Mimi’s Graduation Day Performance & Graduation Day Cherry Cupcakes

24th of June was my daughter’s graduation day.

She’s only 2. 5 years old!!

I mean, when I got the note from her class teacher that these tiny tots would have a graduation day celebration, marking their term end  and progress from pre kindergarten to reception (LKG), I was surprised. It is a recent phenomenon where they have graduation day celebration even for these toddlers. Nevertheless, it was an exciting thought which was accentuated by the fact that there was going to be a performance by these kids on some rhymes. This was a day I wasn’t going to miss at any cost. I informed my manager at work that I wouldn’t be available for a certain time slot to attend any meetings on the 24th of June. Mimi had been singing ‘ Incy Wincy Spider’  all the time and I realized this was definitely the song that they were going to perform. I made her practice the song with actions and Mimi was most co-operative. On the d-day, I was pretty confident that Mimi will definitely do well. My only concern was, if she were to spot me in the audience, she would run to me for sure. So I also decided to be somewhere in the back row where she wouldn’t see me.

On the 24th, my husband and I, we made it on time to be a part of this spectacular, memorable baby graduation day event. All the tiny tots were led into the Assembly Hall by their respective class teachers. I could see Mimi looking for us in the crowd, probably because the teacher might have hinted that the Mummies and Papas are going to be around for the performance.

Incy Wincy Spider being performed

The first song performed was ‘Incy Wincy Spider’ with action. It was heartening to see all the tiny hands go up in the air and down in near-unison. The tiny fingers making a spider climb up the water-spout and the rain pouring down. It was a surreal moment and I am sure it was for all the parents who stood there on the verge of shedding a tear or two. I couldn’t believe my child has grown up so much that she understands and comprehends everything so beautifully. Mimi was clearly having a lot of fun with the whole exercise because we could see her jumping about her place while doing her action-song. I also observed all the teachers also beaming with pride to see their class perform so well.

After the song was done,  they started to play ‘Baba Black Sheep’. But Mimi came rushing down to me and sat on one of the empty chairs on the audience’s side of the event. I tried to push her to go back but she wasn’t interested at all. She was content, cheering her classmates and lip syncing with them. ‘Baba Black Sheep’ was followed by ‘Polly put the Kettle on” and an Arab song.  Mimi sat in the audience look at the on going performance as if it was only ‘ Incy Wincy Spider’ that was her mandate. I should have made her practice the other songs as well, then she would have felt the need to stay back with the group to perform the whole thing.

After the Performance, the crowd dispersed and went to their own classes and I followed Mimi to hers to take a few pictures. I congratulated the class teacher and told her it was absolutely phenomenal what they do. To be able to make a set of 2 – 3 years olds stand to together; let alone sing and perform was a feat that would seem impossible. As a parent, I find Mimi to be quite a handful and these kindergarten teachers have to manage 15- 20 such toddlers with different attitudes, cultural backgrounds, languages and natures. Hats off to these teachers, really!!

To mark this awesome occasion, I baked some cherry cupcakes (with mascarpone frosting which isn’t in the photos) which I then took to office and for the Term end party I made Mimi the Oats cookies with chocolates and almonds.

The cherry cupcakes were received well and disappeared in a matter of only 10 minutes. When I told them the reason for celebration, there were congratulations pouring in from everywhere. I was a proud mum. 🙂

These cupcakes are only slightly sweet so if you want you add a little more sugar to increase the sweetness. I was planning to frost it, so consciously put little sugar.  The taste of cherries is very prominent and that is what lifts the flavour of these dainty cup cakes.

Mimi’s new term starts in September and in between that she is going to attend a summer camp. For the next 10 odd days she has a vacation and she absolutely hates being at home. Every morning she wakes up and announces that she is going to school. I have to then tell her that she is having her holidays and she doesn’t need to go to school, but she insists that she would go to school tomorrow. So everyday I have to convince her that she needs to stay home and do all the stuff that she did at school. I have bought her loads of colours, colour books and puzzles to keep her busy.

That is all from me for now. Have a fabulously week ahead!

A Quick Update and some Quick to make Oats Cookies

I haven’t seen this space in a long time. I miss blogging at whim. It is more schedule driven. More of a weekend activity. It is now that I doubly admire all those bloggers who blog inspite of having a full-time job and blog more than many times a week. So much has been happening and I feel life is just whizzing past me. I make desperate attempts to make tiny post-it mental notes every time I observe or feel something interesting but then it slips away.  This post is more to recapitulate all the important stuff that has happened over some time now.

First things first-Mimi

Mimi has started talking so much and I see this difference after she resumed school on a regular basis.  She has a quip to make about everything. She wants to give her expert opinion about how I look, or her Papa looks or how she looks. She can ride her bike now and it is such a pleasure to see her pedaling away. Just the other day I asked her,” Mimi, what did the teacher teach you today?”  Pat came the reply, ” