Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Nutella Cheesecake Bars with Graham Cracker Crust


The best part of the holiday season is the wonderful  food and decorations everywhere.  The air is filled with romance and cheer. Everybody is experimenting in the kitchen. There is an overwhelming feeling to impress and spread love, joy and cheer around you. So as I am enjoying every minute of the holidays, I equally attentive to explore and prepare desserts for my guests.

Last Sunday I had few guests over for lunch and had to come up with a fast, quick and easy dessert to satisfy. There is nothing more simpler and creative than making Nutella Cheesecake Bars that leave a lasting impression of joy and happiness on your guests. 

A seductive combination, Nutella and cheesecake combine to make a rich yet light dessert. I prefer the graham cracker crust, but please do not hesitate to try other variations like vanilla wafers or Oreo cookie crust.

I picked up a nice honey flavored graham cracker crust at the supermarket which allowed me to cut out the sugar quotient due to its natural sweetness. Also, graham cracker crusts make this a light dessert compared to Oreo cookies or the chocolate/vanilla wafer crusts, but still add your variations and see what works best for you. 

This is an easy and simple dessert with a rich chocolate-hazelnut spread and a bang of yumminess!Try this out and hope your guests enjoy it as much as mine did.

Here's what you would need :
2 cups crushed honey flavored graham crackers
2 tbsp of melted butter
8 x 8 baking dish buttered and lined with parchment paper
16 oz cream cheese at room temperature
2 eggs
1/2 cup of granulate white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup of Nutella

To make the crust :

Preheat oven to 350ºF

Butter an 8×8 baking dish and line with parchment paper, making sure that the parchment is well pressed in the corners. Set aside.

Crush the graham crackers into crumbs and add the melted butter and mix. 

Spread the crust evenly into the bottom of the baking dish. Bake 12 minutes until set. Remove and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, add the cream cheese, eggs,sugar, vanilla and with electric hand mixer combine to get a smooth and creamy mixture.

To assemble :

Carefully spread the cream cheese mixture over the cooled graham cracker crust.

Drop dollops of Nutella and with the knife swirl the Nutella into the cheesecake.

Bake on the center rack of the oven for about 30-35 minutes, or until the center jiggles slightly.

Cool for about an hour and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

When serving, lift the parchment paper and cut into squares. 

Enjoy!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sincerity of Purpose



Sincerity is the quality of being open and truthful, without an aorta of hypocrisy or deceit. It is that quality we need to develop and incorporate in the world today. If we are sincere in our actions, then we need not worry about the results of our actions. It is all about doing what is right for the purpose.

Most often we are governed by the voices of another. When having a conversation in a group, it is not particularly judicious to cosset in half-truths and false impressions. Over estimations and falsifications are not going to earn us valuable points. It is important to have your own mind set. Always say what you mean sincerely and stop pirouetting around issues sounding vague and obsolete only to impress and be liked. That hypocritical nature has to change, and change implies saying what you mean and mean whatever you say.

All of us have our own opinions and own judgments. It is imperative to practice whatever you preach. Saying one thing and incriminating another is being insincere. Make it unpretentious for yourself, only communicate what you mean. If you disagree with something, stay inaudible rather than you miscommunicate something and begin to sound insincere. It is your credibility on the line. So saying one thing and doing another makes you a phony with reason.

Many a time we are influenced by our surroundings to act on instinct without questioning our thoughts or reasoning with ourselves. It is crucial to build a habit to of always questioning yourself as to why you are doing something. Always be on the lookout for negative motives like seeking attention, gaining power or controlling others. Check yourself and your motives and understand yourself before you go out and involve yourself in undertakings. It is not irrelevant what others think of you, it is significant of what you think of yourself.

Transparency is a good thing to acquire. It builds trust and camaraderie when people know who you are and what you are made of. Most of us hinder ourselves in order to protect our integrity. Being transparent is not an easy thing to accomplish, it requires patience and understanding and the fact that your motive is to turn sincere has to be the driving force behind it. 

