Thursday, 10 November 2016

throwback thursday - TBT #27

Nov 10th was the day that the world famous Hope diamond was donated to the smithsonian museum, in 1958.

the hope diamond is a unique, deep blue diamond which originated in india. it travelled far and wide across the globe, and has a long history of which a large part remains unknown. it is believed to be originally part of a bigger uncut stone called the 'tavernier blue', and after passing through the hands of the wealthy and royalty in england and france, it came to the united states in the early 1900s.

the gem merchant Harry Winston acquired the diamond from its previous owners in 1949, and in 1958, donated it to the collections of the smithsonian. the diamond was presented to the museum on nov 10th 1958, after it reached there by registered mail in a simple brown paper package . the package was insured for one million dollars, and the actual postage fee was $2.44 :)

see the original package in which it arrived in 1958, below -

image from wikipedia, here.

photo of the hope diamond being presented to the smithsonian institutions. 
image source - from the collection of the smithsonian archives here

and lastly, see my own photo of the hope diamond below, taken during a summer visit.
it is on permanent display in its own, specially lit, rotating glass case - in the gem section of the smithsonian natural history museum in washington d.c.  
the entire gem & mineral section is an incredible collection and makes you want to stay there for hours !

the hope diamond is 45.5 carats, and is in a platinum setting surrounded by 16 white diamonds, and suspended from a chain with 45 diamonds. 

do make it to the gem collection in the natural history museum if you are ever in washington d.c, but remember that it is almost always crowded :)

Monday, 7 November 2016

mundane monday - #68

the thing about indian festivals like diwali is that you have a generous supply of sweets and savouries around the house for the next few days. it has been a week (and a couple of days) since diwali and we've managed to exhaust all the sugar overdose. but when you look at the empty boxes it feels kind of sad and you wish there was something more :)

all the sugar craving made me remember that among the heap of photos i took but never released was this one - a bowl of lindt sea salt caramel truffles that we'd got months ago. seriously, this is one of the bestest chocolates ever. so dangerously tempting, it just melts in your mouth smoothly with just a touch of sea salt that makes it perfect.

apart from this past diwali week binge, of late i've been trying to reduce all added sugar, eat my vegetables, and do such adult things. so for now, i'm able to look at this pic and remember the time i ate them, without feeling the need to rush to the store and grab a bag. good job, right ?

in some parallel universe i think chocolate is the most healthy superfood there is. till such time we can all find that universe and migrate there, lets make the best of this one. sigh.

have a good week ahead folks, wherever you are.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

throwback thursday - TBT #26

the last time i made a throwback thursday post here was in march. two seasons have gone by. huhh.

this weekend (saturday, oct 29th) will be diwali, and i thought there's no better time to pick up things again. so here i was, searching the internet for vintage pics related to diwali or deepavali, india's most popular festival - and by the happiest chance i stumbled on some archives of chandamama.

chandamama was a popular children's magazine in india, published in english and many indian languages. once a fond part of many a kid's childhood, it has sadly ceased publication now.

here is a diwali special issue from november 1955 - the cover art has two ladies holding lamps, children setting off fire crackers, and a temple in the background.

you can see the entire issue here, as well as many old issues uploaded by some kind soul. i was so happy to see them !

you can also check out my throwback post on last year's diwali here.

wish you all a very happy diwali/deepavali, have a great weekend !

Sunday, 25 September 2016

fall is in the air

the first weekend of fall has rolled by already. fall (autumn) is no doubt the most beautiful of seasons, but it inevitably feels like the beginning of the end of the year. you start with seeing a little yellow and orange here and there, and before you know it, you are bang in the middle of winter and piling on layers of clothes just to take out the trash.

that being said, it is no doubt the season when nature is at its best, becoming a great artist and painting a giant canvas of colours. 

if the thought of approaching weather is, well, less than pleasant, at least fall is a good time for tv & movies, since there are always new seasons and new releases lined up. sitcoms are my personal favourite. i'm not that much of a movie buff and rarely make it to the theatres, but two movies i'm hoping to watch this season are inferno, and fantastic beasts.

as of now, i dont have any travel plans made for fall yet, but we had some beautiful day trips last year. the photos above and below are from last year, taken quite close to where we lived. aren't the colours great ?
also, you can see that i've watermarked the pics. no big reason, just something that i've been meaning to try for a while. ( have no idea if i'll find the patience to keep it up for every post though - i don't trust myself that much :) - let's see.)

