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MariaDenmark Edith Blouse


There are quite a few perks of running PatternReview, the most rewarding being meeting and getting to know some of the nicest people on the planet. And also being able to call them friends. Maria (MariaDenmark) and I have known each other for about more than 5 years now and in this time I’ve gotten to know her not only as an amazing person but also as an extremely talented and hardworking sewing professional. I am meeting her again in London in a week and looking forward to it. The blouse above is her pattern Edith which fits me as if it was made for me. Without any alterations! I trust Maria that much that I didn’t even make a muslin 🙂 And she didn’t disappoint.


My London trip is actually a long overdue celebration of my 40th birthday with two of my best friends from high-school. One (Sumita) lives in London and the other (Jugnu)  is flying all the way from India for this. When Sumita visited me last year in States, she brought many cuts of liberty (yes many!) for me and now she has given me the ultimatum that I need to sew them up before my trip. While the above pictured fabric is not from her gift package, it is my FIRST ever Liberty purchase – in Paris –  4 years ago.


I have this thing of buying only one fabric wherever I go. It allows me to keep my stash in control (yeah right!) and more importantly it takes me back to the place whenever I sew it and wear it. That’s what this blouse does for me. So thank you Sumita for giving me the nudge to sew with Liberty. Now instead of just admiring it in my stash, I can enjoy wearing it.

Seriously people, even if you don’t like liberty prints (why?) sew with it for the fabric. It is buttery, silky and smooth. It is silk like with the convenience of cotton. Did I get that right?

Now back to the Blouse… I only had one meter of fabric to work with so the only way I could fit all the pieces was to cut the front facing cross-grain. Thankfully the print wasn’t directional otherwise it would not have worked. Note to self : If you’re buying only one fabric, buy at-least 2 freaking yards!



The construction is very simple without any surprises so there is nothing to add there. I love the shape of the collar so much! Its so soft and feminine. I took my time in pressing it and getting it just right.



The Fit is fantastic right out of the envelope. I ended up letting the side seams out just a little but now that I am looking at it, I didn’t need to. The sleeve hem is the only thing I would change when I sew this again. I will finish it with a bias facing instead of folding it under. Its not very evident in the photos but there are some ugly gathers there because of the extreme curve. But I do love the shape of the kimono sleeve.


For the buttons, I tried blue and red but in the end decided to go with the basic off white buttons and sewed them on with contrasting thread for some visual interest.


I was pretty impressed with the lovely buttonholes my Bernina made! No issues there. But then again I must have tested 10 buttonholes before finally making them on the blouse. Speaking of the buttonholes, is there a rule how far or close they should be to the edge of the blouse? I just winged it but feel they are too far. Oh well….

Check out the back! How nice right? I have no idea what’s going on with the right shoulder, but I am going to ignore it 🙂


The side seam shaping is so lovely. Just the right amount of ease. I think I might round off the hem next time.


Ok now comes my favorite feature of this blouse. It can be worn tucked in or out. I finally have a woven top for my circle skirts! I have a red Hollyburn in progress right now but how perfect is this ponte half-circle skirt with this top? Truth be told, this top got on my radar when I saw Heather wearing it with her skirt. Doesn’t she look lovely in it?




Well that’s it for now. If you haven’t already bought this pattern, you can buy it on here or directly from Maria at MariaDenmark.

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Fall Photo Dump

Today I decided to step away from my desk for lunch. What a novel idea right? 

And wowza! Its like a painter’s canvas out here. Fall is pretty much at its peak here in my beautiful New England town. With temps in 70s and the sights which I’m going to show you, I pretty much feel lucky to be alive. 

Some lunch ha! 


Sewing For Kids

I don’t know why people spend so much time sewing for their kids when they outgrow the clothes so fast

This is what I used to wonder. *BEFORE* I became a mom. And even though I still didn’t sew for Dia too much in her first year, I now know WHY. Well at least I know why I sew for her. And this blog post is MY answer to the question above for anyone who may be wondering like I used to.

This post is also a little bit about gushing… you’ll see why.

The First Year

In their first year babies do outgrow their clothes every 2 to 3 months, so I didn’t sew too many things for my little one. However I still wanted to, so upon a friend’s suggestion I decided to sew for special occasions and events. I made birthday clothes, and one for each age bracket (0-3, 3-6… you get the idea).


