22 March, 2023

Health and Habits #BlogchatterBlogHop

First of all, Happy Ugadi / Gudi Padwa to all who are celebrating.

Ugadi is our Telugu new year and this year, we are celebrating on March 22nd. We prepare and eat 'Ugadi Pachadi' on this day, which is made with 6 different tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, spicy, tangy, and salt. 

Coming to this blog post's topic, I associate my health with my daily habits. 




We are what we are based on what we do regularly. Right?

There is one healthy habit that I am proud of.  I have a habit of detaching completely from work after office hours. Not checking emails or even not opening the laptop after 5PM. I kept my notifications Off on phone for office emails and slacks after 5 PM. 

You don't believe me when I say, my manager doesn't have my phone number. The only way he can contact me is through slack/ office email. Credits to my manager and his perspective on work-life balance. I am so grateful for that.

I consider my brain having a switch. After 5 PM it switches to family mode. It switches back to work mode only the next morning at 8.30 AM if it's not a weekend. I know, I am very fortunate to be working in such an organization that cares for the work-life balance of employees. 


Try these simple tips:

1. Keep your work notifications off after work hours or at night if not possible. 

2. Set an expectation to your team and manager that you will be offline after work hours and cannot respond immediately. Let there be some exceptions, but set an expectation.

3. Be mindful of whatever task you are doing. If it's work, it's 100% work and if it's a personal task, give it a 100% as well. Don't combine tasks and multi-tasking is not for long-term success.





One habit I want to change is trying yoga daily. I know the importance of yoga on my health and peace. I know that 30 to 60 mins a day of yoga makes a huge difference in my life. I have experienced this difference. 

I prefer taking yoga classes in the morning. But, with kids' school arrangements, it's becoming tough. I am busy with my dance classes and kids' activities at least thrice a week. There has to be a way and I am going to find it soon. 

In this Telugu New year, I hope to make things right. 


What is that one habit of yours which you are proud of? And, what is that one habit you want to change?

Please let me know in the comments.


Until next time,





This post is a part of Blogchatter Blog Hop.

09 March, 2023

Things that make me smile #FridayReflections

 I took this prompt from the list shared by Shalini here.

What makes you smile? I love to talk about this topic. 





I smile when ...

  • I see The Sun rising in the morning with colors changing in the Sky while having coffee

  • My kiddo wants to hug me without any reason

  • I visit some new place 

  • I am satisfied that the code I wrote meets my standards or even when my blog post looks good when I read it.

  • I spend time with my family watching some movies together.

  • I tease my son to take a lot of photos of me in all poses and he obliges.

  • I see my son performing for the band or showcasing his new skill.

  • I see that I got a comment for my blog post 😀

  • My students perform well on stage

  • I could write a meaningful blog post 

  • I could practice dance well and perform better on stage




  • I feel relaxed after yoga session

  • I feel the breeze on my face after hiking

  • I sit back to enjoy the nature

The list is really big. So, let's leave it here.

What makes you smile? Do let me know in the comments. 

Have a nice day!

Until next time,





Linking this to #FridayReflections.




27 February, 2023

How to make time to read - 3 simple tips #WriteAPageADay

This is my favorite topic to talk about. How to take time out of our busy lives to read?

I love reading a lot. I love thrillers, mystery, horror, contemporary, women's fiction, historical fiction, and travel magazines. My friends often ask me how do you get time to read.

Here are some silly tidbits that help me to squeeze in some time to read.


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Kindle App

I have started reading more when I am reading through the kindle app. I don't have a Kindle - e-reader. I am postponing it for a long time. I might buy some day.

But, the Kindle app on my phone itself is handy. I can read anytime, it updates my reading progress even when I read a little from my laptop on Kindle cloud reader or on my phone. I need not be online to use the Kindle app which is a big plus for me. Whenever there is no internet and I feel bored, I will start reading.

I read while waiting for the kid while picking him up from school or while making the idli/ dosa batter :-) Explore those silly options and small reading slots. 

No Daily target for reading

I believe that we should never read by force or as a rule. Reading is an activity I enjoy. I don't want to make it stressful. So, I don't set a time to read every day. Ya.. that's my tip :-) Don't set a time and do it when possible. 

For me, the time before I go to bed is good. 15 to 20 mins a day sometimes and none on weekends. It completely depends. Sometimes when some book is too good I am tempted to read during lunch break or in the middle of work (that's a secret though )





Pick the genres that you like

This tip can't go wrong. Many of us struggle with reading habits when we pick a book that is not interesting. If there is one genre that interests you, you will feel difficulty putting it down. Trust me on this.

I see many people trying to read the best-sellers like Rich Dad Poor Dad, Who Moved my Cheese etc., But, they don't enjoy non-fiction and feel it boring. Instead, if they pick some other genre, they might continue reading it. 

