5 Years of Blogging

I’m someone who always forgets my blog anniversary. Every single time, I see someone celebrate a blog anniversary, I wish I had remembered mine. And then go on to completely forget about it.

This morning, I was playing around on my phone, when I was on the phone, and clicked on my archives and then realized that I actually started blogging this day, five years ago.

5 years, 716 posts and some lovely friends I made on the way. Who would’ve thought that I would last this long.The only reason I did is because of the lovely time I’ve had here. The wonderful people I’ve met and made friends with. The blog has become my happy place. A place where I meet like minded people, a place where I unwind. And it has been my constant companion as I moved houses, cities and countries.

This post is dedicated to all of you. You guys are special! Thank you so much for making my blogging journey so special and memorable! Have some cake on me, ok?

Side Benefits of blogging.

Summer holidays, growing up were always spent in Wayanad, where both sets of grandparents lived.

Every summer, all my cousins and uncles and aunts would descend to Wayanad, and it was a lot of fun. We used to stay at my maternal grandparents place, and would go over every evening with my uncles to my paternal grandparents’ place. I used to be one of the younger lot those days. My cousins were older and I was a pesky brat, they just had to tolerate. So it was quite annoying for them and me:) Those younger than me hadn’t been born yet or were just not around.

So as I was saying, every day, my uncles and I would go over to my Achchan’s place. My uncles and my cousins would all play badminton, and then a few games of cards, in which my Achchan would join as well. I don’t quite remember what I would do, apart from being a pest, but I do remember hating having to go back to my mum’s place. I just wanted to stay here with all my cooler cousins. I was the oldest on my mother’s side, and it was quite boring. Although, my Ammachan and mamas would play a mean game of scrabble with me, but that was forgotten in those moments of being utterly unreasonable.

Now, there was another reason I hated going back. Both the houses weren’t very far but it was a dark and lonely walk through the coffee plantation. For a town bred kid, who is used to flats and houses, right next to each other, it could be downright spooky. We would have torches, but it still was scary. The coffee plants lending a very shadowy and eerie feeling. It would be dusk and sometimes well past dusk when we returned and you could hear crickets and foxes as you walked back. Those days the sound of foxes scared me. I used to have this mental image of a large dog who could come and get little girls. I also suspect that my uncles might have made them seem a little bit too scary. So I would hear them howl in the darkness and be scared stiff.

Somewhere down the line, foxes cease to be scary. And I completely forgot about them. The only time I remembered those foxes of my childhood was when I came across this news a few years ago about how foxes had mauled two babies. That was such a shocking read.

The subject of foxes would come up every once in a while, once we watched a BBC documentary about them. They are considered rather common urban animals. But of course, I had never had a chance to see them. Just the other week, daughter’s class was discussing nocturnal animals, and foxes came up in thw discussion. She told me that I had to go out at night to find foxes. Well, I didn’t think I was that desperate.

I’m sure you are wondering what is the link to blogging in all this? I am getting to that in a minute. You see, these days I end up watching birds quite a lot. Completely inspired by Shail’s pictures. I never see any exotic birds fromy windows, though. All I get to see are pigeons and magpies. This morning, I saw an interesting fight between one pigeon and two magpies. They all wanted the same twig from my garden. Of course, by the time, I got hold of my camera, they had settled their dispute and moved on!

So, as I was saying, I keep an eye out, even if I don’t get any pictures. They do such interesting things, like pecking at my solar lights as if they were food, and teasing the neighbors cat. Last night I was in daughter’s room, tucking her in bed, and drawing the blinds, when I just stood there, looking out. Daughter’s room overlooks some school grounds. Initially, I had thought that the entire area was part of the school grounds. Later, I realized that about half of those grounds were maintained, and mowed. The well maintained parts were the school grounds. The other part was just full of over grown grass. As I gazed out, I could see some pigeons pecking away at something near some overgrown grass, and then suddenly two dogs appeared. That was funny, dogs without leashes, and no people accompanying them? They did look rather rough as well. They weren’t dogs, of course! They were foxes! What excitement! We even called Husband to tell him. I worry now, that I’m raising daughter to be just as mad as me. Anyway. We watched them until they disappeared into the grass again.

