of my favorite fruits, lychees. When I was younger I would eagerly wait for our summer trips to the market where we would pick out the reddest, ripest lychees. Fast forward to a few years ago, my husband and I lived near a Thai restaurant that made the ultimate lychee mojitos. I was a fan from first sip, they were perfectly sweet with plenty of lychee muddled with the mint. It quickly became one of our go to dinner and drink spots.

Lychee Rose Mojito

Lychee Rose Mojito

This Lychee Rose Mojito is a twist to this classic cocktail that takes the refreshing flavor of citrus and mint and fuses it with the sweetness of rose and lychees; delivering a sultry and beautiful  summertime spirit. As I’m a big fan of mocktails, I’m providing two versions, one with rum and one without. The first time I made this recipe at home, I made is sans the rum and I can assure you it tasted just as good.

Lychee Rose Mojito

Lychee Rose Mojito

Traditional Mojitos are easy to make. Muddle your lime and mint. Add in rum, simple syrup, and sparkling water. Pour over ice. For the Lychee Rose Mojito I decided to skip the simple syrup as I added lychee juice. You can adjust the sweetness to your liking.

Lychee Rose Mojito

Lychee Rose Mojito

This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to accommodate a party or picnic.

Lychee Rose Mojito

Lychee Rose Mojito
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Lychee Rose Mojito made with fresh limes, mint leaves, lychees and rose water. A refreshing drink for a hot summer night!
Author:
Recipe type: Drinks
Cuisine: International
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 4 ounces lychee juice
  • 20 sprigs fresh mint
  • 1 lime, cut in small wedges
  • 2 ounces sparkling water
  • ½ ounce rose water
  • crushed ice
  • 2 ounces white rum (optional)
Method
  1. In a small pitcher or large glass add mint, lime and lychees. Muddle together for about a minute until all of the juice is squeezed out of the lime and the oils have released from the mint.
  2. Add lychee juice and rose water.
  3. If adding rum, add now and mix.
  4. Fill each glass with ice.
  5. Pour half of the mojito mixture into each glass.
  6. Top with sparkling water and garnish with fresh mint.
Notes
If you don't have lychee juice you could substitute three ounces simple syrup, this will result in a more subtle lychee flavor.
 Lychee Rose Mojito
Lychee Rose Mojito
Enjoy

The Obliteration of Indian Food

The obliteration of Indian Food. Where do I begin? The title sounds quite dramatic right? What can I do, I was thoroughly irritated when I penned this. You see, recently I’ve noticed a trend, something gets anglicized, it becomes a sudden trend. Exposing other cultures to the world, great. The problem is somewhere along the lines while becoming trendy, hip and widely accepted the item losses it’s authenticity.

Love Laugh Mirch_Cooking_3

Let’s take food for an example, Indian Food to be precise. Belonging to the blogging community, I often find myself researching the hottest food trends. I was so perplexed when I saw a familiar yellow drink I grew up drinking labeled as “Golden Milk“, claiming all the benefits of the traditional medicinal drink. Golden Milk? Really? If you’re wondering about the drink bloggers and health fanatics seem to be raving about, it’s  Haldi Dhood (Turmeric Milk), you know the first thing your Nani or Dadi (grandmother) prescribed you when you were down with a cold. The problem isn’t with the world knowing our Ayurvedic secret ;). The problem is the extremes of recipes I see, mix agave, serve it on ice, add vanilla essence. There is a reason behind each spice in Indian cooking and Ayurvedic science. Turmeric is added as an antibiotic, a cleanser, honey to sooth the throat, black pepper for its warming properties and it’s all added to hot milk, where all the ingredients come together to warm and soothe the body.

Love Laugh Mirch_Cooking_1Then there’s this. Whatever it is, it’s not Biryani. They could have easily called this an Indian inspired Chicken bake but by calling it Biryani is an insult to Biryani. There are times I understand the need to translate a name, perhaps Kadoo ki saabzi doesn’t sound so appetizing at “curried pumpkin”. When I first started sharing my recipes I was lost on how to name my recipes without losing its authenticity. In the end I decided to call a spade a spade, saabzi is saabzi, translating is fine, but let’s not completely change the essence of a dish and remain calling it the authentic name.