Jalie 3133


Minikrea 20003 (Thanks to my friend Maria of MariaDenmark)


Ottobre 04-2008-02


Pattern Hacked from a free Ottobre t-shirt


When it comes to patterns for kids, there are two pattern companies I absolutely love and admire. Oliver & S and Jalie. Both of these indie companies produce REALLY high quality patterns with EXCELLENT instructions and sewing techniques. Not only that, I admire the people behind O&S and Jalie. Both are family owned businesses who have a passion for sewing. Like us they SEW!  Over the last few years I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and connecting with them personally and I like them even more.  I guess this is one of the perks of running PatternReview. I have made some lovely friends!



A Learning Tool

As I was finishing up a Swingset Skirt (elastic waist twirly skirt) for Dia, following the instructions and making the drawstring, it struck me how much I learn with each and every pattern I have sewn using Oliver & S. Even though this is a simple elastic waist skirt, but the fact that there are channels of narrow elastic on both sides of a drawstring casing, combined with a lining which can be totally reversible is what sets this apart from millions (ok maybe not millions) of patterns out there.



I’ve always been terrified of making jackets for myself, but I made this gorgeous unlined, jacket for Dia using liberty bias bound (self made of course) seam finishes. Pattern – Oliver & S Sunday Brunch Jacket.



I think of sewing kids clothes as mini-lessons.  Even if they don’t work out, its less investment in time and fabric 🙂 And if they do? Your child is probably going to be the best dressed kid in school (like mine).IMG_5752


Faced hem and piping was a first for me when I sewed this Tea Party Sundress.

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This Ruffled Halter – a Free Pattern was my basis for many gifts.





Every summer, I make a new summer hat for Dia and up until this year, I used the Bucket Hat pattern. I practiced my topstitching skills with rows and rows of concentric circles.


I did my first Vent Hem in a skirt when I made this thanksgiving outfit for miss D. Also my first time making a partial elasticized waistband. Pattern Sunday Brunch Skirt.


Oliver & S Sunday Brunch Skirt

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve used the Hopscotch shirt pattern.


This may be simple PJ bottoms but the addition of contrasting bound hem and casing takes it to a whole different level.


Oliver & S Bedtime Story Pajamas

I’ve been a Tea Collection Fan for years so imagine how thrilled I was when there was a pattern hack post on Oliver and S blog for hacking their library dress to make the famous Wrap Dress. I’ve made two already and on my way to the third. This is one of my favorite dresses on Dia.



Hacked Oliver & S Library Dress

Here’s another project I made for her following a tutorial on Oliver & S blog. How cute are these leggings?

Oliver & S Playtime Leggings

Taking it slow

I have my #mommysweatshop moments when I am cranking out leggings and basics for her (because I love it) but when I am sewing with Oliver & S patterns, I take my time. I enjoy each step and do it leisurely, taking care to press each and every seam, making sure everything lines up. Carefully pressing the bias tape. There is no need to rush because I know when I am done with the project, I am going to be proud of it. So don’t look at Oliver & S patterns if you are in need of some quick and easy sewing. But do try them if you want to create a quality garment you’d be proud to claim as me-made and when someone asks “where do you buy your girls clothes“, tell them with all the smug you can manage “Oh I make them myself” and then watch the expression on their faces 🙂 Precious!

I LOVE Jalie Patterns

Because they make some of the best knit garment patterns out there. And I know my knit patterns. I’ve used Jalie for years for myself but did you know that they come in teeny tiny sizes also? In the same envelope! What a bargain! After gaining confidence in hacking patterns, I hacked the 2805 knit t-shirt so many times, the pattern is in tatters..

A Shrug


Peplum Top

Fit and Flare Dress,

Elsa Dress – Costume


Circle Shirt



Another winner is the Dolman Sleeve Top – 3352 for a quick t-shirt. I’ve also used it to make Mom-n-Me Matching outfits 🙂 because they have 22 sizes in one envelope!


Most recently I’ve used Jalie pattern to make applique gymnastics leotard and I can’t believe how easy it was. Not to mention so cute.



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Rewards are great when you sew for kids!