So, read a variety of books from multiple genres to know which one you enjoy, and try books in similar genres until you get into the habit of reading.


Let me know in the comments if any of these tips work for you.

Until next time,







Word count: 414 words



The Domain, Austin TX - A Cool place to spend a few hours #WriteAPageADay

Since it's been a year since we moved to Austin, We are exploring more places.


The Domain

The Domain is a beautiful place to shop, relax, eat, and roam. The Domain is an office, retail and residential places altogether. It has plenty of stores to show and multiple restaurants to eat. I see many people coming with dogs to just walk around.

Address:
11410 Century Oaks Terrace
Austin, TX 78758







The place is very neatly designed and is one of the hottest spots in the Austin. In the evenings, it's lit well with holiday lights, restaurants with live music and different outdoor art installations. 



The Domain features 100 upscale and mainstream retail stores. The Museum of Icecream is a great attraction too. The Domain is the most happening place and there are many cool Instagram spots to capture. 

There are many kid play areas, designed in a beautiful park-like setting. Many restaurants have live music and it is the best place to enjoy evenings. There are many free parking lots around. There are many high-end stores like Louis Vuitton and also regulars like Macy's. There is something for all ages and all types of people. 

Here is one Instagram-worthy restaurant - The Yard Milkshake bar.






Isn't that amazing? It's strawberry shortcake flavor.





How did you like this place? do let me know in the comments.

Until next time,






Word count: 228

22 February, 2023

2 Days in Big Bend National Park - Day 2 Itinerary #WriteApageADay

 Read our day 1 itinerary here

Big Bend National Park is divided into 3 regions - Chisos Basin, Santa Elena Canyon, and Rio Grande Village.


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We covered a few places in Santa Elena canyon and Chisos Basin on day 1. Day 2 is to drive to the Rio Grande Village visitor center and explore from there.

Before we go into the details of hikes and places to see on the way to Rio Grande village, let me share our experience of Glamping under the stars.


Glamping at The Summit

I have been following the Instagram account of The Summit at Big Bend for a long time. The accommodations in 1000 acres of raw desert land are interesting. Glamping here is a once-in-a-lifetime option. Fortunately, Lotus Tents with a stargazing option and a stargazing dome were available when we tried just 15 days before our trip in winter.








Summit at Big Bend in Terilingua is 40 miles from Castalon Visitor center which is nearer to Santa Elena Canyon. The drive towards the Summit is scenic with interesting colors in the sky at dusk.

we can relax or hike or stargaze at the Summit. When we visited in winter, the temperatures are pretty low in 30's, but the rooms have heaters and heated blankets. With respect to handling the cold, Stargazing domes did a good job than lotus tents. Lotus tents can accommodate a family of 4 with a queen bed and sofa. A stargazing dome is good for couples.











There are shared bathrooms and restrooms. Warm water is available. The rooms are equipped with a coffee maker, blankets, and towels. There is a fire pit and chairs outside each room.

Watching the Sunrise was the best experience from the Summit.


Fossil Discovery Exhibit:

If you are entering the park from the north, many suggested stopping at Fossil Discovery Exhibit. Especially, if you are visiting with kids. This is an open-air exhibit showcasing some of the fossils found here.

There are picnic tables in case you want to have quick lunch or breakfast. 


Rio Grande Village

Rio Grande Visitor Center:

Address:

450 Rio Grande Road
open 9-12, 1-4:30

There is wifi and gas available near this visitor center. Rio Grande Village is on the Southeast side of Big Bend National park. Here you can find camping options, overlooks, and a lot of trails. There is also an opportunity to visit Mexico by crossing the river. Some of the sites to check out here are Boquillas Canyon hike and overlook, Rio Grande Overlook, Daniels Ranch, the hot springs, and Ernst Tinaja trail.

Ernst Tinaja Trail:

This 1.6 miles round-trip moderate hike is a gem. We couldn't do this, but when we go next time, it will be on the top of our list. 

Trailhead is located off old ore road. You might need a 4X4 vehicle with high clearance to reach the trailhead. This canyon has various-sized pools with walls of colored layered stone. It is beautiful because of its colorful geological formation and pools.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/gingersteve/4220839514/




Boquillas Canyon:

This 1.4 miles hike climbs through some distance and goes through a sandy path along the river. There is a sand dune slide at the end!


Rio Grande Village Nature Trail:

One easy hike to do with kids! This is just 0.75 miles with a platform to watch the pond and has the best mountain and river views.

Hot Springs Historic Trail:

This is the second most recommended place in Rio Grande Village. The trail is just a 1-mile round trip hike.  We can walk past the historic buildings to reach the hot springs. The water is at 105 degrees!


https://garystockbridge617.getarchive.net/amp/media/hot-springs-e4dc86



Boquillas Port of Entry:

You can ride a rowboat 100 feet to reach Boquillas del Carmen, Mexico.