Love Laugh Mirch_Cooking_2Now you’ll probably wonder why things like this get me so riled up. I’m no expert cook nor the sole representative of Indian food. I do however pride myself in trying to preserve authentic Indian homemade food. I’m trying to cook and document my grandmothers and mothers recipes so I don’t lose that homemade taste, my husband gets his childhood cravings satisfied and my daughter knows and appreciates what real, authentic Indian food tastes like.

So the next time you’re out for dinner, cooking with Indian spices or talking to a friend from another culture, familiarize yourself, understand that biryani doesn’t have to be like your grandmothers chicken bake, it can be someone else’s Nani’s Sunday special Biryani, and that’s okay.

Live deliciously friends.

RB Collective | Lackawanna Coffee

Yesterday I shared a favorite new spot in town, Lackawanna Coffee. A sweet little coffee shop that’s tucked in the middle of Downtown Jersey City. For a small shop they’ve used every corner of their space. Each area is decorated appropriately and has its own character that ties in cohesively as one.

RB Collective | Lackawanna Coffee

One of my favorite areas is a tiny breezeway that leads the way to the outdoor patio area. It’s a bare space that’s been tastefully decorated with curated items by Ian and Julius’s (the owners) good friend, Ron Beinner. As luck would have it Ron was sitting in the patio area working when Taylor and I stopped in for a visit this past weekend. Ian and Julius graciously introduced us and I got to ask Ron about the collection while my friend Taylor captured the space beautifully.

RB Collective | Lackawanna CoffeeRB Collective | Lackawanna CoffeeRon finds himself traveling quite a bit for work and has collected these pieces along the way. There are candle holders from Berlin, diaries from Paris and vintage finds from Upstate New York. This is just a small collection of his finds around the world. He will be rotating the pieces and adding more as items sell. My favorite was a vintage elephant cover diary from the 1930’s. You can see more of this space here on Taylor’s page.

RB Collective | Lackawanna CoffeeIf you’re in or around the Jersey City Area, I’d certainly recommend stopping by this quaint coffee shop.

All photographs courtesy TC Photography.

Lackawanna Coffee | Jersey City

A place to unwind, free your thoughts, sip on some caffeine and plan your next move. A hidden gem tucked away in the center of Downtown Jersey City is the best way to describe Lackawanna Coffee, a new coffee shop in town.

Lackawanna Coffee Jersey City

Immediately upon walking in this cozy little coffee shop located on Grove Street I was drawn to the contrast of white washed walls paralleled with black tin finishings. The airy and relaxed vibes reminded me much of the cafes and coffee shops in Brooklyn where many creatives go to think, play and spend their weekends.

Lackawanna Coffee Jersey City
The first thing I noticed was how well they used each corner of their space, fresh flowers, a collection of art pieces in the breezeway and pine finishes give this space an artist clean touch. As I made my way through the breezeway I was left speechless, the patio area of Lackawanna Coffee is a secret garden for city dwellers! It has the original ivy covering its neighboring buildings, beautiful rose bushes surrounding the courtyard and a vintage rocking horse that leaves you feeling whimsical.

Lackawanna Coffee Jersey CityThe plan was just to go enjoy a coffee with my friend Taylor and take advantage of a great photo backdrop, but after noticing how much detail went into creating the serene space I wanted to know more. I immediately went back to the barista from whom I had ordered my black iced tea with fresh simple syrup (excellent by the way) and asked if I could speak to the owners, Ian and Julius. To my luck both of them were there and graciously offered to share their inspiration and journey.

Lackawanna Coffee Jersey City
Ian: So you mentioned you felt like you were walking into a Brooklyn spot? Our birth was actually in Brooklyn, we opened a pop up shop concept, our laboratory of sorts. Once we finalized this spot in Jersey City, we phased that space out.

Me: It has that feel, you kept some of the city, brought some of Brooklyn and kept that low key vibe. And I absolutely love these lights, they are just so natural and romantic.

Julius: Our architect actually suggested ground LED lights but we wanted something more intimate and free flowing. These lights give this space that feel.

