Evocative Press

Insights and inspirations of a homeschooling mother and a full-time homemaker

Swift Chocolate Tart

Sep 6 2014
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Nathan wanted to bake a chocolate tart,  so we just went at it all rough and tumble with approximate measures. This recipe takes just under 15 mins. to prepare and 25 mins. to bake.  This was my own assemblage of ingredients and it worked!

For the base:

225g digestive biscuits

75 g butter

For the filling: (besides the eggs, all other ingredients can have approx. measurements)

1 egg yolk

2 whole eggs

125 ml coconut milk OR 2/3 pckt. Hommade coconut milk (substitute with fresh cream if you like)

1/2 cup raw sugar (use less if you use sweetened chocolate)

80g good dark chocolate (1/2 slab of chocolate)

1. For the base, blend the biscuits and butter into a sandy rubble. Press mixture in a 10 inch tart dish.

2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.

3. Blend all the filling mixture save the chocolate. Then add the molten chocolate. Stir and pour into the tart dish. Bake for 20mins. at 200C or till the knife comes out clean.

Watermelon Salad

Watermelon Salad
Aug 9 2014
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This takes mere minutes to make, and yet it manages to look painterly on a plate! The white, salty cheese against the sweet, red flesh –  dual contrast of taste and color, and strewn with mint…… I tried it and loved this summer salad!  Don’t worry about the onion, being soused in lime juice its acrid burn will elude you. It is fresh, fast and fantastic!

Half a medium sized watermelon

200 gms feta cheese

1 large onion

some mint leaves

juice of one lime

1. Cut the watermelon in triangular pieces. Chop the feta cheese into one inch cubes.

2. Slice the onions in rings or half moons and douse them in the juice of one lime for about 15 mins.

3. Arrange the salad on a plate. First the watermelon, then the cheese, and a final strewing of soused onions and mint leaves. It’s as simple as that.

Back after a long break!

May 13 2013
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A lot of things have happened since my last post. I can’t believe I have been absent from the world of blogging for nine months. But I’m still there doing what any mother ought to. (though cutting myself some slack)

This whole season has been such a time of learning and growing in Christ with all the circumstances He brought my way.

Last July I was pregnant (yes I didn’t announce it in blog land) and full of excitement. After my previous miscarriage I was so trilled with my sonography reports. Having experienced two miscarriages in the past, I really didn’t want my husband away while pregnant, but this time he had to go for a family wedding and so had my mom! Little did I know that those two weeks would be most memorable with my dad. I cooked some of his favorite meals and went out to dinners, did nature walks together. We read the bible together… those were sweetest moments I will cherish for life!

In November last year, he was diagnosed with 4th stage lung cancer. This was really hard and came like a shock. I was four months pregnant… and this news was really hard to swallow. It was not easy, and this hymn ‘Day by day’ was my song, and 1Corinthians 15 my verse of choice – they tended and kept me!

Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,

I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.

He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure

Gives unto each day what He deems best—

Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,

Mingling toil with peace and rest.

But through it all, my dad has had such a good testimony, he never once questioned God. Always prayed and trusted Him, and was looking forward to the Kingdom. This whole experience strengthened our family. My mum also showed great fortitude and trust – a real strength to my sister and me!

I had just one request from God that I would be there by my father’s side the last moments of his life. Since he was in and out of the hospital, and if in the ICU we were not allowed in. God answered that prayer! I had the previous night with him and was there by his side the morning he passed away, March 29th, 2013.

My dad was the meekest and the most sweetest man I’ve know. I say this not just because he is my father, but because he was such a man… he could give the shirt off his back to another, peacemaking was second nature to him, he always regarded others first. That never changed even till the end! He was a committed Christian and loved the Lord with all his being. I will ALWAYS miss him! Oh, how I can’t wait for the resurrection!

I also want to announce that I had a baby girl, Neriah, on April 2nd, few days after my dad passed away. I really wished for my dad to have seen her. But she couldn’t have been better timed. She has brought great joy to my mum and me in this time of mourning. This has really helped my mum immensely, God does things in ways we can’t comprehend till much later. A commingling of joy and sorrow, and of assurance that I will see my father in the coming kingdom! Life will always have a blend of these emotions and trusting Him is the only way to move on.
I am happy to get back in blogland after a whole tumultuous season! Looking forward to parenting with another baby in tow!