In the world today, negativity is prime. We are bound by negative forces all day, it is difficult to survive and sustain. The only way I can see is to build and develop qualities that can change you, and in the process others around you. 

Sincerity of purpose is to let the light shine in you and spread your light through others. Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and many other great leaders taught us the value of sincerity of purpose. Let us take a leaf out of their book and follow their examples to change ourselves for the better.
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Polka Trends

Today's everyday enthused fashion trend that every girl must have in her closet is the polka fashions. I know when you think of polka the first image that might pop in your head is the adorable Minnie Mouse. Make no mistake, Minnie loves her polka attire and surely thanks to Minnie, polka dots are taking the glamour world by storm. Prevalent designers and red-carpet events are showing off models and celebs in polka fashion. Big, medium or small, polka dots are made for everything and everyone. These patterns are bold and vivacious but still soft and subtle in design. They can elevate your outfit and make you look retro, vintage or just classy. 

I believe that polka dot trends are not only striking and chic but also eternally vintage and fashionable. I am hitched to polka fashion lately and everywhere I go, I end up looking for something 'polka' like to add to my wardrobe. Whatever the reason, polka dot trends transform solid-colored attire into bubbles of color. I always prefer to keep it classic and feminine and that is the quintessence of polka dot fashion. It is just one of those fashion trends that will never lose its influence. Flirty, retro and whimsical, wear your style befitting your age. 

Also, include polka dot patterns in your accessories. That will add the option of a playful punch to your ensemble. A sleek polka dotted bag, polka dot scarves, maybe a pair of pumps or a snazzy headband for example are not a bad thing to have. Polka accessories add elements of vivacity to your overall look.

What do you think of my picks from around the stores for polka fashion this season? Would you be daring enough to try these trends?
Tea Taster Dress $74.99 
Hosting for the Weekend Tunic in Merlot $37.99
See You Round Skirt $42.99
REVERSIBLE POLKA DOT JACQUARD SWEATER $59.90
Polka Dot Peplum Top $15.80
Hyperfemme Headband Set $2.80
Dot Print Clutch $48
Kate Spade New York Carlisle Street Bee $78
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Monday, November 18, 2013

Niagara Falls, NY


This North American natural wonder flows with picturesque and breathtaking beauty that captures one’s senses the minute you lay eyes on. The Niagara Falls State Park is America’s oldest State Park that has a lot of touristy attractions for one to enjoy and take in the whole experience of the magnificent falls. From the decks, vistas, boat rides and trails, the splendor of the Niagara Falls leaves one spellbound in awe and wonder. 


It is believed that millions of gallons of water rocket over Niagara Falls every minute. Niagara Falls is the collective name of its three magnificent waterfalls – The Horseshoe Falls that lie on the Canadian border, The American Falls on the American side and the smallest is the Bridal Veil Falls also on the American side. These falls border Canada and America and hence each country has their own share of its magnificence although many dispute that the best view is from the Canadian side as all three falls can be viewed. 


Some of the attractions you cannot afford to miss are the Cave of the Winds, The Niagara State Park, Niagara Gorge Trail, Maid of the Mist tour are just  few of the many attractions at the State Park.  


My favorite is the Maid of the Mist tour that takes tourists to the very edge of the falls. The hooded raincoats provided are essential as one appreciates the thrill of the wind-driven mist at the base of the falls.  

Another favorite is the Cave of Winds tour, a thrilling walk along the Niagara falls that eventually takes you into the stormy mist to get all soaked up and experience the freshness of the water as it drenches you with brilliance. The journey begins with an elevator ride 175 feet down the Niagara Gorge, you need to have your gear on- a hooded poncho and wooden sandals are provided. At the hurricane deck, one experiences closeness with Niagara Falls and it cannot get closer than this. So what you procure basically is a torrential downpour.


If you thought that was thrilling, just go ahead and experience the torrent of the Bridal Veil Falls that will entice you with the familiarity of tropical storm conditions only divinely thrill and leave you shattering in anxiety at the fast pace of the watery mist lashing on your face. 

