Wednesday, July 10, 2013

8 Indispensable Tips for Summer Travel

Summer is legitimately here. It is time for a break. Travel logistics are aligned away and your bags all packed. It’s time for some adventure!

A lot of us are travelling on summer vacations and it can get wearisome and nerve-racking unless it is well planned in advance. I always survey an efficient regime no matter where the destination is every summer. Travelling can be fun and enjoyable when you experience a new place for the first time. The excitement of planning is immense. The journey to get to the destination should be fun and memorable. 

Forget about the stress and just go out there and have the best summer vacation. Having said that, I am looking forward to four weeks of sun, fun and vacation time when my sister arrives in the United States today. While most of the planning is already taken care of by my husband, there are minute details that I am pursuing to make it a wonderful vacation for her. Here are eight tit bits that I would love to share with you on an indispensable summer travel: 

1) Pack your belongings and essentials
Needless to say, always travel light. Dispense off unnecessary clothes, cosmetics or shoes that you may not even need on the trip. Always carry a pair of warm clothes as you can never anticipate the weather. Comfort shoes are a must for those long treks. The first aid kit is essential. A nice summer hat is a good accessory and don't forget those sexy shades to protect your eyes. 

2) Prepare to face the scorching heat
The temperatures can soar to over a 100° hence prepare your body for the extreme heat. Wear a long-lasting, extremely good sun screen or sunblock that provide the best SPF protection and avoid staying out in the sun for too long. If you must, always wear a hat and good sun block to prevent sunburn and sun stroke that can potentially char and ruin your vacation.

3) Stay fresh and hydrated
During the summer, drink more water than normal.  Due to increase activity, water is essential to stay hydrated. Add ice cubes to get an instant of chillness on a very hot summer day. Choose water over any of the tempting energy or sugary drinks. Try adding a wedge of lemon to a glass of water to endure the freshness after a long tiring day.

4) Pack healthy snacks
Most of the time spent on the road can be boring if not well planned. Invent games and fun activities for those long drives. Eating healthy is also vital. A cup of coffee can keep you energized and awake, however switch to healthy eating during the road trip. Make fun sandwiches ahead and pack some baby carrots and celery sticks to chomp on the way. Pack some bananas for that extra ounce of energy. Avoid junk food as far as possible.

5) Research about your destination
Most of us strategise our vacations ahead of time to avoid last minute hassles. If you are travelling to a new place, it can get intimidating to navigate around. Learn about the destination online and look at reviews from past travelers to understand the location and its highlights. Always study the destination and know the spots and places to visit so that you can optimally cover the destination.

6) Look for super deals and offers of interest
The internet is buzzing with deals and offers for summer vacations. Check them out and discuss with family members who are participating to understand their plans. Once agreed, book hotels, car rentals, show tickets, tickets to theme parks etc ahead of time. You will be surprised at the offers given to you if you do online bookings. It is stress free and easy.

7) Carry necessary travel documents and identification
Never leave home without your identification as you never know where you will need it. Always carry printouts and scanned copies of your travel documents. Money should not be carried in one bag by one person. Distribute money to avoid tensions if you lose luggage. Of course, if it is plastic money, then make sure you have enough credit to swipe. 

8) Relax! It is after all a well-deserved vacation
Make it the best vacation ever. Just go out there, participate and have fun. Dance, sing, drink, eat and celebrate as the summer will soon be over and it could be a whole year before the next vacation.

Have a great one this summer!!!!!
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Crispy Chilli Kale Chips

Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables that you should be eating. Rich in fiber and an excellent source of nutrients like Vitamin A, Calcium and minerals it is a dieter's dream food. Add Kale in your salads or serve as a side or better just make some Kale chips and enjoy!!

To make Crispy Chilli Kale Chips you will need :

Ingredients :
1 bunch Kale, ribs removed and torn into pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp chilli powder
Salt and Pepper to taste

Rinse and drain your Kale and pat it dry. 

Tear away the top leaves or cut them into bite size pieces.

Toss the leaves with oil, chilli powder, salt and pepper and arrange the pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet. 

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes turning the leaves once half way through.

Serve hot!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Coffee Cupcakes

My first time baking cupcakes was inadvertently adventurous. I decided to start with the basic ingredients and add the flavor of instant coffee to give it that bitter sweet punch. I must say it was a delightful effort and a tasty treat. 

Alright I know I was too darn lazy to make any frosting. But I promise the next time I make these, there will be some cupcake frosting on top of it. For now, I enjoyed this as it is, freshly baked and deliciously rich.