Its definitely rewarding to sew for your kids, especially when they “pay” you in hugs and kisses but its also a GREAT way to learn and practice new sewing techniques. Things which I am hesitant to do for grown up clothes, I can always “try” them out on her. Now that she is growing up… (almost 5 years old), I take even more joy in sewing for her because not only can she wear the clothes for a longer period, these are the clothes I will save and cherish and perhaps pass on to a dear friend or her cousins.

So thank you Oliver & S and Jalie. Please don’t ever stop making patterns for kids.

I hope this post encourages some of you to sew for kids. Even if you don’t have any kids to sew for, they make great gifts for friends or even charity!

Yay for Kid Sewing! On another note – Kids Clothes Week has just begun.

Are you participating?






About True Love and a Happy Place – My Sewing Studio

We all have our idea of what an act of True Love is. To some it means a fancy dinner, for others it could be a home cooked meal. While some enjoy their true love’s company at a resort, others may squeal in delight at an unexpected bouquet of flowers on a Wednesday evening.

But what about those things your love does for you which may seem insignificant to others but you know in your heart how much you are loved when he/she sets you free? Free as in “do what you love and I’ll even take you there“. Back in 2002 Gagan and I took a trip to Philadelphia because I wanted to attend the ASG conference. On the way there, when I asked to stop at Threads HQ, he did and I got a personalized tour of the #1 sewing magazine.

What will you do while I am at the ASG conference?” I asked. “Oh no worries, I’ll find a Barnes and Nobel” and work from there. “Really?” “Yeah of course, you go have fun!

I don’t have pictures from that trip but I don’t need them because its etched in my memory forever. So while I enjoyed my first ever sewing conference, Gagan spent his day at Startbucks working. And when I got back, he was even excited to hear about my day. It still brings a smile to my face whenever I think of that time.

Yes, its true love which makes you do things like this.

Fast forward to 5 years ago when we were painting Dia’s nursery (which used to be my sewing space) and moving stuff out of it, when Gagan suggested “Why don’t we convert the screen porch into a sewing room for you?

I totally refused saying that I didn’t need it. But guess what? He went ahead and did it anyway 🙂 So yes, this post is about my sewing studio, my happy place. A place where I go in and feel inspired to CREATE. When I enter this room, I smile. And Gagan did that for me. And if that’s not true love, I don’t know what is?


It took me 5 years to write this post about my sewing room because it has been a work in progress since then. I have been organizing it, collecting furniture for it, setting it the way which makes more sense with a little one around so she can use it too. It has been a labor of love for me and I’ve loved every minute of it.


I feel lucky and blessed to have this space to create and it gives me pleasure to share it with you, in the hope that maybe it’ll give you some ideas for your own space, whether its a shared or a dedicated space. My biggest advice to you when you are thinking of setting up your sewing space is to not feel that you have to do it in one day. Mine took 5 years! Depending on your life and your budget, start with the essentials and keep adding slowly. Its more fun and enjoyable this way.

So lets start with the tour shall we?

I picked this really vibrant color (I’ll have to find the exact shade but I think its called Waterfall – Benjamin Moore) because it makes me happy. Everything pops against this color and the white trim keeps it super bright and fresh.

Without doubt the focal point of this room is the cutting table with lots of storage under it. I can’t take credit for it. On our trip to IKEA we saw a room set up as a “sewing room” and I love the idea of using kitchen butcher block tabletop with 4 cabinets under it which have storage. I could envision lots of time being spent on this table doing crafts, homework with Dia and of course cutting fabric. A solid butcher block meant this piece is virtually indestructible. The bad part, you can’t move it. The cabinets are screwed together and then the tabletop is placed on top and also secured with heavy duty screws. Since this room has no storage I was grateful for the cabinets under the table to store things.

My in-progress pattern pieces or the patterns I am currently tweaking or working on go up on the wall to the left of the cutting table. And of course the bulletin board is a constant source of inspiration for whats coming next. I pin patterns and swatches of fabrics for the projects which I am going to make next and somehow I still don’t follow the plan.




I’ve dedicated a cabinet for my jewelry making endeavors, other to knitting. One holds the leather and interfacing the final cabinet holds paper crafts. Yes I am a woman of 1000 hobbies. But isn’t it nice that its all in one place?


