Day2 : A walk through the art, architecture and history

Yet another day in Jaipur and today we are walking back in history. The Hotel Vimal Heritage, provided us with a complimentary breakfast buffet by the pool side. The spread included parathas, fruits and granola. After a hearty breakfast, we booked an ola auto and headed for Amer Fort.

The auto driver was friendly and courteous (just like every other person we met in this amazing city) and on the way the he showed us the famous Raj Mandir theatre in MI Road and the JalMahal palace. Also I spotted the blue pottery center but decided to stop there when we return.

Amer Fort:

We reached the fort and at the entrance, along the road, what you see first is the Maota lake. But at this time of the year, the water level has really lowered. On our way in, a man approached us and introduced himself as a government authorized guide. We were not really sure of getting a guide, but my husband being so interested in history, thought it would be good idea to hire him. This turned out to be the best decision of the day.

You can reach the fortress in elephant back or by walk. Since it is just about 10 min walk and also they use young elephants for the ride, I would suggest you walk just like we did. He started narrating the history, as we walked up the roads leading to the fort. We didn’t even realise that 10 min flew by,while we listened to the stories of the past, about the ambitious kings who built this fortress over generations and about the wars that happened in this very ground.

We entered the palace courtyard through the Suraj Pol(Sun gate. On the opposite side of this gate is the Chand Pol(Moon Gate).

The courtyard was very crowded because the upcoming Kangana Ranaut movie, about Rani Lakshmi Bhai, was getting filmed here. So there were several men, all clad in white rajasthani costumes, roaming around with fake weapons.

From the guide, we also came to know that many many movies has been filmed in the premises of the fort, including the last year’s hit Bajirao Mastani.

When you are in the first landing of the fort, there is a small temple. Attached on top of the temple doors, is a small idol of Lord Ganesha. This idol is carved from a single piece of red coral and I don’t think a coral of this size, can be found anywhere in the world now. Trust me, you wouldn’t notice this unless you have an informed guide.

Ganesh Pol:

The entry to the palaces of the Rajas is via a huge ornate three storied gate called, The Ganesh Pol .

This structure is absolutely stunning with intricate floral paintings, with a painting of lord Ganesh at its centre.

Sheesh Mahal:

We passed another courtyard, to reach the next main attraction, Sheesh Mahal or the Mirror Palace. As you can see, entry is not allowed inside the Mahal as renovation is going on. We could see artists working on the old paintings.

The king got this palace made for the queen, when she shared her wish to sleep under the stars. Queens were not allowed to sleep in the open. So the king (he is a romantic for sure), got this mahal made for her, so that it gives the effect of sleeping under the stars. The palace walls and ceilings has mirror mosaics and intricate precious stone designs. Our guide took out his mobile phone and waved the torch light, at the ceiling. We were spellbound by the beautiful reflection, these millions of tiny mirror pieces made.

If in the daylight it looks this stunning, I can only imagine how magical it would be, when the candle lights gets reflected on these million mirror pieces at night. Also the candle light reflection was a means to keep the room warm at night, in those times.

Here is a puzzle

Identify 7 designs in this flower.

Hint : Most of these are body parts of animals.

This Magic flower is from one of the pillars in the sheesh mahal, made of marble. You can identify lotus, fish tail, snake, scorpion, elephant trunk, a cob of corn and a lion’s tail. If a single flower holds such mysteries, imagine the jewels of craftsmanship hidden in this entire palace.

Sukh Niwas:

It is a hall used by kings and queens to relax, as the name suggests. There is a garden in front of the hall, shaped like the star mosaics in the sheesh mahal. Did I mention that our guide was an amazing photographer as well?

This hall has a channel that carries cold water for natural cooling effect. Elements like these, are what astounds us about the architecture. About how well these structures mingles with the nature. The rooms are constructed based on the direction of winds or rains, there will be copper pipes with holes which transmits water and create the effect of rain in courtyards, there will be rain water harvesting techniques and way to run it through the garden and then later recycled. The ancient architects were true artists and much ahead of us in terms of technology.

Inspite of not having motor vehicles or roads, these kings have made it possible to get colored mirrors, precious stones and marbles transported from across the globe. Imagine how much sweat and blood would have taken for getting a palace made.

OK back to the present. Here is a picture of the Kesar Kyaari(Saffron Garden) in the Maota lake(the one we saw from the road). It is said that the Raja tried growing saffron in this garden but it didn’t go well because of the hot climate.

Also from the topmost courtyard, we could see the only Mira-Krishna temple in the world, among the ruins of havelis in the old amer city.

Now let us talk about the most interesting part of the day : Shopping.

There are shops inside the Palace premises that sells rajai(cotton quilts), home decor items and clothes. We bought a beautiful royal blue quilt and silk cushion covers from here.

But mind you, these are not government emporium (eventhough the shop keepers claims so). The shops are given on lease to private vendors by the government. I suggest you don’t purchase anything from the palace, because now we are heading towards an exclusive and authentic shopping place in the old city.

The Best Place to Shop Authentic Rajasthani textiles, jewelry and everything else:

Our guide encouraged us to visit an emporium located a few minutes away from the fortress. To encourage local artisans and sell original products at very nominal rates, the government has provided free transportation to and from the emporium, which sounded great. So we got into a jeep and headed towards this emporium along with our guide.

We met an elderly man here who took us around the building. Each floor is literally a treasure trove. On the ground floor, he demonstrated the art of block printing using vegetable dyes and dyes made from semi precious stones. He showed us how the color changes from red to blue, when the dyed cloth is dipped in a salt solution. Then he took us to the jewelry section, where beautiful jewelry made of precious and semi precious stones set in silver were displayed. These jewelry comes with a gurantee and can be returned to the nearest Khadi shop in your city, and they assure a cash back.