Nature Walk

Jul 24 2012
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It’s not so often that I feel this way, but in this month I have had many a “eureka” moments !! While I have never been such a keen observer of nature growing up, my homeschooling venture has compelled me to go out on nature walks. I have always loved nature, but in effect it was hearing birds tweet and trees rustle, and the breeze blowing on my face with a cuppa and nothing more. I have been to Lodhi Gardens(Delhi) a zillion times and walked with blinders on.

In probing a bit on how do I go about doing nature walks, I stumbled on this website Handbook of nature study. Ploughing through the ten outdoor challenges was such an eye-opener to start with, but my blinders were still on. But then, Nathan and I started with being attentive to sounds we hear from our balcony… describing the feel of various barks, leaves etc.. Nathan loves imitating any bird he hears… started a small collection of findings etc…. This slowly and gradually made me aware of the various tree barks… shapes of leaves… colours and textures.. sounds of birds… et al!!!

To make it even better Dolphin (my friend) and I, we have decided to do these walks together. What a great help to have someone with an eye for nature do it with you. She is always the one to spot unique things. We devote a day in the week toward this…. and Lodhi has never been sooo exciting and educative as well. This place, as I see it now, is a mini arboretum and bird sanctuary.

Here are some of the observations we accrued this month, making me aware of a whole pedagogic repository! I can’t believe my eyes each time, the very things near to us can be so educational.( I apologize if I sound so newly enlightened on may be something that comes easy to some. )

The barbet’s home excavated in the trunk of a neem tree.

The Brown-headed barbet!! We always here this “katroo.. katroo.. ” call. Voila! We finally found his nesting place!

The White-throated Kingfisher. He, I have to say was this bold thing posing for this shot!

Spot-billed duck. Really looks gorgeous in flight!

Little Egret

The Little Cormorant could swim a long while under water. It really looks lovely swooping for a fish.

Nathan and Jordan (Dolphin’s son) really having a marvelous time. Fresh air, free space and lots to explore !! Learning alongside! (I do not have pictures of them both at the moment…. will upload them later) They really concoct a lot of games and just have fun together.

Observing the germination of neem seeds.

I never expected to enjoy nature walks with such intensity here in urban Delhi, but thanks to Lodhi, and in particular doing it with a friend. I would never have thought to come across any bird other than a myna, crow or pigeon overlooking from my balcony. A few days ago, I  spotted a Coppersmith Barbet perched on the top of a peepul tree from my balcony, can I believe that???  My blinders have truly come off!! I was blind but now I see!!!

A child’s perception of God

Jun 25 2012
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Not so very long ago, we had just finished a sumptuous meal from the ever so famous Andhra eatery, Andhra Bhavan, here in New Delhi. It was the weekend and was so crowded near the gate. We stumbled on a very dreary looking, tall man dressed in a robe and sash with unkempt hair reaching his shoulders and doped up. Remembered looking at him and feeling quite disgusted. Few steps away my son says, “Mama… wait a minuted…I think I just saw Jesus!” I was mortified to say the least to know that the image of Jesus Christ conjured up in his little mind was linked to this ungodly looking man! Oh no!

I’m glad to have made a virtue of this opportunity to communicate who Jesus is not. I said quite emphatically, “This is not Jesus… He can never be so untidy and shabby. This man looks more like a man that disobeys the commands of Jesus. And by the way, Jesus is not on earth, he is in heaven now and will come back to the earth one day.” I would have explained more but for his age – he’s is only 3 years old.

I was aware about good illustrated bible story books much earlier and had made sure to have only those, BUT for a few board books. And that was impressional enough! It then struck me that he, with very little eagerness listen to bible stories read from books. However, he would listen with zeal and participation to stories read directly from the bible or simply narrated. I guess, I’m just presuming, that the pictures from books must evoke images that he was not fond of! It also occurred to me that it was not just the long hair (which is not true about the appearance of Jesus) but the dress of those days, which was true, that interfered with his perception of Jesus and the stories from the bible. Anyway the bible was give to man without illustrations, so why not let his mind directly meet the stories from the bible without much interference from pictures. I had gleaned this truth from Ms. Mason and narrated a lot of bible stories albeit not followed it regimentally and consistently.

