May 30, 2014

Book Review Fridays- She's Come Undone

Okay, I'll admit I wanted to read the book after seeing the cover.  Luckily, the adage of judging a book on its cover led to a positive discovery because this was indeed a good read. If looks aren't your thing, or you're just not the believing kind, She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb comes recommended in the Oprah Book Club, and is a New York Times Bestseller. 

It's a thought-provoking adventure of a woman's journey to be at peace with herself. She deals with neglect, sexual abuse, obesity, and emotional trauma. That's a lot for one person to deal with! The book opens with our main character Dolores Price dealing with her Dad's affair with another women, and leaving her mother. This serves as a root cause for the issues that lie ahead. Immediately, this evokes the readers emotions; especially the case if some themes are close to heart. 
And, that's the hook. You're in for the read. 

However, in this case, I was in for the read. 

Dolores is an incredibly complex woman, and completely relate-able. I find this especially true for young women yearning to find themselves. She falls in love with a man for all the wrong reasons (who hasn't done this?), marries, and is forced by her husband to have an abortion. The resentment she feels from this causes her to reexamine her life as she then realizes that she cannot run her life based on someone else's goals. This is the turning point in her life. She leaves her husband, and begins to focus on herself. She is able to turn her life around. Life is further bliss when she finally meets a man she can trust. The story ends at this point as Dolores resolves that she is at peace with herself. 

Of course, this is a very brief synopsis of the story, and actually reading through it is a lot more fun! I think it's worth the time, and offers a good lesson:  It takes time to find yourself. It also gives a positive outcome for a woman dealing with many troubling issues, and who doesn't like that?

If you would like to read this book, you can follow the link to buy it here

Score: 3.7 out of 5

May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou- Art Expressed through Words

A simple combination of words can stir up the deepest of emotions. That's the beauty of writing. 
Some are talented enough to share their words with the world and allow the reader to feel the emotion behind what was written. 

I have felt this way with every single piece of writing that has been authored by Maya Angelou. 

It started when I was very young, maybe 6th grade when I read - I Know why the Caged Bird Sings. I just wanted to keep reading. I turned the pages quickly, taking in the story as not to miss a word even though I could take it at my pace. But her stories are not meant to be read that way. They created an appetite within me that couldn't be suppressed until I turned the page, and then the next. Until I was finally satisfied-  and that was when the story ended. 

This is art expressed through words-  holding a person's attention with your message. 

Growing up in a South-Asian household in the United States wasn't necessarily fun. I was constantly at odds with my culture. I couldn't understand why my mom wouldn't approve of my wanting to be a ballet dancer, or a violinist.  

A lot of times, I felt trapped by the confines of tradition. This is when I would turn to reading. 
 I would always use Dr. Angelou's words to express my sentiments when asked why I couldn't pick more South-Asian professions: 

"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song." 

Tradition couldn't shape my views.  Even if my mom didn't understand what I meant by this, I knew I did. Her words gave my emotions a voice. They helped articulate what I wanted to say, but couldn't.

She has given me the tools to better understand myself.  Her words helped me understand that I am not the only one experiencing the internal struggles to fit in to society, or even in your family.
 She has passed on, but her words will always be here for me to seek solace from. Words I treasure every day, and strive to live by. 

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Maya Angelou:

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude"

"What doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger"

"I can be changed by what happened to me; but I refuse to be seduced by it"

"We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty. "

(Above Photo from:

Workout Wednesdays!

I managed to squeeze out a quick 20 minute workout. I was just not feeling it today. My belly really felt like it was weighing me down with every move. So, I skipped the weights. I just went through a quick session of cardio.Somehow I got through it. 

Here was the workout for today:

Cardio Fun!

  • 25 Jumping Jacks
  • 5 squat jumps
  • Rest 30 sec
  • 25 Jumping Jacks
  • 5 squat jumps
  • Rest 30 sec
2nd Set
  • 25 squats
  • 10 side lunges- per side
  • Rest 30 sec
  • 25 squats
  • 10 side lunges- per side
3rd Set
  • 10 push-ups
  • 30 sec march in place
  • 10 push-ups
  • 30 sec march in place

May 23, 2014

Scrumptious Chickpea Patties

While thinking I was opening a can of pinto beans, I accidentally opened a can of garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas). So here I was with an extra can of beans added to the menu for the week. I was planning on making ground chicken patties, but decided to use of my extra can of goodness to make chickpea patties instead! They are very easy to make, with great fiber and protein content.