This travelogue is not done yet. We drove through Marfa and Elpaso to reach New Mexico eventually to Las Cruces and visited White Sands National park the next day. 

Until the next travelogue,






Word count: 668

20 February, 2023

5 Texas State Parks on my Travel wishlist #WriteAPageADay

 I love making these wish lists for any state. I do a lot of research and note down important information in the Evernote app. It's easy to refer to these notes both on my laptop and my mobile.

Texas has 89 state parks. Wow! I didn't know that before we came here.

This is the state parks map. 

When I searched for the best state parks to visit in Texas, I got many recommendations. But, the criteria to visit differs for everyone right? 

My Criteria are this:

- Within 5 hrs of Austin

- Lot of hiking options

- Scenery with mountains/ rock formations/lake/beach

- Kid-friendly and easy hikes

- Availability of food options and not very remote

Here are the best 5 state parks which meet the above criteria for me and they are on my travel wish list.


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1. Dinosaur Valley State Park, Glenrose

Address: 

1629 Park Rd 59Glen Rose, TX 76043

Hours: 8 am to 5 PM
Online reservation needed

There are multiple things to do. Dinosaur tracks, hiking, fishing, paddling, swimming, mountain biking, etc., $8 is the entry fee. We can easily spend one day, checking the dinosaur tracks and walking along the river. There is also a safari park near Glenrose. The Park is around 3hrs from Austin.

Wikipedia




2. Caddo Lake State Park


Address:
245 Park Road 2
Karnack, TX 75661

Hours: 8.15 to 4.45 PM
Online Reservations needed

Entry is $4 

The scenery amazed me when I saw the state park photos on Instagram. The bald cypress trees and Spanish moss make this lake look misty and surreal. There are boating tours as well. We can fish, paddle, hike, or stay in a cabin. The park is around 5 hrs from Austin.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/oneeighteen/48465107426




3. Palo Duro Canyon State Park


Address: 11450 Park Road 5Canyon, TX 79015

Hours: 7 am to 9 pm
Entry is $8

This is the second-largest canyon in the USA. There are 30 miles of hiking and biking trails. This park reaches an elevation of 3400 ft. above sea level. 

wikipedia




This is the only exception in my criteria as it's around 8 hrs from Austin. But, This is one of the not-to-miss places on my list.

4. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area


Address: 16710 Ranch Rd. 965Fredericksburg, TX 78624
Hours: 6.30 am to 10 pm
Entry is $8

Fredericksburg is a nice charming town with many wineries. This massive pink granite dome is beautiful with hill country views. We can hike, bike, rock climb, star gaze or bird watch here.

There are 11 miles of hiking trails. It takes around 45 mins to climb to the top. This  Park is around 2 hrs from Austin. 

5. Colorado Bend State Park


Address: 1201 Colorado Park RoadBend, TX 76824
Hours: 6 am to 10 pm

Entry is $5

We can hike, fish, paddle or take a cave tour here. The hike to Gorman falls is popular. It is a 3-mile round-trip hike on rugged terrain. 

This park is around 2 hrs from Austin.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrandallc/4558086413




There are many other parks on my wish list including Pedernales Falls state park, Mckinney falls state park, and Inks Lake state park. 

Waiting for the spring and summer for more outdoor time. What about you?

Until next time,






Word count: 547


17 February, 2023

The Oasis on Lake Travis, Austin TX #WriteAPageADay

The Oasis is a place in Texas hill country overlooking Lake Travis. It is also called the Sunset Capital of Texas.

With many restaurants, shops, sculptures, and breathtaking views of Lake Travis and the surrounding area, this is the best place for any special occasions and special dinners with family.


OASIS



The Oasis treats its guests with spectacular Sunsets. 

Address:

6550 Comanche Trail
Austin TX, 78732

Hours of Operation:

Monday through Friday: 11:30 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Saturday: 11a.m. - 9 p.m.
Sunday: 11a.m. - 8 p.m.

Lake Travis


The View of Restaurant


History:


The Oasis on Lake Travis is founded by Beau Theriot 39 years ago. This was completely burnt by fire in 2005 due to a lightning storm but was rebuilt.

Sculptures




There are many traditions in the Oasis. One such tradition is Lover's locks. Couples can buy a lock from the OASIS gift shop and lock it on the balcony.



Lover's lock


Dining at the Oasis is a beautiful experience overlooking the Lake. No reservations are required. While waiting for the table, we can roam around the deck and enjoy the views.