I spend much time looking around, ogling at the huge precious stones and stunning strings of multicolored corals. Next we headed to the textile section. All the clothes sold here are dyed using natural colors and has hand block prints. From dupattas to intricate wall hangings, from saris to reversible jackets each piece is made by hand and is of high quality.

The next two floors had beautiful Rajasthani miniature paintings, camel leather footwears and a stunning display of the largest model of Taj Mahal in original marble, completely hand made. Another section showcased inlay work of semi precious stones, in small marble boxes. There is something for everyone here and this is a must visit place to enjoy the marvels, created by these gifted artisans.

We didn’t have the energy to walk anymore. So we were relieved to find a restaurant inside the same complex. We savoured on hot chole baturas and dal batti churma and was all set to explore more.

We took the free return trip, back to the fort gates. Our plan was to visit the nearby forts like Jaigarh and Nahargarh. But no Ola cabs were available and the local cabs and autos were quoting steep rates for less than 8km travel. So we waited for a while and got into a public a/c bus that was going in the direction we were heading to. The bus had a stop right at the foot of the road, leading to Jaigarh fort. But one elderly passenger suggested us to get down a little ahead near Jal Mahal, as it would be difficult to get transportation towards the fort gates from this stop. So we got down ahead as he suggested and saw him get down as well. He started following us for a while asking us to hire him as a guide. We didn’t see that coming! We ignored him and walked ahead.

We didn’t quite like the Jal Mahal area, as it was crowded with street vendors and not so nice public. We also didn’t want to go back to Jaigarh fort, unsure about getting cabs for returning to the hotel later in the evening. So we hired an auto to go to the shop I was most looking forward to visiting, The Jaipur Blue Pottery Art Center.

Jaipur Blue Pottery Art Center:

This store is easy to locate as it is the most colorful building, that stands out among the earthy hued buildings in Amer road. There are many blue pottery stores in Jaipur, but this one is the real deal.

The entrance is decorated with wall plates in various colors, but mostly blue and white. Mr Anil Doraya, a President award winner, for working towards reviving this art form and making it popular, welcomed us to his abode. He asked one of his students to give us an idea of the procedure of making these stunning pieces.

The ink blue color is imparted from cobalt oxide and the lighter blue shades, yellow, browns and greens are also derived from natural stones or plant dyes. The raw materials for the ceramic includes quartz, glass, rock salt, gum, sodium bicarbonate and fullers earth. He said that around 60-70% of the ceramic products breaks before it gets to the painting stage, which makes each piece very precious. Mr Anil Doraya has done much research and experimentation to discover more colors and shades that could be used in this art.

From small magnets to large pots and plates, from tiny buttons to soap dispensers and tea sets, this store will leave you in awe of the eye catching colours and patterns in everyday objects.

Bapu Bazar:

This is another famous shopping street near Johari bazar, where we stopped next, for a late evening walk. We were standing outside one shop and I noticed some unique block printed fabric inside. Unlike other vendors, who calls out from their shops forcing you to take a look, here there was even a board that said something like ‘only customers well informed of quality textiles are welcome’.


PC:Googleimages. A print similar to this was what I liked the most in their collection.

If you have heard of high end brands like Good Earth, Kilol and Jaypore, that sells very unique and stylish block printed attires for the modern woman, this shop is an affordable and equally good version of them. Incase you are interested, this is shop no: 106, called Jaipurwala (if I am not wrong), in one corner of the long row of shops in bapu bazar.

We promised to stop by again, another day incase we could spare some time, as the owner wanted us to take a look at their latest men’s clothing range, which would be available the next day. As stepped out of the shop, we were caught in the middle of a colorful and loud procession on the road by the Sikh community. We watched the festive displays and dancers for a while and returned back to our hotel in an Ola cab.

We got talking to the cab driver and told him about our plans to visit Agra. He quoted a much cheaper rate than the price we saw online and showed interest in taking us there. We took his number once we reached the hotel , incase we decided to accept his offer.

This was the most happening day of our travel, so far. We met some amazing people (we were so caught up talking to them about everything else, that we forgot to ask their names), had some scrumptious food and time travelled to the pages of some royal history.

PS: If you have a vehicle to travel around, you can plan to spend some time at Jaigarh and Nahargarh forts in the evening. The sunset from Nahargarh fort is highly recommended in many travel blogs.

You might also be interested in:

Day 1 : The grandeur of The Pink City

Travel in Style : Urby

I recently received a cutomised product that I was very much in need of, an elegant passport holder, from the brand called Urby.

Why you should check out this brand:

Incase you are someone who struggles to think of useful gifts for friends or family (especially for men), this site will spoil you for choices.

Check out the site : Urby

Urby is a direct-to-consumer, lifestyle and travel accessories brand. They design and manufacture essentials for an urban lifestyle using the most premium materials and finest craftsmanship.

About the brand:

I read about the brand and their story is quite interesting. We all know that premium brands always sells their products for atleast double the original price in India, as compared to USA or other foreign countries. Exactly why we all ask our aunts and uncles abroad to bring us laptops and other products. Sometimes even when we are ready to pay, we might have to compromise on the quality here. Urby was born to eliminate this gap, by selling directly to the customer, without any middlemen who just contributes to the price and nothing to the product.

What does the brand offer:

Premium quality products that are affordable. The products include travel accessories, wallets, pouches, passport holders, phone & watch cases, jewelry organizers etc. All their products come with a one-year, material and craftsmanship guarantee.

My take on the product :

The starting range of passport holders in the site is Rs 795, which I feel is quite reasonable for a premium quality product that can be used for a life time. The brand offers a wide range of colours and textures for their products. You can also get couples passport holders and kids variant with cute labels. There is also an option to customise with any text you want to get debossed in the product.

I received a white passport holder, customised with my name in gold letters. Here is the unboxing video.

