26 November, 2020

What are you grateful for today? #GratitudeCircle

 On this Thanksgiving day, what are you grateful for?

A simple ritual like creating a Gratitude list is scientifically proven to bring joy to our lives. Did you ever try it?




I have been writing Gratitude lists every month this year (ofcourse, I missed it 2 times :-p), and it gives me a satisfaction and brings me a realization of how fortunate I am than many others in different aspects of life.  

This time, I am writing a gratitude list for 3 months - September, October, and November. 

I am grateful for -

1. Career

My career has become a major part of my life. The last few months have been a good learning experience and I am grateful to my colleagues and friends who helped me grow. 

2. Family

Nothing might have been easy without the love of family members and their support. Accomplishments in both work and dance might have been impossible without themhelp.

I am thankful to God for keeping me in the abundance of love. 


PC:www.pixabay.com



3. Dance

This part of my life is completely unplanned and I am grateful to God for giving me opportunities to showcase my dance skills at the right time.

 I am indebted to my Guru A. Parvathi Ramachandran and my parents for introducing this art form.

I have started my website as well this week. One more thing to be thankful for!

https://kaladeepika.com/

4. Travel

We, as a family enjoy traveling and I am grateful to be staying in Colorado. 

In September, we traveled to South West Colorado covering the Black Canyon of Gunnison, Million Dollar Highway, and Telluride. The other travelogues would be published soon on my blog.

This month, we went for a scenic drive - A dirt road from Colorado Springs to Victor and the winding road to Phantom Canyon. Just a day trip of 5 hrs drive due to Covid. Couldn't stay anywhere as cases are spiking to the maximum.





5. Birthdays

We celebrated my husband's birthday in September and my younger one's birthday in October. Covid couldn't discourage us much, we decorated the home with Angry bird's theme and balloons as usual, just didn't invite all of our friends. 

A sumptuous meal and cake completed the celebration. I am thankful for these little joys of decorating the house, cooking/ordering elaborate meals, and eating cake on birthdays. 


PC: www.pixabay.com



So, that's it on my Gratitude list. I will have good news to share on my next gratitude list!

 Have a safe and happy time at home.

We are just 1 month and a few days away to ring in the new year 2021. Are you waiting for the new year?

Until next time,





Linking this to #GratitudeCircle hosted by Vidya Sury. 





24 November, 2020

The Essential Vegetarian Indian Cookbook by Pavani Nandula - [Book Review]

Book Details:


Title: The Essential Vegetarian Indian Cookbook 

Author: Pavani Nandula

Genre: Vegetarian Cooking, Indian Cooking, Cookbook

Print Length : 208 pages

Publisher : Rockridge Press

Source: A free review copy from the author



Blurb:


Authentic Indian cooking comes home―125 classic and flavorful vegetarian recipes

Simply put, spice is the true essence of Indian cuisine. With The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook, you’ll learn how to master the magic of mixing simple herbs and spices like cumin and turmeric with fresh vegetables, legumes, grains, and dairy to create irresistible layers of flavor.

From Vegetable Korma to Paneer Makhani, this complete vegetarian cookbook gives you everything you need to get started simmering up these diverse and versatile dishes. Whether you crave Indian food and want to re-create your favorite mouthwatering meals at home or you’re trying to switch to a smarter, healthier way of eating, this is the perfect guide for you.

This standout vegetarian cookbook delivers:

125 Plant-based recipes
―Discover dozens of delicious family favorites and lesser-known vegetarian fare that cover a wide range of regional Indian cuisine.
A straightforward approach―This vegetarian cookbook offers precise, easy-to-follow prep instructions and easy-to-find ingredients.
The basics―Explore Indian cooking techniques, kitchen and pantry essentials, expert tips, and more.

Spice up mealtime, anytime with this essential vegetarian cookbook full of real Indian flavors.

Purchase Link:



My Review :


The Essential Vegetarian Indian Cookbook is for those who want to try Indian cuisine and learn the basics of Indian cooking.

Spices play an important role in India cuisine, hence Pavani covers the information about the different spices used in the cuisine and introduces the readers to different types of lentils , legumes, cooking techniques and kitchen equipment required in the first chapter.

The book is divided into multiple sections to cover the basics, appetizers, recipes with egg and diary, main course dishes, chutneys, salads, desserts and spice blends.




There is a glossary, measurement conversions and menu ideas at the end of the book.