Here is something about Oasis by Chat Gpt :-)

"The Oasis on Lake Travis is a beloved restaurant and event space in Austin, Texas, situated on a picturesque cliff overlooking Lake Travis. The Oasis boasts stunning panoramic views of the lake and the Texas Hill Country, and is especially popular at sunset, when visitors can witness a spectacular show of colors over the water. The restaurant serves a variety of dishes, including Tex-Mex specialties, seafood, and steaks, and has multiple bars and dining areas to accommodate different groups and occasions. The Oasis is also known for its live music performances and events, such as the annual Fourth of July fireworks show, which attracts thousands of spectators. Whether you're a local or a visitor to Austin, the Oasis on Lake Travis is a must-visit destination for its views, food, and ambiance."

A cool place to have dinner watching the Sunset in Austin. Would you be interested to try?

Here are some more photos of the Oasis and its views. 

Until next time,







Word count: 214 (Excluding the text from ChatGPT)

16 February, 2023

My Top 5 Productivity Tips #WriteAPageADay

 How do you stay productive? For me, it's not easy to stay productive. I tend to step on multiple activities and my restlessness overtakes my enthusiasm. Eventually, I waste a lot of time.

However, with experience, I have learned many tips which will help me stay productive. Here are a few of them.


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My Top 5 Productivity Tips:

1. Remove distractions

An easy way is to keep your phone in some other room or keep it with you in silent mode. The phone is the first distraction for many of us. Don't you agree? 

A phone with an internet connection and a couple of social media apps is a terrible combination for distraction.

Turn off notifications for the apps that you don't care much about. 

When you are bored, try walking even if it's inside the house in the middle of work. Observe and watch things and people around you. If you can stick to this rule, you will definitely come back to your task quickly.

2. Enjoy the work you do

If you are doing some task due to the force of someone in the family or friends and if you are really not interested in the task, it's very tough to stay productive.

Enjoy the work you do. If not, at least think of ways to make it less stressful. 

Ex: If office work is not something you enjoy or it becomes too stressful, take a coffee break, say hi to colleagues, walk around the office, fill your water bottle, stretch your legs, take deep breaths, and come back to work.

That way, we can be more productive than not taking any breaks at all.





3. Focus on a single thing at a time

I don't know why some people give importance to multi-tasking, but I feel multi-tasking is not for someone who wants to be productive. Focusing on a single task at a time makes us more productive.

Taking a lunch break? Focus on lunch and don't check your phone or work emails.





Attending a zoom call? Focus on the agenda and don't get deviated from the topic.

Multi-tasking might save time in the short term, but will be stressful in the long run.

4. Relax and Replenish

We are humans and not machines. We are not supposed to work all day without relaxing in the middle.

Taking a power nap of 15 mins in the middle of the day is not a waste of time. This improves productivity. It makes you more active for the rest of the day.

Social interaction is important for humans. Chatting with friends, playing with kids, and watching TV are helpful too. 

Don't get overburnt. This improves your productivity for sure. A well-oiled and well-maintained machine only can run in the long term. 





5. Set times for tasks

Setting time for a task helps me to focus better. Instead of multitasking, I set a time for each task and move on. There are no strict rules. If you cannot complete a task in the given time, you can extend it. But the point is to stay focused on the task completely for that period of time.

You can be as flexible as you like. 

For ex: Every day, set a time to close office work. Once or 2 days a week is an exception and it is completely fine. But, family time shouldn't overlap with Work time often.

These are my top tips for productivity . What tips work for you? Please suggest me in the comments.

Until next time,





word count: 595



15 February, 2023

Word of the year 2023 - Mindfulness #WriteAPageADay

Last year, I set my word of the year as 'Change'. 2022 has been a year of a lot of changes - settling in Austin, searching for a new house, moving to a new house, starting up dance school from scratch again, learning 2 new software languages at work,  traveling to India twice, and bringing the parents to the USA. As was my wish, I could adapt to all changes in 2022. 





This year, I want to settle in. After so many changes, it's time to get back to normal. Get back to coziness at home, continue to progress at work, relax on weekends, plan vacations and think of extracurricular activities for kids. 

My Word this year will be 'Mindfulness'.





Why?

There are too many things on my plate right now. I am always hurrying between my checklists and jumping between tasks - Work, family, cooking, kids, dance school, books, blog, and so on.. This is making me stressed. 

I decide to be mindful instead of hurrying to complete a task. The world can wait and a few mishaps don't matter after all. 





I am reading books one after the other, even in those times while I am waiting to pick up my kid from school or when we are watching TV. This obsession should stop slowly. I should learn to focus on the task that I am doing, and relish the moment instead of multitasking. 

I plan to observe kids after the school bell rings, enjoy the music on my car FM before the bell, and listen to the kiddo while driving the car. When we watch TV at home, I want to focus on TV and enjoy it instead of trying to read at the same time.


This might be tough to implement, but let me try.

A new goal for the new year is to be fully present in whatever task I do and cherish each moment

What is your word of the year for 2023?

Until next time,






word count: 330

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