The product comes in a drawstring cloth pouch, inside a black box with the brand name. There are 3 slots for cards, and another bigger one that can be used for currency or coins. There is a long side pocket on one side and one on the outer cover that will be useful to keep boarding pass or currency. The inside of the sleeves are lined with a velvet material. The passport slot is on the right side, and my passport fits snuggly in it.

Even with the cards and passport inside, the product is quite sleek and doesn’t bulge up. Also the sleeves are quite flexible and doesn’t create lines when bent. But I will have to use it for a while to give an honest opinion on its durability.

Incase you are someone who would leave this in your handbag with a million other things like pens without cap; I would strongly recommend you to go for darker colours. White for sure looks very nice, but might not stay white for long with me (:P). I made a tiny mark on it with a pen to find out if it can be wiped off with a wet tissue and I couldn’t.

What I liked the best about this brand is that, they have a wide range of lifestyle products that looks very high fashioned and classy, but are still affordable. And more importantly, these will make good gifts for your loved ones.

Also they offer free shipping and free returns.

Discount code just for my readers:

Urby is a direct to consumer brand with products at an amazing value. They don’t have a discount code box on the website. But for FOB readers, they have given this special offer.

Use the coupon code FLBEUTY17 to get 10% off on your Urby purchase.

You need to email this code to support@urby.in along with the names/links of products you would like to purchase. The support team will help you with the discount.

All natural and vegan deodorant : Burst of Happyness Lavender & Grapefruit Deodorant cream

Sweating is the cooling mechanism of the body. It is a way of eliminating toxins. Think of the saunas and steam baths, in most variants of natural medicine or as a method for relaxation and improving health.Sweating improves circulation and kills harmful bacteria and virus. Taking steam from a small brass pot, followed by a medicinal coffee made by my grandma is till date, my most effective remedy for fever. Sweating cleanses pores, which is why taking a steam before applying face masks, improves its efficacy. Sweating is the way of excretion from the body’s largest glad, the skin.

Our skin has sweat glands all over the skin. So what happens if you put stoppers in all the pores, through which the body can release toxins? This is exactly what you do when you use anti antiperspirant sprays or deodorants. We use it because we think not sweating is the best solution for odourless underarms. Sweat doesn’t have odour,but the body odour comes from skin bacteria breaking down the sweat secretions. Also using chemical laden deodorants has many harmful effects on our health which includes darkening of skin and hormonal imbalance.

So the solution is not to clog the sweat glands, but to find a solution for the odour, while letting the body do its detoxification. So here is one product, that is all natural, vegan and can be used by all skin types.

Lavender & Grapefruit Natural Deodorant Cream

Brand: Burst Of Happyness

Product claims : A one of its kind natural deodorant cream which helps to eliminate body odour and inhibit bacterial growth.

Baking Soda has natural deodorizing qualities. Arrow Root Flour helps to absorb moisture. Jojoba oil has a non greasy texture which resembles human sebum and helps to soften the skin. Cocoa Butter is rich in vit E and offers great moisturizing benefits. Coconut Oil has anti bacterial properties. Sunflower oil is a light oil which is easily absorbed and it offers anti inflammatory properties. Essential oils make sure that your pits smell good all day long!

This deodorant cream contains no water, therefore doesnโ€™t need ANY chemicals to preserve, emulsify, thicken, etc. . It is all natural and free from aggressive chemicals like parabens, aluminium compounds, which are linked to various health issues.

Ingredients:

Price: Rs 620

Packing: The deo cream comes in a small glass tub with a plastic lid. Can be easily carried in a small hand bag.

Texture: The product is not a fluffy cream, but has a dense formula. In hot regions, this might slightly melt as it is made of oils and butters. So it has to be refrigerated or stored in a cool place. My product has not changed its form as it is a pleasant climate here, and I usually scoop it out with a wooden spoon or using my fingers.Once it comes in contact with the skin, the product melts. On massaging, it turns slightly grainy because of the fine particles and gets easily absorbed into the skin.

Fragrance: It is a unisex fragrance and is the highlight of the product.

Buy from : BOH Site or from Amazon

My take on the product:

I don’t find any inconvenience to take out the product as it can be easily scooped out. The cream is not very smooth but on touch with the body, it melts and spreads easily on skin. It doesn’t feel sticky or oily on skin and gets easily absorbed in a few minutes.

The product has a pleasant fragrance. If you don’t like strong scents, this one is for you. The fragrance is imparted by essential oils and not by chemical perfumes. The notes of grapefruit mixed with lavender is a very calming scent that reminds me of bergamot fragrance. But because it is all natural, the fragrance fades after around 3-4 hours but the unpleasant odour is still kept at bay all day long. Incase you sweat profusely for long hours, I would suggest reapplying the product. I think I would love the fragrance of the rose variant more.

I also apply this cream on my pulse points for its fragrance, eventhough I wish it stayed longer. The cream is very moisturizing, thanks to the butters, oils and glycerin. So it will not dry out or stretch your skin, like the normal deodorants. Also it has not caused any irritation or discoloration on my skin. But it is always advisable to do a patch test before using it directly.

The arrow root powder and kaolin clay helps to absorb moisture from the skin and I think these ingredients are the culprits for giving the slightly grainy texture of the product when in the tub. The best part is that even though the quantity seems less, a very tiny amount is all you need for one time use. So I am sure that this small tub is going to last me long.


This is more than what you would need for one application.

Also this product can be doubled up as a body butter, as it effectively moisturizes dry patches on skin.

Overall this is a great alternative to toxic deodorants and can be used daily without disrupting the natural body processes. I would surely buy this again but mostly the another variant as I would like to try all the fragrances.

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Hearty, healthy , easy and super tasty breakfast recipes

Breakfast is a very important meal of the day. A nutritious breakfast can get us going all day without fatigue or hunger pangs. So here are some quick but nutrient rich breakfast and snack option for people on the go.