My Favorite recipe from the book is Kadai Paneer

Pavani explains the masala preparation ahead which can be stored for the future preparations. Paneer is the favorite for most of the vegetarians and Kadai paneer blends the spice and the creamy rich flavor of tomatoes very well. 

Tried this today and it came out so well. We had the curry with Indian flat bread rotis and kids too liked the curry.

I am planning to cook this dish for special gatherings and family meals as well.



What I liked about the book?


I liked some unique recipes like Stuffed Bell peppers with Aloo, Zucchini dry curry, Spicy Seviyan, and Coconut ginger chutney. 

I loved the meal plan ideas at the end of the book which are good for a simple family meal or a special buffet meal.

The process to prepare Paneer and Sambar masala are very useful for everyday cooking and planning. 

Appetizers mentioned in the book are interesting. I might love to try Okra fries and Vada Pav.




My Rating: 5/5

I recommend this book to the beginners in Indian cooking. It might be helpful for people like me as well who know the basics of Indian cooking and want to try the unique recipes that I mentioned above.

PS: I have received this review copy from the author in exchange for a review and this is my honest opinion of the book.

About the Author:

PAVANI NANDULA is the cook, creator, and photographer behind Cook’s Hideout, a top Indian food blog that she founded in 2006. Her recipes have been featured in BuzzFeed, Brit + Co, and Country Living. She lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband and two kids. Find her online at CooksHideout.com and follow her on Instagram @cooks_hideout.

Until next time,






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10 November, 2020

Bewitched by Ruchi Singh - [Book Spot Light]

 

 


About the Book:

The eternal dance of attraction, lust, and love has been going on since time immemorial.


The divine apsara Menaka descends to Earth at Indra’s behest to distract the sage Vishwamitra from the penance that would bring him unimaginable powers. Menaka succeeds in bewitching Vishwamitra, but her actions are destined to have dire consequences for both.

Eons later, their story is set to repeat itself.

Poorva has always played by society’s rules and ideas of decorum. But what happens when her own loved ones betray her in the worst way imaginable? Does she still have to remain bound by their rules?

Rudra plays with power and people like they are pieces on a chessboard. He has no qualms about indulging his desires, be it money or women, but is determined not to be bound by either.

What happens when these two diametrically opposite souls are brought together by fate?

In the game of power, lust, greed and betrayal, some win and some lose. But are there any winners or losers in the game of love?

Like Menaka and Vishwamitra, are Poorva and Rudra too destined to see their story end in tragedy? Or will the divine power prevail?

Standalone novel from the author of #Bestseller 'The Bodyguard' - Undercover Series #1




Read an Excerpt from Bewitched


The seat had remained vacant, and it reminded her of the premiere night and Samar’s friend… no, Rudra Pratap Maurya. 
Well, he was something. Full of confidence and a little too forward, which normally was the result of being born with a silver spoon. Who would know that better than she? But she wasn’t brash, quite the opposite. Would she be meeting him again today? She might. The thought incited a flutter in her heart. 
Twice during her performance in the last month, she had experienced the same kind of flutter and was reminded of him. Why? She shouldn’t be thinking about another man. She had no right.
A loud noise in the living room brought her out of her troubled thoughts. Mansi was bustling around in the suite and must have dropped something. She would be busy packing their things. They had been living here for more than a month and it was almost like shifting house. 
With a stifled yawn, Poorva got out of bed. Mansi was ready with her morning cup of tea when she came out of her bedroom. 
“He is a womanizer, and from a gangster family to boot!” Mansi declared.
Poorva frowned and picked up the cup. “Who?”
“Rudra Pratap Maurya, or RPM as he is called in his circles. I googled him. His grandfather was rumored to be a don in Mumbai, involved in arms, drugs, and the like.”
“Rumored?”
“And this man RPM… though he doesn’t have anything illegal under his name,” Mansi went on as if she hadn’t heard her, “…last year he had hooked up with three different women.”
“Why are you telling me all this?”
“He is after you.”
“Mansi, come on!” Poorva sat in the balcony chair and yawned again.
“I saw him at the party and then yesterday, he was spinning a yarn about being there at the parking lot just like that. He must have been at the show last night. He has this glint in his eyes, full of lust when he looks at you.”
“Lust! Only?” She laughed at Mansi’s dramatic exaggeration, “Thank you. I’ll be on my guard if I meet him again.”
“If? You are meeting him in an hour.”
Amused, Poorva looked at her with raised eyebrows.
“I’ll not take this month’s salary if he is not present at today’s brunch.”
Poorva’s phone pinged bringing the bizarre conversation to an end.


