So, I love to garden…. I mean I really love plants and flowers of all types.And I think I realized pretty early in life that I loved gardening. I have vivid memories of my mom, who always had the most beautiful gardens, despite the fact that we moved every few years because my Dad was in the Indian army. So… new place, new house, new gardens, new friends, new school, new adventures… I absolutely loved my childhood!!! I very clearly remember the strawberries that my Mom grew in one of our military British colonial homes( for those who know Wellington) and I also remember the fragrance of the geraniums she grew in Tenga Valley and the roses , oh the rose bushes she had in Dehradun …. the dahlias, the tuberoses, the gladioli, the balsam, the carnations, the marigolds … I knew all these names before I was 10!!! So, as an adult, it came as no surprise to the family that I continued my love affair with gardening. Whether, it was starting my own seedlings to wandering the most amazing gardens in the world to taking pictures of every beautiful flower or plant I saw( yes, my friends and family can vouch for this madness). I find immense peace and serenity when I have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. When not traveling, I find nothing more therapeutic than being in my garden, getting my hands dirty in the soil and being with my plants. I don’t have the best manicured nails in town, and that’s ok . I don’t love weeding, but know it’s a necessary evil. I don’t love being in the garden in the heat, but know that it has to be done. I don’t enjoy being bitten by tiny pesky bugs, but I spray myself and do what needs to be done … only because I really love it!!! My four legged best friends often help me when I am pottering around outside. I think they love gardening as much as I do or atleast I would like to think they do. I think they have helped with some of the rabbits and possums staying out of my yard . And as with any love affair, I have had my share of ups and downs …. especially dealing with 100 degree temperatures in Texas.There is always a learning process and if the climate( or people)is a bit difficult the learning takes a bit longer. California gardening was easier… the weather so much more conducive to healthy plants( and humans ) but when we moved to Texas, it was a great struggle for me. Plants died in the winter and the summers were blazing hot for anything much to survive. It’s just very recently that I have learnt to navigate through the four seasons of Texas.And yes, I learnt not to kill most of my plants …. only because I studied the climate, I studied what plants survive the heat ( yes, the hardy lantana),learnt to adapt myself to the climate( and even though I love petunias, I know they will eventually wilt in the Dallas summer ) and I learnt to fertilize more often !!! And, along the way I learnt some amazing life lessons… to make any important relationship bloom, you need to understand the climate it is growing in, you need to learn to adapt, you need to pull out the weeds often and you need to fertilize often with lots of love and complete trust.
Salt and Water have been around for as long as this Earth and are considered pure and raw. We have always been taught to be respectful of both salt and water and there is a great deep philosophy to it, which is not what I am going to be talking here today. What I want to let you know is how to use these elements to cleanse the energies of your space and open yourself to an amazing life. I wrote extensively about cleaning out your clutter in my last blog, and yes, I know of some friends who have been furiously emptying their closets and fridges(you know who you are) … hopefully many others have at least thought about clearing out their junk , if not already started the process. After, I wrote my blog, I decided to re arrange my home office, and while I was at it , I managed to throw out old papers( did I need a file on my blood tests from 2012??), old fabric swatches, dated magazines( Preeti… really??) etc. But, I am now loving my new space as it feels fresh and I am working with a clearer and more focused mind. So, now that our areas have been de-cluttered ( well, at least for a while) let’s clear up the stagnant heavy energies that have been slowly and steadily building up. One of the easiest and most powerful ways to achieve this is by the Salt Water cure. It’s very simple and yet so many people have no idea about this. All you need is rock salt, water, coins and a bowl. I like to use Himalayan pink salt( easily available at Costco.. yeah). Now, I also like to use salt for mopping, and Reyna, my Housekeeper( bless her) knows to just add salt(every now and then) to her mop bucket along with my favorite lavender fragrance.So here is what to do – Take a bowl( ceramic, metal or glass),full 1/3rd with salt, put 6 coins( traditional Feng Shui says to use Chinese coins, but you can use any metal coins) and then fill 3/4th with water. That’s it !!!
