Thursday, December 19, 2013

A teeny bit of Bangalore in Chicago

My cousin Eryn got married this past Saturday, and the four of us (well, five if you count Rosie, our dog) drove out to Chicago for the festivities. And man were they festive! Cousins, aunts, and uncles came from all over the country (and even out of the country!), and we had a little family reunion while celebrating with Eryn. I didn't take any pictures at all myself (I can be lame like that), but luckily my sister-in-law Julie did! So here's a quick picture montage :)

Here are Zion and Liel in their wedding finery before the ceremony. Don't they look so cute and grown up?? And Liel is wearing the child's saree we bought in Bangalore with Bitasta. (Zion is wearing a suit we bought on ebay. Not nearly so worldly, but he still looks cute!)

Here we have Liel and me in our sarees. It was the first time I wore this saree (also bought in Bangalore) and when I put the blouse on the right armpit hurt. At first I thought it might be because I've gained a few pounds since getting back to NY, but as I hooked the blouse up it felt jabby, so I took it off and found...a needle! It was quite surprising, as I'd tried the blouse on in Bangalore, and hadn't felt or found it then, but yeah. Needle was poking the crap out of me, and all was well once I removed it.

After the ceremony I passed by an Indian family in the hotel, and the mama did a double take when she saw me in the saree. I hope it's just because she was surprised to see a white girl in a saree, and not because I had it on all cockeyed or something! Of course it also could have been because I was wearing big Doc Marten boots with it. Mostly you couldn't see them though, and it was so cold and snowy and slushy outside I couldn't wear the shoes I'd planned.

Anyway, the ceremony took place at St. Michael's Church in old town Chicago. It was pretty ornate and fun to look around! 

The reception was at the Drake hotel (where we were staying), so after the ceremony we took the provided buses back to the hotel, and I changed because as much as I adored the saree (and I do...I wish I had more occasions to wear one!) I cannot dance in a saree. Hopefully I'll get good enough at draping and securing them to do so in the future, but I'm not there yet!

Here are some pictures from the reception.

The location! It was really quite lovely, no?

Zion and Aunt Julie (with a bit of Aunt Anne and Uncle Chris on the right, and cousin Nathan on the left)!

My mother-in-law Kathy, sister-in-law Julie, nephew Nathan, and grandmother-in-law Grace. Bouns: in the background you can see Robert and his brother Vinny discussing UT football, Anne and Zion chatting, and my brother-in-law Frank returning with a triumphal beer.

A fantastic picture of Robert and his siblings. As everyone who has seen a few pictures of Robert is quick to point out, he's actually smiling in this one! It's like the unicorn of Robert pictures!

And finally, one of me and my beloved, after many happy hours of eating, drinking and dancing. My wonderful mother-in-law left early to sit with the kids while they slept, enabling us to have this fantastic evening together! 

We're back in NY now, and looking forward to a visit from my parents in a week. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Snyder's graveyard

Our new house is a 5 minute walk from a tiny graveyard. Even though we love graveyards, we'd never visited, mostly because there aren't any sidewalk and the graveyard is on a busy road.

But today I decided that enough was enough, and the kids and I walked over. I figured our comfort with walking in/with/through Bangalore traffic would mean that the walk would be fine for us. And it was, in the sense that we emerged unharmed. But man, people drive too fast around here! I'd rather walk in Bangalore traffic any day.

The graveyard was fantastic, however.

Zion wanted his picture taken with the oldest grave in the graveyard, which belonged to the wife of a Revolutionary war soldier, while Liel liked this monument-y thing.

Some of the graves were overgrown, and one of them was holding up a tree. Some were so weathered it was impossible to read them.

We had a really lovely visit, and plan to go back on semi-regular basis. Even the dead like the occasional visitor, right?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Some things I've learned about dosa

A couple of days ago the four of us were chatting about Bangalore when Zion moaned, "Please don't talk about dosa! I miss it so much!"

There's nothing like seeing your kid in deep melancholy over something you miss and want too to motivate you, amirite, parents?? So I called up a friend and suggested we get us some dosa on Monday. She was super excited, so today we drove down to Jersey City to taste the wares.

And the wares were OK. I mean, they weren't fantabulous by any means, but they weren't awful either. They were, I suppose, acceptable dosa. The restaurant itself was great-- fantastic Ganesha statue, incense, and really nice people running it. They even brought over mango juice after we'd ordered, "for the babies."

What I've learned though, is that in Bangalore we ate very Bangalore specific dosa. And chutney. And sambar. The masala in the masala dosa was pretty much the same though, so that was nice! And the sambar and chutney I had today were good...they just weren't the flavors I was really missing (though the chutney came closer than the sambar. Through a little mint in there and I'd probably have been over the moon!).

The dosa themselves were different in several ways, even though we ordered the Bangalore style dosa. First off, they were huge! Much bigger than the ones we typically got in Bangalore. But I love me some dosa, so that's not really a complaint. Secondly, the chili powder/paste that generally is understood to define a Bangalore dosa, was not red here. It was a kind of tan color, and a bit salty. Not a fan. Thirdly, and most importantly, the dosa were dry. In the past I'd read that a good dosa should be crisp and not in the least greasy, which surprised me a bit because the dosa we got in Bangalore were kind of greasy. Buttery, really. But in a way that left some oil on your fingers. You know, in a delicious way. And since Bangalore apparently loves butter/ghee, you could order a butter masala dosa and they'd pour an additional little scoop of melted butter on your dosa before handing it to you. I never did that, but now I'm a bit regretful. Next time!