About the Author:
Author of Amazon Bestseller Romantic Thriller 'The Bodyguard', Ruchi Singh is an IT Professional & Novelist, writing stories under Romance & Suspense Genre. She is a bilingual author and writes in both English & Hindi.

Winner of TOI WriteIndia Season 1, Ruchi also publishes romantic short reads under 'Hearts & Hots' collection, besides being a contributing author to many anthologies.
 
A voracious reader, she loves everything—from classics to memoirs to editorials to chick-lit, but her favourite genre is ‘romantic thriller’. Besides writing and reading, her other interests include dabbling with Indian classical dance forms.


Contact the Author:

Until next time,










08 November, 2020

The Journey to being a blogger and Social Media Influencer

 Hello, my blog followers and friends, this is a personal post about my journey to being a blogger and social media influencer.

Do you know, what's beautiful about being a blogger? Pouring your heart out and emotions flowing freely into words. I am not an introvert for sure, but I enjoy writing more than speaking. Writing comes naturally to me without much effort. I am not talking about professional writing, but just like a journal jotting down my experiences.

How I grew my blog


The Begining:

I started my blog around 13 years ago to document my book reviews, but then, my love for travel dominated my blog. This is my first blog post which seems too silly now. 

During this journey of 13 years, I learned a lot from other bloggers, read many beautiful blogs, watched videos, and read articles on how to manage a blog, what plugins to use, how to format it blah blah..My page views were too low as expected(500 views per month) as I didn't write anything to impress others but used my blog as a journal.

The Progress:

The next phase started when I was researching how to promote blogs on social media or whatever channels available. I started traveling more and there is a lot of content that I am publishing regularly. 

I got extra time to write posts in simple, clear sentences, proofread, and edit them in small paragraphs. I also got a knack for creating graphics with Canva which made my blog posts look better and readable. 

Of course, sharing my blog posts on social media really helped me. Also, it made me understand what it means to be a social media influencer

Social Media Impact :

The first platform that helped me to grow my blog is Twitter. I least expected it, but I use Twitter also to get the latest information on some trending topics and follow the topics that I am interested in. I got my first 500 followers with this platform. 



Facebook is for my close friends and family, so I get more page views from Facebook naturally. But, I don't over-promote there and restrict promoting personal content. 

My most favorite platform is Instagram. I love sharing the photos from my blog posts, adding a call to action to let the followers click the link in my bio, and increase the reach of my post by using relevant hashtags.

Doesn't seem complicated right?

- beautiful phots

- Call to action and

- Relevant hashtags

My followers gradually increased to around 700 within a few months and my traffic to my blog too saw some hits from this platform.

Pinterest Magic!

The last and most effective platform which helped my blog grew in terms of page views is Pinterest. I would have learned about its power in my earlier days of blogging.

Due to many mentors and blogging friends like Shailaja, I could quickly understand the basics of Pinterest to make it work. Here is Shailaja's page if you want to get her guidance on Pinterest. 

My Pinterest brings me the most traffic nowadays even when I don't blog regularly. My Pinterest profile gets around 50k profile views every month and my blog also reached 15 k monthly views with around 500 views every day.

PC: www.pixabay.com


SEO:

I am still a newbie on SEO, but this really helps me in bringing some of my pages to the top place in Google search. Since I am busy these days, I couldn't focus more on it, but I follow a few tips to get some results at least.



- To use relevant keywords in my blog post title, the first paragraph, and in the search description for each post

- To research topics that are trending to write blog posts

- To rename the images with keywords and use alt text to insert keywords

- Use lengthier posts with simple, easy to understand sentences and small paragraphs

- Use high-resolution images and graphics

I think, if I spend more time on SEO, I can increase my website traffic for sure.

So, that is the journey so far to 15k page views per month. If you are a blogger, did you experience and explore the topics that I mentioned?

I would love to know your experiences and journey to being a blogger and social media influencer

Until next time,





I am happy to be collaborating with Intellifluence for this opportunity to talk about social media influencing. 




07 November, 2020

Black Canyon of Gunnison, Montrose, Colorado

We have traveled a lot across Colorado and covered around 80% of places in the state. But, this is the first time for us visiting Southwest Colorado.

We visited Mesa Verde national park, Great Sand dunes national park, Mahalakshmi temple in Crestone, and Pagosa Springs but never ventured beyond that.