Now, place this bowl in the East part of your home/ office and add a metal object like a candle stand, art piece etc near this.It does not need to be visible, so you can place it behind a plant, photo frame, etc but not hidden in a cabinet or inside a drawer. Do not move this from now as you will start seeing an almost chemical reaction happening between the metal and salt. Now that your salt cure is in place,this will start neutralizing the negative energies in your space and replacing it with pure chi. Do you remember the salt scrub treatments at the spa that make you feel so rejuvenated and fresh.That’s exactly how your home will start feeling as the weeks progress. Add fresh flowers, burn candles and incense, open your windows and blinds, etc as these will help accelerate the whole cleansing process. Continue your de-cluttering process side by side( as unfortunately this is never ending . You will start seeing changes to the bowl, so don’t get surprised ( keep a plate underneath to catch the spills).It can actually get ugly, but just think of all the ugliness in your life being removed. Leave this alone for a few weeks or a few months. After you decide to dispose this, put it in a ziplock and throw it in the trash. You cannot use this bowl for another cleanse as then you will be adding the negative energies back into your space. You may want to do this cleanse atleast once a year, but you can actually do this as often as every month . Friday’s are actually a great day to start this cleanse, so why don’t you try this incredible ancient ritual tonight!!! AND DECLUTTER YOUR ENERGY FIELD.
Source: The art of making space
Space is energy and energy is what makes this world go around. I am talking about physical space as well as emotional space. When this space is cluttered, you are blocking the energy and over time, this leads to your life becoming stuck. Sound familiar!!!
And guess what,we are all guilty of this urge to buy and before we know it, we have packages from Amazon being delivered daily to out doorstep and the Fedex delivery man knows you by name. Sound familiar!!! I am guilty too…So, now that you have amassed all this extra “stuff” in your space and have come to the realization that it is bogging you down, you need to attack this immediately. Clutter is low lying, stagnant, heavy and confusing energy. So the sooner it’s out of your home, the better it is. After all your home is your living space not a storage space. Did you ever think that maybe the life you have always imagined is buried under the stuff that you own!!!
So here are a few Feng Shui philosophies and tips and by decluttering just two areas to get started on this journey of “clearing your space”.
1) Know the zones of your home -Once you have identified which areas are the most cluttered, I can promise you that if you look at your life, you will find situations that are mimicking that clutter. So, if your life seems unbalanced and chaotic, you may want to look at what’s going on in your closets…do you have clothes/shoes that you haven’t worn in more than a year? Most people wear 20%of their clothes 80% of the time. The rest of the clothes are for “when I lose weight, impulse sale buys, or just in case . Even if you can’t throw out all of these”maybes” make a start and try for at least half of them. The others can go into a box with a date 6 months from now. If you haven’t worn these even once during this time, off they go to Salvation. Ask yourself this question – if you were shopping right now, would you buy this item ? If the answer is No, toss it . Now that you have some semblance in your closet, add some decorative touches based on which Bagua the closet is in. And this exercise will need to become part of your daily/ weekly/monthly routine. Otherwise, you will be back to square one in no time. 2) Clean out your kitchen– The kitchen represents the state of your health and wealth. So, let’s ensure that your kitchens nourishes your life, with these few easy tips. Start with throwing out all expired items from your fridge and pantry. Oh man, those Costco deals !!! Did I really need 12 cans of peaches?? Also do an inventory of your Tupperware… you will be surprised at your mismatched items. While at it, discard unused pots and pans, broken cups, etc. Do not have any knives out on the counter. These need to be hidden in a drawer. Clean out your drawers and cupboards. Clear your countertops of those Cuisinarts and Vitamixes. Juxtaposition beautiful objects with a couple of functional cooking items. This will bring about a higher vibrational energy to your food and uplift the cooking experience. Always have a fresh flowers and a beautiful bowl with fresh seasonal fruits. Bring in the earth elements to your décor with yellows, gold and earth tones. Your garbage can should be hidden, for obvious reasons. Discipline yourself and your family not to use the counters for mail, newspapers, school papers, bills etc .And most important, ensure that your stove is clean at all times and use all your burners, not just the ones closest to you.