The sewing table is pretty basic ALEX tabletop from IKEA with two cabinets on either side. The left side holds serger thread, sewing machine manuals etc and the right side drawers have sewing stuff and notions and what not. The last two drawers are for paints and stamps. For my serger thread, I cut pieces of foam core and made dividers for the drawers. Easy Peasy!



The ironing table is right next to the sewing table. I made the cover (polka dots of course!)


The Billy bookcase is indispensable for the amount of stuff which lives here and it also utilizes vertical space so its a win win. Threads magazines, Jalie patterns, elastics, zippers and other random stuff goes in the top shelves and the heaviest  – Patterns are in the bottom shelf. The boxes are also from ikea and are perfect size for the paper envelopes. Of course now I am struggling with where to keep my digital patterns which when printed on heavy paper take up a lot more room. Right now they are rolled up in a wrapping paper bin which you can see in the first photo. It works for now.


Moving on to the other side of the room, I’ve kept it pretty bare because I like the open space. We weren’t ever going to use the fire pit so we covered it up with boards and added a shelf. Where I keep my only Vintage Kenmore (backup machine) and Dia’s sewing machine (when she is ready). Although she thinks she is ready now 🙂


I picked up this letterpress tray at a thrift store, cleaned and sanded it and then stained it to a dark color. Gagan helped me mount it to the brick wall. I was running out of space for thread so later I stained the June Tailor thread rack to match this tray. I keep my neutral threads on this rack.




I found this ribbon rack at Michaels and it was perfect for keeping the ribbon spools organized. It looks pretty too.


This Cubby is probably my second favorite piece in this room (The Cutting table is the first) in this room. I contemplated for a long time before buying it because you know Pottery Barn… but I really couldn’t find anything else. I even looked up how to make it myself (who am I kidding? ) but in the end decided to buy it at thanksgiving sale last year and I’ve loved it since then! I keep my buttons, snaps and other decorative items here.


That’s it! Oh wait… The Fabric Stash! DUH…

So there is this small alcove between the firepit and the wall.  I decided this was where my stash was going to go. It looks small but is very deep. I got these wire shelves cut to size from home depot and mounted them. Put a tension rod up and added a simple curtain from IKEA and called it a day.


So that’s it, An act of true love which makes me feel loved every. single. day!

I’d love to share some tips which have helped me.

  1. Clean up whenever you are done for the day. Put things back where they belong, Tidy up your workspace, even if it means neatly stacking things. This way whenever you are ready to come back in, you’ll feel inspired.
  2. Use the walls for vertical storage. Bookshelves are great for storing more than just books and magazines. Some people like to use pegboards to store notions.
  3. Make sure your cutting surface  is the right height for you. If it isn’t use bed risers to adjust. Trust me, cutting on the floor is not a good idea. Really bad for the back. Before I had this room, I used my kitchen island to do all my cutting because it was the perfect height for me.
  4. Go into your sewing space at-least once a day even if its for 10 minutes. It will make you smile and maybe you can even sew a seam or two. Don’t be under any pressure to crank garments out.
  5. If you don’t have a dedicated sewing space, make the most of whatever you have. I used to schedule cutting sprees on my kitchen island then keep them in separate plastic bags so I am ready to go whenever I have time to sew.
  6. Most important – Take it slow. Remember “Rome wasn’t built in a day“.



Thanks for walking along with me in my sewing room tour. Whether its a shared space or a dedicated studio, or even a table in the corner of a room, I hope you get joy from your sewing space. Dia and I have spent so many wonderful moments in this room and hope to continue to do so for a very long time.







Montreal , Canada – Jazz, Sewing and More…


Ah Montreal… my love. You are such a tease. So close and yet so far.

It is where I discovered the first underground mall, and the loveliest of gardens. The fries covered with cheese and gravy – so gross and yet so delicious. The charm of your old city and the lovely people keeps drawing me to you and I keep going back again and again. And to honor you, I even dressed in your colors to celebrate Canada Day!       canadaday

You made me so happy in my recent trip that you inspired me to blog about my travels again! So thank you Montreal for a lovely weekend amidst Jazz and Sewing Friends and Gardens and Yummy Food.

This was not our first time in Montreal. Just for kicks I dug out a photo from 14 years ago which was indeed our first time in this city.