We have heard a lot about Telluride, the Switzerland of America- Ouray, and million-dollar highway,  so we were planning for this dream trip for a long time. But, we don't want to do a quick trip as well. As usual, we plan to cover all the beautiful places around whenever we visit one place.





Due to the Covid,  these days we are exploring local places more than ever. Black Canyon of Gunnison is known as a less visited national park in Colorado. So, obviously, our choice during this time!

But, I strongly recommend not to travel to Colorado now as Covid cases are on the highest point with an average of 3000 cases every day. Fortunately, we traveled just before the fall season started and the cases were less at that time.

Here is our travelogue - Day 1 and Day 2

Day 1 is mostly dedicated to traveling to Montrose from Colorado Springs. This time, we chose to go through Salida, driving along the river. We crossed Salida, driving through the scenic Collegiate Peaks byway. It's our first time watching so many peaks together in Colorado even though we are not new to the mountains.



We crossed through Monarch Pass, and the drive was splendid. The road between Monarch Pass and Montrose was beautiful too. We could see the vast waterbody - The Gunnison River along the route. 

Lovely beaches and scenic bridges!



Day 2 - Black Canyon of Gunnison


We rested for that night in Montrose at Hampton Inn. The hotel was very good and they provided excellent cleaning services in the light of Covid. 

Black Canyon of Gunnison National park in Western Colorado is a steep canyon known for it's highest cliff 'Painted wall'. The Black canyon got its name as some parts of the canyon don't get any sunlight due to its depth and look black. The entry fee is $25 per vehicle.




We reached Black Canyon of Gunnison by 11 AM. The South rim visitor center was open and the Park official guided us on kid-friendly trails and tips to save time to cover more in one day.

Our plan was set! We wanted to cover almost all overlook points in South rim Scenic drive, drive down through the winding East portal road, have lunch at Montrose and drive to North rim.

This is the first overlook that impressed us. Tomichi Overlook.



Some great overlook points are Devil's lookout, Chasm View, Painted wall view, Dragon point, and Sunset view. 



See the Gunnison river in between the canyon walls and the beautiful red colors of the rocks.




We did a kid-friendly trail - Warner point nature trail which is around 1.5 miles round trip, but we were not too satisfied with that trail as it wasn't very scenic. We would have tried oak flat loop trail instead. It's 2 miles round trip.

Driving through the East Portal road is a great experience. It's a dirt narrow winding road, so you need to drive in low gear slowly, but it's completely worth it.
Here is a photo from the river up close after reaching down!



Then, we finished our lunch on the way to North rim. The drive to North rim from South rim takes 2 hrs and it is mostly boring and not scenic(through Hotchkiss). But, I definitely recommend the other route along Curecanti recreational area which will take around 2.5 hrs, if you have the extra time. That is the scenic alternative.

The overlooks / View are much better from the North rim than the South Rim, but you should set 3 to 5 hrs of your time just to drive and cover them. 



Can you see the little heart-shaped land between canyon? Isn't it cool?

In the North Rim, the Exclamation point gives the best view. We also did a small hike which offered amazing views. The North rim visitor center was closed. Due to covid, only limited facilities are open. 

We were exhausted by the end of the day with many hikes and relaxed in our hotel. We would have spent time at the hot tub spa but couldn't due to Covid. Travel can never be the same until the Covid vaccine comes, right?

Stay in touch with me on my blog / Instagram (@ramyaelr) / Twitter (@mahathi_ramya)/ Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/fantasticfeathers.in) so that you don't miss Day 3 and Day 4 of our travelogues :-)

Until next time,



Linking this to #MondayMusings hosted by Corinne

















21 October, 2020

Smile of Deceit by Keith Newman - [Book Review]





Summary:

When two teenage girls disappear exactly sixteen years apart, police are convinced that the cases must be connected. One suspect was present on both occasions and now he has checked out of his hotel early and cannot be found.


But nothing is straightforward and it becomes clear that police involved in the original investigation have secrets of their own. When the cold case is reopened new evidence about both girls is established quickly, and there is a strong suspicion that the police are being manipulated.


Ruby Delacourt, the partner of the main suspect, is convinced that he is innocent and she uses her skill as a reporter to do her own digging. But she helps to uncover a much darker side to his character and an unexpected link between the two cases.


This is the turning point and the race is on to catch the real killer – a race which begins in the mountains of the French Alps and ends in a ski lodge just north of Lake Bled.