Finally. I got to see foxes! I know, I know, I lead a sad life if I get excited by this, but I am! And I am quite sure I wouldn’t have spotted them, had I not been looking out for birds:). May be one day, I would even get a chance to take a picture of them.

Content scraping, Tests posts and Random Nothings

Yesterday, Shail alerted us to this site which seems to be pulling content from a lot of our blogs. Off the top of my head, Deeps‘, Obssessive Mom, Ani’s Nest, Adventures in Mommyland, Smita’s Books Life N More are listed out there. Please do go check to see if your blogs have turned up there! I think as we post, they pull it out and post it there. And from what I can see, older posts are not listed, so it’s worth it to try posting to check if your blog turns up there. My older post is no longer available there.

Initially when I checked mine, I could see my whole post there. Towards the end of the day, it was only the link to my post. So this is a test post to check what happens. And anybody who reads all this text on any site other than – https://wordsndreamz.wordpress.com, should know that the site has scraped my content.

If any of you know what can be done to counter content scraping of this level, please do let me know! Requests to the site admins seem to come to nothing.

In the random nothings part of the post, I ended up baking yesterday, finally 🙂 A chocolate-orange marble cake, but it is another story that nothing, in the cake baking process went as per schedule. My electronic scales stopped working – maybe the battery needs changing(I haven’t gotten down to doing that yet), I missed out some parts of the recipe, which saw me substituting cocoa for melted chocolate, forgot to add yogurt and added it in the end. And finally instead of grated orange rind, I popped in two tablespoons of marmalade. I was running out of time, so desperate measures had to be resorted to. To add to it all, it was slightly burnt, as I had to leave it in the oven and run to pick up daughter. Daughter loved it despite all that went wrong 🙂 So I take solace in the fact that she loved it – that’s all that matters 🙂 And maybe give it another try – properly 🙂

Again, please do go and check to see if you can find your post on Haaram.com. And if any of you know what can be done to stop them from picking up our posts and reposting them on their site, do let us know.

Edited to add : I just checked Haaram.com. My post is out there, but with no description. I have no idea how that changed, but I am really glad that the whole post is not visible there.

Deeps, Your reblog is visible too, but again with no description, unlike how it was yesterday.

Uma -I can see your post there as well! With no description. I can’t help wonder if they have finally changed settings?

The Big Gap..

..between planning and execution is the reason for my downfall.

Rather the reason for the lack of posts this week, and the next week. We’re off home, to my parents(the mere thought of it is so exciting, relaxing and all things warm and cozy :)), and as usual, I’ve got loads of things yet to be done.

I had these huge plans of scheduling posts, book reviews that I had planned on doing. What did I actually do – nothing. Sigh!

I have been reading all your posts, but haven’t had the time to comment. I read on the phone, whenever I get a chance, but commenting gets more difficult. I try to hit ‘like’ when I can, sometimes even tha doesn’t work, because WP logs me out, and to ‘like’ I need to be logged in. After reading Shilpa’s and Bikram’s posts, I’ve been feeling rather guilty. So please consider this an apology – I just don’t seem to get the time to comment properly, or even respond to comments systematically these days. One day…

So all I have now is warm wishes to all of you for the festive season. Hope you all have a great time, and see you on the other side of the holidays.

Oh! Before I go, let me tell you who else is looking out for a job for husband. Yesterday, we had been at our local supermarket, buying a few last minute things, when daughter noticed a ‘Wanted’ sign, advertising jobs. They were looking at SSLC pass candidates to work at the store. All excited, she turns to me and says, ‘Look, Daddy can try and get that job, and then he can live with us forever!’

Playing Favourites

It has been ages since I took up a tag. For some reason, tags and I don’t work.. Nancy tagged me last week, and a particularly tough tag too. Not only did she tag me, she has also been checking to see if I put it up yet(so much for hoping that Nancy would forget that she tagged me ) 🙂 So I thought that I should do it. At the very least, I would end up reading my archives, something which I never do.

As I said, this tag of Nancy’s is tough. It is called the 7 meme post. And here is all about the tag.