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

a minor blog update

i decided to go ahead and make a tiny little update to the blog - nothing major, just a simple new header and the addition of a new colour.

i made the previous elaborate change a couple of years back and the details are all here - this time, i've just removed the previous border in the background, since i felt it was getting to look a bit dated and old. (i like vintage in a lot of things, but when it comes to blog/web design, i like modern minimalism a lot :) )

so i quickly did this new header image in google drawings - it is a handy tool if you want to make simple graphics, images etc... if not anything very fancy, it surely does a great job with the basics, with a bunch of options for adding shapes, images, text, with different colours and font options. try it out sometime if you haven't. (you just need a google/gmail account, and you'll find it in your google drive along with docs, spreadsheet, etc.)

the font for the blog name is called 'lovers quarrel'. i wanted a bit of 'gold-ish' colour, and chose this one - the hex code is #bf9d31. i've also used this colour across some of the other elements in the blog now.
the font for the description below is josefin sans, and the colour is one that is already being used on the blog - #1fb7c4.
(one little issue is that as of now, it doesnt look as good on a mobile as it does on a desktop.)

so thats all for now, hope to be back soon... summer is drawing to a close, and i do have a bunch of pics that i took in august, i should try to post them sometime. lets see. 

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

on this and that...

sometimes it feels like thoughts and ideas are waiting to burst forth from your head. and then of course the moment passes and when you do actually sit down, you cant think of a single word to write, or even why you pulled up your chair and opened the laptop. happens all too often.

it makes me feel i shouldn't keep waiting for the best ideas to show up, or feel too bad about hitting publish on anything that is less than stellar.
maybe it is not a bad idea to round up those commonplace thoughts that flash through the mind from time to time, instead of sitting on some lone idea and wait for it to hatch into that ideal post you want. because lets face it, that rarely happens.

on that note, this is going to be a post of a bunch of random stuff. nothing fancy, just things that have been happening around here lately. feel free to read or skip.

first off, we've been having more rain, on and off. it is like there is one sunny week and the other is rainy and cloudy. which makes me very happy. rain makes the whole world look better, honestly.

next, i have to make it known to the world that i managed to make a two-week trip, with all my things fit into a single backpack. yep, achievement unlocked. i'm giving myself a pat on the back for both the minimalism and the packing skills involved here, so umm, excuse me this one time, for bragging. maybe i should do a separate post on what i packed, but im not too sure at this point. theres nothing interesting about my stuff though, it is mostly plain and boring, i should say. 

also, on coming back home, i found the ikea 2017 catalogue and some magazines waiting. and of course the aforementioned rain. so all in all, it has been a good week so far. 

ohh, and most importantly, sometime back i had stupidly messed with the blog's template by mistake, and that changed a lot of things. i managed to restore most of the template settings, but somethings may still not be alright. mostly photos - they might end up wrongly sized, spilling on to the sidebar, or links may be broken. i've been trying to go through most of them and keep fixing, but there might be still some that are left out, especially among older ones. 
i havent been doing the regular posts lately, and meanwhile this happened, so i was kind of torn between going ahead with some of the posts i had in mind or fixing the old ones. i had been saving some stuff to post in august, so lets see how the rest of the month goes. 
till we meet again, au revoir, folks.

Monday, 4 July 2016

mundane monday - #67

today, july 4th, as many know, is Independence Day in the united states. so i thought it would be appropriate to post a photo of a George Washington presidential dollar in my collection.

washington was the first president of the united states, one of the founding fathers of the country, and commanded the continental army in the revolutionary war victory against the british. 

the coin is one in the series of presidential dollar coins issues by the US mint to commemorate it's presidents. 

see my earlier pics of a US penny (1 cent coin) here and that of my coin box here

Wednesday, 22 June 2016


summer has officially begun in these parts, with the first day of summer being a couple of days ago. today however turned out to be rainy all morning, with the day getting brighter in the evening.

rainy days are among my favourite things. there is something about rain that puts me in a really good mood - and if, like today, it is already raining by the time i get up and have my morning cup of tea, even better :)

rain is always good, but it is even more beautiful in the spring, when everything around looks so green and fresh... there had been so many rainy days the past month, and i had taken some pics now and then from our apartment balcony - i thought of posting some of them here today...

  when it rains, it pours - drenching our entire balcony and lashing down the glass door...

 a steady rain falling over the trees outside... 

a rainy day view of the opposite block in our apartment...

and the sun comes shining through... 

it was one of those days when the evening sunshine was so golden after a rainy spell, that it made even our balcony look all the more beautiful than it usually seems :)

Monday, 13 June 2016

mundane monday - #66

half the year has almost gone by already, and i realise i've made just one other mundane monday post this year. huhh. i suppose i haven't been taking that many photos this year. a few months back i got a new phone with a really good camera, and that has made me use my actual camera even less. this photo im posting today is one of those few from the camera this year.