So now that you have decluttered just these two notorious space, move on and tackle every room in your home. This will now open up amazing opportunities that will make you realize how important this step is . But it makes sense… when we have clutter and unnecessary things in our space, there is no space left for the abundance we are seeking. We want more money, more business, nice clothes and jewelry and shoes, more meaningful relationships yet, all we have is old, outdated, mediocre, unused crap and emotions (more in this in a separate blog) occupying precious space. So make space and be prepared to receive the abundance that this Universe brings your way.
Namaste and wishing you eternal happiness.
So, March 21st was the Spring Equinox which marks the start of new beginnings and revival and scientifically speaking , when the length of day and night are approximately the same. There is a feeling of renewed hope and Mother Nature is showing us miracles everywhere. Blossoms are blooming, the grass seems greener( even in my own yard) and the sun filled days( well, it’s not 90 degrees yet… phew 😅) seem to put an extra bounce in your steps…. perfect time to use some Feng Shui wisdom. 1)Declutter – This is one topic that I will be visiting very often, so do realize how truly important this is and how this has to be done on an ongoing basis. How about today, we declutter our electronics. We get hundreds of emails,texts, WhatsApp messages etc daily… and they do take up energy and space in your computer, phones ,and believe it or not, your head.You have to train yourself to delete your junk emails on a daily basis, and once a week sort through the rest of your emails. Do I really need that email from American Express from 2015 ?Do I really need to view that video on healing on WhatsApp from 6 months ago? No , I really don’t…it needs discipline on a daily basis to ensure that your phones and computers don’t get clogged. Not only will this slow down your equipment, but this clutter will not allow any new opportunities or ideas to come in. If your computer’s memory is already full( with junk emails) how do you expect to receive that new bid or that pending order? My husband has probably 2000 unread emails and about 40 odd unread messages, texts and phone calls. All that red color on his phone gives me a headache!!! And he needs to learn to delete these and make space for newness . 2) Spring Clean your refrigerator,freezer and pantry – This is the perfect time to throw/ donate those 10 lbs bags of frozen vegetables from Costco( buy fresh or better grow your own) and those expired cans of soup that you will never drink in the summer months. Come on guys, let’s cook daily, let’s use organic vegetables, buy small, and let’s cut down on our Costco bills( easier said than done).Deep clean your refrigerator,throw out everything that’s gone bad and wipe down the shelves ( I love to use lavender wipes). Wouldn’t you like your pantry to look pretty (use some decorative items too in your pantry) and not cluttered with expired cereal boxes etc. I love these Crabtree and Evelyn cookie jars from London… they look so pretty and they remind me of good times. 3) Plant some green- Do you know the color for money? Hmmm, it’s green !!! And,now is the best time to plan your garden and plant some new annuals and perennials. Avid gardeners start this process way back in January- My bathroom has seeds germinating in the bathtub ( at least someone is using the tub). Be sure to have fresh plants and greenery in your home ( but never in bedrooms) as they instill new energy into your space. And yes, if you do place plants in your Wealth section, guess what … that’s money growing. But, if your plant withers and dies , do not leave it there, hoping that it will miraculously get revived. That goes in the trash immediately. Get a new plant to replace the dead one. I love to use herbs in my house … they look beautiful and they smell heavenly. I love sage and rosemary!!! Now, if you don’t have a green thumb, it’s okay to use silk artificial plants, but please no dried plants or twigs etc . The reason is pretty self-explanatory… it’s dried and it’s dead. 4) Open your windows- There is something very serene about opening your windows and letting in some fresh air. This is the perfect time ( take your allergra pills to combat those darn allergens)to do so . Think of the fresh air as cleansing our homes. My husband and I disagree on this ( I may have to work on my relationship section a bit more ) but I do love to open my windows and hear the wind chimes in the backyard or the wind rustling through the trees. This is also the perfect time to call in Jose, your window cleaner and get your windows squeaky clean.
Big Sur is more of a feeling to be experienced rather than a dot on a map. It’s rugged coastline, the interplay of the fog and the sun, the glory of the wildlife and the fields of blooming wildflowers are a sight that will take your breath away, no matter how many times you visit this place.
Big Sur is derived from the Spanish word “El Sur Grande” which means “big country of the south” and is an undeveloped and very lightly populated area on the California Central Coast, just south of Monterey. Here the Santa Lucia mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean making this stretch of coastline one of the most scenic in continental US if not in the world.
