Archive for August, 2011

Refreshing Summer Recipes
Author: Guest Blogger

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.

As the final days of Summer approach, we thought we would share some of our favorite recipes for keeping cool in the heat!

Watermelon Feta Salad with Raw Honey Dressing (pictured above)

1/4 cup cubed feta cheese
1/2 medium sized watermelon, cubed
1 tsp. of raw honey
2 limes, juiced
dash of salt
handful of mint leaves, julienned

Mix together the juice of limes and the salt together.
Add the watermelon and the feta to bowl and toss until watermelon and feta are coated with dressing.
Garnish with mint leaves.

Citrus Salad

3 Valencia oranges, sectioned

2 Tbs. of almond butter
3 Tbs. of olive oil
1 Tbs. of raw honey
1 lime, juiced

Take all the ingredients for the dressing and heat in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil.
Take off heat, add to oranges and enjoy!

Virgin Mojitos, SavSani Style

3 limes, juiced
1 tsp of simple syrup
4 oz. crushed ice
8 oz. tonic water
handful of Thai basil

In an 8 oz glass, mix the juice of three limes along with the simple syrup and the Thai Basil and muddle together. Add tonic water and enjoy!

© 2011 SavSani

Images via Google Images


My little boy got stung by a bee for the first time.  A few weeks ago, the shrillest-of-shrill screams interrupted our otherwise relaxing summer morning as my son dashed into the house from the backyard and started rolling on the floor.  Sure enough there was a little red break in the skin on the ball of his left foot.  The poor guy was whimpering and limping all through his playdate later that morning.

His newfound fear and anger at beekind was tempered by his curiosity in dissecting exactly what transpired during his 20-second Battle with the Backyard Bee.  He made me pull out an old stuffed bee we won at a fair last year to verify that it did, in-fact, have a stinger.  Which then snowballed into other questions about what bees eat, how they operate, why they make hives and how they make honey.  He even started a collection of dead bees, much to the fascination of his little sister, who seems on keen on plucking off their wings.

The Telugu word for bee – tummeda – happens to be one my favourite words in the language.  It appears frequently in Telugu poetry and song lyrics.  Yes, there is another, less poetic word – teneteega (tene means honey) – but I prefer to teach the kids the former.  Of course you can’t beat the simplicity of the word “bee,” which is what we call the creature most of the time, but I do make sure to quiz them on how to say it in Telugu.  So this month, “ta” is for “tummeda.”

At the top of this post: fabulous Beehive Bookcase by Mostapha El Oulhani – would look stunning in a boy’s room or playroom. Below: super-cute gift idea – Plush Counting Beehive, available on Ebay.

Honey with your tea? I’d love to have this for a garden party. Honeycomb Tea Set by Victoria Trading Co.

The only lotion I’ll use on my kids (and can’t beat the honey-smell!): Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Buttermilk Lotion (left); Beeswax Stick Crayons by Stockmar (right).

Great read: The Life and Times of the Honeybee

Truly jealous: Beehive Garden House by architect Manuel Villa

Pretty Parikinis
Author: Aruna

That’s Padma Lakshmi with her daughter Krishna – around the town in New York City.  Now we don’t often talk about celebreties on this blog, but this picture is just too cute.

Krishna is wearing a shortened-skirt style of a traditional South Indian pattu parikini (pattu = silk), also called a pattu langa or pavada.  And note the silver anklets (we call them pattalu in Telugu).  I bet she definitely stole the show from Mom!

If you’ve shopped for Indian kidswear in the US you probably lament the dearth of stylish, quality finds.  And if you’re on the hunt for a parikini at your local Indian bazaar, you may as well save your gas and stay home (you’ll find North Indian style lehenga’s – but parikinis are different – think less belly, more top).

So what do you do if you want Krishna’s look?  Your best bet may be to take thy done-with-it-sari to your local tailor (see our Upcycled Sari post).  Or you can scour the internet for a shop who is willing to send you one.  I found these gorgeous styles at Sai Chandana Boutique.  They are custom-made in Hyderabad and ship to the US.  You can also request colour changes and cuts on certain styles.

Beautiful material:  yellow net (left) with embellished peach blouse and jute silk (right) with designer patchwork

Dreamy in blue with patchwork flowers:

Sweet and simple net langas with contrast blouses and banaras silk border:

Can we say bejeweled?  Check out the gems on this one!

Top image via Celebrity Baby Scoop

Life is God
Author: Aruna

My family is going through a difficult time…I am reminded about this quote from Tolstoy’s War and Peace.


The wait is over…thank you for your patience!  Our ever-popular Alphabet Blocks are now back in stock in both Hindi and Gujarati.

We’re clearing our wait list – so order soon (before they’re gone again!).

And this week only:  enjoy $7.50 flat rate shipping sitewide.

Select at checkout.  Excludes Handmade Books.  US orders only; expires 5 p.m. EST Friday, August 26.


Putana and Baby Krishna

Of Krishna’s exlpoits there are many.  Here we look at Krishna’s feats in taming and destroying rakshasas (demons).  These rakshasas came in many forms – snakes, birds and even beautiful women – and their characteristics and flaws can be seen as metaphorical parallels to modern-day evils.  Most were sent by Kamsa, but some necessitated defeat for the protection of Gokul, Vrindavan and the world at large.

Here is a round-up of 10 rakshasas – some are famous stories, others more obscure – defeated by Hinduism’s favorite boy-hero.  What’s your favorite Krishna katha (story)?