Every evening at dusk, the Falls are lit in hues of the rainbow and should not be missed. This unmatched beauty of the falls is illuminated for all the see its glory even at night.


Here are some interesting facts about the Niagara Falls :

Four of the five Great Lakes drain into the Niagara River, (Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie) before emptying into Lake Ontario. These five Great Lakes make up almost one-fifth of the world's fresh water supply.

Niagara Falls State Park stretches over 400 acres, with close to 140 acres of that under water.  

Hydroelectricity is one of Niagara Falls’ most important products. Together, power plants on both the American and Canadian sides of the falls produce nearly 2.5 million kilowatts of electricity.

The Niagara River ecosystems support many of New York State's protected animal species, such as the Lake Sturgeon, Peregrine Falcon and American Bald Eagle. 

The startling green color of the Niagara River is a visible tribute to the erosive power of water. An estimated 60 tons of dissolved minerals are swept over Niagara Falls every minute. The color comes from the dissolved salts and "rock flour," very finely ground rock, picked up primarily from the limestone bed but probably also from the shale and sandstone under the limestone cap at the falls.

Niagara Falls is truly nature's paradise. What you see is what you have to digest to understand the magnanimity of this enthralling State Park. Visit when the weather is pleasant and enjoy the sights and sounds of the best waterfall on earth -Niagara Falls.

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Candles Centerpiece Decoration

Candles make wonderful centerpiece attractions and when placed with other decor, it can surely bring your Thanksgiving table to light. While most of us are busy prepping up the menu for Thanksgiving, it is also important to pay attention to your table decoration. Candle centerpieces are an ideal way to turn your Thanksgiving decoration in to an impeccable design. Combine with natural items, fall fruits or vegetables, berries and flowers and you have an attractive centerpiece that will have your guests wowed. 

Here are some neat and adorable ideas from Lushome.com that I simply love. Check out some pretty awesome ideas at their site and have a great Thanksgiving!

21 Candles Centerpiece Ideas for Thanksgiving Decorating on Small Budget

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fashion In Plum

All you fashionistas out there, are you ready to try a new color this season? I'm talking about a gorgeous purple shade called plum. This luxurious shade is perfect for any skin tone. Wear it as an outfit or in a beauty routine and see how dashing your looks turn out to be. Pair it with black or any light color and your all set to hit the town. 

Check out some cool trends on Color Love: Plum and get ready to add the color to your fashion style.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Decadent Dark Chocolate Mousse

Nothing spells romance than making a decadent dessert for your love. I understand women refuse to be creative in the kitchen and always choose to buy  their desserts rather than make them. It is a safer option, but your missing the plot. If only we invested our time, love and patience in making some sweet dessert for the one you love, life would have more meaning and that is a real positive.

Last week was my husbands birthday and I decided to get creative and make a dessert to express my love. Dark Chocolate Mousse is what I put together. Why the dark chocolate? Only because darker the chocolate, more cocoa it contains ad less sugar which is healthier. Also, dark chocolate or bittersweet chocolate mousse has a better tasting flavor than semi-sweet.

A simple yet elegant dessert. I guarantee one spoon and you will get hooked forever.  I must say, I was very impressed with the outcome. Not only was it so light and fluffy yet creamy and decadent. If you have the ingredients, this is super easy to make and also has that french elegance for a romantic setting especially for the occasion. All just sweet and heavenly.

Here is my recipe for my Dark Chocolate Mousse that is good to serve 2 people.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup of dark chocolate chopped
1 tbsp of water
1 tbsp of unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 tsp of Instant Espresso Powder
1 egg yolk
1 egg white
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp granulated white sugar
1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream

Process:
In a bowl, whisk the heavy cream until it forms stiff peaks. This takes a good amount of time and your arm surely gets a good workout, so be patient. Set in the refrigerator until ready to combine.

In another clean bowl, whisk the egg yolk and sugar for about 3 minutes till thick and pale. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, add about an inch water and bring to a simmer. 