1. Overnight oats/ Oats porridge:

Not everyone is a fan of oats but trust me this is quite tasty.

Benefits of oats :

Whole Oats Are Rich in Antioxidants, Including Avenanthramides
Oats Contain a Powerful Soluble Fiber Called Beta-Glucan
They Can Lower Cholesterol Levels and Protect LDL Cholesterol From Damage.
Oats Can Improve Blood Sugar Control


Ingredients for the porridge
: You can add or subtract ingredients from this as per your choice and availability. This is to just give you an idea of all the options possible.

Milk or Greek Yogurt(not sour)
Rolled oats: This is preferrable as it is the least processed variant and is fiber rich and is more tasty. Since instant oats is available easily, you can use that as well.
Seeds like chia, flax, sunflower, melon ,pumpkin,sesame.
Dry fruits and nuts : dates, raisins, almond, peanuts, cashew, walnut etc.
Fresh fruits like banana, mango, berries etc.
Optional : cinnamon powder, vanilla extract for flavour.
If necessary : Cane Sugar/honey/coconut sugar

Preparation:
There are 2 options to prepare oats: Either cook it in milk or just add milk/yogurt to a cup of oats and leave it overnight in fridge. It becomes soft and creamy in the morning, no cooking involved. Add vanilla or cinnamon powder for extra flavour. Fruits like mango and strawberry can be added along with oats and kept overnight.
In a bowl layer banana pieces, oats mix and any other fruits of your choice. I added mango pieces. Dry roast seeds and nuts till they become crunchy. Break the walnutsto small pieces. Soak raisins in some water.
Now top the oats bowl with all these and dig in ๐Ÿ™‚ This keeps you full for long and is a complete meal.

NOTE:
You can roast all seeds and nuts prior and store it in a jar for future use as well.

You will get these seeds in most of the normal provisional stores for as less as 20Rs for 100gms.Seeds are packed with dietary fibre, protein, good fats and antioxidants. They release energy slowly throughout the day.

Also if you like crunchy caramel oats, toast oats with cane sugar in a pan till it becomes crispy and store it along with nuts and seeds. This is your own home made muesli.

2. Oats pancake:

Far better and tastier than the maida pancakes and easier to make as well.

Ingredients :

Rolled oats,baking soda,milk.
Rest I leave it to you: any or all of the above ingredients for porridge can be used here as well.

Preparation:

Add the oats to a mixer jar and powder it. Need not be a very fine powder. Add milk to the powder in a bowl and whisk it with a spoon or spatula,to get a lump free smooth thick dough. It should be thicker than your dosa batter. Add a pinch or two of baking soda and keep it aside for 15-20min.

Once the dough has risen slightly(you will notice bubbles in it), add the other ingredients like seeds, nuts, choco chips, cinnamon powder etc as per your liking. Add half teaspoon of salt and incase you like the pancakes sweet, add 2 spoons of cane sugar or honey.

Pour a ladle full of batter to a hot tawa and flip it when one side is done. You can have this with peanut butter, jam, cut fruits sprinkled on top or honey drizzled on top.

3. Peanut carrot mix

This is an easy healthy snack that will satisfy you from the midday hunger pangs.

Ingredients:

Grated carrots, roasted peanut without skin, salt, lime juice

Preparation:

Add the peanuts and grated carrot to a mixer jar and crush it with two reverse pulse. We just need the peanuts and carrots to be crushed and not powdered or grinded. Transfer it to a bowl and add salt and lime extract for taste.

4. Banana peanut porridge

Ingredients:
Ripe banana, peanuts(soaked in water and dried), cardamom powder, honey

Preparation:
All you need to do is add the bananas and peanuts to a blender and blend it well till it becomes a porridge like consistency. Add cardamom powder and honey to taste.

5. Whole grain bread with sautรฉed baby potatoes, mushroom and coleslaw

You can boil and peel the baby potatoes on the previous night to save time in the morning. if the potatoes are fresh and clean, you don’t have to remove the peel.

Ingredients :

Whole grain bread ,gralic, button mushroom, baby potatoes, grated cabbage and carrot, yogurt(instead of mayo).

Preparation:

In a pan heat olive oil and add crushed/sliced garlic. Roast cut mushrooms and potatoes separately in the garlic oil till the potatoes turn brown and mushrooms are well cooked and glazed. Add salt and pepper to taste and keep this aside.

To grated cabbage and carrot add 2-3 spoons of plain greek side yogurt and add salt, pepper and a dash of lime to taste.

Have these with hot toast.

Hope you liked these recipes. Do try them out and let me know your feedback.

Simple Steps towards sustainable living

Read time: 5min

This is not a modern concept. For eg, our grandmas would have hardly gone to buy skin care things from store, but still they know all the tips and tricks using just kitchen ingredients.For eg. an oil massage before a bath (abhyanga) when followed religiously, will give you a healthy,resilient and glowing skin and can even cure the muscle pains and fatigue.This is the only anti ageing practice you need.Also they used to use wood ash and tamarind for cleaning utensils. They had no peeling skin or harmful chemical residue left on utensils.
But we prefer easy, less time consuming methods or preferably ready to use products that comes packaged.

One thing as consumers, we neglect to do is read the ingredient list of any product, be it your skincare product, food you buy from stores, washing powders, baby products, pet products…anything. We trust the advertisements, and our judging factors are the smell, flavour, cost, packaging of the product and if we are getting any free products when we buy them. In most cases, these factors hold a higher rank than whether we actually need the product?, whether it, in anyway harms us? or rather whether it is sustainable and aids to a healthy lifestyle?

Why should we use these natural products, when what we already use serves the purpose?

