Archive for January, 2011


It is the sickly time of year, as sniffles and hackings ring in the rooms and  humidifiers and nebulizers are unearthed from storage.  The kids have been en”gross”ed in  sickly Telugu vocabulary (yes, there is a Telugu word for mucus from the nose), often mixing them with English words like “tissue” and “treatment.”  The comedy of our language didn’t quite register until one day my son had his ammamma (grandmother) laughing as he was telling her that he had taken a daggu-drop” (daggu = cough) for his cough.  Comical indeed.  So this month “da” is for “daggu.”

At the top of this post, Organic Honey Throat Drops by Bee MD
Below, menthol-free Bella B Little Bee Soothing Chest Rub

Bound to have some ideas – The PennyWhistle Sick-In-Bed Book

Humidifiers I’d be excited to have in the room: Naoto Fukasawa’s Plus-Minus-Zero humidifier (left), available at Japan Trend Shop; and Gizmine’s Middle Colors Humidifier (right), with aromatherapy function.

And since we subscribe to the take-medication-only-when-absolutely-necessary philosohpy, we’ve been sipping this  homemade kashaya (a type of herbal decoction / infusion) for relief.  (Recipe courtesy of my mother-in-law – works better than anything over-the-counter!):

Kashayam Recipe:  In a small pot, combine 4 cups water with small amounts (roughly 1 teaspoon) of each of freshly ground pepper, cardamom, cloves, freshly grated ginger and a cinnamon stick.  Boil and simmer until reduced to roughly 1 1/2 cups.  Strain in cup, add honey and sip.

World Lullabies
Author: Aruna

Those in my circle of near and dear already know how much I adore these 2 CDs of world lullabies – they are my absolute favourite items to gift for new babies.  And shame on me for not posting about these earlier.

The World Sings GoodnightVolume 1 and Volume 2 – each contain roughly 32 tracks of lullabies from almost every corner of the world – Senegal, Egypt, France, Ethiopia, Korea, Japan, Argentina…and the list goes on.  For the first volume, creators Susan and Tom Wasinger spent over 2 years collecting the songs.  (Tom Wasinger was recently profiled in Boulder Magazine – where he talks more about the making of the album).

The beauty of the lullabies is that they are almost a cappella – with little or no instrumental accompaniment – just as though mom, dad (or grandma) were singing.

During these long winter nights, I love to curl up with my kids and listen to these beautiful lullabies – it’s like we’re travelling and connecting with a global humanity.  What a gift.

Whimsical Winter Craft Project
Author: Guest Blogger

This post is authored by Bhavna Mehta – art educator and founder of Hansa Arts.  Bhavna teaches art classes in the San Diego area for children and adults, including drawing, painting and other paper crafts.  She also teaches a class in Upcycled Art at UC San Diego, where students explore how to recycle and reuse materials to make art.

My Changing Garden


5 sheets of white paper – 8.5″ x 8.5″
1 sheet of colored paper – 8.5″ x 8.5″
Glue stick, Scissor, Stapler, 2 paper clips
Ruler, pencil, eraser, color pencils

Take each sheet of white paper and fold it in half lengthwise.  Glue the 2 insides together to form a thicker sheet of paper.  These are the pages of your book.

Now make measurements and lines on the first page as shown below.  Collect the 5 sheets and cut them all together on the red line.  Each page will now have 4 sections.

Cut the colored sheet of paper in half lengthwise and use that as the front and back cover.  Staple along the side as shown.

Your book is now ready!  Decorate the front cover with the name of your book.  Feel totally free to change the name and the design.

Now you draw inside the book! On the first page – draw the 4 sections of a potted plant as shown. Stem and flower in the top section, leaves in the second, pot in the third, and a base on the fourth.

Now comes the fun part.  SImply turn the top section and draw another flower on the next page, taking care to match the stem from the previous page to the new flower.

Turn the second section of page 1 and draw new leaves on page 2, taking care the stem of the leaves will go into the pot on page 1.

And so on.  Do this for all sections and the 5 pages.  See a bunch of pictures below.

You can play with your book endlessly, mixing and matching flowers and leaves and pots and bases.  See which one you like the best!

You can make a Mix and Match Book with a variety of subjects.  See another one below.  Instead of staples, I have used thread and needle to do Japanese binding.  You can also use a sewing machine.