Much ink has been spilled praising this rugged piece of natural beauty and yet nothing prepares you for the undeniable magic of Big Sur. This is not something to cross off your bucket list by driving through in a hurry. That’s what freeways are for. You have to savor Big Sur slowly like an aged wine to really enjoy its nuances.
The most photographed bridge in California and the setting for many million dollar car commercials is the famous Bixby Bridge. It’s something of an iconic symbol and a graceful piece of architecture and a great photo opportunity for all of us.By the way, there is no service as soon as you enter Big Sur. So your Google maps or any other apps are not going to work here. Best is to do your research before you head to this paradise… I actually think not having any internet is a boon as it puts you in the moment ( by force) spiritually and physically. The wildflowers here are insane…just growing with wild abandon, with no care for the world. It makes you stop in your tracks for a moment and bask in the glory that is God. As I said earlier, Big Sur has to be experienced with your soul.
Big Sur is a photographer’s dream… whether in the early morn or at sunset, the vistas are unparalleled. When the sunlight shimmers on the water, it’s like gold. You don’t need any filters here to make your photos look amazing… the images will stun you with their clarity and beauty.
The most amazing sight is when the fog rises from the ocean making the whole landscape look almost ethereal. Clouds wafting across the mountains, the slight nip in the air, the smell of the ocean… it’s just what you need to cleanse your soul. It has been described as”a national treasure that requires extraordinary measures to protect it from development”. And it is heavily protected to preserve its rural and natural character. Development is severely restricted and the California Coastal Commission has been very successful in preserving this stretch of unparalleled beauty. Big Sur has attracted plenty of poets, writers and artists who have spoken vividly about this piece of paradise. This has been and continues to be a popular place for self realization, self improvement, self introspection and in general, just being a better person, a better soul… and if you are lucky enough to experience Big Sur, you will surely realize that this pace can surely nourish your soul in ways you were not even aware of!!!
Most people think of Feng Shui as some New World nonsense, but for people who believe in this actually do see changes in their lives, sometimes quite amazing ones. So, without getting into the complexities of Feng Shui, I will outline some simple steps to get started. The first thing in Feng Shui is energy. When we change the energies of our homes, we change our lives and ourselves… it’s as simple as that. The second thing to understand is how and why Feng Shui works.How it focuses on your intentions and how it revamps the subliminal messages your house is sending to you. Once you decide that Feng Shui is going to work for you,then you should just go for it.But if are skeptical about this “energy “thing, then begin with clearing out clutter in your house. Maybe once that is done, it may open your mind to a new thought process. Let’s begin with the feel and the aura of your house. Does it feel heavy , dark and dreary or do you feel happy to come home? The easiest way to freshen your home( which should be done quite often) is to open the windows, let the sunlight and fresh air come in , play some music you love( yes, the vibrations of the music add to the positive energies) light some candles, maybe dance a bit… you will immediately feel the energies lifting. You can add sea salt to your mop water, spray your linens with lavender( Love Provence) light incense inside AND outside as well.Be sure to do a sage cleanse once every few months, but at least once a year. More on that in another blog. The second vital step in Feng Shui and the most tedious is clearing out the clutter. Yes, it’s easier said than done.We are all guilty (myself included)of holding onto unnecessary things, including negative thoughts and emotions for years. Where there is clutter, energies will not move, when energies will not move, things will become stagnant and stale, ultimately leading to a lifeless life.So, be ruthless and clean out your closets, garages, drawers, outdated cosmetics, old spices( yes, they have energy too) etc. You will start seeing a shift in energies almost immediately. Be sure to get rid of any negative thoughts and emotions as well as this time. Once this is done, then comes the fun part. Add on enhancements as needed and move your things around. Apparently, if you move 27 things at one time, you will feel the immediate power of change. Do try it!! But believe, believe, believe!!! It’s very important that you only have objects in your house that make you happy. You need to have a strong energy connection with every single item in your house. If you don’t like anything in your house, guess what … it doesn’t like you back either. So, if it ain’t talking to you, it needs to be purged. The use of color is very important in Feng Shui as each color is a manifestation of the five elements -fire, water, wood, metal and earth.The details of how to use colors according to the Bagua map are plenty and takes time and effort to understand.However, you don’t have to paint your entire wall red ( unless you love it and it does look dramatic, in my opinion)but you can add on red decorative pillows, red candles or red roses in your Fame and Reputation