I was working on writing one recipe to post for this Friday. But while checking my emails realized that we haven’t made the Valentine Box yet for my daughter’s valentine party. So, changed my plans of recipe and started working on the Valentine box with my daughter. Also, for her teacher I didn’t get anything store bought. But yes got one thick plastic wine glass and filled it with a hearts bouquet.
For her friends she is asking me for the melted crayon hearts that I have shared in my previous post in Craft section.
For Her Friends:
Our Valentine Box
Things you will need:
Empty Shoe Box
Foam stickers, Glitter stickers, Ribbons, Felt fabric to decorate
Wrap the box as if you are wrapping a present. Do the same thing with lid. We preferred to use the reverse side just for contrast.
Decorate it as you like with stickers, ribbons, felt fabric. For the felt fabric hearts, we did small running stitches all around the edge of the heart.
Now, take the lid, mark a rectangle on it and cut it with a sharp knife. This is the drop off slot. You can either cut the whole rectangle and take it out or only cut the three sides and glue a small piece of ribbon as shown in the picture. If it is hard to glue the ribbon then you can stitch it.
After decorating this box, we were thinking why not to make such a kind of box just to store school supplies or anything like clips, pencils, pens, markers etc. It can be used as an organizer too.
And This Is For Her Teacher:
Hearts Bouquet in a Wine glass
You will need:
Thick plastic wine class
Cut out the hearts from the construction papers. Cut two hearts per sheet.
Take one heart cut out, glue the straw on it and then glue the other heart cut out on the top, like a sandwich.
From last few weeks weather in Houston is getting pretty cold. Temperatures below freezing, ice, sleet and along with this no school. Neither we can go outside, nor can we call anyone over. When kids gets used to of going to school and doing something or other throughout the day then staying the whole day at home seems like a punishment to them. They are full of energy so they need an outlet. Last week when my daughter had no school, after doing some reading, writing, playing we baked nutella cake. Again this Tuesday, no school. So she asked me ‘what are we going to do Aai?’ as if she knew that I might have planned something for her.
We all have a box full of broken crayons. The box keeps on filling and we don’t know what to do with them. Ok so.. this is what we did. This crayon craft was pending in my to-do list. I liked this craft as it is simple but entertaining for the kids to get in to. Tuesday was an ideal day for this craft. She was so excited:). She did the peeling and sorting and breaking part (all kids love to peel the paper off .:))and I did the baking part.
I would say you really don’t have to wait for a no-school day for this. This can be a perfect project for any other day. Try it. I am sure you and your kid will love it.
My daughter took them to her school to show it to her teacher and friends. And later, came home with a request from her friends that they want some of them so she packed few for them…:) I felt nice of her being kind and concerned towards her friend’s request. Regardless of how much we will be using these new crayons (she doesn’t want them to get small:)), both of us really had a great time creating these hearts.
Our Crayon Hearts
You will need:
Silicon ice cube tray (ours was heart shape) – don’t plan on using it for baking again.
How to make them?
Pre-heat the oven at 350 degree F.
Separate the crayons by color (we made two kinds: blue-green and pink-red-orange-yellow)
Peel the paper off around the crayons, if they are too big then break it in small pieces.
Fill the tray with these broken pieces.
Bake them for 10 minutes. I set the silicon tray on a baking sheet and covered it with foil to guard against melted crayon.
Once the crayons are melted down completely, take the tray out of the oven. Now either leave it on the counter or put it in the freezer. (we kept it in the freezer)
(Before I write, just to let you all know that I have written this article last year for Austin newsletter after Makar Sankrant. So, I am posting the same with some changes. Hope you will like it.)
One of my previous articles “Be Their Role Model” talked about how even our small day-to-day gestures, activities can be a learning experience to our kids and how much importance these gestures, activities give to how we talk-react and deal with any situation. Usually, I like and prefer to associate my chosen topic to my personal experience.