Section 1:  Head and hair
Section 2:  Torso and arms and clothing
Section 3:  Legs, clothing
Section 4:  Feet and shoes

© 2011 Hansa Arts
Hansa Arts offers creative, unique (and truly inspirational) project ideas for kids and adults.  Bhavna also recently held a Portrait Workshop in Ahmedabad for disadvantaged kids – you can see some of the creations here. Truly heartwarming!


It seems that from time immemorial we have sought to beautify our homes and spaces with floor paintings and designs.  Rangoli is not only decorative, but is also a celebratory sanctification of the home.

Here are some rangoli-inspired rugs for your home.
Featured at the top of this post, plum and cream Harlequin Susa rug by Hill & Co Rugs.  £635
Below, Pink and Champaign Megan (left) and Cream and Pink Gemma (Right), by Madeline Weinrib.

More literal interpretations:  Rangoli Rugs by Doshi Levein’s Myth & Material Installation (can be seen at Moroso NY).

Rangoli Collection by Barcelona designer Nani Marquina, available at PlushPod. From $795

Finale beige shag ruby from  Beverly Rug Co.  From $55

Turner Star Red Rug from The Rug Market.  From $547

Coqo Floral Rug from Anthropologie.  From $78



This post is authored by Sheena Patel – founder of wellness boutique Savsani.  Sheena has taught classes in positive psychology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, yogic principals at Harvard Business School and stress management at Massachusetts General Hospital.  Savsani offers comprehensive wellness programs for individual and corporate clients.

What’s your resolution this year?

Often times, people start off the New Year hoping for drastic change, yet feel stressed in trying to accomplish their goals.  However, by picking simple, good habits you’ll have the courage to move forward and succeed.

On average it takes about three weeks to fully incorporate good habits into your existing routine – so 21 days is the magic number.  If you do not practice yoga already, starting with one simple asana (body posture) every day can bring a happier and healthier you!  Below are recommended asanas for each workday to get you started.  Believing in yourself while moving through each posture, breathing deeply and allowing to connect with yourself for a few minutes each morning is sure to give you a boost every day.

MondayJanu Sirsasana (known as the “head to knee forward bend”)

To practice this pose, start in a relaxed seated position with legs extended.  Pull your right foot on the inner left thigh. Reach forward with both of your hands – bringing your head towards your knee.  Hold for about 30 seconds then move to the opposite side, repeating this posture twice on each side.

This posture helps to clam you, stretches the back sides (back of the back, back of the Legs), massages the kidneys and livers, improves digestion and lowers high blood pressure.

TuesdayTrikonasana (known as the “triangle pose”)

To practice this pose, stand straight, with your feet wider than the width of your shoulder blades.  Stretch to the left, raising your right hand and drawing your left hand towards your knee –  further towards your ankle.  Hold for about 30 seconds then move to the opposite side, repeating this posture three times on each side.

This posture helps you stretch the thighs, knees and ankles, improves digestion and has a calming effect.

WednesdayBhujangasana (known as the “cobra” pose)

To practice this pose, lie on your front side and relax your entire body.  Place your left palm underneath your shoulder-blades, and raise your head up.  Then, pushing against the floor with your other palm, slowly raise your torso higher off the ground, pushing as high as you feel comfortable with.  Hold for about 10 seconds, repeating this posture three times.  NOTE: the image is an advanced variation.

This posture helps to strengthen the spine, chest and lungs, improves digestion and helps relive anxiety.

ThursdayTadasana (known as the “mountain” pose)

To practice this pose, place your feet slightly apart so that your toes are parallel.  Rock back and forth until you feel that your weight is balanced evenly on the feet.  Let the rest of your body relax and your eyes soften to a glare in front of you.  Hold for 60 seconds in a steady position.  NOTE: this image is a variation with an added prayer position.

This posture helps to improve posture, reduce flat feet and strengthens the abdomen and buttocks.

FridayArdha Matsyendrasana (known as the “half spinal twist”)

To practice this pose, extend your legs in front of you.  Bend the right leg and place your right foot on the left side of your left knee.  Draw your left elbow on the right side of your right knee and twist towards the right placing your right palm on the floor behind you.  Hold is for about 20 seconds then move to the other side, repeating this posture twice on each side.  NOTE: this image is an advanced variation.