1 can of garbanzo beans
1 egg 
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon dried parsley
 1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
Oil for pan-frying


Combine all ingredients into a bowl except egg. Mash with a fork or potato masher. Now add in egg, and mix with a spoon. Shape into patties. Heat pan to medium, add oil. Place patties in pan without touching, pan-frying lightly. Turn often to prevent burning. Can omit egg if desired


Book Review Fridays- The Sea and Poison

If you're into dark books that delve into the psyche of Japanese surgeons, well, this here is your winner! Overall, the writing style is excellent. The author conveys his message in a subtle way that doesn't really leave you with an exact answer. You can't exactly pinpoint an antagonist because Endo explains there is such complexity in our thoughts and actions when put under pressure.

The story revolves around two main characters, a prominent surgeon, Toda, and a medical intern Suguro. The setting is in a hospital during World War II where American prisoners are held and taken for vivisection. In other words they are used as human test subjects while being alive. Eek! That being said, there are some gruesome themes that caused me to wiggle in my seat a little, but rest assured it all ties into the message of the book.

So what is the message you ask? basically these are run of the mill surgeons being offered money, and experience to perform surgeries during wartime.  These surgeons fully understand what they are doing is immoral, but the alternative means not feeding their own families. This juxtaposition is felt by all the characters involved. They express guilt, vulnerability, and fear all while doing their "duty."

It's scary for anyone to be in such a situation, so it's hard to really hate these characters. This notion that humans are infinitely complex is very intriguing to me thus the huge draw to read the book. Yes, it's dark but very satisfying. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

If you would like to read it you can use this link to buy it here.

Score- 3.9 out of 5

(Above image from

May 21, 2014

Workout Wednesdays!

 I've been trying to get a workout in for at least 6 days a week. I try to get in at least 30 minutes. This can be a bit challenging with a 10-month old, but I've found a trick that works for me. I just turn on my favorite song playlist and let it go until I'm all done with my daily challenge. Baby starts to bounce along with me! 

Here is today's workout:

I do the cardio, then weights and repeat this 3 times 

25 Jumping jacks
15 Squats
30 Second Mountain climber
15 High Knees
30 Seconds run in place
12 Shoulder presses with 10 lb dumbbells
12 Lateral raises with 10 lb dumbbells
12 Bent over rows with 10 lb dumbbell

May 20, 2014

Pregnancy Survival Tools

I was about 35 weeks along here!

Since I am walking down a similar path as last year, I figured I would share a few tips about how I survived the last time around, and how I intend to muster through this year. It's not quite a back to back pregnancy, but it sure feels like it. I was pregnant last May, and I am pregnant this May! Back to duty after a seemingly short 7 month break. 

I have made some changes to how I went about things last year, and so I have put together a list of tips that I have found have helped me make this a lot more fun, and exciting than the last time. After all, I am growing a tiny human inside me. I need to make sure "it" is well taken care of.  So..

Here are some essential survival tips for 9 months of fun- 

  • At least 4 days a week. I stopped completely during my last pregnancy in the 2nd trimester. I am hoping I can keep up the energy to maintain. Trust me, it helps so much. By this time in my pregnancy I was already 10 pounds heavier. This time I haven't put on any extra pounds yet, and I have more energy to handle my 10 month old. I just hope I can keep it up.  Hold yourself accountable to getting at least some form of activity, even walking works.
  • Foam roller- since I am not getting as many massages, I place this under my aching back to roll out the kinks, especially if I am sore from a workout. It hurts initially, but then turns into something beautiful. There are a variety of these, find the one that works for you. 
Sleep Tools
  • My Snoogle Pillow- useful for tossing and turning throughout the night. This contraption has eased many  long, and sleepless nights. I actually never stopped using it even after I gave birth. So it's not just a one time use item. You can use it as a pillow, and bring the bottom part through your legs to get some excellent lumbar support. My husband uses 3 pillows to get comfortable, and always tries to sneak my snoogle away! This one long pillow does the job of 3!
  • Pregnancy Support Belt- eases that heavy, droopy feeling when your belly gets big. Although, I am still wearing it now during workouts. I feel more stable with it. It also supports my back if I am using hand weights. 