area which represents Fire. Same way adding water elements like a fountain or mirrors in your Career area will absolutely help take you places . Now if you have water in the Fire area and vice versa , then you are probably in some kind of jam right now. That’s where a Feng Shui consultant can make minor adjustments and voila your life is back on track. Use the front door as often as you can. We are so used to driving into our garages and entering into the house from there. This single act alone can be the one thing that you have to change immediately. Using your front door is extremely important for energies to move in and out. Keeping the front door closed at all times represents closed opportunities or missed opportunities. Open the front door as many times a day as you can. Each part of your home represents an area of you life.We use what is called a Bagua Map to navigate through the house and add or delete accordingly. The Bagua is like the computer central of your home and is what defines the arrangement and placement of objects . All the intricacies and details of the Feng Shui world merge together after the Bagua of the house has been determined . More details on how to deal with each area to follow in subsequent blogs. So, welcome to the fascinating world of Feng Shui and I hope I can raise the energies of at least one person. Namaste 🙏🏻
Ubud offers a large variety of restaurants from small local joints to trendy fusion cafes. It goes without saying that you should avoid eating Western food( who and why would anyone have a pizza in Bali?) and stick to enjoying the amazing delicacies of Balinese cuisine… tender authentic satay, grilled fish, suckling pig 1)One of our favorite restaurants in Ubud is Melting Wok Warung,which serves fresh Asian/ Indonesian fusion cuisine. This small charming place on Jalan Gootama is owned by Geraldine, a French expat. I remember meeting her a couple of years ago when I had visited the restaurant with my friend. She is vivacious and warm and very welcoming and her French accent is utterly charming.The menu is limited and is handwritten on a blackboard with fresh daily specials. But the food is delicious, flavorful and prepared with love. We ended up going there twice!! But you have to make reservations otherwise be prepared to wait a long time for your Chicken coconut curry noodle, the flavors of which are just divine . Be sure to enjoy the young coconut creme caramel for dessert with your coffee 2) Fresh coconut water-It is kind of mandatory to partake of fresh coconut water, which is available in plenty. Our favorite was Tukies which served the most delicious coconut ice cream … soft and creamy and utterly delicious. The fresh coconut was chilled and just what is needed while walking in the humid temperatures of Ubud. 3) Another great spot for lunch was Fair Warung Bale, located in a small first floor location.The food is prepared fresh and the flavors are delicious. It’s a good feel restaurant because every meal provides free medical examination to people in need and the meals are prepared on site by young people learning a job skill. We tried the delicious shrimp with vegetables and rice and it was just perfect for an afternoon meal.4) Some of the best coffee in the world comes from Indonesia. We headed to Bali Palina coffee plantation for a day of bliss… the fragrance of the coffee permeated through the green and lush gardens, tasting all the wonderful flavors of coffee and the warm hospitality of the staff . The coffee tasting includes the worlds most expensive coffee.. Kopi Luwak or civet cat coffee. The rice terraces view from the coffee plantation 5) We headed to Warung Siam Ubud, a small restaurant with rave reviews for some authentic Thai food. The decor was minimal but the flavors of the food were delicious and fresh, the presentation was beautiful and the cost very reasonable.6)Fresh roasted corn on the cob is everywhere and they even have the lemon and masala to rub on it. The locals even called it “bhutta ” when they saw us. 6)Some of the most amazing coffee shops are in Ubud (including an organic Starbucks) delicious coffee, beautiful decor … just perfect way to relax and while away the time . We loved the coffee at Cinta restaurant, Coffee and company, Startbucks( had to try it) and Anomali… and of course, fresh coffee at our Airbnb made daily by Wayan.Cafe Cinta StarbucksAnomali coffee – very popular local haunt great artwork on the walls of AnomaliFresh coffee at home 7)Ibu Rai is a must visit when in Ubud. It’s on a busy street but once you walk into the restaurant it’s completely unexpected. Beautiful gardens,traditional seating and great service. The grandson of Ibu Rai happened to join in our conversation while we were having dinner and we left the restaurant with a new friend. Beautifully presented plates The desserts were outstanding with amazing flavors-we tried the clove sorbet,ginger flower sorbet and the most delicious kaffir lime chocolate lava cake. The main door at Ibu Rai ( with our new friend, the owner and grandson of Ibu Rai) 8)Cafe Bunute serving Archipelago cuisine is a fun restaurant with live music and great ambience. We wanted to try the famous Bebek guling ( crispy duck) and were not disappointed.The Betutu paste used to season the duck includes spices like lemongrass, garlic, black pepper, coriander seeds, ginger, kaffir lime, chilli and turmeric. And of course, we had satays yet again. The bar menu was interesting and had plenty of detox choices( guess to clean up last nights indulgence)and local fresh vegetables.