Place a bowl over simmering water on very low heat.Gently melt the chocolate with the butter, espresso powder and water and keep stirring the mixture until it is smooth and silky and all the chocolate has melted. Remove and set to cool a bit.

When the chocolate mixture is cooled, spoon 1/4 of it into the egg yolk mixture and combine. 

Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the chocolate and set over the saucepan to simmer for a minute. Add the vanilla extract and mix till the chocolate thickens. Let it cook stirring frequently.

While the chocolate cools, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the cooled chocolate mixture.

Fold the chocolate mixture into the whipped heavy cream. At this stage do not over mix, just fold in the mixture to combine.

Pour the mixture into 2 cups and refrigerate for a minimum of 6 hours. It is best to refrigerate overnight to get a smooth, light and creamy chocolate mousse.

Enjoy


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

5 Natural Ways to Beat Winter Blues


A contemplative feeling comes over us around late autumn, as the last remaining leaves drop, morning frosts cover the ground and the sun sets earlier each day. Hot cider and the warmth of the fireplace may be all you need to face the coming winter with good cheer, but for many people, fall melancholy deepens to winter depression.

As the days get shorter and the nights longer, I am sure many of us would love to be less bored or grouchy and meritoriously energetic. But this can be true only if we were assured some warmth and coziness this winter season. The temperature outside is viciously dropping, the air is getting colder, the fireplace and heater is switched on or activated but yet, for now, all we hope for is that we could almost have that seamless winter.

 If you have not yet experienced the ‘winter blues’, it’s steadily approaching and will take effect soon. The appearances it holds range from mild depression, sluggish and disoriented behavior sometimes just lack of motivation or low energy levels could all be the detonated symptoms it is known to possess. If you have already experienced any of the above, then it has hit you. But luckily there are effective ways to help you get rid of the nasty ‘winter blues’. 

Here are some quick effective ways to indulge in redefining the winter season for you this year.

1. Accept the Season
Even though winter may not be the season for you, accept the season as it has a lot of wonderful things allied with it. The joy of the holiday season should be enough to raise your spirits and let them ascend and get you through the season. Get ready to rent those favorite holiday DVDs that you love to snuggle up to. From hot chocolate, sledding, snowball fights, decorating, shopping, gift-wrapping and festive cooking, just keep yourself motivated in the right spirit and you will get through the seasonal blues with ease.

2. Exercise
I know it is not optimal to go out for a jog during the cold months, but just exercise daily around the house and keep yourself on your feet to stimulate your senses. Just cleaning up the house for a start is a nice way to exercise and get your body warmed up. Exercise is great for relieving stress and instructs the mind to release those feel good chemicals to improve your moods and stimulate your senses.

3. Soak Up Some Sun
You need all the vitamin D that you can get, so spend some portion of the day outdoors. Run your errands during the day and soak up as much sunlight as you can. Sit near windows and absorb more sunlight during the day. Wake up early and open the windows to let in some good sunlight. Switch on your lights at home to make it brighter and less depressing.

4. Eat Healthy
Skip the processed foods and consume more complex carbohydrates like whole wheat breads, brown rice, vegetables and seasonal fruits along with sufficient water. Eating healthy elevates your mood and stabilizes the blood sugar and energy levels. Watch your cravings and do not give into tempting foods like soda and junk food.

5. Relax and break out of a rut.
When every day seems dull and dreary, shake things around by wearing bright colored sweaters and accessories. Wear your hair differently or accessorize to look attractive and vibrant. Avoid dull sweaters and over sized coats. Bundle up in a chic and fashionable way. At the end of the day, just try to relax, read a book, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and cocoa and just have a positive attitude.

Embrace the season and focus on what it has to offer. Drive away those ‘winter blues’ and have a warm and snug winter.
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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Easy to Make Centerpieces This Season



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Leaf Note Board

This is the season to be thankful and I really like this idea from Better Homes and Garden to create your very own Leaf Note Board. Simply pick a paper leaf and pen down your gratitude and pin. Awesome way to make this Note board colorful and memorable. Check it out and make your own board for Thanksgiving.


