28 November, 2023

5 hacks for Instant Happiness

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Now a days, people are searching for happiness. Many are clue less where to find it. But, I believe , Happiness is found within us. 

Being grateful for what we have, enjoying each moment and being present can make us happy. 

What about instant happiness? What to do for Instant Happiness? Are there any things / tasks / ways to get happiness? 

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Here are a few tips which bring me instant happiness:

1. Coffee

I need not drink coffee, just the smell of freshly brewing coffee make me feel better anytime. It can bring my mind away from boring and sad thoughts. It can lift up my mood and give me instant happiness.

Image by Elias Shariff Falla Mardini from Pixabay

2. Flowers

I love shopping for flowers. I enjoy picking up different flowers to put in my vase, like mixing up different colors of flowers, love the process of arranging them on rangolis etc., 

Flowers bring me instant happiness. That might be the reason we gift flower bouquets for important celebrations. 

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite from Pexels

3. Scent

A good scent always gives me instant happiness. I love those scented candles, but I read somewhere that the smoke caused by these candles is as harmful as cigarettes. 

Then, I switched to diffusers and essential oils. But, picking a pure essential oil is important as we get many fake ones in stores. I love lavender , peppermint and jasmine scent. 

Image by Racheal Parkinson from Pixabay

4. Nature walks

Nature is my best friend. A good walk / hike along the forests or mountains or beach or a lake is so refreshing. It immediately changes my mood. 

Image by Anja from Pixabay

I love watching the colors of the leaves, colorful birds, interesting cloud formations, colors of the sky during Sunrise, Sunset, the Sun rays reflecting on water and leaves giving the nature a gorgeous glow, rainbows, the smell of rain, the sound of heavy rain, the snow .... The list is too big. 

Don't you think, the shortcut to happiness is around us in the form of nature?

5. Doing something nice to others

Giving is happiness. Try it once, you will know. When we help someone and if it benefits them, it gives us happiness and satisfaction for sure.

Image by HK Kim from Pixabay

Coincidentally, today is Giving Tuesday. Many companies match the donations given on this day, so that the benefitting organizations get double the donation that we give. Try to donate for your favorite cause or make someone smile today.

What tasks give you instant happiness? Please do share in comments.

Linking this post to Fiction Monday hosted by Vinitha Dileep.

Until next time,

16 November, 2023

Budget-Friendly Holiday Gift Ideas: Top Rated Gifts for $20 or Less

This post may contain affiliate links, clicking on those links may earn some commission to us without any additional cost to you.

Holiday season is coming. I am excited for holidays,  vacations and restful time. But, this is also a gifting season, right? Are you searching for budget-friendly gifting options? Here are some suggestions.

If you are looking for gifting option for kids, check this gift guide. If you are looking for non conventional gift ideas, check these ideas. A few Black Friday shopping tips here. 

Top Rated Gifts for $20 or Less

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1. Gratitude Journal

These days, we are learning more about being mindful and grateful. A Gratitude journal is a great way to achieve happiness and satisfaction in life. A beautiful journal motivates anyone to think and write one thing that they are grateful for everyday. Don't you agree?

Image by 育银 戚 from Pixabay

Try this journal.

2. Candles

Candles are always a good gift as they can be used as a decor and they can make our home smell great and give us right ambience. I prefer mild scented candles which add a beautiful touch to the home interiors. 

Image by Jeremy Kyejo from Pixabay

Try the below options.

3. Clear Windproof Umbrella

I love this umbrella and the color. A nice gift option to both adults and kids.

4. Indoor plant with cute face pot

Who doesn't love indoor plants? This comes with a cute pot as well. Good for decor.

Image by Milada Vigerova from Pixabay

5. Water bottles

I love thermos water bottles with stainless steel inside. Easy to clean and stays cool / hot for a long time. Good for long drives.

I also like the idea of having a fruit infusing water bottle. A healthier way to drink water and makes water flavorful.

6. Reed Diffuser set

I am using this set regularly for bathrooms. Works great, scent is mild, but gives a pleasant smell. I like that it comes as a set, I use one for each bathroom.

Also love these potpourri bags and bowl as a gifting option.


7. Perfumes and Personal items

There are many budget friendly options in perfumes. 

Image by NoName_13 from Pixabay

Here are some:



 8. Makeup items 

There are a lot of options to gift makeup items - Nailpolish sets, Blush, Moisturizer, Facial mist etc.,

9. Accessories

Accessories like ear buds, head phones and keyboard / mouse are good gifting options. What do you say?

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

If you explore more in this area, you might get more ideas.

10. Cookware

Last, but not least. Cookware is the most useful gift for everyday use.  How about every day items like Electric tea kettle, Egg cooker etc? 

Image by Ionel Stanciu from Pixabay

Here are some options that I think are good:

How do you like these options? Do you suggest any other budget friendly gift options? Please do let me know in comments.

Until next time,

07 November, 2023

5 Simple Diwali Decoration ideas for your home

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Diwali / Deepavali is my favorite festival. Lights, crackers, Lakshmi Pooja, and sweets make this festival special. I have many treasured memories of Diwali.