Right from the tooth paste we use, to the cosmetics and home care products, everything is just a mix of colours, fragrances, pertoleum by products, chemicals and preservatives. Our skin absorbs upto 60% of what we apply on it and these non-biodegradable chemicals, enters our blood stream or build up on our skin and can cause cancer,infections, fatigue, dizziness, irritate eyes, hormonal imbalance, respiratory problems and in the extreme cases even DNA damage.The fragrance you love the most about these products, are for masking the smell of concoction of chemicals that constitute the product.

Why is it that we have not heard about these ingredients or brands?

Because in our consumerist society advertisements, are the deciding factors for us and we don’t keep our eyes open. In India there are no strict rules or laws to maintain quality or to test toxicity of everyday products and we still rebound to instant noodles, brick powder mixed chili powder and cancerous baby powders eventhough some brands are caught red handed often. Fair and lovely still lures teenagers and there are barely any informed moms who could teach children to make better choices. We don’t have time to research on whether the products we consume are really the only things we consume with it. And later we wonder how that uncle, aunty or colleague who never drinks, smokes or eat outside, still fell sick.

Here are some image from web, that might help you understand how bad it is.


What is the difference between organic and natural?

Organic products have ingredients produced by organic methods defined by certifying bodies such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under its Organic Food Products Act. But for a natural product there are no regulations on how the ingredients are grown. It is a more generic tag where the product is devoid of artificial color, flavour, preservatives, hormones etc. All organic products are natural, but not vice versa. So be careful when buying products tagged as natural, unless they are from trusted brands. There are many known brands in market that boasts of natural ingredients but have preservatives and chemicals in them. The parabens and synthetic preservatives used in these products increases the shelf life of the product. But it can disrupt the endocrine system of your body. Natural preservatives used in organic products have shorter shelf life, but these freshly made products are like food for your skin. Your skin and body will thank you for it.

Where to start : Right at home. Ditch all your non-natural products at home for a week and see what you can make use of, from kitchen or your garden to replace them. See the difference it makes to your skin and environment. Let me give you some examples.

1. Use few drops of essential oils like lemon grass, tea tree oil mixed in water for repelling insects and bugs.
2. Other fruity or floral essential oils in water for cleaning floors.
3. Aloevera gel or almond oil as moisturizer
4. Green gram powder or crushed hibiscus mix as shampoo
5. Chick pea flour as cleanser
6. Soap berry powder as detergent
7. Use charcoal powder and salt mixed with coconut oil for cleansing the teeth

But are these always practical in our busy lives or do they always seem appealing?

That’s why we have these natural and organic brands that sell pre-made packaged products made of pure ingredients, handmade in small batches and hence has a shorter shelf life compared to products with preservatives..These are available everywhere as these brands sell via websites, local organic stores, social media like Instagram and FB and via online platforms like Amazon and Nykaa.
If you go through my posts,you will see that I always include the link to shop or mention where you can buy the products from.

What lifestyle changes can help your quality of living and the environment?
Do you ever wonder where, all the used plastic tooth brushes and sanitary pads go. In landfills. They don’t degrade and they stay there for ever. So does, the chemical laden water that seeps into the ground from our kitchens and bathrooms, thereby polluting ground water.

Just know that for every product you use there are alternative natural ones. Including your home care products, baby care products, cosmetics like lipsticks (Read the review here)or for men may be things like shaving cream, hair gels, natural deodorants etc.

The water from using the natural detergents, shampoo and cleaners can be reused for watering the plants as these are totally safe and biodegradable. The natural detergents are very mild on skin and cleanses the utensils without leaving any grease or dirt and uses much less water than the heavy duty chemical gels.

Also using sustainable cotton clothes with natural dyes makes huge difference to your lifestyle as well as the environment.

Organic food helps to flush out toxins from your body over a period of time and promotes overall well being.

Using menstrual cups can bring a huge change in women’s well being as well as help the environment .(Read more here)

Busting myths:
1. Natural products are not appealing :Many of you might think natural products means ones that smells very herbal, like ayurvedic medicines or something that is of good quality and zero appeal. Let me just bust that bubble now. The concoction of essential oils used in many of the products I have used smells out of the world and even freshens up the room with natural fragrance. Take a look at the soaps below if you don’t believe me. Unlike hot processed industrial soaps, these are cold processed, which means there is no loss of nutrients or quality of natural ingredients. Also these are rich in natural butters, oils, clays,fruit and flower extracts.


PC:Giabathandbodyworks


PC:Juicychemistry

2. Organic products are super costly : This is another myth. When you buy a mass produced product from store, you don’t realize that the product itself costs only one fourth of it’s MRP and that you are actually paying for all the marketing and fancy packaging.But for an organic product to be made it involves steps like ethically sourcing quality ingredients, an artisan making fresh batch of products by hand and send with love.

Also you just need a pea size of the product compared to the normal variants. The products are very concentrated and pure that a little goes a long way.There are affordable natural skin care brands as well as high end ones.It depends on the ingredients in the products and the process of making them. But every customer makes a difference for these people unlike the mass producing, cosmetic tycoons.Almost everytime I buy a product, I get hand written notes on how much they appreciate us buying from them. You can consult the makers to have products curated for your needs. They even customize products for your liking.

This is not an overnight change you can bring about in life. Start by reading more on this and make informed choices in life.
Going forward,read the ingredients in all the products you buy and make a conscious choice.Many of these chemicals that are listed might be alien to you. But in this age of technology,the answers are just one click away. Search the ingredient name in web and read about it. Infact you just take your tooth paste/ shampoo or detergent at home and just read about all the ingredients in them. I am pretty sure, you will think twice about using them again.

If you feel this is a tedious process, the alternative is to read my blog posts :)Hope this post was informative.

