Time for Tea Party!

Hey, while it is the best time to be on a vacation right now but there is never really a bad time to have friends and family over, right?

So for those like me who have weekdays packed with work, sometimes hosting lunches or late evening plans may seem tough but I truly reckon the new age way to party is to organize fun and tasteful tea parties. Trust me when I say this that I feel people are still not so exhausted to meet in the evening, it doesn’t require so much effort and you are pretty much going to find this concept as a breath of fresh air.

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Yes, even the present generation can have fun at tea time. So, here are some tips to help you plan your ultimate tea party-

  1. Colour Theme- I always like my main table done up really well so we could fill up our vases with nice flowers- go for pink and white or yellow and white. Else, you could stick to pastels. Make sure some basics like napkins, plates and the like are in line with your colour theme.
  2. The Tea- Make sure you have a variety on offer. Don’t forget that Tea has to be the highlight and why not? There are just so many variations available. However, do not serve something you have not tried before, please! So there must be a house favourite which should be pouring. Then lay out the rest for the guests to try-out and to involve them, this could make for a perfect “DIY” activity. Also, keep the essential ingredients readily available such as Milk, sugar, honey and lemon. When in India- Masala Tea be a hot favourite. Another favourite of mine which got to make the list is the Chamomile Tea. What would be helpful would be to display the Tea Menu!

    Also, you could offer some cooler versions like Iced Tea on the menu as well.

  3. Food Factor- Like any party, you can’t ditch or ignore this aspect even a bit! Here are some of our recommendations:

    -Scones with Nice Berry Toppings and Whipped Cream OR a Pastry Platter
    -Mushroom Quiche
    -Finger Sandwiches (these are done well at most homes)
    -Cookies (a variety here would sure win hearts)
    -Cake (we absolutely love the Victorian Vanilla Cake from The Daily Gourmet and we usually add some Orange Marmalade to it)
    -Chocolate Muffins (again think no more and use the ones from The Daily Gourmet as they are so easy to make)
    -Fries (everyone loves them no matter what the age)
    -Cheese & Crackers
    -Fruit Platter
    -Last but not the least, no Indian Tea party is ever complete without Samosas so this is a definite winner always!

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  4. Dress Code- Well why not? How about nice floral dresses with hats? In case you feel that is a little over the top for you then how about everyone dressing up in white?
  5. Value Additions- Soft Music is a good idea and you can have some tarts or muffins as giveaways for all! And keeping some games which can be played as guests sip on their tea is a fabulous idea.

Pro Tip: There would be lots of used tea bags- make sure you station a small bin to dump them. And, warm water must be available throughout!

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ON GRATITUDE

Today, I am getting back to writing for my #LoveLife series and would like to share about the concept/attitude of gratitude.

I have to say it first up, having a heart of gratitude is having the key to a happy life. Over the years, I have realized that most of us have this tendency of focusing on things we do not have. For instance, seeing the glass half empty instead of seeing it half full. However, if the focus changes to what we have or who I am- it truly can become a game changer! We shall wake up each morning feeling genuinely grateful for the little things such as the delicious home-cooked dinner we had last evening or the amazing weather in the morning or even looking forward to dressing up for work or most importantly, feeling healthy!

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A heart of gratitude is truly an enriched and beautiful heart for it appreciates and celebrates life. And trust me, everyone loves to be around people who appreciate and are grateful. With gratitude being our foremost attitude not only do we feel good but instead we uplift the spirits of another life too! For instance, it maybe routine for mother to cook, but try and compliment her for the meal and see the big smile on her face!

Also, I feel gratitude reduces the room for complain for you try and look at the good or positive in every challenging situation as well.

Lastly, I would say always be grateful for this life, our families and friends, the person we have become and are becoming and cherishing each and every necessity of life we have been blessed with from our home where we live to the clothes we wear!

Having said this, celebrate the little things in life and you would realize that you are celebrating ever so often. Share your celebrations, involve others in your celebrations, make them feel a part of being the reason itself to celebrate. Also, always have gratitude for the things you wished to own one day and with your hard work have been able to!!!

For me, my heart wells up with joy and happiness each time I think about the trips I have made and I can’t be grateful enough for those plans having become a reality!

P.S. I have and shall continue to have gratitude for all my dreams getting fulfilled. And writing this makes me realize how about some gratitude for having the will and courage to dream itself?