Bebek guling Satays on personal grills9) Home cooked dinner by Wayan in our Airbnb was quite delightful and actually the most delicious. The flavors were outstanding and her Sambhal matah was the best we have ever had -the kaffir lime and lemongrass were bursting in every bite.Home cooked Nasi Gureng with fresh vegetables Coconut dessert with palm sugar Fish satays on lemongrass sticks with the most delicious sambal matah Banana pancakes with freshly grated coconut for breakfast… beats IHOP any day!Fresh juice and coffee anyone
The world famous Balinese rice terraces are almost on everyone’s bucket list and for a great reason… they are stunning,breathtaking and spectacular. These sprawling rice terraces make for a perfect photo opportunity and are a great way to spend a leisurely afternoon strolling through the paddy fields. The Tegallalang rice terraces, a World Unesco Heritage site and the most famous of all are just about half hour north of Ubud and can be added onto your Kintamani itinerary.Visit Mount Batur in the morning and drive back here for the afternoon. These rice terraces are engineered using traditional Balinese irrigation systems dating back to the 9th century, by tapping the water from the mountains to keep the paddies wet throughout the year.Even though most rice is harvested using modern agricultural techniques, this gave me a new appreciation for each piece of grain that lands on my plate. Local farmers with traditional woven baskets happily take pictures with tourists like me(please do give them some money for they are but mere farmers turned actors trying to give you an Instagram worthy click)Beautiful verdant green fields filled with water, banana trees swaying to the gentle breeze…you will see plenty of these rice fields as you drive through Bali.Be sure to stop and take some pictures, as these are definitely worth the effort. A green so green,clouds floating up above,tropical trees lining the horizon,a lone farmer going about his daily chores …this bucolic picturesque scenery is abundantly visible from the busy Balinese roads. Thatched roofs on traditional houses make for picture perfect shots overlooking the ancient valley. Plenty of cafes and shops line the rice fields, so do plan on eating a Nasi goreng amidst all this natural beauty… who knows the fried rice you are eating is from the very fields your eyes are feasting upon.
Juxtapositioned with art, spirituality, and a feeling that God really was very benevolent when he created this place. Where the landscape is so stunning that it takes your breath away, where the greenery is so lush that it looks like someone took a paintbrush across the canvas … that’s Bali and it is perfectly named “The Island of the Gods”. Taman Amida – our gorgeous garden villa in Ubud is beyond beautiful. Once you are behind those antique teak carved doors, you feel like you are in another world . It’s so close to the center of Ubud, but yet feels so far away. The concept of indoor outdoor living has always fascinated me and no one does it better than the Balinese. What is it about this that is so alluring that it almost feels spiritual. And why does this elude me so much in Dallas? Why not have your living room, dining room and the kitchen be one with nature? Why not ? Can you imagine cooking in that kitchen? That favorite book, a cup of coffee, this blissful little nook and the smell of frangipani wafting through the air!!! Heaven probably? Outdoor showers are just something else, I have to say … especially when it’s raining outside. This has to be personally experienced to understand the temerity of the whole idea. But highly recommend it . The advantages of having your bathroom sink outside… perfect lighting!! This blissful area is part of the outdoor bathroom.Just so serene and peaceful, it actually makes you feel serene and peaceful. This piece of wooden sculpture sitting on the kitchen counter looking into the garden blends perfectly into the ambience This wooden sculpture of a man and woman, perched at the entrance of the house is so haunting at night… like they are awaiting something or someone.