What this is about:
To unite bloggers (from all sectors) in a joint endeavor to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again.Rules:
1) Blogger is nominated to take part

2) Blogger publishes his/her 7 links on his/her blog – 1 link for each category.
The links are:
– Your most beautiful post

– Your most popular post

– Your most controversial post

– Your most helpful post

– A post whose success surprised you

– A post you feel didn’t get the attention it deserved

– The post that you are most proud of

3) Blogger nominates up to 5 more bloggers to take part.

4) These bloggers publish their 7 links and nominate another 5 more bloggers

5) And so it goes on!

Here’s my take…

– Your most beautiful post

Goodness! How on earth could I decide that? How about I ask you guys to nominate? It’s bad enough to have to read what I write, but to judge my most beautiful post? Let me move on and come back to this later(This is what I used to do during exams while answering tough questions, but back in those days I would have had some idea of what would be the answer)

*Back later, still clueless*  
This is tougher than I thought.. Ok, the best that I can come up with is, Unharnessed Thinking.  I’m not sure if it is beautiful or not, but for me, it records an important learning.. To let daughter do her own thinking – a learning which motherhood seems to be teaching me again and again

– Your most popular post
Ah! This should be easy – my stats should give my an idea, don’t you think? But the stats seem to point to posts with pictures. So I think people land here after all sorts of searches – some of them mind-boggling to say the least:)

The top most post which does not have pictures is this I don’t want my child to be obedient

– Your most controversial post
Controversial – I haven’t written controversial stuff.. And even if I did, I’ve not had trolls to make it controversial.. But this post, I think generated a few differing comments.. The Bad Bad West

– Your most helpful post
This one is easy – at least I have one post which I know, some of my friends referred to, and people seem to land up on my blog searching. How to Make a Princess Cake. I spent hours on the internet researching this cake, and I have put together whatever I learnt in this post.. And I think it might have helped a few folks out there?

– A post whose success surprised you

Why I am happy to oogle at girls! was my first Blogadda post, and I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least 🙂

– A post you feel didn’t get the attention it deserved

This is tough.. I don’t think I have any posts which haven’t got the attention it deserved.. For that matter, how do I judge how much attention a post should get?

I can only come up with this – Managing Expectations.

– The post that you are most proud of
The only post I can think of is my post on the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. Why this one? Because I did some research for this post. Normally, I post, as and when I feel like. I always wished to be the sort of blogger who writes well-researched, well thought out posts, but it never happened. Well, what can I say, I am one lazy person 🙂 But this post, as it was part of the Bloggers Premier League contest, I actually did some research, and planning, for a change. So I am proud of it -or rather of myself for having done it, at least once 🙂

And that’s it! I am done with the tag!

And while I’m at it, let me also share some stats. It has been over three years since I first started blogging! Three years! How time flies! And have notched up 393 posts – that surprised me more than anything. I mean, I knew I could talk, but 393 posts? No wonder husband has learnt to tune out my rants! For those who did not know, I started blogging when husband started ignoring my rants 😦 And you know what? These days he reads my posts without any prompting from me 🙂 Infact, he is one who goes – you should write this down in your blog. Especially my travel tales, they are here, mainly because he was after me to jot them down before we forget everything.

That was a tough but fun tag! Thanks so much, Nancy, for tagging me.. It was fun browsing though my archives, cringing at some of the posts, laughing out loud at some of the comments(I miss those days of blogging madness!), just reliving the last few years when blogging added a totally different dimension to my life…

And now to tag 5 bloggers. How about I try and get some old timer to blog again?

Hitchy – Does he need any intro? Jump on to his page, and you’ll know 🙂

Ashwathy – I miss your matrimonial mishmashes so much! Any chance post wedding series 🙂

Swaram – I would love you to dig through your archives and post some of those wonderful posts – I am sure I must have missed a few 😦

R’s Mom – I have started reading you very recently, and being lazy, I would love to read some of the wonderful posts that you churn out!