How you can save your hair from years of chemical torture

I think it’s time for another hair care post, as many of you have been asking me solutions for hair fall issues and the like. Let us get straight into the problem. Choose the methods/ingredients from this post, as per your hair type and need. You can ask your doubts by posting comments here.

The most common hair related problems are dandruff, hairfall, frizziness or oiliness.

Reasons:

The above problems can be inter related. And the reasons can be many. Incase you have moved to a different city, most probably you will face a high rate of hair fall. This can be due to chlorinated or hard water, pollution, or even different climatic conditions.
Otherwise it could be because of your diet. You might not be drinking enough water, eating your greens or you might be taking too much caffeine or alcohol.
It can also be due to hormonal changes, illness, reaction of any product, stress or even because of your favourite chemical laden shampoo.

So how can you fix it?

There is no overnight fix for anything when it comes to natural skin and haircare. You have to be consistent and ready to invest time in yourself. Our goal is to get a healthy and balanced scalp and that + a healthy diet will give you solution for your hair problems.

The first step for a healthy scalp is getting rid of all your sulphate laden hair care products. DON’T EVER TOUCH THEM AGAIN.This includes products from The Body Shop and few SLS laden cleansers from Kama Ayurveda as well. The brand name doesn’t matter. Check the ingredients. Google will provide you more than enough resources on what to avoid.

Dandruff:

Tea tree oil is what you need. You can buy it from brands like soulflower, juicy chemistry, blend it raw beauty,Nykaa etc. I am talking about the essential oil and not any blend.Other alternatives are Frankincense and Peppermint essential oil. You can add few drops of one of these or all in your coconut hair oil or which ever hair oil you use and warm it up a little before applying on the scalp. You don’t have to keep it overnight. Just half and hour to an hour is more than enough.Do this regularly, atleast thrice every week in the beginning.You can also add a piece of camphor in the mix while warming the oil.

Please don’t soak your hair in oil. Applying more oil not only won’t give any added benefits but might cause break outs, incase you have oily skin. Use just enough to condition the hair and scalp.


If you need a hair oil suggestion, I would recommend the Krya Anti dandruff hair oil. for no sticky hair oils, try Kama Ayurveda Bringadi oil and Just herbs Japakusum oil.

Cleansing: You will get all the info you need from this post (6 types of hair cleansers are reviewed here). Natural hair cleansers are mild and will not dry out the hair and scalp. So no need of conditioners. But incase you feel you need something for your unruly hair, a few drops of pure almond oil (Not the bajaj variant which is just a mix)will do the magic. Just 2-3 drops at the ends while hair is still damp.

You can get pure food grade almond oil from mitti.se.

Home made hibiscus cleanser:
For those days, you don’t oil your hair you can make this hibiscus hair cleanser. Best prepared with red small hibiscus.
1.Pluck few hibiscus leaves and flowers
2.Clean it well in water
3.Crush it with your hand in water until it turns thick and sticky/ you can also use a mixer but using hands gives best results.
4.Sieve it so that you get the sticky pulp with no leaves or flower matter.
5. Use it on wet hair and gently massage for a light lather.
6. Wash it off with water.

Hair Drying :
Please towel dry the hair and do avoid electric dryers as much as possible. Also don’t rub your hair vigorously with towel. Just tie it up and leave for sometime and then leave it open to dry.

Hair mask for strong, smooth and shiny hair:

Let your imagination fly high. It is always best to buy pure ingredients and whip up a fresh mask. You can buy clays like kaolin, bentonite, pure aloe vera gel and essential oils and prepare your own masks.

1.Curd, egg white, lemon juice,honey, clay, aloe gel, tea tree oil, mashed ripe banana > You can mix aany of these ingredients to get very nourishing hair mask.
2. Another very interesting hair mask is using flax seed gel. You can buy flax seeds from any provisional store. Add 1 and half to 2 cups of water to a spoon of flaxseed in a bowl and keep it in low flame. Keep stirring untill you get a slight gel like sticky consistency. Let it cool and then strain the gel using a muslin cloth or strainer.
This gel is rich in omega 3 and can be stored in fridge. You can also use it as a styling gel. It gives shine and softness to hair and also promotes hair growth. It can be used as an alternative to aloevera gel in masks.

Now incase you want to just use a premade hair mask, you can try the ones from Krya and Juicy Chemistry.But why spend alot, when you can use a aloevera gel and tea tree oil mix.

Rinse:

Now if your hair loss is because of the bad quality of tap water, you can use a hair rinse at the end. This will help in washing off the residue from the scalp. Some options are :

1.Tea water(you can boil left over tea leaves from making tea in water and use it)
2.Rose water mixed with purified water(drinking water)/ you can boil rose petals in water and use
3.1 spoon apple cider vinegar in a cup of water
4.Neem water(Boil few neem leaves in water)

Water and Diet:

No one drinks enough water daily. Most of you just forget and might utmost drink just 1 litre or so in a day. There is no point in doing anything topically, unless you are well hydrated and eat a protein rich diet. So keep away from very oily and spicy food. Eat less salt and sugar. Eat sprouts and green leaves. Drink buttermilk instead of using curd. Eat curry leaves and amla. All this will help in hair growth.

Health issues:

Consult a doctor or dermatologist incase your hair fall is due to health conditions, skin issues like alopecia or reaction to any medicine. Don’t keep experimenting until it is too late.

Tips:

The transition to natural cleansers might weigh your hair down in the beginning. That is because it takes a while for also the chemical residues to get washed off and for your hair to get accustomed to the product. So don’t stop using the product in between and switch back. Use it for a while, and your hair will thank you.

Cover your hair when spending alot of time in sun or dust.
Use a wooden comb instead of plastic one to avoid air breakage due to static.
Avoid brushing your hair when wet. Use a comb with wide teeth if necessary.
Pleat your hair before going to bed.