“Away with books, and ‘reading to’–for the first five or six years of life. The endless succession of story-books, scenes, shifting like a panorama before the child’s vision, is a mental and moral dissipation; he gets nothing to grow upon, or is allowed no leisure to digest what he gets. (CM V5, p 216)” she recommended learning few stories and telling it to them instead!

That does not mean I will never read bible stories from illustrated books ever!! But for now, for Nathan, I have decided to stave off biblical story books for a while and will narrate parables and old testament stories instead! Let his imagination conjure up his own images FIRST, and get acquainted with and love the stories. Incidentally, he loves me reading straight from the KJV every morning.. he actually enjoys that!

This episode set me thinking how essential is my part in developing my son’s perception of Jesus Christ so that he will desire God and learn to love Him. I really want Nathan’s initial perception of God to be that of omnipotent, holy, pure, logical – the qualities that drew me to GOD!! It just dawned on me that how will all these facets unfold in his life will primarily depend on me. I vaguely knew this fact (I guess all moms know that) but didn’t think of strategically and in a more conscientious way, with prayer, teaching and watching for opportunities to reveal those things about God. Steven does a lot of that, but Nathan spending most of his time with me, I want to brace myself to make good use of opportunities that can so very easily slip my way. This is my top prayer request that I will be endowed with special wisdom to seize the opportunities in the day to impart truth, thus shaping his perception! What a privilege and what a responsibility!

Recalled to life

Jun 11 2012
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Just got done reading a famous Charles Dickens classic “A tale of two cities”. Just loved every bit of it! It’s so funny that I never was given to reading when I was young and now I feel like a print junkie! Dr. Manette, being rent from his unborn child and imprisoned in the Bastille without a trial, his daughter growing up without the knowledge of his existence, was finally know to have been ‘recalled to life’ from that unfortunate situation. The loving solicitude of his daughter really restores Dr. Manette from this insensate state to life. The reason of his incarceration not known until much later in the novel was this evil Marquis Evremonde. Dr. Manette was in such a unique situation – to be the victim of the Evremonde family and yet prizing his daughter’s happiness wants to help his son-in-law, a member of that very same infamous family. It’s amazing what the impact of time, experience and relationships on life can do!!! He also reveals such strength in pursuing to help save Charles Darney ( his son-in-law), revealing himself to be a man of distinction! … “ Silent, humane, indispensable in hospital and prison, using his art equally among assassins and victims, he was a man apart.”

Now I deviate, I feel “recalled to life” where blogging is concerned, not from anything dreadful but just from trotting all over the place these two months. We’ve been to Goa, Bombay, back to Delhi for my sister’s wedding, and then places in Andhra – Guntur, Markapur and Vijaywada. I am finally back and ready to roll. I hope to post some more.. may be this week sometime.

 

Great video on outdoor preschool!

Feb 16 2012
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This is a great 20 min. video on outdoor preschool in Norway, that I came across via the yahoo group. Even though it’s unpleasantly wet and cold, the children seem to have so much fun. Love the statement – “There’s no such thing as bad weather, except bad clothes!” This really encouraged me to brave the cold and sometimes damp weather we have here in Delhi. Also, great ideas on what one can do outdoors with 3 to 5 year old children. Their little brains maturing without the pressure of formal lessons.

Nailing the fundamentals in preschooling

Feb 12 2012
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As I embark on a Charlotte Mason journey with my preschooler… to able to grasp her educational outlook and going through her homeschooling six volume series can seem quite extensive to absorb in a short time. The books are meant for snacking on over a period of time, although I wish I could gorge on in one or few meals – take in her entire philosophy in one sitting. But I know that each volume when read piecemeal can provide a steady diet of encouragement and instructions. But this could take years before I complete all six volumes and just about scratch the surface of what she is trying to say. This is why I really love Ambleside Online: besides that wonderful free curriculum that it is, it has systematically organized resources to help me get started on the right note. And all this for free! Comes courtesy of the Advisory, a group of moms that have selflessly put this together, just encouraged by the fact that such an education might influence the next generation! They do benefit from the pooled research and information as they homeschool as well.

