Inspiration, LIfe, Social Agenda, Travel

Of stereotypes and other delusions

This is a picture I took last year when we were visiting our parents and took a little detour to a town called Jodhpur.

I have lived in India for 35 years before moving to Australia in 2000. I love travelling, so have voraciously gone after several experiences in Australia, India and luckily, during my work travel to Europe, New Zealand, Taiwan….

I consider myself reasonably culturally sensitive having moved a fair bit, growing up in India and of course, settling in Australia and working at a fairly senior level with executive teams.

Yet, this cheeky woman on the right had me. She was hanging out in the shade with her partner and on my approach, asked me if I can find her a “good man”.

I chatted. Explaining my view of the world and how I came to marry my husband, who was a friend… blah blah. Until she burst out laughing and said, “I have a husband. I love him. We have been married for xx years”

There are lessons to be learnt in every moment. If we can listen. Truly listen. Then we can see the world as it is. Without our own filters, beliefs or assumptions.jodhpur4

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Inspiration, LIfe, Social Agenda

My Dad

My Dad is a romantic. Or he was one. Or so I thought. Now a days he is a wee bit disgruntled with the state of affairs in India.

Dad was a cop at a time when it was very corrupt. I say this in the past tense because I think it is getting better. The lesson that I hold dearest to my heart is when he took me into the home of a Muslim man in Khadia (the heart of the city in Ahmedabad, where riots got fuelled). He went to the heart of the matter. Got to know his constituents. And he was known for being able to stop communal violence.

He was also outspoken. And arrogant. Born to a rich family, his father who was a judge in Kapurthala sired him when he was 64 and died when Dad was very young. He became a cop because his mum wanted him to. I suppose he felt that he could choose. Though he never did!! He continued in the force and found creative outlets for his energy when he got sidelined for promotions.

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In the Reserve Police in Godhra and in Saijpur (Ahmedabad), he rallied the troops and got them involved in creative activities…. I remember the “mobile” fountain and police band that started getting commissioned for weddings. Outdoor theatre for the jawans, a co-operative society that would have people cooking delicious snacks for sale in the community.

He has touched many lives. He is retired now and has stopped coming to visit me in Australia because he claims he cannot travel anymore. Injuries from his days controlling violence …. that is the stuff that matters. But I still want my Dad 🙂

Today, he dispenses medicine to the women who come to our home to clean and cook. The woman who cleans the home for my parent’s neighbour is married to an abusive alcoholic. She came running up to mum to enlist her help. My mum was down in an instance chasing the hubby away.

I wonder why people in the neighbourhood reach out to my parents for help with tackling the difficult issues. I am grateful to them. And I am grateful to be part of this family that has defined who I am, how I view life and what I make of it. Most importantly, I have learnt to chase my dreams, however impossible. It is the cost of being arrogant. And also hungry and foolish 🙂

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Inspiration, LIfe, Natural, Soaps, Social Agenda

Awe, Inspiration, the weather and the sky….

There is something about the raw beauty of earth that pulls me. This picture is of Australia at it’s most magnificent…. if there is such a thing!

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My first encounter with awe was when I saw the Kanchenjunga – the second highest peak of the Himalayas. I must have been 9 or 10. And may be it was since then that I have always pondered about stuff. But not really cared about nature and its bounty. When I say that, I mean, I was the penultimate consumerist. Keratin treatments because I was never happy with my hair, peels because I was in anguish over my scars that I had from chronic acne for many many years… food, because I thought I would cook healthy meals but didn’t… shrinking clothes in the dryer because I could not be bothered hanging the clothes out, plastic bags because I never remembered to take my bags with me.

My sister is a greenie. It used be very annoying how she was always tuned in to nature, to waste, to be conscious about her foot print. We would laugh. Grateful that she did not install a tank in her beautiful Californian home to fill recycled vegetable oil to fuel her car.

And I am talking about a few years ago. So I am not entirely sure what happened. Something sure did. We installed solar panels in our home. I started putting my clothes out on the clothes line. I started following Crunchy Betty and almost entirely stopped buying serums, creams or lotions…. even hair masks, which I would be spending hundreds of dollars on without blinking an eyelid. I think it was the luxury of having worked for 25 years, having raised kids and paying off the mortgage. I felt like I deserved to buy whatever caught my fancy.

