Mid-Week feel gooders #1

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I am a lover of pretty things, beautiful places, yummy food and innovative functional objects. Very often, in the middle of the workday, I take a couple of minutes off just to look at things that make me feel good. Helps me stay stimulated and the feel good factor doesn’t hurt either.

Here are my top mid-week finds to help get you through the rest of the week –

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1. Aren’t these table mats lovely? Find the simple DIY tutorial at Design Sponge.

2. Bioluminescent Phytoplankton. Maldives, you are on my Travel wish list. 

3. Very cool rug from Loomrugs.

4. Chocolate Baileys Mud cake that I am dying to try. Find the recipe at Citrus and Candy.

5. Spring-ready sandals from Anthropologie.

6. Cheery and colorful prints by twoems!

7. I just cannot get over this wallpaper print. Available at Tangletree Interiors

8. Paleo Coconut milk Panna Cotta from Culinarystorm that looks so pretty, I might not be able to eat it.

9. I am a little obsessed with pendant lamps these days and absolutely love these ones from Urban Outfitters

Happy mid-week browsing! 🙂

Love at first sight… 7 places that took my breath away!

Some places are unforgettable. They permeate deep into your heart, find a cozy corner and refuse to leave. Just the thought of them sets off a hundred different emotions in your mind. I have a long list of places embedded in my mind and I long to revisit these places some day. Until I do, allow me to share some of that joy I feel at the thought of these places.

1. Windermere, Lake District National Park, UK

England’s largest lake and one of the most picturesque places I have visited. We spent a couple of nights by the banks of the lake and it is one of the places that is permanently etched in my mind. Sit by the banks and just zone out to the world. This is one place you can do so very easily! Oh and if you are in the area, do drop in to see Dove Cottage, where William Wordsworth lived for a considerable amount of time and also where he wrote one of his most famous poems – “Daffodils”! If you visit in the spring, you can actually see the carpet of daffodils that inspired the poet. The adorable cottage is open to visitors for a small fee but is very well maintained and the guides do a pretty remarkable job of giving out information.

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2. Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan, India

I have always loved had this strange love for Tigers. I remember doing a ‘Save the Tiger’ campaign in school and getting extremely passionate about the cause. Never having seen a tiger out in the wild, I knew I had to visit Ranthambore some day. I was fortunate to visit with an old and dear friend on a spur-of-the-moment trip.  We stayed at the beautiful Nahargarh Palace, located at the outskirts of the park. Fortunately we had booked a late afternoon safari to take us into the forest. Our guide was extremely optimistic but hours passed with no sign of any Tigers. We did see a lot of Spotted Deer, Peacocks, Crocodiles, a Bear that dashed into the woods after spotting our jeep and some really exotic birds. Towards the end of our safari, our guide drove through some super windy roads and took us to a spot where we saw not one but TWO gorgeous Tigers! 🙂 I am going to hold on to that moment for the rest of my life. If you are a wildlife enthusiast, do add Ranthmbore to your list of places to visit right away.

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3. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Lucky enough to have been able to call this city my home! Even though it was for a short while. As you enter Newcastle, it captivates you instantly. It’s like a city out a storybook. I suggest you take the train into the city because the Central station is stunning and the location is perfect if you are looking to explore the city.  I have spent so many afternoons just ambling around the city, going up and down the architecturally stunning Grey street, shopping for fresh produce at Grainger Market, walking down to the Quayside to sit on the Millennium Bridge and collect my thoughts…so many happy memories! The city is a perfect blend of old and modern, it is best known for its nightlife and culture. I promise you will not be disappointed if you choose to visit Newcastle.

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4. Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Oh Yosemite! Where do I begin? You were such an unexpected surprise! Despite having lived in the area for over 4-5 years, the husband had never visited Yosemite so I didn’t have very high expectations when we did visit last year. As we drove into the park, I was stunned! The high rock structures are so enigmatic. They almost call out to you and beg you for your attention. I had to immediately pull over because I couldn’t focus on the road.  The views of the half dome and the valley are just spectacular if you are able to drive up to Glacier Point. It was so surreal, I had to sit down for a moment or two just to take it all in. I look forward to visiting the park in every season.