Information about the Book

Title: Smile of Deceit

Author: Keith Newman

Genre: Thriller

Publication Date: 20th October 2020

Page Count: 478

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55648700-smile-of-deceit 

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Smile-Deceit-Keith-Newman/dp/1913568172 



My Review:



Smile of Deceit is an investigation thriller. Two teenage girls disappear suddenly within 16 years apart and one person is present in both the places raising the suspicion if he is responsible for their disappearance.

What I liked about the book?


The storyline is unique. 2 disappearances with one person present in both places. I loved the characterization and narrative too. Characters have many layers and it is interesting to read about their thoughts and their secrets revealing gradually as the story progresses.

The narrative is cool and friendly. The suspense is maintained until the end of the book.

What might have been better?

I loved the story , but I felt, it became too descriptive and boring at some points. Editing and proofreading might have fixed a few minor typos.

No other negative points.

I would recommend this to people who love investigation and crime thrillers.

My Rating: 4/5

PS: I have received this book from Authoright for free in exchange for my review and this is my honest opinion on the book.



Author Information


H:\Documents\Downloads\2020\Smile of Deceit\img087 (2).jpg










My name is Keith Newman and I have two things in common with Rodney, the character in ‘Only Fools and Horses’ – we are both tall and slim (well at least I was when I was his age) and we both have one ‘O’ level.  Perhaps the similarity ends there.


My full-time formal education stopped when I was 15 in 1957 so I am getting on a bit.  Lewes Secondary Modern School for Boys was good for us in many ways – we had to behave ourselves, were taught to work hard or else, and not be too interested in the girls from the school next door.


My first job was as office boy at the local council offices.  It wasn’t long before I knew what everyone was doing in their own little rooms and I probably knew more about the people working there than the boss did.  I moved about quite a bit in the same department, but was always able to select the best manager to work with based on my insight into the various power struggles.  I paid invoices, moved trampolines from one school to another (only losing one in the process) and helped to organise the 11+ examination.  Then I ended up in Personnel (HR as it’s now called).  We had 36,000 employees working in about 300 sites and I got to visit every one.  It was my dream job and I ended up managing the whole team.  We certainly had a variety of problems.


But now in my retirement I’ve started to write fiction and I can for the first time in my life be creative.  My first book, ‘Smile of Deceit’ is a crime thriller and I am already planning the next one.













Tour Schedule





Monday 19th October

Stuck in the Book


Tuesday 20th October

Bookish Blue


Wednesday 21st October

Fantastic Feathers


Thursday 22nd October

Alex’s Books


Friday 23rd October

Jazzy Book Reviews


Monday 26th October

Turn the Page Blog


Tuesday 27th October

Jera’s Jamboree


Wednesday 28th October

Orchard Book Club


Thursday 29th October

Georgia Books


Friday 30th October

TanyCandleCo


Until next time,



03 October, 2020

A Dangerous Affair by Rubina Ramesh - Book Spotlight

 






Print Length: 211 pages
Publication Date: September 11, 2020
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
Genre: Romance, History, British Raj


Blurb

Charu...

She is a young girl of twenty who leads a well-protected life. But in 1947, when India is at the brink of getting her independence, who could remain innocent to death and loss? Charu is not spared either. Anger bubbles inside her, and she vows to avenge her loss. But to do so, she has to cross the path of Dev.

Dev...

He is the privileged son of the zamindar. He enjoys being a spoilt brat and has a Cassanova image. But his good looks and charming smile hide some deep secrets. Will he be able to bare his heart to a young girl who was much beneath his status? 
They meet, and they clash. Falling in love was in their destiny. But would the same destiny send Charu to face her death? Or will Dev be able to save her on time?

Read the Excerpt
 

 




    

Rubina Ramesh is an avid reader, writer, blogger, book reviewer and marketer. She is the founder of The Book Club, an online book publicity group. Her first literary work was published in her school magazine. It gave her immense pride to see her own name at the bottom of the article. She was about 8 years old at that time. She then went to complete her MBA and after her marriage to her childhood friend, her travel saga started. From The Netherlands to the British Isles she lived her life like an adventure. After a short stint in Malaysia, she finally settled down in the desert state of USA, Arizona. Living with her DH and two human kids and one doggie kid, Rubina has finally started living the life she had always dreamed about – that of a writer.

Click here to check out all the titles by the author...

You can stalk her @
      
        Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Until next time,


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