this was taken a couple of months back, before i left for my month-long hometown visit. i was shopping around for some random stuff, when i saw this set of colourful measuring cups and spoons. they looked so pretty and i decided to get them for my cousin.
measuring cups are so handy in the kitchen, and it is always an added bonus if useful stuff is also pretty. they look so gorgeously colourful, don't they ?

the set of measuring cups that i myself have now, is this red one from ikea.

some more pops of colour here, here, and here !

incidentally, the old set of measuring cups i had was one of the early pics i took for the monday series. i realise they were pretty blah ones, though :)

Friday, 20 May 2016

oh, the trips we take and the memories we make...

the thing about taking a long gap from something is that it is all the more difficult to get back to it, or start doing it, once again. thats what happens when you take a long break from your blog - you actually feel clueless about where to begin and how to continue.

i could say the same thing about coming back to 'routine' or 'normal' life, after a long trip.

i was away from the end of march till the end of april, spending almost an entire month (except for a few days ) between my mom's and my aunt's houses, and being a part of my cousin's wedding.

there are a few parts about that trip which i wish i could erase out entirely, like the huge stress i had weighing on my mind because of some stupid paperwork which wouldn't get sorted out till the last minute, and some health issues. if these two hadnt been there, i would have enjoyed the trip and the wedding so much better - but well, there must always be some rain on the parade or it wouldn't be my life.

the good part though, it is always great when you get to spend time with mom, aunts and cousins. throw in a big fat indian wedding and it just gets better. when you look back, you always tend to take the tense parts leading up to a wedding lightly and focus only on the good parts... these are the ones which end up as fond memories, ones which will get talked about again and again, get told and retold over the years.

personally, i think i refuse to be an adult when im staying at my mom's or aunt's, and neither do they consider me one i guess :) - getting used to tea being ready by the time i brush my teeth, and having food cooked by someone else for a whole month, makes it so difficult to get back to 'adult mode' when you are back in a home of your own.
what makes it all the more difficult though, is the sights, sounds, colours and smells of the places you hold close to your heart. the bright morning sun that streams through your mother's kitchen, the neem tree in front of the house, or the banana tree in your aunt's backyard - with the passage of time, you realise that memories are more sensory than you think.

( in the foreground is the neem tree in front of my parents' apartment, the coconut trees behind are from the houses on the opposite side of the street... )

as i was saying at the beginning, it takes so long to get back to 'normal' after an extended home town visit. it has been close to three weeks and im still coming to terms with it :)
one of the things that make me feel 'back at home' and 'grown up', is making that first batch of ghee, first batch of yoghurt, and idli/dosa batter, to restock the kitchen. somehow these three seem to form the core of my existence, helping me get my bearings back, so to speak :)

so, is it just me or do you tend to have 'holiday hangover' too ? do you feel some memories hang more heavily over you than others ? 

Thursday, 17 March 2016

throwback thursday - TBT #25

march 17th is st.patrick's day. it is one of those celebrations that have become so much assimilated into mainstream american culture despite having originated in another country (ireland in this case). originally began as a catholic feast day for st.patrick, today it has become more associated with parades, drinking, and everything in green ! many american towns dye their rivers green for the day (and in recent years even the white house fountain ), and it is believed that americans spend more than $4 billion on the day - most of it probably on guinness beer, but also largely on costumes including green irish top hats and shamrocks, and cabbages ! (not to mention probably a sizeable amount on 'dui' tickets, post-beer.)

and now, coming to today's throwback - i always love a good round of vintage-picture-hunting, so here are a few that i found of vintage st.patricks day parades from around the world -

the one above is from the st patrick's day parade in new york city, 1909. photo from the collection of US library of congress, found on wikimedia here

photo above shows a parade in brisbane, australia, around 1927.  (on a side note, see the store on the side called 'barnes self service bazaar'. must have been one of the earliest stores to adopt a 'self service' format, without salespeople handing you the goods.) photo from the state library of queensland, found on wikimedia commons here.

and lastly, one from ireland itself - kids dressed up to entertain, dublin, 1924. photo from the 
national library of ireland, posted on flickr here.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

throwback thursday - TBT #24

march 3rd, 1923 - the first issue of 'TIME' magazine is published from new york city.

this is the cover of the first issue, below -

the first issue price of 15 cents can be seen on the cover. the person on the cover is US speaker Joseph G Cannon. 'TIME' has the world's largest circulation among weekly magazines, and its annual features, 'person of the year' and '100 most influential people of the year' are very popular.

today, the 'time' group has a large number of magazines, as well as media & communications businesses.

the entire first issue of time magazine is available to read, from their archives here.