This was our 5th but Dia’s first and this time we just decided to “hang out” and relax. We weren’t interested in doing any touristy things and that’s what was different this time I think. Coincidentally the International Jazz Festival was also going on so that added to the fun. Oh and if you’re driving to Montreal and Grantham NH is on your way, you HAVE to stop at Farmer’s Table Cafe for a wood fired Pizza! SOO good. What did we ever do without yelp? Beats me.


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On our first day there, we took Uber to The Botanical Gardens where we soaked in the natural beauty. If you’ve never been there, I highly recommend it. Especially if you have kids. Its a great way to educate them about nature. Dia was completely fascinated by it. The orchid section was my favorite as was the bromeliads! Look… a flower growing in a flower!



Yes, Dia and I are wearing matching dress. Made by me of course! ( like you even needed to ask). This is my first time in public wearing matchy matchy and it won’t be the last. Thanks to dinagideon for encouraging me!

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From there we walked to the rose garden and then the Insectarium where Dia and Gagan really had fun. I was mostly taking pictures. I’m sorry but insects don’t float my boat 🙂

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Dia was a trooper. She walked so much that day.. so I let her have ice-cream for lunch 🙂 We just ate at the cafe (meh.. )

IMG_0183and headed back to St. Catherine for some Jazz Fest Fun. We took the metro back. I love taking public transport wherever I can and I guess when you’re a 4 year old, everything is fun. Dia enjoyed the train ride.


Back Downtown, we spotted a fountain and there was no going back. Lack of bathing suit didn’t deter this girl from having the most fun! Gagan and I sat on the steps listened to jazz (playing nearby) and it was one of the best afternoons ever.


Back at the hotel, Gagan and Dia hung out at the pool while I freshened up. We went out to this vegan place La Panthere for dinner which was just ok. Why do all the vegan places smell the same? You know the “crunchy granola” type smell. Anyway… I am not a big fan of fusion cooking so whatever… Dinner was so.. so but I was craving crepe for dessert. Luckily we’re in Montreal so that’s not a problem. We had the best nutella and banana crepe at this little hole in the wall place on St. Catherine. I forget the name. Except that it was heavenly. Ok I found it. Paris Crepe. And its actually on St. Crescent.

Day 2: We took it easy, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at our hotel. Why do croissants taste so good in Montreal? Must be the butter 😉


By the time we reached Jean Talon it was nearly lunch so we walked around eating lots of fruit samples, bought a bunch of cherries and strawberries and blueberry juice to quench our thirst and had the best buckwheat crepe of my life. I had remembered this crepe from 5 years ago when I was in Montreal last for PR weekend. And decided to re-live it. Dia loved it so much that we had to get her her own – with cheese. Its like Dosa mom! Yes it was. So yummy and delicious. Note to self – try at home. Creperie Du Marche

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This balloon spiderman lasted all of 5 minutes sadly… but it was fun while he was with us.


From there, Gagan took Dia back to the hotel to hang out at the pool while I met up with some fabulous sewing friends and had another memorable evening! One of the best perks of starting and running PatternReview is the lovely people it connects me to, and I feel grateful for that.

I met up with Anne-Marie on St. Hubert and even managed to do a little fabric shopping at Tissue Marina (full review on PatternReview). From there I took another Uber to Gainzbar with Heather where we met up with about 15 other Canada sewing friends from PatternReview and blogging community.


I have this annoying habit of getting photos taken in the same spot if I’ve been there before. This is in front of UltraTex.


And this is from 5 years ago at PR Weekend Montreal 🙂


Left to Right… Anne-Marie, Me, Rhonda (in the back), Carmen (in front) and Kay

Time flies when  you’re having fun doesn’t it? I relived some old memories and definitely made a few new ones. I had asked for a source for African Wax Print fabric before our meet up and ReneeB and Caroline gifted me some! Monseratt showed us how to needle a thread the way her granddad showed her and it is a life changer. Here’s a video I took of her showing it to us.

I missed Renee(miss celie’s pants) just by a day. Darn it. She blogged about her trip here. I also finally got a chance to meet Carmen Bouchard. And she is as lovely in person as she is online. What a small world we live in!