I started noticing poverty. I always did, but I started really noticing it. How some kids seemed really happy on the streets of India with rags on and peddling books that would give them some money but barely feed them, let alone give them the life they truly deserved. I looked at the woman washing herself on the streets of Vadodara, in a skirt, hunched over her boobs for privacy… because she could not afford to use the wash rooms down the street.

So I think it was random stuff that led me to watch a video of making goats milk by David Fisher. So I bought some lye, got some goats milk, froze it and made my first soap…. that was in February this year. It is fun, wildly creative, and I love the creative leeway I get exploring different stuff.

My favorite ingredient is oatmeal. I used to buy Lush Angels on Bare Skin and decided to make my own with home ground oatmeal, clay, shea butter and coconut oil… it was amazing. And then I discovered that even Lush, who I worship, and thought was fresh, fresh, fresh…. had artificial fragrance and synthetic ingredients!

So back to soaps…. here is my fav way of doing this… I soak organic oatmeal in water and then blend it. That is your oat milk and it cost pennies relative to what you would buy in Coles or Woollies. Read about the benefits of oatmeal. I am personally quite taken by oat meal and I believe I have used it in every soap! My inspiration for soap comes from nature… lemons hanging off a tree or mandarins…

So here is how I made this particular soap – I was with a dear friend when I noticed the bright orange mandarins… I got some home and juiced them. Then I dried the peels and ground them.

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These are the ingredients that went into this baby: Oat and almond milk made with purified water, crushed orange peel, cinnamon and cloves, saponified oils of organic coconut, castor, sunflower, extra virgin olive oil, virgin shea butter, clove essential oil. I wanted the soap to be rustic… had seen something on pinterest that tickled my fancy. so decided I would “pour” the soap into a yoghurt bucket… (recycling in action!!). Essentially to make soap you mix the lye with water or in this instance with frozen oat and almond milks and then combine this solution with the blend of oils and butters.  I keep a stick blender and pans specially for my soap…. you stick blend the lye solution and fat until it starts looking like pudding… a little before that you add the botanicals…. in this instance, orange peel and essential oils; pour it into the mould, leave it for a couple of days and voila, you have soap!!

The lye solution reacts with the fat over a few hours, known as the saponification process, as a result of which soap and glycerin are produced. The soap is then cut and then left to “cure” for 4-6 weeks, which makes it milder, harder and just plain gorgeous!!

Then we are ready for “a wicked scrub” … which is what I have named my little baby hobby business 🙂

There are loads of tutorials and talented soap makers out there who post videos of beautiful techniques that make it look easy peasy. My fav is this lady who is drawing art with soap

My journey with soap is kinda chronicled on my facebook page… you can see how my recipes and technique has evolved over the past few months…

Am loving this journey and more than happy to connect with anyone who wants to watch or learn how to make soap! Specially if you want to gift it to someone special, there are so many pretty things to play with … like the one here…

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And ah, about the “weather and the sky” in the title of my story…. that is what I have learnt over several years of coaching, growing, leading… that your thoughts and feelings are like the weather; your mind is hardwired to protect you, so it’s job is to constantly talk to you about what can go wrong and your feelings tell you something that is terribly important to you is happening… they are like the weather, and you are the sky.

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Inspiration, Skin care, Soaps

Soaping Challenge… is this aboriginal art !!

So I love making soap. I started in February this year and don’t completely understand why. I love it. I think it is the explorer in me. Or perhaps the creative mad hatter.

When I read about Amy’s challenge, I thought, this should be fun. Squeeze soap out of a bottle into beautiful, flowing patterns.Ha!

In my head, I was drawing little flowers, fluidly, like our friend, Michelle Holtzclaw. or the chrissie trees a la Nancy.

So I decided to make use my signature blend (it has virgin shea and cocoa butter with the usual coconut, olive, sunflower and castor oils) in my usual batch size. So quite an expensive experiment in my art skills!!