Anyway, I think the non-greasy nature of the dosa that is apparently more standard is what kept me from being a big dosa fan prior to moving to Bangalore. They're good, but they're not (to paraphrase the sugar pushing tiger) GRRRRRREAT.

The place we went to today does sell a Bangalore butter masala dosa...maybe I'll try that in the future. In the meantime we have a couple more places closer to home we want to try out. So stay tuned as I continue my quest to find my beloved Bangalore dosa in the Hudson valley!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sari closets

Well, it's been a while...and I'm afraid I only have crappy pictures to show for it. Would you believe we've lost our camera again? I think it's the only casualty of our move but still, no camera. So we're back to old iphone pics for the time being.

Anyway, I finally got around to the kids' closet doors. Except that they're not doors at all! Our house came with your standard sliding closet doors, which I'm not a huge fan of. They never slide as well as I think they ought, and they're pretty boring to boot. So I asked Liel if she wanted to use one of the saris she bought in Bangalore for her closet, and she was quite enthusiastic. The down side was that the sari she wanted to use is a very slippery synthetic silk, something which is far beyond my ability to control and sew into curtains for the closet. Luckily my friend Heidi came to my rescue and suggested I buy some curtain rings with clips on them and just clip the fabric up. Done!

Here's Liel's closet now:

She's quite pleased with is, and so am I.

Now, as it happens, when I first started thinking of ways to use saris in my house a few months ago, my friend Laura said she had a sari she'd had made into curtains, and that she didn't have any place for them and I could use them at my house. I'd thought to use them as actual curtains, but the placement of heat/AC vents in our bedrooms means that long curtains are probably out (side note: I have no idea what length of curtain, other than long, might look good. Suggestions, please!). But as I was laying out the fabric for Liel's curtains, Zion saw the already made ones from Laura and commented on how pretty they were. And I thought, "Hey, those would be perfect for Zion's closet! Stupid gender stereotypes, keeping me from thinking that up in the first place!"

So I hung the other sari in Zion's room for closet curtains, and they look fabulous. They're blue, and match the blue tones in his room really well.

They also match his legos and shoes all over the floor too, don't you think? :)

So there's the latest on the house! More curtain posts to come, as I sort out bedroom curtains for all of us, plus curtains for the sunroom. We threw out the 70s era blinds the sunroom came with, and in the summer I prefer the windows bare. But I think curtains will be nice in the winter, and probably help keep the room warmer, too.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

House in progress

We've been living in the House Without Warning for nearly 3 weeks now! And we love, love, love it, even though we haven't unpacked everything, and still have piles of crap laying around, as you'll see.

Earlier this week we had an ailing pine tree and many an evergreen bush removed from the front yard, which got us one step closer to our master plan for growing. I also ordered blueberry bushes for the front of the house! Since then my dad and I have spent some time brainstorming how we might be arrange fruit trees and build an enclosed garden (deer, deer, everywhere!) without, um, bringing down the tone of the block. So to speak. I guess chicken wire in the front yard isn't hip these days.

At any rate, here are some pics now that we're 3 weeks in. None of the basement and basically none of the backyard. More eventually, I'm sure! Probably even better ones ;)

Ok, here's the newly bare front of the house. Re-painting the shutters, garage door diamonds, and front door (not shown here, because of the storm door in front) is on my to-do list as well, as soon as I choose a color or two.


More kitchen. Sadly small oven. Someday we might take out the oven and the range, and put an entire stove where the range is, and fill in the oven space with more cabinets. The cabinets are a rather boring color, but they are solid wood! Also, the counter desperately needs replacing (it's partially held on with TAPE), but now we're wondering if we shouldn't wait til we sort out our oven/stove issue first, since that would change the size of counter we need.

Kitchen table, covered in crap. And also flowers a lovely friend brought over.

Dining room, entering from kitchen, looking towards living room. Awesome room divider view 1.

Dining room as seen from living room. Plenty of crap on this table too.

Living room. Awesome room divider view 2.

Hall. That's our room at the end. The doors on the right are bathroom, linen closet, and extra closet (there's a whole 'nother coat closet!).

Zion's room. Obviously.

Our room. The door is to our half bath.

The closet. Because seeing our slightly organized clothes is a treat!

Liel's room. Far messier than usual. I pointed this out and she sighed and said in a put out voice, "I know, mommy. It's just hard! And I'm being kind of lazy."

Sunroom, with deck out the window.

Sunroom with backyard out the window.

Sunroom with more backyard.

And more backyard.

So, there you have it! At least for the moment :)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Our niece, Hayley, came to visit us in August. She is completely fabulous, and we had a great time with her! And what's more, she took family pictures for us, something we had neglected to do for, oh, 7 years. Last night we sorted through them and came up with our top contenders for prints. But there are too many, especially of me and Robert. It was much easier to narrow down the choices for the kids and whole family ones, because Zion tends to have sleepy eyes in pictures, and Liel hasn't learned to smile naturally on command (instead she does what Robert calls her "pirate grimace"). So honestly for those categories we pretty much went with the ones where most of the subjects looked halfway decent.

But, as I said, too many of me and Robert! Help us narrow it down :) What are you top 2 from among these?

(Don't my tattoos look amazing in black and white??)

Actually I have a few too many choices for pics of Zion and Liel, too. Thoughts?

Edit: for my are the other pics (so far) that are our favorites.