Monday, 29 February 2016

mundane monday - #65

i took a photo today for the mundane monday series after many weeks - it was a surprise that the camera even held the charge for so long, i remember the last i charged it was some time in jan !

anyway, it is going to be almost a month since we moved into this apartment, and here are the keys - :)

march is here, and hope the weather gets nicer soon. i have lists to make and shopping to be done in the next few weeks, in anticipation of a long trip by the end of march, fingers crossed :)

hope you are having good days and nice weather wherever you are !

Sunday, 28 February 2016

hollywood boulevard & kodak theatre - old photos dug from my archives !

i have been thinking often about how there are so many photos i've taken, that remain sadly neglected in storage. there are ones from many previous years stored in a hard disk and a laptop, and there are so many from 2015 still stuck in the phone as well as camera, which i have not even bothered to transfer.

i should be giving them more attention, organising and posting the good ones and clearing out those that havent turned out good. 

the fact that today is the 88th academy award ceremony reminded me of the pics from a visit to hollywood/LA, six years ago. we were living a few hours away at that time, and it was a short weekend day trip. i dont have a lot of photos from the trip, but i picked a few from the ones i had and touched them up a bit, so that i could post them here today.

these are from an afternoon walk around the hollywood boulevard, seeing the 'walk of fame' and the academy awards venue - the 'kodak theatre', as it was called back then, and dolby theatre as it is known now.

this is the home of the academy awards - where the oscars have been given each year, from 2002. (there have been many different venues earlier.) kodak sponsored the auditorium, paying a hefty sum for the naming rights, until it went bankrupt and could no longer afford it. it is now called 'dolby theatre', after dolby acquired the naming rights, and upgraded the sound systems.

the hollywood 'walk of fame' is a long of stretch of sidewalk (footpath) on both sides of the road called hollywood boulevard. the path has stars outlined in brass with the names of those who have made a lasting contribution to the entertainment industry. the stars are installed based on nominations. there are now more than 2500.

here are a few among the favourites that i spotted -

this is the star of the amazing director steven spielberg - he deserves every superlative adjective you can think of -  and whose movie 'bridge of spies' is nominated this year ! (and yeah thats my foot making an appearance.)

the star of actor ben kingsley, who always remains a household name in india for his award winning role of "Gandhi"

and one of my favourites, sandra bullock - who won an academy award for her epic performance in the movie 'blindside'.

there are also stars for many popular fictional characters, like these ones for bugs bunny and snow white.

and finally -

this is the famous hollywood sign, seen here from the hollywood & highland center, which is the complex where the dolby theatre and so many other shops & restaurants are located.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

throwback thursday - TBT #23

the weather in these parts was nice and sunny the past weekend, and has since returned to a wintry mix of alternating rain and snow the last few days, though not too bad altogether. my coping mechanism has been to drink generous amounts of ginger chai, and keep staring out of the window now and then.

meanwhile, here are some vintage photos of snowy winters that i found -

the one above is of 5th avenue in new york city, apparently taken around 1905

any guesses for the pic above ? - it is the white house, washington d.c !
taken around 1907.

source for both photos - from here.

one thing that should keep our spirits up is the thought that march is just around the corner - hope we see the first signs of spring soon !

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

moving on...

we moved, last weekend - after every kind of uncertainty and change of plan there could possibly be, including a blizzard that threw a spanner in the works. 

packing tape, moving day

after travelling using an impossible-sounding combination of transport, which included a rental car, a flight, a friend's car and own car, we finally reached the new place. the moving truck with all our stuff is yet to come though, so right now it feels like staying in an oversized hotel room with no furniture. as of now theres just a couple of comforters, pillows, some clothes and a few kitchen essentials (and laptops of course). 

while it is surprisingly eye-opening to realise how much i can get by with just the basics, i'm sure getting all the stuff would definitely be a big help to make the place feel like 'home'. right now, my laptop 'support/desk' is a 12 pack of bathroom tissue on the floor. yeah. 

of all the times i have moved, this time seemed the least stressful, both because all the delays had given me more time to pack, and also, more importantly, we had a couple of close friends coming over and helping, during and after the moving truck was being loaded. it made a big difference to me i think, since it is always the last few hours that i usually panic and almost seem to flip out :) we also had a friend's family receive us when we landed in a new state, made us a hot dinner and packed us with some essential stuff for the first few days. trust me, having people around makes a huge difference. 

on that note, its a bit unsettling to think that this time we are going to be in a new town where we dont have any of our friends or family nearby, with our closest friends being a 1.5 hrs drive away. but you always take comfort in the fact that it could have been worse. hmmm.

also, as a bit of trivia, i have always lived in coastal states, and this is the first time i'm being in a 'landlocked' state, with no beaches :) - though we have a river nearby, and a huge lake in a few hours drive. 