Diwali is celebrated as the day Ram returned to Ayodhya with Sita. People celebrate it as festival of lights which symbolizes removal of darkness/ ignorance by knowledge or light. This is also the day when Satyabhama, Krishna's beloved wife defeated demon 'Narakasura'. Usually, everyone will offer pooja to Goddess Lakshmi in the evening of Diwali.

There is a term 'Diwali Cleaning'. Cleaning the house before Diwali is considered important as people believe that Goddess Lakshmi comes to our house on Diwali. That is the reason we decorate our homes, light lamps and place them in every corner of our house also indicating the win of Good / light over evil/ Dark.

This is how we celebrate Diwali / Deepavali. Also, check this post on how to involve kids in festivities

Being a working mom and a dance teacher, I don't get to spend a lot of time on shopping for decor, So I prefer a simple Diwali with easy decoration ideas.

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Here are my 5 simple Diwali Decoration ideas:

1. Rangoli


I choose simple designs, wet the surface a little, draw with chalk and fill it with colors. I also place flowers on the rangoli and place Diyas. It usually takes 20 mins to 1 hr. I create rangolis on the evening of Diwali.

This washable chalk is more than enough and is cheap. 5 shades of colors with glitter is perfect.

Image by Samir Khanal from Pixabay

2. Floating candles


flowers / flower petals

I fill a traditional brass bowl or a glass bowl with water and place the lighted floating candles with some flowers. Sometimes, I also add decorative gel beads in a glass tumbler or a candle holder and place the floating candle above it on water. Looks good as a center piece on the table or any corner of the house. 

Image by F1 Digitals from Pixabay

3. Decorative hangings

Marigold garlands are always a good deal. A set of 5 to 10 garlands would be good to hang. But, recently I am in love with these lotus hangings

4. DIY Diwali Decor


We try different crafts every year for Diwali with kids.

We paint clay diyas with many designs and use them for decoration. 

We used to prepare paper lanterns with construction paper. We also made paper diyas and decorated them on wall. 

Check this video for similar crafts - https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=zLgdz_3G51A

5. String lights and LED lamps

Diwali decor is not complete without the lights. These string lights behind transparent white curtains make house look bright , but simple.

LED diyas are good option in USA as we are scared of lighting many lamps inside the house due to fire danger. Also, due to weather, diyas / candles might not stay long, where LED diyas might come handy.

It's fun to arrange these LED lights on fancy candle holders / glass voltives.

We usually perform Lakshmi pooja in the evening, offer sweets to Goddess, light lamps / diyas, arrange these lights around the house and light sparklers and fire crackers to end the day.

Are there any other simple decor ideas that you suggest? Please do let me know in comments.

Until next time,

02 November, 2023

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward - [Book Review]

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Book Details:

Title: The Last House on Needless Street

Author: Catriona Ward

Genre: thriller, horror, suspense, psychological thriller

Print length: 368 pages

Source: Kindle copy from local library


This is the story of a serial killer. A stolen child. Revenge. Death. And an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet they are all lies...

You think you know what's inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you've read this story before. That's where you're wrong.

In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, lies something buried. But it's not what you think...

Purchase Link:

Audio Book - Limited time deal!

My Review:

Layer within a layer, story in multiple perspectives, a mental disorder, and domestic abuse - This is what I can tell about this book in one line. 

The story is definitely not straight forward. It's complex as it's narrated from 3 entities' perspectives and one of them is cat! 

This book has rave reviews and many recommendations from other book lovers. That reason made me pick this up to read. But, this book is not for me. I felt it's tough to follow. I agree, it's my favorite genre and perfect combo - thriller, suspense and psychological thriller, but it is a bit complex for me to understand. 

Ted is living alone in a house after his mom dies and he is one of the suspects in the case of a missing girl Lulu. Lulu's sister Dee moves in to the neighboring house to reveal the murderer of her sister or to find her sister (if she is alive). But, how Ted lives, his insecurities, his mental disorders, how he copes up with problems, his secrets and what happened to Lulu is the remaining story.

The story is narrated in the perspective of Ted, Lauren (daughter of Ted) and Olivia (Cat of Ted). This is like going into their brains and reading their thoughts closely. The writing might be great as other book lovers said, but at some places, it felt too boring for me that I wanted to stop reading in the middle. 

So, without spoilers I can say, it's an average and unique read for me. 

My Rating: 3/5

About the Author:

CATRIONA WARD was born in Washington, DC and grew up in the United States, Kenya, Madagascar, Yemen, and Morocco. She read English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford and is a graduate of the Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia.

'The Last House on Needless Street' (Viper Books, Tor Nightfire) was a Times Book of the Month, Observer Book of the Month, March Editor’s Pick on Open Book, a Between the Covers BBC2 book club selection, a Times bestseller, and is being developed for film by Andy Serkis’s production company, The Imaginarium.

'Little Eve' (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2018) won the 2019 Shirley Jackson Award and the August Derleth Prize for Best Horror Novel at the 2019 British Fantasy Awards, making her the only woman to have won the prize twice, and was a Guardian best book of 2018. Her debut Rawblood (W&N, 2015) won Best Horror Novel at the 2016 British Fantasy Awards, was shortlisted for the Author’s Club Best First Novel Award and a WHSmith Fresh Talent title. Her short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies. She lives in London and Devon.

Until next time,

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