My Snoogler!

  • Probiotics- My doctor recommended that I take these. I didn't the last time, but have felt the difference in doing so. These ease digestion issues when taken after a meal. 
  • Prenatals- of course these are a staple. I actually never stopped taking mine after my delivery since I was also breast-feeding. I also like that they go down easily, without any vitamin burps. So, we'll carry on with this
  • Calcium and D3- I take these a few times a week, just to keep those respective levels up 
  • Assorted cakes- double chocolate, carrot cake, red-velvet...  You never know when you need lots, and lots of sugar. 

  • MyFitnessPal App- I'm sure you probably already use this excellent tool, but if you aren't download it to your phone! It's free! I know you aren't supposed to count calories during pregnancy but this app lets you know when you are eating with wild abandon. You can see those calories pile up. I also think it gives you a self-check because you record everything you eat.
  • Relax- This seems like a no-brainer, but I have trouble just enjoying my pregnancy. I am working on telling myself to just breathe, and take it easy. I find I get worked up so easily these days, even over the smallest of things. This is a unique experience that I must handle with care as to not upset myself, or my growing baby. 

May 19, 2014

Black bean and Bell pepper Quesadilla

We've had a meatless Monday theme going on for a few weeks now. This is my way of incorporating those pesky vegetables ( per my husband) into our diets. These were a huge hit! So much so that I make them on a weekly basis.


1/4 bell pepper diced
1/4 cup of corn 
1/2 cup of black beans
1 cup of shredded cheese ( I used Cheddar and Jack)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 10-inch tortillas (I used brown-rice tortillas)


Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl including the spices. Heat a large frying pan to medium-high. Spray the pan with cooking spray. Lay the tortilla into pan and arrange half of the mixture onto one half of the tortilla. Fold other end onto itself. You can do this on the stove, or before hand and place on the stove. I like to do it while on to avoid ingredient spillage. Just be careful! Cook until cheese has melted, flipping throughout. 

Note- This can be vegan by using dairy-free cheese

Serves:2- one quesadilla each
Calories- 389 per quesadilla

May 18, 2014

Spicy Avocado Turkey Sandwich

A classic with a spicy twist. I was craving a turkey sandwich the other day, but also wanted something with a little zing. The result was delicious!


2 slices Sprouted bread (or bread of choice)
3 slices nitrate-free turkey breast deli meat
1 slice cheddar/jack cheese
1/2 avocado
Pinch of cayenne pepper, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder - mash this into the avocado per taste
2 teaspoons spicy mayo
 (Mix mayo with chipotle peppers in a blender, or use your favorite store brand)


Spread spicy mayo on both sides of toast. Arrange ingredients on toast, and cover with other piece of bread. I toasted the sandwich on the stove on low-medium heat for about 4 minutes each side. Once toasted, spread on avocado mixture


Serves- 1
Calories- 475 per sandwich
(This can vary, depending on your ingredients)

May 16, 2014

Book Review Fridays- Blink

Malcolm Gladwell writes a poignant book on decision-making and self-awareness. I read Blink, and couldn't put it down until I was finished. I can't tell you how helpful this makes understanding our intrinsic know how. It teaches you to hone in on your instincts, and ultimately trust them. These are concepts that we generally already know, but sometimes lack the understanding behind. It encourages using our powers of rapid cognition other wise known as our subconscious.

Gladwell gives anecdotal stories, and examples to illustrate his points which makes grasping concepts that seem complicated a lot easier. The stories are completely relatable. The words flow easily, making a somewhat "heavy" topic  a breeze to read.

 It seems repetitive at times, but not to its detriment. I find that the repetition of the message after the end of every example drives home the lessons to be learned. Often times you finish a book and wonder what the lesson or purpose was; this is not the case with Blink.

The most important take-away is learning to rely on snap judgments. This was described as first impressions. Apparently they really are crucial in our assessments. Gladwell emphasizes that focusing on this can reduce mistakes in organizations, improve test taking, and help decision making.