Here is my simply recipe to make a very easy coffee cupcake.

2 tbsp of instant coffee/espresso powder
2 tbsp of Cocoa Powder
¼ tsp of Salt
¼ tsp of Baking Soda
1 cup of granulated white sugar
1 ½ cups of all purpose flour
1/3 cup of vegetable oil/butter melted and cooled

2 eggs
1 cup of warm water
1 tsp of Vanilla extract
3 tbsp of milk

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a cupcake pan with liners and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix all the dry ingredients like the flour,  cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside.

Dissolve the espresso/coffee powder in the warm water and let it stand for a couple of minutes. Make sure the water is warm if you want to dissolve the coffee powder instantly.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, cream together the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, milk and vegetable oil/butter. Add the coffee mixture and mix everything to obtain a smooth mixture.

Now add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well to incorporate. Do not over mix.

At this point, the batter may look a bit runny, but that is exactly how you want it. Divide the batter evenly in the lined cupcake pan and bake until done for about 18-20 minutes.

Cool completely before frosting/serving.

Tip : To make a quick frosting, just whisk about 1 cup of heavy whipping creme to soft peaks. Add 2 tbsp of powdered sugar and whisk to stiff peaks. Top each cupcake and serve.  


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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Red, White & Blue Parfait

Celebrate this 4th of July with this yummilicious desert - Red, White & Blue Parfaits. Totally divine and easy to put together, this yummy treat is sure to bring down the heat.

Here's what you will need,

6 tall glasses
8 ounce low fat vanilla yogurt
1/4 tsp almond or vanilla extract
3 cups fresh raspberries or strawberries
3 cups fresh blueberries

In a large bowl stir together the yogurt with almond or vanilla extract. Fold in whipped topping.
To serve, in a tall glass alternate layers of the berries with layers of yogurt mixture. Makes about 6 servings.
Chill for 1 hour and serve.

Enjoy & Happy 4th of July!!!!
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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Motorcycle Diaries – Harley Davidson

When I was living in Milwaukee, WI, I never quite understood the historical importance of the city until one day at work, a colleague invited me to tour the Harley Davidson museum in downtown Milwaukee. As it was over the weekend, I was a bit reluctant to go mainly due to my lack of interest in motorcycles, but I decided to check it out after all.

It was a warm Saturday afternoon and a bunch of us set out to the museum which was within proximity of where we lived. We arrived at a landmark building and I instantly knew this was going to be an awesome experience. As we had purchased online tickets to visit the museum, we were ushered in and briefly told what we were going to see, the highlights of the tour and what not to miss. Our eagerness was intense and we stepped into the museum just awe struck with wonder at the motorcycles and artifacts around us.

As we strolled around, we were amazed by the collection of motorcycles and their historical significance. Whether you are born to be wild or not, the museum leaves a lasting impression on you and is much more than just a nostalgic experience for motorcycle enthusiasts.

The museum reveals American history through the trials and triumphs of legendary stories from wars to workmanship. There are movie clips and short films to enjoy. There is a lot to learn about the product and its evolution, so prepare to spend a good four hours. All around you, are beautifully designed artifacts and motorcycle paraphernalia.

The 20 acre museum campus by the Milwaukee waterfront also includes a restaurant Motor and a gift shop. There is a café shop Café Racer as well. After the museum tour, visit and grab a nice souvenir to take home. A wonderful experience for even a non enthusiast. Loved it!

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

DIY Elephant Art Work

Who says art has to mean anything? If it appeals to your eyes, it can be called a piece of art. Discovering ways to make art more appealing is the challenge. But combine challenge with some creativity, you can convert your living space into an art gallery any day.

I spend a lot of time collecting ideas and improvising on ways to beautify art. I know I have some amount of creativity that helps me make quicker decisions that please my senses and notifies me whenever I go overboard. 

I found this beautiful idea which is so simple and creative. To make this you would need:

A collection of scrapbook paper of any color or kind.

A stencil tracing of anything you can easily cut out and is available online. I went with an elephant.
A pair of scissors
A piece of twine
A lot of patience :)

Method : Trace your design on a sheet of paper and cut out as neatly as you can. Trace this onto the colored scrapbook paper sheet and cut out. Arrange them as required on a piece of twine and glue them at equal distances or as you like. 

Tadda!! Hang and enjoy!! 

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Poster: Have A Great July!

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