For colour I wanted something dramatic, so used activated charcoal and turmeric… thought that could be nice orang-ish flowers with black centres (what are they called again?)… I didn’t have the squeezy bottles so bought two squeezy ketchup bottles and washed them out thoroughly to use for my soap. I also decided to be clever and “calculated” out a smaller portion of soap to make first. Talk about getting complicated.

Well, the beautiful flowers were ahem. I wasted more than I used.. Here is what the art is like… Image

I reckon I could pass this off as a child attempting to do some aboriginal art… I can keep gazing at it…just as I would at my child’s art and say it is a beautiful thing.. look at those patterns my lovely one… they are awesome!!

And of course the child would believe me.

It smells divine though… lemongrass, and I hold this soap more tenderly than any other 🙂 And I do think it is growing on me. Actually, I think it has grown on me. I will love it even if no one else does.

And then I wanted some swirls and texture on the top end..that I am very happy with … Image

And when I present these at the markets I am going to… this is perhaps how I shall display them…

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I think I can give up on my dreams for art that anyone would buy, or I would put up in my house.

Soap though.. yes, most definitely. I shall keep making those!

It does smell so beautiful; I have discovered that CP is kinder to Lemongrass EO, and also rosewood and rose geranium… is that true?

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Inspiration, Natural, Skin care, Soaps

Life is precious…enjoy it!

Like a caterpillar, I have stepped out of a 25+ year corporate career and become addicted to making soaps! 

I have always liked pampering. And soaps. And beautiful smells. And beautiful surrounds.
Sometime last year I stumbled upon Crunchy Betty and over the last year or so have completely stopped purchasing mass produced beauty products.
I started making soap in February this year, inspired and encouraged by David Fisher’s video on how to make goats milk soap.
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Since then, I have made about 50 different soaps and have now secured some seriously nice prices for organic, virgin oils, butters and botanicals.
I would like more people to be able to buy handcrafted soaps. They are so  much nicer than the commercial soaps…
This is a very new business for me. I have enjoyed my experience at the three markets I have showcased my products at. Thanks to the gorgeous people who stopped by, took the time to look, touch and smell the soaps… I have learnt a lot!
Lets all slow down a tad, smell the roses… indulge in life’s simple pleasures…
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Inspiration

The innocent question…

“Would you like a little sister?” I asked my little boy as we held a tiny 29 day old baby in our arms. We were in the baby room of a public hospital. I had popped into the nutrition ward to donate some of my boy’s clothes to Kalpana, who ran the ward and helped parents adopt kids. Whilst I was there, I asked Kalpana if there were any girls for adoption. “I have one girl and she looks like you”. We popped into the baby room, one look at her and I said yes. Picked up my son from kindergarten later that afternoon and here we were, holding the little baby again. She look deceivingly innocent and well behaved with a shock of dark black hair on her tiny head. “Look, she even has hair”. Unlike my son who was born bald, and at 4, not quite the full head of hair you’d need to ruffle 🙂 I say “little boy”. Not knowing that this four year old in a couple of years would be running 10 laps before his skating practice whilst I sit panting on the kerb having barely done 2. Image And I say “tiny” not knowing the eruption of volcanic sensuality was to emerge in a few years, sending me to bed in a curl, hoping we survive this big burst of hormonal activity!! and I have a new found respect to my gorgeous, loving parents..Image My parents dancing… in our home after a few 😉 Parenting, they say…here it is in some random order… Image At Floriade, Canberra. Of course you have see tulips!Image A few years earlier – on our cane sofa in the backyard (Vadodara)

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This was in Mahabalipuram… lots of strawberries… Image In Australia… on the south coast… Image Canoeing… Barrington Tops Image Image Playing with Dad at home

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Eye Candy… roses, garden, rustic shelves, inspiration from nature…

Super Sensitive

I would pick sight over smell… though this rose geranium soap has both… luscious rose petals scattered over a freshly made soap laden with goats milk, organic virgin coconut, olive, sunflower oils, shea butter, oats and decadent rose geranium essential oil.

The succulents happily growing in a pot that someone discarded in our neighbourhood… spices ready to be cooked in a the home made by my hubby… 

 

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