Sunday, 17 January 2016

let it snow...

this has turned out to be a beautiful sunday, with the first snowfall of the season just starting now outside my window !

as i write, the swirls of snow are coming down steadily, and just starting to leave a powdery coating on the tree branches and rooftops... (if it leaves a thick layer before dusk i should probably get out the camera - it has been a long while since i did.)

ideally i would like to just make myself a hot cup of chai and pull a chair by the window and keep watching, but today, work beckons. we had originally thought we'd be moving in sep-oct, but that didnt happen and instead we are planning to relocate next weekend. so im looking at a lot of packing to be done in the next few days.

meanwhile, here's a first look - and hope you are having a nice weekend wherever you are :)

update - here are a few more pics from the camera after the snow had fallen for quite some time - (the one above being from the mobile )

Thursday, 14 January 2016

throwback thursday - #22

tomorrow is the indian festival of pongal, or makar sankranti. astrologically, is it considered to mark the movement of sun into capricorn, but it is also india's most important celebration of harvest and 'thanksgiving'.

celebrations for every festival vary from state to state in india, and in my home state of tamilnadu, pongal marks a very festive celebration of 3-4 days. the first day of bhogi sees all the homes cleaned, decorated and old stuff discarded. the second day is the main festival of pongal, the birth of the 'thai' month, which marks the beginning of an auspicious season. newly harvested rice is cooked with freshly boiled milk & jaggery, offered to the gods, (especially the sun) and eaten along with sugarcane. the third day is 'maatu pongal', in honour of cattle & livestock, when they are decorated and given offerings of food. even the birds are left with offerings of coloured rice for them to eat.

with that little preface, we come to today's throwback thursday - i was looking for old pongal ads or greeting cards, and ended up finding some beautiful cards listed on ebay. here are a few below -

the colourfully painted card has a woman making traditional offerings on the right, while the left one has a pongal message, signed with a name in tamil that possibly seems 'meyyappan' - and it also bears the location as ipoh, which is in malaysia. ('meyyappan' is a common natukkottai chettiar name and many chettiars were living in malaya/malaysia in the olden days, doing business and bringing wealth back home. )
the card at the top, as can be seen, is signed with the date of jan 14th 1954  - that is exactly 62 years before!
image source for both the above images - from here 

this one shows a rustic rural setting, with a man and woman bundling freshly harvested paddy in the fields, with other farmhands and cattle in the background. this one seems to be painted by the eminent artist k.madhavan, whose works graced many of the tamil magazines and ads of his time.

image source - from here
lastly, the two above seem to be from a three-fold card - featuring the amazingly beautiful yesteryear actress padmini, who is an evergreen favourite of tamil movie fans ! each of the panels has a different message about pongal, with photos of padmini in beautiful traditional jewellery - nethi chutti, jhimki, maatal, kal attigai and oddiyanam !

wishing everyone a very happy pongal and makar sankranti !

Monday, 11 January 2016

mundane monday - #64

this is a photo of my coin bank that i took back in 2012, when it was almost full... ( it is shaped like an old red british pillar box, and i just opened the top/lid to take this pic.)

among the assortment of coins you can find a few of the US state 'quarters' - 25cent coins - which are part of a series of 50 coins issued by the US mint over a period of 10 years, to commemorate each of US's 50 states. i think i started sometime in 2009, and finished collecting them by the end of 2011. during the time i did that, it was always interesting to eagerly go through all the spare change i could find, to see if i got any new state that i didnt have :) 

the US mint also has several other coin series, like 'america the beautiful' quarters (featuring US natural landscapes) and presidential dollars, of which i have managed to collect some.

(the state quarters of wyoming and idaho can be seen in this pic, and oregon partly seen.)

Thursday, 7 January 2016

throwback thursday - #21

this is that awkward phase - where saying 'last year' seems so odd, it being so recent - and yet we come to terms with the reality of seeing a new number on our calendars. (honestly, a new year doesnt seem much more than that - just a new number on the calendar.)

anyhoo, 2016 has already completed seven days. meanwhile i realised throwback thursday has completed 20 posts in 2015, and the first one of 2016, today, is the 21st.

sharing with you all today, this vintage black&white new year ad for coca cola, which i found on flickr -
have a good 2016 folks.

image source - from flickr

Monday, 4 January 2016

mundane monday - #63

today being the first monday of the year, i thought it wouldn't be a good idea to put it off :)

this mug was gifted to me last year by a friend who really gets me :D


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