Having said all this I, by no means, suggest substituting reading the homeschooling series for all that Ambleside Online has to offer. Actually, the website includes a link to the series and encourages us to read them!

The three links that I found helpful to comprehend and align with her philosophy for a preschooler:

The booklist for year0

Schedule for Year 0

Also going through the FAQ page answered a lot my queries!

From what I get from reading the above links… in the early years, rather than on academics, parents are to zero in on “ many relations waiting to be established….” (vol 6, pp.72-7) as in with the earth, plants and trees, animals and birds, human affinities, and their relationship with God. The rest will come! This seems enormous in itself. Botony, ornithology, socioeconomics etc. all in preschool?? But, all this is to be accomplished through simple interactions.

These years are also to fence my authority as a parent and concentrate on habit formation that of obedience, imagination, cleanliness etc. I hope to explore this area a bit more.

My next goal is ensuring Nathan has a lot of outdoor times so as to let him explore and acquaint himself with natural objects first-hand. Working with concrete objects with the real world rather than the pseudo manipulated kind that of the Montessori approach.

The preschool years, a.k.a. Year 0 – birth to age 6 – is also said to be a great time to get the extras rooted in. Extras include poetry, composer study, classical music, folk music, art study, hymns, foreign language.

Rephrasing a quote from Charlotte “Away with books, tell stories instead during the first few years!” I really find it hard adhering to this entirely. However, I love the idea of narrating bible stories than reading them. But books, I can’t dispense with! Anyway it’s more the panorama of pictures that is the problem not the reading in itself. From what I get, substituting books for outdoor activities is what’s discouraged.

Having got a gist of what I should be doing I hope to chronicle, here a little, there a little, as I go along.

 

When life presses in!

Feb 2 2012
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Being a mother is such a wonderful gift from the Lord and something most women have a deep longing for. Pregnancy, the whole experience in anticipation of a baby…. those who have been through it will testify how joyful and magical it can be. And finally, the moment when you hear the first cry of your new born!!!!!! Oh, words cannot express the joy!!!

This time, when I got to know that I was pregnant…..the excitement and the delight!!! This was in the first week of December. Felt extremely nauseous to the point I just couldn’t eat my own food…. eventually dropped cooking altogether!! The things family and I myself put-up with….. all for the sake of the one in anticipation!!! I really enjoyed all the pampering from my husband and my mother, and not to mention my friends in church!!

In January, my husband had to visit his home town for a while, and my mom left for Mumbai for some work. So it was my dad, my sister, my son and myself! My dad, who is suffering from cancer really needs someone to assist him, with the whole diet regime, supplements and juices that he has to take. I really enjoyed spending time with him, reading the bible and having discussions together which we really like doing as a family.

My visit to the doctor was due, was not very comfortable with the present doctor and wanted to see Dr. Urvashi Sehgal instead at Phoenix. It was the day before my husband arrived that I talked to him and on an impulse, I think it was more an instinct that drove me, went to do the Ultra Sound test for viability as written by the doctor(because of a previous miscarriage, the doc said that the test was only to satisfy my conscience). All my excitement and expectancy…all thwarted in just that hour!! It was my twelfth week and the baby was formed no more than six. My heart skipped a beat to hear this….being all alone, my husband and my mother both were out of town. The things that raced through my mind: what did I do wrong?? I should have done this….and I should have taking that… I wish I had taken rosemary teas…. and so on! I was quickly reminded not to go down that route! Think of it… there are many that do everything wrong and still deliver perfectly normal babies. Look at Rachel Crow, the X factor contestant, who was born a crack baby, her biological mother was on crack cocaine in her pregnancy… think of the threat to the fetus!! And yet, in spite of her mother being incautious, look at her now! No disabilities, a well behaved teenager with a deep affection toward her adoptive mother! Really since I would like to try again, condemning myself will take me nowhere, however focussing on nourishing my body for the next try seems more like it!