Gagan and Dia were having a blast in the hotel so I decided to stay for dinner. Heather recommended this el salvadorian place for pupusas  and Vicki was kind enough to drive us there in her car. The food was to die for! I ate a LOT!

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The late night commute back to the hotel was enjoyable because Caroline and Claire accompanied me. We talked about schools and retirement and sewing and how to get the best view of the city 🙂 Which we tried out the next day at Mont Royal Park.


We drove there on our way out from the hotel and checked out the lake before driving up to the highest point where there was a short hike up the mountain. It was really lovely and the view was terrific!

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And because we’re foodies and I started the post with food, I feel obligated to end with food also. If you are in Montreal and are vegetarian, you must go out of your way to eat at-least one meal at Lola Rosa We ate at Rue Milton so can’t say about their other location. But hands down the best burrito ever! and I don’t even like burritos.


Drive back was uneventful and except for the 1.5 hour delay at the border we didn’t hit any traffic.

You want to know the best part about traveling? You get to come home with a lifetime of memories! And that night as lie down in your own bed, don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t fall asleep. You are after all still mentally in Montreal  🙂

Me Made May Roundup

If you are not familiar with Me-Made-May, it is a month dedicated to wear and share your makes. More details here.

Even though I didn’t “officially” take the pledge this year, I decided to do it anyway. Taking photos everyday is kind of a pain but it had become a routine… I did enjoy getting dressed every morning and paying a little more attention to what I am wearing. I even wore makeup some days which is so rare for me.

Here are the things I realized…

1. I don’t like to wear pants.
2. I love making and knit wearing tops and dresses
3. Even though Dia is only in 9 out of the 31 photos, she probably wore clothes I’ve made for her 60% of the time and that makes me so happy.
4. PR Exclusive patterns are some of my favorite TNT.
5. I sewed 10 separate things in May! MMM was definitely a good motivator. As was some recent fabric acquisition.

When I look at the outfit photos they make me happy. So why then am I hanging on to some clothes which I haven’t worn in over 5 years? Time to let go of some things…

Things I need to make more of
1. Some “frosting” would be nice. i.e. some nicer, more dressier pieces.
2. Jackets and perhaps pants (who am I kidding.. I hate pants)

That said, knowing who I am I rarely follow a plan. I sew from the heart and enjoy the process. Fabric really inspires me as does looking at everyone’s outfit photos. I’ve had a blast perusing my daily feed on instagram at everyone’s me-made outfits and sharing mine. I have to admit this year, it was more fun because of miss D! she enjoys wearing her mommy-made clothes as much as I enjoy making them which is such a win-win isnt it? And most days she would jump in to the photos with me and those are the ones I will cherish forever.


The BIG 4…0…

When I was 15 years old FORTY sounded so… well OLD! You know how it is when you’re 15 right? I was on top of the world (my own world) not a care in the world.

And here I am 25 years later turning FORTY! And guess what? I still feel on top of the world and that’s not half bad I say. Granted that this past year has been a record number of FIRSTS. Like having to jump up a size! But listen one size in 15 years is not bad at all. At least that’s what I am telling myself and I am ok with it. I also started working out, YIKES!!! Need to keep up with my VERY energetic 4 year old. <rant> And what’s up with Carbs getting a bad rap? Man I love Carbs… Unfortunately for me, they don’t love me back!!! SOB!!! </end rant>

Can I tell you what the best thing about turning 40 is? It’s the 40 years of wonderful experiences that I now have under my belt. My lovely family and fabulous friends who have been there with me and see it all. All I need to do is close my eyes and relive those memories whenever I want. I may not be in the best state of health, but I sure am in the best state of MIND!

Someone interviewed me a while ago asking me about my Goals. What’s that? Don’t ask me what I am doing in 10 years when I don’t even know what I am doing for lunch!

Does that mean I am cruising through life? Maybe so, but, I am cruising along with REALLY good company and that’s what matters the most to me.



I believe LIFE is a PRIVILEGE. To be born and living in a FREE WORLD is something to be grateful for and I am not going to waste any minute of it. So bring on the 40s, let’s see what the fuss is all about!

And to these two wonderful people who brought me into this colorful world, I only have one thing to say. “Mom and Dad, thanks for putting up with me for the last 40 years! I LOVE YOU!”