Bikram – The same as RM, I started reading you very recently, and I am so sure that I would the posts you come up with 🙂

Scribby, I wanted to tag you too, but the number of times yo uhave shifted blogs, make me wonder if you could take up this tag 😦 But if you could, then please consider yourself tagged 🙂

I know, I am supposed to tag only 5 – but what’s the fun if you don’t tweak the rules a tiny bit, eh?

Whatever will be, will be..Post1

When the right time comes, you just know it.

You know you have been away from blogging for way too long, when the ‘add new post’ page looks so different that I had to double-check that I had clicked on the right link.

That and the fact that I had forgotten my WP password. Not good, not good at all.

So when Monika, and Swaram floated the idea of a NaBloPoMo, I could not help being tempted. It was such great fun the last time we did it, that I can’t help but join. And hope that this would mean a proper resumption of blogging, because I do miss the blogworld so very much.

So where had I been? Well, I just got busy, doing the same regular stuff, spending time with daughter. The weather has been unexpectedly good, so we have just been basking in all the sunlight that came our way. A lady I met on a bus one day, did warn me though, ‘We will pay for it. It is not natural, such warm weather in April’.  I only  hope she is wrong.

That’s daughter frolicking in the sun 🙂

We just got back from a wonderful holiday, spent time with wonderful friends, and laughed more than we had in the recent memory. As I said, the weather has been wonderful to us.

I am terribly, terribly backlogged with my reader. I am so tempted to mark everything as read and start afresh 🙂 So how has everybody been? What have you been doing?

So how do you write?

Do you start a post and finish off at one shot?

Do you write save drafts and then work on it to make it better?

Do you research when you write?

I fall into the first category. I just write, finish and post. I finish most of my post at a go. If I ever do stop, I am more than likely to delete it off. Yes, I hate drafts. It just clutters up things for me.  I rarely do any research, which I wish I could change. I wish I could write those detailed and informational and analytical posts that some write. I am more of an on-the-spur blogger. I write when I feel like, and when I have the time. The only time that had me worried was when I started the NaBloPoMo. I was worried if I would be able to write everyday.

Luckily for me, I find that I do have things to write most days.  The only problem I have faced is getting the time to sit down and write. Normal days, I would write when I have the time, and have replied to most comments. The main difference that I see now, is that I make myself sit down and write everyday. So I do have a lot of replies pending, which I hate by the way. And I also get queries about why I am not blog hopping 🙂

So tell me, how do you write? Does anything in particular inspire you? Is there a time of the day that works for you?

And one another totally tangential note, did I tell you that we have become a football crazy household? Husband is a non-sports person, he watches nothing. Every since the world cup started, he has been making an effort to follow the sport. Apparently that is all that gets discussed at work these days 🙂 So every evening, he is in front of the telly, and so am I. Yesterday, I sat and watched the England vs Slovenia match, all by myself much to daughters dismay. I actually scared her once with my cheering 🙂 We are now keeping our Sunday free, two very interesting matches scheduled! So how is the football mania where you are?

PS : I promise I will get to all the un-replied to comments and your blog posts. Between the FIFA and the NaBloPoMo, I am a little stretched 😉

Trans-Continental Baking Experiment – A Chocolate Mud Cake

A mere two or so years ago, I was the sort of person, who would have looked down her nose at even the concept of ‘meeting people online’. I could not understand how people could make friends with people they met online.

Even when I started blogging, I had no idea that there is a blogging community and that you would interact with others – to say that I was completely clueless would be the biggest understatement. Which is why this is even more amazing for me. One, to meet so many wonderful people on the internet, who you can so identify with, with similar ideas and two, to collaborate with 5 women across the world in a baking experiment, of all the possible things.

It all started with Goofy Mumma(GM) sent a bunch of us (‘A’ , Monika, Trish and me) an email asking for a chocolate mud cake recipe. I don’t bake too many chocolate cakes, so I was of little help. ‘A’ sent across the most delicious sounding recipe from here.  GM tried it and had a few questions and doubts. A flurry of emails went back and forth.  ‘A’ went through the effort of making 2 cakes, following slightly different methods and came out with the most gorgeous(and I am sure,  delicious) cakes. Not just that, she recorded everything she did. And that prompted Monika, myself and Trish to give it a try and GM to give it a second try.