Throw away your chemical bottles and let nature take its course in giving life back to your hair.Finally, be happy and don’t let stress and pollution take away your beautiful tresses.

Other hair care posts that might interest you:

Dandruff free silky hair and soft supple skin with simple DIY skincare recipes

Summer hair care with natural hair wash powders : Featuring Krya and JivaVrksa

My two favorite non-greasy, deep conditioning hair oils

My favorite hair cleanser from Gia

Cheesecake for the soul : Quick no bake recipe

Since I posted the cheese cake pic on my insta handle, many of you have been asking me for the recipe. This is one recipe the man of the house loves. This one barely takes any time and will for sure impress your guests.

This is a recipe that you can play around with and change to suit the flavour you love. You can add more textures and ingredients like fruits, nuts, preserves etc to make it more yummy.

So here is the recipe. Also on a side note, I am not someone who follows measurements. I just go by the feel and taste. So just adjust the quantities accordingly.

Ingredients you will need for the basic recipe:

Cream cheese : I had the salted variant. Unsalted will be the best.
Full cream
Sugar
Gelatin
For flavour you can use any of these : essence, thick fruit pulp, icecream, fresh fruit
Plain biscuit like Marie or glucose biscuit
Butter – Melt it so that it can be easily mixed

How to transform the ingredients to a cheesecake :

Basically you need to mix all the ingredients(except the biscuit powder) together and keep it in refrigerator to set. That’s all. But let me break it down for you.

1. Crush the biscuit in a mixer and make a crumbly powder
2. Add melted butter to the biscuit powder and mix well
3. Take a flat glass or steel tray in which you are going to set the cake. Butter the tray so that the cake doesn’t stick to it.
4. Now evenly spread the biscuit mix in the tray and keep it in the freezer till we whip up the filling.
5. In a bowl take the cream cheese slab and whip it well with a spatula, or any whipping tool to form a creamy consistency.
6. Add full cream(half the quantity of cream cheese) to loosen up the thick consistency.
7. I did not add sugar to this mix, since I used mango icecream which was already sweet. If you are using essence or fruit puree, now is the time to add powdered sugar and whip the mix again to a smooth consistency.
So basically you can add sugar+any essence of your choice/ fruit pulp + fruit chunks or just keep it plain and add a layer of fruit pulp on top once the cheese layer is set.
8. Mix gelatin/agar-agar with warm water and keep it on heat to melt it completely. You can use a double boiler or just directly keep it in low flame.
9. Now add this to the cream cheese mix and again mix well. Say for 1 block of cream cheese, I used around 3 spoons of gelatin powder. This is what makes the cheese cake wobble and you know, essentially look like cheese cake. So incase once you mix it and feel like it’s too runny, you can again add more gelatin solution to the mix. You can do it even after you refrigerate the mix and feel like it has not reached the right consistency.
10. Now take out the tray and pour the cheese mix on top of the biscuit layer evenly. Keep it in freezer for 15 min and the cake will be ready.

If you want to add another layer of say fruit pulp or fresh fruits, wait till the cheese layer is set. You can add gelatin mix to pure fruit pulp and spread it on top of cheese layer for that extra flavour.

Eventhough it looks like there are lot of steps, it will barely take you half an hour to make this. So do try it out and let me know how it turned out.

Best Skincare Finds : Multitasking products for all skin types

This is going to be a short post on 3 of my current favorite skin polishes. I will be doing a detailed review of these in the upcoming posts.

1. 3 in 1 Mud Ash by Green berry organics

Tea tree oil is one of my go to things when it comes to break out or irritated skin and charcoal as well all know is highly detoxifying. So here is a great combination of both that can be used as a cleanser, scrub or as a face pack.

With impressive ingredients like bentonite clay, charcoal, tea tree oil, walnut shell powder and many more, this wet face pack+cleanser+scrub suits all skin types except for sensitive ones. I bought this from Amazon and it smells of tea tree oil. It has a cooling effect on skin when applied and has grainy scrubby powder that can be a bit harsh for sensitive skin types.

2. Gravitale Revitalizing Skin Gel

Sold exclusively on purplle.com, this grape based skin gel is nothing short of a luxury product. Gravitale is the world’s first integrated vinotherapy products company to exclusively grow their own grapes for skincare purposes. Imagine a vineyard with grapes used just for making pure skincare products.

Grapes are a source of phenolic antioxidants, alpha hydroxy acids, and Vitamin C. Even though there are no physical scrubby particles, this gel gives an exfoliated effect after use. It makes the skin soft, smooth and glowing.

Steps for that perfect glow:

1. Double cleanse your face with a light non sticky oil. Find the detailed post here
2. Wipe off the excess oil and apply a thin layer of the revitalizing gel
3. Wait for 10min and wash off with warm water.

TADAAAA….SOFT GLOWING SKIN

3. The cult favorite : Forest Essentials Narangi & Nagkesar Facial Ubtan

If you want to buy one product from FE that is multitasking and effective for your skin, this is the one. Also the rates have increased in the Forest Essentials official site for this but I got it from Nykaa.com, where the price was still not updated. I knew there might be an price rise after GST hits..so I was keeping a track on the prices in the FE site. So next time you buy an expensive product, check the same in other sites like Amazon and Nykaa because they might still have the old stock at reduced prices.

This is an ubtan that smells like an orange orchard. Mild on skin and is best when used with curd or rose water.

Detailed reviews will be up with more pictures in the coming blog posts.

July favorites : Afghani earrings, sari, juttis and many more

My last favorites post was in Feb (link) and it was mostly about skincare products. But here is an exclusive post on everything but skincare. Take a look at my favorite purchases for the month.