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5. Lake Wembanad, Kerala, India

Serene. Exquisite. Mesmerizing.  Lake Wembanad is the place the visit if you just want to escape from the crowded city life. We spent a couple of nights at the Malabar Escapes property, Purity and it was so magical! The views were just breathtaking and the food, exceptional. The lake is a well-kept secret because you don’t see the regular sea of tourists like in other parts of Kerala. It is the perfect getaway if all you want is a couple of days off to just let all the stress from everyday life melt away! I can never forget the gorgeous night, eating dinner under the stars as our houseboat called Discovery drifted away into the backwaters.

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6. Taal Volcano, Philippines

I have had the fortune of visiting the island country twice. My aunt and uncle who lived in Manila at the time organized a trip for us to Batangas, which is located in the Southwestern part of the island of Luzon. The drive itself was very scenic but the highlight of the road trip for me was the Taal Volcano. It is the second most active volcano in the Philippines and my first caldera volcano sighting! It looked so calm and peaceful floating on the lake… but has had some of the country’s largest and deadliest eruptions. Taal Volcano acts as the parent to Vulcan point, which is the world’s largest volcano in a lake (Main Crater Lake) on a volcano (Taal Volcano). And the main Crater Lake also happens to be the largest lake on an island (Volcano Island) in a lake (Lake Taal) on an island (Luzon). We got a lovely view of the volcano from the Tagaytay Ridge.  I do hope to go back some day and hike up to the Volcano.

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7. Zermatt, Switzerland

If I could go back to one place right now, I would choose Zermatt. This quaint city in Switzerland stole my heart the instant I stepped out of the Glacier Express! It is a car free city and you can stroll or bike around without a care. You might encounter a horse-drawn carriage every now and then but most vehicles are kept out of the city and are mostly battery operated. The Matterhorn is visible from almost anywhere in the city and looks SO majestic. Walk around, take a hike into the mountains, hit the slopes, sip some delicious hot chocolate and fall in love with Zermatt, I know I did!

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Rainy Day Cupcakes with Banana Buttercream Frosting

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After a VERY long dry spell, it is finally raining! I love rainy days and thunderstorms make me happy. They fill me with a sense of nostalgia and bring back some really precious memories. I am reminded of all the yummy treats my mother would whip up just because it was raining! So to celebrate the rains, I spent the morning reminiscing and baking cupcakes.  Also, what better way to commemorate the season of love (oh the rains make me all fuzzy!) 🙂

Even if you don’t like the rains, try these Rainy Day Cupcakes because they will totally lift you up and brighten your day. Enjoy a cupcake or two with your loved ones, and feel the spirit of the season!

These are really easy to make and all you really need is two large bowls. Took me less than an hour to make and less than ten seconds to wolf down a few.

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Here is what you need

A 12-cup muffin pan, paper liners, 1 bowl, a whisk, a measuring jug that holds at least 1 cup, measuring cups and spoons, a fork and a spoon or spatula.

The recipe below makes 8 cupcakes. 

Ingredients 

For the cakes –

  • 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup (79 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup (79 ml – 118 ml) reduced fat (2 %) milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Frosting –

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) soft butter
  • 2 cups (400 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Line 8 standard-size muffin cups with paper liners. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to the 4 empty muffin cups (this helps to make sure the muffins bake evenly).

  • Combine flour, 3/4 cup of the sugar, baking powder and the salt in a large bowl with a whisk. Whisk well.
  • Next, add vegetable oil to a measuring jug that holds at least 1 cup. Add the egg then fill the jug to the 1-cup line with milk (this should be 1/3 to a 1/2 cup of milk). Add vanilla extract and whisk with a fork until combined.
  • Add milk mixture to the bowl with flour and sugar then use a fork to combine. Do not over mix.

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  • Spoon the batter into the paper liners. I generally use an ice cream scoop so that all my cup cakes turn out the same size.
  • Bake these for about 15 to 20 minutes or until tops are no longer wet and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cake comes out with crumbs and not batter.
  • Once done, let them cool on a wire rack and work on your frosting.

I decided to make Banana Buttercream frosting and although I have never made it before, it turned out quite well. In fact, it was so good that I think I prefer it to any other kind!

  • With a hand mixer, cream together the banana, butter and vanilla extract.
  • Beat in the powdered sugar one cup at a time, until you have a rich and creamy frosting.  I added some blue food coloring but you can choose to not add any.
  • Frost your lovely cakes and prepare to watch them get demolished.

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This one is for all my loved ones out there.
Love, hugs and kisses!

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