Best,
Sonali

For the love of Health- Sante Spa Cuisine, Hyderabad

So, while it has been a while since I last posted here, I am extremely excited to share with you, all about a fun yet unconventional dining experience (it’s an all day eat-out) in the heart of Hyderabad, i.e. Sante Spa Cuisine in Banjara Hills. Before you get thinking that there is a spa twist to this as well, hold on as there isn’t but the food here promises to be made with the choicest of healthy ingredients without compromising on the taste factor. And for someone like me who is quite conscious of my food intake but has been travelling quite a bit in the recent teams, a healthy eat-out is absolutely a great idea!!!

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Getting Started- They have an elaborate menu on offer and just because their offerings are healthy does not mean that they have a limited menu! You in fact, would land up spending some good amount of time mulling over what really to order. In the starters, the Thai Spiced Fish Cakes totally won our hearts!!!

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WOW Factor- Well, for a pizza lover, pizza on the order is a must! And believe it or not but most of their pizzas have a Ragi Base! And as you can see our pizza was very colourful and trust me, very tasteful as well!

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Sweet Endings- You have to really love a dessert to ask for a repeat, right? Their Valrhona Chocolate Pie with an oat flour base was absolutely divine!

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Lastly, its not a compact but a rather well spread out outlet with a good vibe to it!!! And we were told the Activated Charcoal Lemonade is a must order as well. You can even buy their homemade healthy cookies…The owner was extremely welcoming and we truly believe much hard work is going in to deliver a very international yet healthy experience! Having said all this, as I have visited here- I am happy that I have been able to get another tick on my- MUST VISIT PLACES IN HYDERABAD list 🙂

Best,
Sonali

The Oasis Spa for an experience like no other!!!

Okay then, some of the finest things take time… Hence, this review is coming now- well, I was in Bangkok in February like many of you already know and a ritual of sorts for me is to pamper myself at the top quality and extremely rejuvenating spot- The Oasis Spa.

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Once you enter its surreal setting, you’re sure to leave behind all your worries and stress and trust me on this, I always feel when I am here that I am no longer in a city but truly in heaven.

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It truly is an Oasis of everything pleasant and positive! The tranquility develops as you pass through the gate into an exotic world of beauty, serenity and pleasure. Here you are in company of a place of lush foliage, wooden bridges and walkways, waterfalls, reflective ponds and private treatment villas encompassed in the arms of ancient venerable trees.

The manner in which you are greeted as if they were only waiting for you (even though they keep quite busy), the welcome with fruits, towel and a drink that follows, then the entire process of ensuring you get the most appropriate and effective therapy taking into consideration several factors- everything is dealt with utmost care and professionalism.

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I am not new to this spa at all as have been visiting it for years but this time around I wanted a loved one to try it for she is getting married soon. And with the wedding preparations comes enough anxiety and stress, so I thought this would be the most ideal spa date and gift for her! And while I shall take you through our treatments, I must share upfront itself that my lovely was blown away by the services and the experience and towards the close of our trip, said without a doubt that the visit to The Oasis Spa was the highlight of the entire trip for her!

While she opted for the King of Oasis Signature Massage which is a two hours massage and ensures utmost level of release, relief and contentment using a unique combination of “East meets West” massage techniques. It employs kneading, thumb pressure, stretching and compression combined with a warm aromatherapy oil massage and a Thai Herbal Hot Compress. Tired muscles are soothed to allow stretching that removes energy barriers and re-open all the body’s energy pathways. Eventually you find relief from stiff muscles and muscular discomfort, and gift yourself improved sleep and reduced stress.

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And I this time around went in for the Queen of Oasis Signature Massage which is also a two hours massage combining the best of Eastern and Western therapies to promote a woman’s health and sense of well-being. The ancient oriental massage integrated into this therapy concentrates on the Meridian Lines to detoxify, improve organ function and promote self-healing. The Swedish, Hot Stone and Aromatherapy massage further restores and enhances vitality. It realigns a woman’s life-energy, improves digestion and promotes inner harmony. And you know what? This treatment quite rightly has been compared to doing yoga without the effort while receiving acupressure treatments!

And let me make an honest confession here that the hot stone therapy is absolutely blissful. I also believe that a good spa experience always helps you get some relaxed sleep and guess what? We both woke up totally refreshed post our treatment, still wanting more.

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I always say this and shall say this again- when in Thailand, a visit to The Oasis Spa is a must!!! The Oasis Spa has over 10 branches in Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations of Bangkok, Chiangmai, Pattaya, and Phuket. This is a special year for the brand as it completes 15 years of excellence in 2018!

Happy Spa-ing you all!!!

xoxo,

Sonali

Address Home: Ten Glorious Years

We reckon the transformation of a house to a home takes place with love in abundance… Hence, one lands up adding some special pieces with much love to one’s haven of love. And we all like being selective and exclusive as far as our preferences for home decor are concerned as this space speaks much about us and our loved ones as well as our personalities.