My favorite glass bottle from Home Centre

Home centre is running awesome offers this month and since I decided not to use plastic bottles anymore for storing water, I picked up this beauty for just Rs 200. Love the mechanism of the cap and Iam surprised at how much I look forward to drinking water these days. I add few mint leaves and a dash of lime to the water and it keeps you hydrated with a feeling of freshness.

This gorgeous cotton sari

I am not a sari lover but I fell in love with this one. I plan to make a dress out of it after I wear it once as sari. Margazhi designs, an insta store is one of my recent finds and I love their collection. Don’t you think this one is gorgeous?

Super comfy floral juttis

These look very classy and goes with all attires. Akaayra an insta store has a great collection of these comfy beauties.

Healthy snacks anyone?

Snackible is a healthy snacks company bidding to revolutionize the snacking industry by delivering unique, healthy, and tasty snacks, anywhere in India.I bought Oats & Chia Chocolate Bites,Oatmeal waaffle, Chilli Garlic Pita Chips, Herb & Cheese Makhana and Kale chips with bajra puffs. To give you a mini review, I loved everything except the waffles and Kale chips. Basically the waffles were not crisp and Kale chips was more of bajra puffs with kale leaf bits. I loved the cheese Makhan and oats chocolate bites.

Afghani gunghroo earrings

You all loved the afghani chandbaalis I got last time, featured in the Feb Favorites post. I bought this one from The Trinket Shop (another insta store). As you know, I share more tips and pics in Instagram and answer all your skincare queries there. And since I spend more time in Insta, I explore and find out these amazing insta stores. This one has awesome and affordable jewelry collection and the best part is you can block your favorites over a period and get them all together and thereby save shipping charge.

Rose and Shea Butter soap from Soap works

You would already read about this in my recent insta post but if not, hear hear. I got this sample in my December reverie box but I never used it so far. I actually kept it in my cupboard for the amazing fragrance. It has a divine rose smell, lathers lightly and looks so pretty with scattered rose petals in the transparent block.

Nykaa nailpaints

Lastly let me tell you about these beautiful and unique colors from the Nykaa nailpaints range. I bought 2 matte, (chia pudding & royal amethyst) and 1 normal nailpaint(marsala chai). The colors are amazingly pigmented and gives full coverage in a single swipe. Love the texture of the matte nailpaint. The only drawback is, incase you love doing nail art like me and paint design using one matte nail paint on top of another, it is likely to chip off fast.

As for skin care products there are many amazing ones I tried recently and I feel feature them one by one in my coming posts. Hope you liked this one and let me know if you have any questions. Also don’t forget to subscribe and leave your comments. See you.

Natural daily wear lipstick below Rs 150

Enough of skincare you say? For a change why don’t I introduce you to some safe makeup products. I know I know we should take care of our skin and hair and go out confidently flaunting the glowing skin and soft mane but well don’t we all love that additional glam the streak of lipstick gives. Some of us use it daily and some of us just for functions. Whichever it is, researchers say lipsticks and lip glosses may pose specific risks for consumers, because they are swallowed and absorbed little by little by those wearing them.

So what are the toxins that are commonly present in lipsticks and kohl?
Lead, Parabens, Phthalates, dyes, Parfum, Heavy metals, Harmful pigments,Mineral oils, Animal fats, Fragrance etc. These dangerous metals accumulate in the body over time, as they are absorbed through the skin.These can cause skin drying, allergies, and some of these are linked to cancer, may disrupt the endocrine system, or be toxic in other ways.

Why do we still keep using them?
Because we love our matte and glossy lipsticks and fade proof kajals and we don’t know of any alternatives. Even if we find alternatives they are usually from luxurious brands that are super costly. But I found a very affordable lipstick that is free from these harmful toxins.

1. ORGANISTICK LIPSTICKS

Company claim:

Organistick is one of its kind comprising of all natural and organic components that make it long-lasting. Even excess usage of Organistick won’t cause any harm because of the organic as well as natural ingredients.

Ingredients: Shea butter, Jojoba Oil, FD&C Colors, Beeswax, Castor Oil, Carnauba Wax, Natural iron oxides and Titanium dioxides.

Price: For a lipstick of this nature you might expect a minimum of 500 Rs right. Well get ready to be shocked. This one costs just Rs 149

Buy from: Amazon.in, Nykaa.com

Key Features:
-Goodness of shea butter and jojoba oil
-Moisturizes and smoothens your lips
-Natural and organic ingredients
-No animal fat

    My review

In total there are around 36 shades including pinks, reds, nudes and purple shades. I picked up two nude shades from the range called Nectarine and Confused brown. Actually both are similar shades, which I didn’t know and looks almost same on lips.

Nectarine is a nude shade with light pink undertones whereas Confused brown is just nude. The best part is that,their official site (link) provides hand and lip swatches which helps to determine colors in different skin tones. There are many more nude shades in the range.

The packaging is sturdy and travel friendly but could have been colour coded as well. The label at the bottom has the lipstick name. The pigmentation is excellent and gives full coverage even for pigmented lips like mine.The pigment sits comfortably on lips and doesn’t dry out the lips(Obviously with all these skin conditioning ingredients..duh!). It’s neither matte nor extremely creamy and has a shine free satin finish. It does transfer. I wore it overnight to test if dries out the lips (mine being extremely dry lips), but it didn’t. The staying power is like 3-4 hours but it leaves a nice tint on lips without completely fading away. They have some pretty mauves and pinks in the range which I would like to try next time. Love the fact that they have no added fragrance and it has no smell at all . the formula doesn’t enhance limes or dry patches on lips. Also these are affordable and easily available.

What I didn’t like:

I expected the shades I chose to be different nude shades eventhough both shades are just the same in swatches and on lips .Here is another swatch of both on a white tissue.

These are slightly pastel and if you have deeper skin tone this might wash you out. So choose darker shades instead of choosing lighter and peachier shades.

Also don’t expect it be extremely nourishing like a lip balm.