Ian: We were mindful in wanting the space to look natural and not made up. For example that breezeway space before you come out here (outside) we kept the rough form and put up some simple benches and shelves. The curation is actually being done by Ronald Beginner, a Senior Photography Producer. (See here for more about this curated space)

Me: What about the history behind the name? Why Lackawanna?

Ian: So we wanted to pay homage to Native Americans without the corporate style of dream catchers and feathers. We’re not natives but wanted to acknowledge that this space was theirs, they were here, they are here. This area in particular, parts of Manhatten included was a part of The Lenape. It wasn’t theirs as they never had ownership of land, they believed the land owned them, not the other way around. We wanted to give that feeling.

Taylor: Does the name have any relation to the Lackawanna train station in Hoboken?

Ian: So in the Lenape language Lackawanna translates to the point where a body of water splits or forks, it’s the junction point. So that area was where the river split. Lackawanna literally means junction point. So we like to think  of this as a place where customers can come and think, unwind, and free their thoughts when they are at a junction point in their lives. This is your space to come and figure out where you want to go.

Me: I love that, it’s such a beautiful and positive space. I’m so excited to have a shop like this in our neighborhood. Thank you so much for your time and for bringing this space to us.

Lackawanna Coffee Jersey CityThis post was not sponsored, I was just absolutely thrilled to have such a wonderful, calming and family friendly space in town!

Lackawanna Coffee Jersey CityLackawanna Coffee Jersey City
Tomorrow I’ll be sharing the inspiration and curator behind the breezeway in Lackawanna Coffee.

All photographs courtesy TC Photography.

Friday Favorites: Sanskriti Box

Recently Sanskriti Box contacted me about an opportunity to share and review their service. Sanskriti Box is a monthly subscription box that’s filled with hand picked children’s books, stories and activities that will immerse children into Indian culture. They strive to choose engaging books with exciting illustrations, moral lessons or traditional folk tales and base the theme around an animal or holiday.

Friday Favorites: Sanskriti Box
While there aren’t different boxes for varying age ranges, you will find a variety of activities and books that will suit a wide age group. Another great feature is if you a few children at home, Sanskriti Box will fill the box with that amount of crafts, so there’s no need to order extra boxes, every child gets a craft. Let’s dive right in to see what was in the box and how you can get your little ones subscribed.

Friday Favorites: Sanskriti BoxFriday Favorites: Sanskriti Box

The Review:

The beautiful crimson box arrived packed with the crafts carefully packaged. Little Mirchi was excited to open it right away. The first thing to strike her eye was the book “Ganesh and the Little Mouse” a sweet tale about Ganesh, friendships and being proud of who you are. She then went through the items one by one.

Friday Favorites: Sanskriti Box

Here’s what was in our May Box:

Books:
Ganesh and the Little Mouse
In the Indian Night Sky

Crafts:
Wood Family Craft Kit
Paint, Glue, Scissors (this is only sent once)

Snacks:
Parle-G Cookies

Other:
Sanskriti Flash Cards
Family Tree Charm
Jade & Lily beauty samples

Friday Favorites: Sanskriti BoxFriday Favorites: Sanskriti Box

Little Mirchi was excited about the wooden family and as soon as her Papa arrived home from work she sat him down to paint. There were directions in the box guiding how to decorate the wooden figures however we let her free play as she was more interested in making sure Papa had a red shirt and Mumma had a blue dress. The book “In the Indian Night Sky” was a bit advanced for her so she wasn’t as interested in it, I’ll save it for her and I’m sure she will understand it more once she’s older. Out of all eight items that were sent she was interested and interacted with four items: Ganesh and the Little Mouse, Wood Family Craft, Parle-G cookies (but of course!) and the paints. All in all it was a good concept and I enjoyed seeing the wonder in Little Mirchi’s eyes as she discovered each item.

Friday Favorites: Sanskriti Box

As most of you know I love adding cultural books to Little Mirchi’s library collection and this box makes it easy. If you’re looking for a monthly surprise for your child each month that makes culture and leaning enjoyable, this would be a great box to subscribe to. Love Laugh Mirch readers get 20% off using the code “MIRCH” at checkout.

Sanskriti Box sent me this box free of charge to review, as always all opinions are my own.