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A brand which has impressed us for many years, ten to be precise is Address Home for each time around we have encountered its offerings, we have only been impressed.

Address Home like most would know-creates and curates a world-class range of premium linen, dining, accessories, lighting & furniture; focusing on quality craftsmanship with an eclectic-chic design sensibility.

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And there never has been or nor there would be lack of quality options at Address Home for there is always something for everyone- affluent or aspirational, traditional or trendy. Rajat Singhi, Founder & Creative Director says, “Each customer, each guest in our store is unique, and we respect them for their decorating style. And change is constant in design, especially in India. Our stores are usually in very high footfall areas and we have about sixty percent of repeat customers, who step into our store once every month or two. They want to see newness all the time. So, we have to be on our toes all the time, to keep offering newness and the quirkiness that Address Home stands for.”

The brand takes pride in ensuring top quality and worthwhile creativity with each expansion step that it takes! The brand has grown to 13 exclusive stores in a decade covering 11 cities, and with their online foray they now cater to 300 cities PAN-India and have an international presence with worldwide shipping.

The brand has reached a commendable milestone of completing ten years and reflecting on its journey so far…It all started with converting a car mechanic’s shed into a hi-end retail store at Raghuvanshi Mills, Mumbai. From the look and feel of the store, to lay- outing and visual merchandising, every little detail was seen by Mr. Singhi in person. He reminisces by saying, “It was an amazing success. I remember my first few months when I was there personally, I used to attend to each and every customer and listen to their feedback. It was very enriching to hear them gasp in awe and delight that finally something like this had come to Mumbai or to India for that matter.”

Well, that is quite a success story and here’s wishing them the very best always and hoping to newer chapters of success being added to theirs for explosive growth is expected in the coming years!!!

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Also, log on to- www.addresshome.com

Nailed it with ease and style!

Hey, so finally I am getting to talk all about the wonderful experiences I had in Bangkok lately, though all of you who follow us on Instagram would be privy to all the fun that we had but time to blog it all out too…

So, when girls decide to spend some time on personal care and pampering… nails definitely feature in the to-do list! Hence, we decided to take some time out for our nails and give them a good make-over! So, we headed to the Pretty Cozy Nail Cottage in Thonglor. The name of the place truly gets reflected in its ambience and interiors, for they seemed both pretty and cozy!!!

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This nail spa provides a plethora of services including Classic Spa Manicure/Pedicure, Manicure/Pedicure Spa with Gel Colour, Soak-off Gel Removal, Polish Change, Acrylic Nail Extension, Nail Art, Kiddies Manicure/Pedicure and a lot more.

Here’s sharing about the service we opted for which was a Spa Manicure and Gel Polish Color with Nail Art. For Spa manicure, first, they started with nail clipping and filing, and then scrubbed with a high quality spa product. The scrub we were told helps to remove the dead skin. Then they cleaned and soaked our hands, put some lotion, then pushed back our cuticles which was followed by buffing. Then came in the sanitisation of our hands with alcohol. The last step was to put moisturizer and massage our hands for the much needed relaxation. After the spa was done, they started the process of putting Gel Colour on our nails. Well, choosing the nail colour here was no easy task for their options seemed just unlimited. We were informed that they have more than 180 Gel Colours available from OPI and CND shellac.

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After the nails are properly prepared with OPI Bond Aid (to up the durability and ensure less chipping), they normally start with base coat, then do the colours/nail art, then put the top coat of our choice (glossy, matt, chrome) then finish it off with cuticle oil .

Well, both of us were extremely happy with our nails but what truly impressed us was how meticulously the nails were done and also with much swiftness otherwise I always shy away from such treatments, thinking that the whole day will go in just a salon visit but the staff here was extremely professional and valued our time.

So, when in Bangkok and in search of a quality nail spa- Pretty Cozy Nail Cottage is a good pick and also you would be thrilled to know that they aren’t expensive.
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xo,
Sonali

 

Travel & Me…

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Well, I don’t know what really intrigued me to write this piece but I am still going to go ahead and pour my feelings and emotions about my magical and intense relationship with Travel!

As far as I can remember, I have always loved to travel. No matter what age I was- I was excited each time around mom or dad would announce details of our next holiday. As kids, I’d say our holidays mostly (not all) were to safe and well known places. In the sense, the kind of holidays you usually expect families to take so that minimum risk is involved with going wrong.