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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Autumn Pop Art Printables

I found these really cool Autumn Pop Art Printables online that you could print and hang as fall decor in your room. I like the pop colors and the contrasting backgrounds. Go ahead, download and print these cool trio printable and frame them, it will surely add some 'pop' to your home.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Easy Ways To Get Exercise




If you are someone who has a frenzied schedule during the week and have little or no time to hit the gym, being sluggish is not an option. Particularly when the weather outside is really nasty and you cannot go for a run around the block, you make up a lame excuse and have a valid reason for forgoing exercise. It is important to make some time for physical activity that raises your heart rate in order to raise your good cholesterol.  

Exercise boosts your self-confidence by improving your strength, stamina, flexibility, appearance, and sense of control. Exercise builds muscles and can reshape your body. Physical activity uses up excess calories that would otherwise be stored as fat.

Try the following easy-workouts at home or while on the go. 

Exercise around the house. Some simple routines that you can easily include during your day is sitting less and standing or walking around the house more often. For example, when you are on the phone, walk around while you talk. This way you burn more calories standing and even more if you add movement.

If you cannot afford to miss your favorite show on television, convert it into a work out session. Just pick up light weights and strengthen your muscles as you watch your program.

Clean your house! Wash windows, scrub the tub and mop the floor. This way you not only burn calories, but tidy up your home.

Exercise on the go when you have errands to run. Walk instead of driving; take the stairs instead of the elevator and all the while you grove to your favorite tunes.

Taking the stairs is a great way to burn calories and strengthen your thigh muscles. Take every other step so you are really working your legs more. This can certainly make it a challenging workout.

Flexibility exercises are vital for those of us stuck at desk. Exercise like neck rolls, shoulder rolls and even stretching at your desk is good for you.

Take a few minutes to stretch when you wake up in the morning and just before you go to bed.

Dancing is also a wonderful way to exercise and should be tried at least once a week. Gardening is another good option. Walking around the mall is my favorite.

The good news is there are lots of simple ways to sneak some easy exercise into your daily routine at home or work. 

The benefits of physical activity are extraordinary.

Strengthens your heart to pump blood more efficiently and help reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and risk of stroke.

Increases your energy level, strengthens your circulatory system and lungs and helps improve your skin's tone and elasticity.

Contributes to weight loss and maintenance by increasing your body's metabolism as well as increasing muscle which helps burn fat.

Helps reduce physical and emotional stress and alleviate bouts of anxiety or depression and many more.

So, every little bit helps, just get up and get moving.
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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Freebie : Fall Desktop Wallpaper



So, the holidays are nearing and I am sure everyone is excited to celebrate Thanksgiving. I have designed a pretty wallpaper for November and here I am sharing the same with you. 

Download my first freebie for the month and enjoy many more to come.



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Friday, November 1, 2013

HAPPY WEEKEND!


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Throat Reliever For A Nasty Flu

It's been a long time since I fell sick with the flu. I hate the symptoms and the grogginess and the whole charade of being sick. The only thing I like is the extra love and care I receive from my husband when I am sick and stuck in bed. Sore throats, running temperature, blocked nasal passages and infuriating coughs are not what you want during the week. 

So here I am propped up in bed, wearing my husband's sweatshirt that keeps me snug and cozy and trying to find ways to get cured instantly. Finally, I realized  with a loss of appetite luring in my palate, I strongly crave for some hot, piping ginger lemon and honey concoction.  This is definitely a staple when I am down with cough and cold. 


Sipping my throat reliever, I am sharing my favorite soothing drink with you.

Here's what you need to do. 

Crush a small piece of ginger and keep it aside.

Boil 1.5 cups water and then add 1 tbsp of honey and t tsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice to the mixture. Let it simmer for few minutes. Now add the crushed ginger and continue to simmer.

After 2 minutes switch off the flame. Pour a mug of this steeped concoction and drink up. 

I can have as many as 7 glasses a day and it always makes me feel a lot better.

Here's hoping you stay warm and keep the flu out of your home. 
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