The first time I tried it, I totally forgot to check whether I had enough dark chocolate and realised just as I was making it, that I had run out of dark chocolate. Thankfully, I found a huge slab of white chocolate in my pantry. I also added 50 gms  of cocoa, by replacing it instead of 50 gms of the self-raising flour. I had a really runny mixture and it took me ages to get the cake done. I had also made the mistake of buying a pan of the wrong size.  I had wanted to pick up a 9 inch pan, but ended up with an 8 inch one instead, stupid me! So I had enough batter for an 8 inch cake as well as 16 cupcakes. I was literally praying that it does not become a disaster. I am normally very, very particular about following cake recipes exactly. While I play around with other recipes, baking, I feel, is quite an exact science and I am loath to use approximations or substitutions. So having made so many changes, I was quite apprehensive about the result.

My worry only added, when at the end of 45 minutes(the time mentioned in the recipe, the batter was still liquid in the oven. Finally after 2 hours, and a lot of poking and prodding, the cake was done, albeit with a bunch of cracks.

Not a pretty cake at all. The cupcakes turned out beautifully, not a single crack and they were ready in 45 minutes time – they were just gorgeous, and I forgot to take pictures. In my defense, I had a busy day, I was having friends over for dinner, and had a lot on my mind. Well, as they say, looks are deceptive. The cake was the most divine tasting cake ever! It was moist and absolutely delicious! My friends took home the leftovers. I kept aside some for Poohi which disappeared the very next day. The cupcakes went to work with husband and were never seen again.

Inspired by the gorgeous results that the others had with the recipe, I was tempted to give it one more shot. This time, I was determined to follow the recipe properly and follow all the tips and suggestions that everybody else had added after their own experience with the cake.  So I went and bought myself a stash of dark chocolate and set about it all over again. You know, when I plan to do something right, I almost definitely make some really dumb mistake. This time, I ended up pouring the chocolate mixture into the flour, instead of the eggs. In my defense, both the bowls were next to each other. I know, it is a lame defense. Then on, I followed everything, and hoped that this time, my cake turns out pretty.

This is how it turned out. Not as bad as the previous time, but still with some cracks.

So to take the attention away from the sad cracks, I just inverted it and dusted it with icing sugar. The dusting was not done very well, though.

A slice of chocolate mud cake anyone?

The most amazing part of this experiment was that feeling of being part of a group, knowing that someone, even if on the other corner of the world, was there to talk to, to ask for suggestions.. The sort of tips and information that just flowed in those emails was absolutely wonderful! We discovered things which we took for granted was new information for somebody else, and learnt some really cool tips from the others.. It was such a collaborative effort. The joy at seeing my friends’ gorgeous cakes was more than seeing my own.  I would refresh my inbox every time I could, just in case, you know 🙂 Girls, thank you so much for all that! GM, A BIG thanks for starting it all off.

To see the other gorgeous, yummilicious cakes, hop over to ‘A’s, GM’s, Monika’s and Trish’s. And if any of you are in the vicinity here, please drop over, I have my last attempt stowed away in the freezer 🙂

On about nothing..

I have always admired people who blog on schedule or daily or even 2 or 3 times a day – on a regular basis. For me, these days, doing a post is becoming more and more difficult.

I have ideas for posts running around in my head, but they all disappear as soon as I get to the laptop. Of course, it does not help that daughter wants my attention right then or she would have dropped yogurt on my carpet, making me jump a mile high and forget all about the post until I have scrubbed out every sign of it out of the carpet and have given daughter a verbal scrubbing too. By the time I am done, a post is the last thing on my mind.

If nothing of this sort happens, farmville, of course, is there to distract me. My crops might be ready for harvesting or the animals ready to collect milk, down feathers or truffles. Goodness! This game is even increasing my general knowledge. I had no idea that farm animals had so many uses! I am sure all this farming will come in use, when I buy a farm after retirement. See, I have my retirement plans all chalked out – I am even practising it – virtually 🙂

Anyway, I was talking about how blogging just does not seem to be happening. Sometimes, when I have a post all chalked out, in my mind, a friend would call. And off I go, chatting away, until I run out of time, and then before I know it, it is dinner time, and then night time! Where does my time go? I really need tips from you guys. How do you manage it? Most of you manage while holding down a job and playing games and being on twitter! I seriously need lessons on time management!