This was not my first miscarriage, my second. (However, I am so thankful that I am blessed with a son, 3yrs. now) My first miscarriage was traumatic, multiple reasons for that. One, definitely was my wrong perception to the whole episode. Believe me, I have learnt my lesson the hard way… a right perception is the key if you want to sail through a storm. Or rest assured you WILL be shipwrecked!

In such a time…. I have to say that I am blessed with a wonderful church…. a great circle of selfless friends, more than ever willing to be there. When I spoke to Probhita (my friend, my Pastor’s wife) from the hospital, she said, “ I’m just leaving right now” There is no better place to be than in the church’s wing… hanging around the people of God, those who genuinely care and bolster your faith, and being under good teaching to uplift you and fortify your mind in a storm.

I view this as from the hand of the Lord. It’s so reassuring, that He is more than able to give me my hearts desire! Just trusting God about everything! I could very well waste a lot of time thinking: Why did this happen, especially the second time? Could it happen again? But, what I have come to learn is that there is no better way to be comforted than to know (really understand) that God is in control. JUST TRUST HIM, specially when it’s beyond your power to do anything! The only solution to life’s problems: I say it again TRUST HIM. I think I missed this truth the first time and suffered serious consequences. I hate to admit it but it is true! So now, I always want to view life (the everyday and more so the unexpected trials) as an opportunity presenting itself to exercise faith, trusting in the plan of God!

There are so many that go through miscarriages with no support from family. And I…. I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful husband that loves me and was such a support to me. He gave me a day off to just wallow in any thing I desired. Fixed breakfast, lunch and dinner, took care of Nathan. This whole week, he fixed breakfast for the family! I felt totally pampered. Friends in church eager to lend a helping hand! My mom, cooking some of my old time favorites! I am truly, extraordinarily blessed!

So as I move on and the storm subsides, my comfort verse for this season:

Proverbs 3:5 – 6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

One more thing…there’s one advice on anyone that has had a miscarriage- opt for a D&C and not the misoprostol pills. But just ensure you have an experienced doctor doing it. Taking the pills in my first miscarriage really wore me out! Going through the D& C was a breeze!

 

As I set out with my preschooler!

Jan 13 2012
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Reading ‘Some Implementation‘ got me galvanized into action… Hey, why not? I have no more than one child! What’s wrong with me? My son definitely need at least an hour of fresh air and sunshine! After all Charlotte reckons three to four hours for children under age 6! With our not so well-ventilated rooms in contiguous houses, the least I could do is take him out! Those where the thoughts that raced through my mind!

The next day was busy, but you know what …when one makes something a priority, one can somehow fit it in!! My mom was leaving for Bombay, my dad’s diet and juicing needed supervision, some read alouds for Nathan, fixing lunch….. in the middle of it all, at 1 p.m. “ Nathan let’s go to the park!”

Making a virtue of the sunshine and the park, for which I’m ever so grateful, grabbed a banana and a bottle of water, and set out. He made a castle from the bricks strewn in the park. And crushed scattered lime leaves and noticed the lime tree in blossoms. I showed him the difference between buds from the blooms and he asked me, “ Where’s that girl, Thumbelina?” (ha!) For a want- to -play- ball kind of child, I was amazed at how he played with bricks, leaves and mud all by himself.. .. Just letting him be. As Charlotte puts it, ‘A good deal of letting alone!’ I enjoyed watching such freedom and was smug about putting it to practice!

I consider myself so blessed to walk in the trail blazed by others. How easy can it get!

With all this, I went back to refresh my memories on those principles I said I would follow for my preschooler. As I mould my preschooler I plan to concentrate on habit training, nature study, composer study, poetry, hymns, foreign language etc… and informal read alounds! (as suggested from the above link)

The preschool years of life is an undertaking that I now come to see as crucial and formative that will determine most of the child’s character. This enterprise which will have challenges, risks and complications and most importantly scope for growth (sounds metaphorical), but seriously taking it up with diligence and punctuality just like professionals confer on their work! Love that kind of fervency! The Creator Himself has thought the mother qualified to take on this challenging task. He will bestow special wisdom in the process, I believe… So, I cannot walk about with lack of confidence in my ability as a parent… trusting that the parent-child relationship works! Believing in His design!