A 7 letter word, we toss around almost every day.

As we board the plane for our vacation we post on Facebook, “FREEDOM for a week! No dishes, no cooking no chores!

Last day of school. Kids tweet “FREEDOM from school. Hello Summer Vacation

Moms night out! FREEDOM from kids” – We share when we enjoy a nice meal withour girl friends.

After a few tearful months, empty nesters plan to travel the world now that they finally have “FREEDOM” from their kids.

When the boss is away, the employees enjoy a long lunch and think “This is what FREEDOM feels like, when there is no one watching us“.

Yes, we talk about FREEDOM a LOT. But only a handful of us really appreciate the REAL meaning. Yes, I’ve read my history books and memorized the facts and figures and watched the movies but I certainly do NOT know what it feels like to be NOT FREE. Growing up in India my grandmother used to tell me stories of the time when they would huddle in their homes in the early evening with all the lights off. What it meant to not be able to voice your opinion on anything.

I shudder to think who I would be if I had not been born in a FREE Country and to live in one.

Today I enjoy freedom of speech (the biggest freedom of all), Freedom of religion, freedom to WORK! And last but not the least, sleep in peace knowing that I live in a FREE country. A country so great that I fail to find words to describe it. A country where I discovered and re-invented myself. Where I found friends for life and mentors who will always guide me. A country I call HOME.

My friends, I may talk about freedom loosely every day, but I know that FREEDOM is a privilege which is denied to many. And today, on July 4th, 2014, As I take family portraits and bake a Red-White and Blue dessert, I salute all the brave men and women who have made it possible for people like me who enjoy the FREEDOM all day every day.

Happy Independence Day to ALL! IMG_8259

My Dad

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My Dad didn’t read me princess stories. He didn’t ooh and aah over my every word and accomplishment. Despite being an award winning photographer he didn’t take 1,001 pictures of his first and only daughter. He was never present at any of my school events or even award ceremonies. We didn’t go on many vacations either. He never took me shopping! Or even a movie. I don’t remember if he ever took me to school either. Heck… he wasn’t even in the hospital when my mom gave birth to me, or so I’ve been told 🙂

He was never around… At least not in the traditional way. I remember those nights when my brother and I would sit up waiting for him to come to us and perhaps read or even talk. He would come… but he would be too exhausted to keep his eyes open and my brother and I would take guesses on how long it would take him to doze off. It sort of has become a family joke now 🙂

My Brother and I (1981)

Us again… 33 years later!

While other dads were taking their daughters to plays and movies, my dad was on his scooter driving more than 100 miles in the sweltering heat to his factory… working.

Other dads would spend a nice Sunday afternoon with their children in the playground or take them for a picnic. Papa would not be there, because a phone call the previous night at 3:00 AM changed his Sunday. The furnace broke down and he needs to take the engineer to the factory to fix it, otherwise the production would get delayed.

Mumbai, 1987. One of the few vacations we took.

Mumbai, 1987. One of the few vacations we took.

Why can’t Papa ever be home?” I would ask Ma. “Why doesn’t he take us on vacations?” Mom would make excuses for him. Or try to distract us with her yummy cooking. I didn’t understand then why sometimes her eyes would get moist. She missed him too of course.  But never said anything.

1973 – Mom and Dad on their honeymoon!



1998, My Parents' 25th wedding anniversary. We celebrated at home.

1998, My Parents’ 25th wedding anniversary. We celebrated at home.


Yes, My Father is a businessman. To most people having a business directly equates to having boat loads of money and a comfy life. Far from it! Because you see… having a business means you have to work for everything. You need to start from the bottom, even scrub toilets if need be. It means you are responsible for providing for not only your own family but the family of those who are employed by you. So we didn’t take many vacations. Because Dad had to be at his factory. In the 24 years I lived with him, I think I remember that he only took time off when he was sick. And sometimes even then he would not.

No he didn’t make a bed of roses for me. But he did teach me how to smile and survive when it gets rough.

For my 12th birthday, he gave me a gift of 100 Rupees in an envelope which had the picture of Rose on it. Dad wrote “I smile among the thorns. Can YOU?