Overall, it's a good read in the non-fiction world. There are useful tools to improve thinking "without thinking." I would definitely recommend this not only to read, but have around to go back to for a refresher.

If you'd like to read it, you can follow this link to buy it here

Score- 4 out of 5

May 14, 2014

Baby Showers bring May flowers!

I was due in July, and the baby shower was held mid-may.  It was a little too close to my due date for my taste, but we had to push it back to accommodate everyone's schedules. 
I remember it being really hot, and my feet were swelling up like little puffer fish.
Even though we knew we were expecting a girl, we kept the theme neutral for the baby shower. There were just too many pink options. I have nothing against pink, I just wanted something different. Turns out the yellow and gray combination looks really great too!

 I got a lot of the ideas from Pinterest, and relayed them on to my sister, (she set it all up!) 

Here is how everything turned out!

These were our party lanterns. You can purchase them from the link. They were a bit of a pain to hang, but the overall look was great. 
They are so inexpensive, and look so chic! Double win!

The cake was everything I had ever wanted. I was lucky to have an experienced french baker make our baby shower cake. It was mocha flavored, with a chocolate cream filling. The cake topper was the cutest thing ever! Although, my husband and I thought the topper looks more like a boy than a girl. What do you think? 

I was gifted these little babies to offer as party favors from a friend. I didn't use them as party favors, but added pins to them to use for a game! 

These are the gift bags for those winning prizes in the games. They were filled with candles, picture frames, nail polish sets, etc. You can make these simple party favors by using party bags, and wrapping with colorful ribbon and filling with treats your guest will love!

May 9, 2014

Book Review Fridays- Three Cups of Tea

I really, really wanted to love this book. The idea, and the message just seemed very noble in its own right. Who doesn't love the idea of a man coming to climb a mountain, getting inspired, and then spending the next years of his life building schools for underprivileged children in a third-world country? That was the draw for me. I wish I was Greg Mortenson. I wish I could have built schools for children, especially for girls that didn't have access to public education. This was my chance to be a vicarious altruist. 

Sadly, that didn't happen.

The writing style is more like an essay than a story. I never felt swept away at any part of this book. I kept waiting for that moment when I would connect, it never came. The content is rich, the descriptions are thorough, but I feel the heart is not there. The story-telling is very vanilla. The focus was very much on Mortenson rather than the work that he was doing. His pretentiousness overshadowed most of his interactions with the townspeople.

So is there anything good about this book? Yes, there are some redeeming qualities in the book. One of my favorite parts is when Greg is sharing the yak tea with Haji Ali.  That chapter brought to life deep characters with thoughtful reflections.

The scandal that has overcome this book was also something that was in the back of my mind while I was reading. I kept wondering if I was reading a fictional story. Whether or not Mortenson truly helped those girls, we will never know for sure.

Overall, the message is positive, but execution was off-point.

Score- 2.5 out of 5

May 8, 2014

Thai Red Curry

Thai curries are just delightfully delicious! Green, red, yellow, Panang, I love them all. The calories? those I do NOT love. This is a healthified version of my beloved red curry. Feel free to use any protein of choice.


1 chicken breast- slit horizontally, and sliced
2 teaspoons red curry paste ( I used Mae Ploy )
1 tablespoon rice-bran oil
1 tablespoon  organic coconut sugar
1 cup light coconut milk ( I used Trader Joe's)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sliced red bell pepper
1/2 cup asparagus or eggplant ( I used eggplant)
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves- whole with trimmed stems (Thai basil is preferred)
 Salt (per taste)


Heat deep fry pan to medium high heat. Stir-fry the curry paste with rice-bran oil for a few seconds, until fragrant.  Add in the coconut milk, and stir until well-blended.  Now, add in chicken and let cook for about a minute. Add in water, vegetables, sugar, and salt. Let all the flavors meld together as it comes to a boil. Remove from flame. Serve over rice, or enjoy as soup!

May 7, 2014

Creamy-Dreamy Vegetable Soup

Lately, I have been making this soup a lot, almost every week. It's so easy to make! I just play around with the ingredients to keep it fresh. I get bored easily. When I first started my diet, I got hungry between lunches, and dinners. I would go rummaging through my pantry, and munch on granola bars, crackers, or other goodies. However, that was counter-intuitive to my weight loss journey because I would still feel unsatisfied, and continue to eat. This fit the bill. It is the perfect snack for in-between meals, or even as meal when paired with a protein, or salad. 
This recipe makes a delicious bowl of rich, guilt-free soup, that warms you to the core.