January is the Makar Sankranti month. It started from January 14 and will be till Feb 6. We all celebrate this festival in our own traditional way. In Maharashtra, we make Gulachi Poli (flat bread stuffed with soft/shredded Jaggery mixed with toasted, ground Til- sesame seeds), Khichadi, Moong daal wada, Kadhi on Sankrant day i.e January 14. We have a saying ‘Til Gul Ghya God God Bola’ meaning ‘accept this til-gul and speak sweetly’.
Last year when I have written this article, my daughter was 4 years old. She was at the right age to remember these small things. As they say in Parle-G commercial “Bachpan Se Bada koi School Nahi, Curiosity Se Badi Koi Teacher Nahi”. Like any other kid she was also curious and surprised but quite confused that why everyone is saying ‘Til Gul Ghya God God Bola’. She asked me is it because we are eating Gulachi Poli and its sweet? I told her that we have Sankrant in the beginning of the year so by saying this it gives us a chance to remember that we should never hurt anybody’s feeling, always try to speak sweet. Second part of this festival is Haldi Kunku or Haldi Kumkum (literally meaning turmeric and vermillion). Every year I try to have at least a small Haldi Kumkum at my place. All this is to maintain and to let our daughter know about the traditional practices associated to this festival. This year also, I am planning to have Haldi Kumkum. My daughter has asked me for not doing it when she is at school. She wants to be a part of it…:) How can I say NO to such a sweet request?
Sometimes, I feel living outside India brings us closer to our culture. We put extra efforts in bringing India into our homes during these festival seasons. We do it with lot of dedication, devotion. Again going back to my personal experience, I grew up in Uttar Pradesh. If my parents hadn’t put their extra efforts in maintaining Maharashtrian culture, tradition at our home then I don’t think it would have been possible for me to write on this topic.
For example calling kid’s friends on such occasions as we do on birthdays and involving them in deciding what to do, picking gifts will help them to remember the occasion and the customs related to it. Every year they will look forward for this time of the year to come. What else could be more satisfying for us as a parent living here when our kids remember and show their enthusiasm and interest in these small things and expects just a tiny bit of encouragement from us for their involvement.
Everyone is busy today. Quite often we get to hear people saying that we don’t get time to do all this traditional things. We want to do but don’t know how. Not as a comment but these are few words that I have recently read in a book. “We all have 24 hours; it’s not the time that matters but the activities that we get engaged into during these 24 hours. We have to prioritize them. If we really want to do something then it’s not that difficult to spare some extra minutes out of our daily schedule to implement and execute it.” Little bit of planning and an inner zeal are the only two requirements for giving our kids this great gift of tradition.
With the new calender year, we look for January 14th, when the first Indian festival of the year is celebrated. Sankrant also known as ‘Makar Sankrant’ (Maharashtra), Pongal (Southeren states), Lohari (Panjab), Bihu (Assam). It is the festival to celebrate the harvest season. This time the Sun enters the Zodiac sign of Capricorn (Makar).
In Maharashtra, we celebrate it by calling married women for Haldi Kumkum, distributing Til Burfi and the tradition is to say ’til gul ghya god god bola’ (please take this sweet and speak sweetly). This sweet can be made in different ways, hard or soft. We prefer the soft version. This is my Mom’s recipe. (she says it is her Mom’s)
Makes approx. 25 pieces
Til (Sesame seeds)- 3 cups
Sugar- 2 1/2 cups
Water- 3/4 cup+2 tablespoons (if needed)
Ghee- 2 tablespoons
Gur (Jaggery)- 1/4 cup
Cardamom powder- 1/2 teaspoon
Dessicated coconut- for garnishing
Take a plate with an edge and grease it with some ghee.
Dry roast the sesame seeds on medium-low heat will you get the aroma. Keep it aside and let it cool down then coarsely grind it. Add cardamom powder to it.
In a kadhai/pan/wok, put ghee. Add sugar, water and jaggery. Sugar and jaggery will start melting.