This posture helps to strengthen the shoulders, hips and back, gives a stretch to the full spine and helps to relieve backache and fatigue.

Disclaimer:  As with any physical activity, please consult with your primary care physician before practicing.

© 2011 SavSani



A globally-inspired collection of dollhouses! 

Above, a mini Mexican hacienda by adobedollhouse, $65.00.
Below, Swiss Chalet woodworking plans (a fun project for dads and daughters), $13.99

A modern style reminiscent of a Mumbai flat, by minimii:

 A Japanese home, by Storyboard Toys:

English Tudor-style, by The Little Dollhouse Company, $122.99 CAD:

A contemporary casa, perhaps something you would find in Iceland, from Brinca Dada, $329

And don’t forget the rice cooker – cute!


The Hindu, or Vedic, Time System is truly a gift to humanity.  Vedic astronomers divided time from the smallest of microseconds to epic yugas and kalpas.  Featured in our January Newsletter,here is a great way to introduce an element of the time system to kids:  starting with the 7 Days of the Week.

Astronomers in ancient India attributed each day of the week to be governed by a particular celestial body – the Sun (Surya or Ravi) and the Moon (Chandra or Soma) and 5 planets:  Mars (Mangal), Mercury (Budh), Jupiter (Brihaspati, the Guru of the Devas), Venus (Shukra) and Saturn (Shani).  Together with Rahu and Ketu, these celestial bodies are collectively named the navagrahas.

Kids will be interested to know that each planet is said to have it’s own personality and color – Mars (red) is a troublemaker, Jupiter (yellow) is wise and pious and Saturn (blue/black) is strict and stern.

Our flashcards cleverly depict these personalities – and the back of each gives a brief explanation – so print them out and go through them with your kids.  You can even “play-it-up” further by dressing in the day’s corresponding color – a fun way to get through a harsh winter week!

Available here! $5 and Free Shipping

P.S.:  You’ll be interested to know that the ancient Romans also had the idea of ruling planets – and named their days of the week accordingly.  Which system came first?  Well, that’s for the academic experts, but you can read more here.


Images by Custom Toy Portraits

The Rabbit asked one day, “‘What is REAL?’…’Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just play with you, but Really loves you, then you become Real.'”  [Excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.]

And so, there is always that toy (or 2) that inevitably becomes part of the family – that’s there at mealitmes and bedtimes and that can get diaper rash and have intelligent conversations.

I got this idea from my Anita Kaushal book to have paintings done of my kids loveys and stumbled upon Jennifer Maher’s Custom Toy Portraits site.  It seems that Jennifer will work one-on-one with you to create a handpainted canvas (from pictures of the toy and a little of its background story).

I can’t wait.


If there is one movie you should see this month, I suggest Speaking In Tongues.

Winner of the San Francisco International Film Festival Audience Award, this film begs the question:  Is English enough? It documents 4 children who, starting from kindergarten, were immersed in 2 languages:  An African-American boy from public housing who learns to read, write, and speak Mandarin.  A Mexican-American boy (whose parents are not literate in any language) who develops professional-level Spanish while mastering English.  A Chinese-American girl who regains her grandparents’ mother tongue—a language her parents lost through assimilation.  A Caucasian teen who travels to Beijing to stay with a Mandarin speaking host family.

It’s a fascinating exploration into how kids adapt and respond to learning a second language – and about preparing our kids for a global future in which the U.S. won’t always be “right” and knowing only English just won’t be enough.

Yes, we can do better than monolingual education – it’s just that in the U.S. it’s up to parents and families to seek out how.

Where in the World?
Author: Gnaana

Image by Madhu Reddy – The India Tube

Is it Indian?  Turkish?  Greek?  Well, it’s all of those things – and, oh, throw in Islamic, Persian, Rajputana and Deccani styles and techniques of architecture too. 

They’re the Paigah Tombs in Hyderabad – constructed for the Paigah nobles, relations of the Nizam’s who were married into the lineage.  The Paigah’s were great patrons of arts, literature and sports.

The tombs span some 40 acres and you’ll find marble facades, intricately-carved lattice work, Hindu-temple-inspired columns and Arabic inscriptions.  Perhaps an embodiment of all that influenced India.

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