1/2 white onion chopped 
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 cups cut cauliflower
1/2 cup chopped celery 
1/2 cup peeled and chopped potatoes 
4 cups water or broth
Salt and pepper taste 


In a large sized pan, melt the coconut oil on medium heat. Saute the onions on medium heat until clear about 3-4 minutes. Now, add chopped potatoes, cauliflower. and celery. Let those cook for a few minutes. When the vegetables have wilted a little bit, pour in the water or broth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let the soup come to a boil. Cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Use an immersion blender, or let cool, and use a blender until smooth. 


Serves 4 - 1 cup each
Calories: 153 per serving

No pain, no gain?

I was determined to have a medicine-free, all-natrural birth. Why? I felt I could handle it, and was scared of the idea of the epidural. I spent some time researching natural birthing, styles, hypno-birth, at-home births, etc. Part of my research included labor and delivery documentaries on Netflix.

Even the Duchess of Cambridge (a woman whom I respect, and we were pregnant at the same time) was rumored to be taking hypno-birth classes, aka, natural birth aka no medicine birth.

One of the documentaries on natural-birthing got me really nervous. I seriously lost a few nights of sleep. I shan't even name it. I am that terrified.

Lesson learned: Don't stay up watching birthing documentaries during your last trimester.

 It was about how the current system in hospitals about giving birth is flawed. Apparently, we're not meant to lay on our backs to give birth. It touted the current labor and delivery processes in hospitals as means to line the pockets of pharmaceutical companies. Scary stuff.

It gave me all sorts of anxiety. I turned to many moms to seek their opinions, asking a simple question: Epidural or not?

I got varied responses. Some said it makes child birth bearable, others favored the feeling of the whole event. Although, more favored epidural.

 My mom wasn't too helpful since the last baby she had was me. So, her advice was a bit dated. She kept saying that she had all of her kids (the three of us) naturally, and if she could do it I could do it. Really though, I don't think she had the options available that we do now. Plus, it was in a third-world country, so definitely epidurals were not offered in the mid-80's.

Mainly, the idea of the needle going in my spine scared me. It just irked me to no end. Plus, now my mom had stepped in and offered a challenge of "if I can, you can."
 Who cares right? I do.  I wanted to make my mom proud of me. I wanted to show her I am equally as strong. I have an innate need to please.

Of course, those five words put more stress on my mind, because I turned it into a competition. I began to think that if I wasn't strong enough to endure the pain, than maybe I wasn't woman enough. I can't say why it was a feeling so intense. It might have been those pesky pregnancy hormones. This really began to weigh me down.  Could I endure the pain millions of women have endured before me? Did I have it in me?

Fast forward to labor room around delivery time. The pain was unlike I have ever felt before. My training fell by the wayside. I was shaking, gripping my bed rails, wailing like a banshee. I tried breathing techniques. I tried listening to calming music. I did everything to relieve the searing pain in my abdomen. But to no avail. This went on until I was ready for delivery. I was so close, but had been having contractions for 8 hours straight!  I began to cry, and looked to my husband. He said, "you don't have to endure this. Modern medicine has come a long way to ease the pain of child-birth. You are not proving yourself to anyone, but yourself. Do what you feel is right."
I was mentally and physically exhausted. I couldn't go on. I could not push without the assistance of medicine.

And you know what?
I have no one to prove myself to, just myself. At that time, that was the right decision for me. It didn't affect woman-kind. Just me.

Less than 15 minutes after,  more than half of the pain melted away. I felt muted versions of gargantuan contractions. My insides rejoiced, and my courage was renewed.  I delivered my baby girl within 2 hours of that time.

Apparently, my mom didn't even flinch when I told her, she was just too excited to meet her granddaughter.

At the end of the day,

I am still a mother, and  I am still a woman regardless of getting an epidural or not. I made the silly mistake to compare the two.

Since then, I have relied on these beautiful words:

"A flower does not think of competing  to the flower next to it, it just blooms" Anon