A place now not necessarily on one’s “Places to Travel List”- Mussoorie, the “Queen of Hills” as it’s been referred to, made for a constant holiday for us every summer break. To be honest, at times we would detest the monotony. But in today’s times of rampant change- I am glad we as a family had some sense of tradition which got followed and now we do have this treasured trunk of memories. I am not saying monotony was essential but maybe simplicity was. I am thrilled that we tasted the simple things in life as now luxury is more available with growing up.

I mean going pretty much packed in a family car with limited leg room, stocking up everyone’s favourite munchies to share on the way, then heading to modest yet long standing restaurants for their specialties such as Chole Bhature at The Green Vegetarian Restaurant, Steamed Momos at The Rice Bowl, Omellete at the Lovely Omellete Centre or even the Maggie at Char Dukan. All this only added much more flavour to one’s holiday. Best part was that there was little to no “Me Time” and there was a lot of “OUR TIME”. There were little to no selfies but a lot more memories etched in one’s heart.

To be honest, this isn’t a critique of times today necessarily but just a little jiggle for each one of us to be able to enjoy our holidays or family time more. Also, what I didn’t realize then- I wish I am fortunate enough to gift my kids some sense of legacy- in the sense, I visited Mussoorie 24 years in a row straight and that’s not it, this is something which was started during my father’s childhood.  I mean there is no such thing as lack of options but today, I feel blessed to talk about something rather unique even amidst that monotony.

And not to say we just made it to the “Queen of Hills” as a family, we went to the beaches, we went to some really nice heritage properties, we went to some more hills and we also made several road trips. My first flight as well as first foreign trip didn’t come so early but I am glad it didn’t else maybe I would have been devoid of the simple pleasures. For instance, having my father wait as I wrote my final exam to quickly rush to the train station to catch our overnight train to Goa wherein the whole family occupied close to ten beds. Not sure if I’ll do it now but I am glad we did it then as I wouldn’t swap that for anything else!

Today, my job and passion to travel has taken me to several places and I must confess that each place has been ultra-special for me-maybe because there were a lot of firsts attached to them and also for the sheer pleasure of touring on one’s own earnings.

I have to say that my love for travel was triggered during my childhood days and I am glad and grateful to parents and family for ensuring we traveled enough. I pretty much convinced myself of being a travel writer but though that plan didn’t materialize fully (no regrets) – I pretty much got my wings on in my early 20’s and so intensified my relationship with travel.

Here are few snippets of some really special experiences at some really special places-

  1. Thailand, 2012- This one was extremely special as my father let me go by self for the first time to visit friends in Bangkok and Pattaya. I was pleasantly surprised with his decision. And what an empowering feeling- I suddenly felt more responsible and just loved life a little bit more. And not to miss adding- visiting Phuket a year later to indulge in water sports like never before- I feel several fears got conquered at that very instance. Also, Bangkok continues to be special as I have experienced some of the top quality properties, thanks to my blog!
  2. Japan, 2014- I learnt the sense of gratitude and compassion from the most wonderful people I encountered in Tokyo. And in general, the build up to the trip inculcated much faith in self as well as courage and confidence…On a side note, I learnt how to spend 12 hours at the airport if you have a connecting flight 😉
  3. Sri Lanka, 2015- Witnessing the tea gardens of Nuwara Eliya was like my mini encounter with Switzerland!
  4. Bangkok, 2016- This was with family and our special toddler (my nephew), the joy of gifting a holiday to my mom- priceless!
  5. Europe, 2016- What do I say about this one? The trip comprised of my solo visit to Istanbul- sounds fancy but did require much preparation within and out to take it on! But really there was an entire sense of self-discovery during those two days. Then came Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin with my best friend- of course we had some wonderful experiences and ticking off a few things from my wish-list including watching a tennis grand slam live but what it truly made me realize was the richness of a bond that had been nurtured. The way my best friend took care of me, the giggles we shared, the confessions we made- wow, I can see us doing that even at 80!

I must reiterate that I haven’t kicked aside the simple pleasures from my trip, this year itself I thoroughly cherished my trip to Udaipur with my cousin where the simple satisfaction of visiting a temple or being on a boat to absorb the surroundings were truly memorable.

And there is so much more… I can’t thank my job enough for letting me taste immaculate food of Kolkata, treating my eyes to the skyline of Dubai, refreshing my senses in Nepal, indulging in Ayurvedic massages in Kovalam and exploring other cities and their unique offerings such as Bengaluru, Chennai and Mumbai amongst others!

 

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Gokarna Forest Resort, Kathmandu

Lastly, as the quote goes, “Not all those who wander are lost”- I love to wander every now and then, but trust me- mostly my travels have great purpose as they usually do add more purpose to my life!

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Here’s to my endless wanderlust!!!
-Sonali