Did I mention that I watch that reality show – Pati, Patni aur Woh? Hitchy, please don’t throw your shoes at me – I had not intended to. Really! I started watching just to see what it was like – and then got hooked in.  But this is it – I am not even looking at another reality TV show ever! I have had my fill of them. My husband has been teasing me that I will sit through that Rahul Mahajan one as well – so I have to prove him wrong.

One of the things I have always been on about has been confirmed by Jairam Ramesh, Minister for Environment and Forest, we would get a Nobel Prize for Filth! Maybe, they need to create a prize for it. Then maybe, we might change our ways. But it was refreshing to hear a govt minister admitting it rather than the opposition saying it.

Talking of the opposition – do we have an opposition in our country any more? They all seem very busy in ‘internal matters’. Do you think our next election might have Congress winning all seats because there was nobody to contest against them?

Christmas is already here. The shops are all decked up. I am forced to walk to the shops to gaze at a huge Father Christmas holding loads of presents. Poohi thinks that if she stares long enough, he might just take pity on her and hand her one of the presents. They certainly have the right idea though. With all the festive decor, my daughter is not going to let up until we get a Christmas tree, which we had anyway planned to do, but she wants a pink tree – which I certainly don’t fancy. And can you believe it – they do sell pink trees! There must be plenty of little girls in this country pining away for a pink Christmas tree!

I guess I had better end this aimless rambling of mine. Have a wonderful weekend, everybody!

Addictions and everything else under the sun..

I never thought I would say this, but I have managed to go and get hooked on things other than the blogworld.

In a single day, I leapt from blogville to farmville.

For the last few weeks, I had been getting requests and gifts from friends wanting to suck me into the quagmire called Farmville. And I was proud that I resisted. Until last week. My friend told me of how addictive it is and how her husband wakes up thinking of his farmville chicken. I was like, yeah? But it can’t be as bad as blog addiction! Boy, was I wrong.To think that a few months back, I never even logged into Facebook.

I haven’t yet started dreaming of chicken, but I have a rather busy farming life going on. And before I know it, I am trying to convince Hitchy and Swaram to join too 🙂 So now, to detox myself, I have decided to come back to blogville.

The last 2 weeks, I have re-discovered the joys of walking. The feel of the fresh morning air, the lovely smell of nectar from wild flowers and the feel of light rain on my cheeks.. I take detours on my way back after dropping Poohi and never have enough. It has been just wonderful and we have found a lot of little walking trails and hidden paths – all very adventurous 🙂 Surprisingly daughter has started loving the walk too. She walks the whole 1.5 miles from her school to home and has a lovely time, of course, walking for her does involve counting wild blackberries (and every other coloured berries), watching ‘horseys’ prancing around and of course spotting snails. This morning, I was dismayed at the sight of pelting rain. Daughter on the other hand was delighted. ‘ I can wear my wellies, my raincoat and carry my umbrella’  and of course, she had to jump in every puddle on the way. It was a blessing that we still reached on time.

All this walking, I do hope helps in reducing weight, else Twitter is always there. Apparently Twitter can now help lose weight. If only we knew before we bought that cross trainer.

My broadband is not very happy with my addiction either. It has decided to make my farming and blogging life rather difficult. It has decided to switch itself off and refuse to switch on. In fact, today, it switched back on only after husband came  home. Rather inexplicable, I think. Unless husband and broadband have a deal between themselves.. hmmm.. worth exploring, don’t you think?

Now, I am going to sign off before the broadband starts to act up again. Have to mind those chicken, pigs and cows. By the way, my farmville addiction is something daughter loves too. She finds my farm far more exciting than Daddy’s withered farm with no animals ( he is too busy to farm  ) while my farm has cows mooing, pigs oinking, ducks quaking, horses neighing.. No, I am not being paid to write all this.. It is that addictive 🙂