2005 "Smile among the Thorns"

2005 “Smile among the Thorns”

He taught me how to drive a car! But how many Dads teach their daughters how to change a flat or check the oil? Mine DID!  As he was teaching me he realized that I was afraid of driving with trucks. So that’s where he taught me! “Anyone can drive fast. Show me how you can drive slow in 1st gear”  He would say. When he visits me in August in the States, I’ll return the favor by teaching HIM how to drive my car 🙂

He taught me how to appreciate and learn from our experiences. When we did go out, he made me write an essay about the place we visited! Now I blog about my travels..

2010. Dad and I took a road trip to Jaipur, India. The only way to spend time with him, was to get him in a car!

2010. Dad and I took a road trip to Jaipur, India. The only way to spend time with him, was to get him in a car!

Dad and I don’t agree on a lot of things. I always reasoned with him… He would say “I don’t have it in me to reason with my parents.” For him, his parents are everything. Guess what? I have a payback child, whose favorite question is “Why do I have to do this?” And “Because I said so” isn’t cutting it anymore 🙂

Vermont, 2004. Dad and Mom visited me in the States.

Vermont, 2004. Dad and Mom visited me in the States.

We did go on walks every once in a while, and I would say “Papa, you need to change with the times. Things are different now“. To which he would say “Dear, the world can change, but there are some things which will always remain right and others which will always be wrong.” And then he would go on to elaborate… He is a very principled man and I love that about him. And yet, he always wants to learn. He was the first in our family to embrace technology. He never bought me a dress but he did buy me  a computer so I could learn! I wrote my first computer program to help him track his inventory. I hope you’re not still using it Dad! The other day he told me “Whatsapp is great! Now I take photos of the samples in the factory and send it to my vendors“. Its never too late to learn he always says.

But the best advice he ever gave me was on the eve of my wedding. “Dear Deepu” he said. “Remember beta, respect is not something you demand. It is something which needs to be earned. And the ONLY way to do that is to GIVE respect. You are not just marrying a man. You are getting another family, and you have to embrace them as your own and love and cherish them for the rest of your life.”  I hope I’ve made you proud Papa!

March 1999 with Papa on my wedding day.

March 1999 with Papa on my wedding day.

I don’t like to talk about this but when I was 23, despite everyone else’s advice, he took a bold step and got me out of a terrible engagement which would have crushed me and my spirit completely. He faced the world for me and helped me bounce back. He. Saved. Me.

Today I am married to the most wonderful man who is my best friend.

Gagan, my husband, my soulmate and my Best Friend.

Gagan, my husband, my soulmate and my Best Friend.

I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t admit that there are times when I wish I had more memories of “normal girl” childhood but then again, my dad is not just a normal guy. He is an extraordinary man who wants his children to be the same. Would I trade my childhood for anyone else? Never in a Million Years!

My Dad didn’t raise me to be a Princess. He raised me to be a Real Woman, who can face the world with a smile on her face. Someone who knows how to pick herself up and dust herself off. And for that Papa, I LOVE YOU. And I wouldn’t change a thing about you,  not now, not ever. You’re one in a million!

In 2009, Papa became a Dada (Grandpa) when my nephew was born. He taught me to laugh like you don’t have a care in the world.


2011 he became a Nana when Dia was born.

2011 he became a Nana when Dia was born.

With both Grandkids. He was present for both their births!

With both Grandkids. He was present for both their births!

And today, when I see you with Dia and Aditya, I feel blessed that you are not only my Dad but also their GRAND DAD, touching their lives just like you continue to touch mine. Love you Pops!





In Just One Day…

In the midst of a chilly spring,
despite the weatherman’s best predictions…


If you’re willing,
and you have faith,
and good company,



There comes a DAY, so PERFECT, a TOWN so picturesque

Where everything is magical.
Where you make friends on a busy street.

Find treasures where you least expect

Shop for trinkets with a good friend

Even the Pizza is out of this world!

And that perfect scoop of ice-cream

You even learn a new sport


Enjoy a warm embrace






You even find time to reflect

And then, a winding road leads you to a perfect beach where the breeze is so good…




And the sun warms your soul and puts a smile on your face.

You feel you’ve lived a lifetime in


5.25.2014 was one SUCH Day.

Years from now when I look at these photos and read this, it will remind me of this special day I spent in the magical town of Newburyport!



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