1. Putana

Who can forget Putana?  She disguised herself as an angelic woman and offered Yashoda a brief respite by volunteering to nurse baby Krishna (with her poisonous milk).  Can we say Krishna “sucked the life out of her?”

2. Trinavarta

Whoooosh!  Here comes the Tornado Demon!  Trinavarta is probably the most unique rakshasa-form – ruthlessly sabatoging everything in his path.  He whisked Krishna off his feet…but Krishna blew him (and his pride) away.

3. Bakasura

Bakasura – the Crane Demon – simply got greedy.  Lured by Kamsa’s promises of rich and swanky rewards, Bakasura “tricked” Krishna to come close – only to betray the boy by swallowing him.  Krishna forced his way out of course and put an end to him.  See – never underestimate your adversary!

4. Aghasura

This giant Serpent Demon slithered his way to the outskirts of Gokul, opened his mouth wide and had all the kids squealing in delight by thinking they had discovered a brand new “cave.”  They all hopped inside – only to be trapped.  Some versions of the story explain Aghasura to have once been a handsome king who was cursed by a crippled sage for laughing at the poor man’s disability.  Take note of this moral, kids:  bullies never prosper.

5. Kaliya

Shabash!  Krishna prevails yet again – this time dramatically emerging from the depths of the Yamuna while dancing on a mulit-headed snake.  We all know this story:  while playing with friends, a ball accidentally falls into the then-dominated-and-poisoned-by-Kaliya river.  Krishna did not kill Kaliya, but pardoned him – thanks to the begging of Kaliya’s wives.  Ahhh…the rewards of marriage!

6. Dhenukasura

This Donkey Demon was a real pain-in-the-(you know what).  Even Mother Earth trembled under Dhenukasura’s stampede.  This was a true joint venture between Balaram and Krishna – with Balaram taking the credit for the final blow.

7. Aristasura

A true bull-y in every sense of the word.  Aristasur the Bull Demon stormed into town and challenged Krishna to a bull fight that all the heavens watched.

8. Vatsasura

Another story of deception:  Vatsasura disguised himself as a Calf, mixed himself into Krishna’s herd and tricked him into a duel.

9. Keshi

This Horse Demon was apparently mourning the loss of so many of his fellow rakshasa friends, so he approached Kamsa to sponsor his battle against Krishna.

10. Vyomasura

Have you ever met a bat that was nice?  Vyomasura the Bat Demon kidnapped Krishna’s friends and a fierce fight ensued.  Perhaps the most obscure rakshasa, but he’d sure make a great Halloween Costume!

Images: Putana from unknown Etsy seller (please identify yourself – we would love to know if this piece is for sale!) and Google images.  Vyomasura via Big Animation Pvt. Ltd., producers of Little Krishna.


This product has my vote for being one of the most unique and engaging (non-Gnaana of course!) teaching tool about Indian culture – and one that received a huge volume of clicks after being feautured in our July/August Newsletter.  The Vrindavan Activity Set is a stiff paper fold-out temple and courtyard featuring paper play-figures (Krishna, Gopis, animals, villagers, Garuda Stambha and a Tulsi plant).  It also comes with a few songs, prayers and guided activities.

It’s beautifully illustrated and obviously colorful and attractive for kids.  We’ve had this set for quite some time, but I only recently began using it with my 5-year-old as he is now old enough to treat the items with care.  The guided activities and prayers are a bonus for parents – though you will have to run through them several times and supplement with your own background knowledge before kids can truly play with this on their own.

A terrific way to spend time with your kids – thank you Mandala Publishing!


Thinking back to one our very first posts – food flags of Indian and Pakistan – made with oranges, cheese cubes, spinach and avocado, and blueberries.  It’s a great hands-on visual exercise for children.

A celebratory snack you can prepare with your kids this Independence Day!


For her brother:  featuring his favourite colours of peacock blues and greens, Life Savers candies and a sweet flower.

Also, as pointed out by one of our readers – Sesame Street featured an episode on Rakhi last year:  Rakhi Road

Pink Lotus Party
Author: Aruna

In Andhra we celebrate Varalakshmi Vratam.  It usually falls on a Friday in August and although I didn’t know much about it when I was young (it was “just another puja” with lots of mantras and food), as I grew older I understood that married women worshipped 8 forms of Lakshmi for the prosperity of their families.  Both in India and here in the US as my mother continued the tradition, it was a sort-of Ladies Day In.

So I got this idea to invite my girlfriends over for a Pink Lotus Party.  As in Goddess Lakshmi sits on a pink lotus, so what better theme for a special puja brunch?  I’m too late for this year (it falls on August 12th), but my planning wheels are churning for next year – to create beautiful memories for my daughter.

Top of post:  Letterpress Greeting Card by Fine Day Press. $5.00
Below:  Handmade Crochet Coaster by Liliyab. $19.00 for set of 4

Left:  Handpainted wine glasses by RaeSmith.  $30.00 for 2.  Right:  Lotus tent cards by JenAitchison.  $1.00 per piece.

Left:  Versatile lotus stamp by SugarSkull7.  $5.00.  Right:  Ceramic Lotus Bowl by DGordon.  $10.00

Pink Lotus Stained Glass Mirror by Biltmore Glassworks.  $25.00

A little bling.  Left:  Swarovski Crystal Ring by CandyBead.  $8.50.  Right:  Clutch purse by FIAZCO.  $70.00

Cute pendants and necklaces for the little girls.  Left:  Marrakech Lotus Sterling Pendant by Ecstewart.  $57.00.  Right:  Fabric necklace by Begurple.  $28.00

And a tote to store it for next year.  Storage box by UhReusable. $39.00

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