Within couple of minutes, the liquid will start bubbling and foaming. Take one drop on the syrup ad drop it on a plate, if it doesn’t spread that means you are ready to add the sesame powder. Keep on stirring.
After some time, it will start leaving the side. Turn off the heat.
Transfer it to the greased plate. Gently press it with your palm or grease the bottom of a bowl, pat this hot mixture and even it out into the plate.
Garnish it with coconut while its warm. Pat it again using the bowl.
After it cools a little, cut it into square. Wait until it cools down completely before you take out the pieces.
I should have written this post during Diwali or Christmas. Since it was festival season so I had started the Rasoi section. Few days ago, I heard a talk that gave me a motivation-a push to think and write on this topic. The talk started with discussing about a question asked by one of the parents. ‘Should we put Christmas Tree?, Should we tell our kids about Santa?, Should we celebrate Christmas?’ I would say it’s all about bridging of two cultures, whether it be from two different countries or within the same country but different regions.
Till last year, we used to put our daughter’s Christmas Gift under the tree. Yes, we started decorating the tree after she started going to per-school. We decorate it with few ornaments and whatever craft she does at school. That’s it. It is a Mini Tree. Our daughter is 5, she understands the Indian festivals. And more important, she shows her interest and curiosity in knowing the stories and reasons associated with these festivals and rituals. We try our best to do what we do in India. This year we made some changes. We decided what we thought would be right and an ideal way to explain our daughter.
So, we thought of giving her the gift a day or two before Christmas. She asked for this gift sometime during Diwali but that time we got something else and it got postponed. We gave her the gift and told her that it is your Diwali and Christmas gift. In India, we buy new clothes, new things on Diwali. It’s like Christmas for us. Being a kid it was obvious for her to ask that will Santa still give her another gift. But later she herself gave the answer, how come Santa will deliver all the gifts. So you and Baba (in our mother tongue, Baba is for Dad) gave me this.:-) Even at her school when her teacher asked the kids to write their wish list, she wrote ‘My Aai-Baba will be giving me the Kitchen Set.’..:-)
We have decided that from this year, we will give her a gift on Diwali and we will still decorate the tree as we have been doing till now. It’s exciting for kids. We told her that the way we go to temple on Diwali, we do Luxmi Pooja and meet our friends, same way here people go to Church and listen to Jesus stories. Jesus is another God same as we have Bhagwan Krishna, Ganapati & Shankar. She waited for a while then said..’oooo!! that’s why you invited all the moms and my friends for Haldi Kumkum and we had a big Diwali get together with friends and we did a Diwali craft..’
Now, back to the talk. Our speaker told us something similar. I was happy to hear that whatever we did was right. He said, if we follow our culture, tradition at home, do what we are supposed to do then kids will learn that. They do what they see. If our kids will see that every year during festival time we are performing the rituals associated to that festival then it will give answers to all their questions. Questions arise when there is curiosity; when there are some confusions and doubts. Kids will ask you to put Christmas tree, bake cookies, put some cookies and milk for Santa only till a certain age. Let them enjoy that phase. He gave another suggestion that I liked a lot. He said, if possible, have your friends over, let the kids exchange the gifts and after Pooja open those gifts. This small gesture will help them to remember the things that we do.
This example was something that shows the contrast in two cultures. You come across this kind of contrast more often when you are raising your kid outside India (not necessarily in USA). Even in India, now a days people move to different places because of their work. Very few actually stay in their home town. But even then people have started celebrating all the festivals with all its pomp and pleasure irrespective of its region. They become a part of that region’s culture and also follow their own family tradition. I grew up in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. Holi is one of the major festivals in North India. But in Maharashtra, it’s not. Still, my mom used to make all the sweets that North Indians make during Holi. And also, for Diwali we used to do what we do in Maharashtra. So this way we never had a doubt.
In short, celebrate the happiness that friends are always giving, make every day a holiday and celebrate just living! I would say all the festivals give us another chance to connect with each other. So, understand the true meaning of happiness and live your life to its fullest. Please do share what you feel about this topic.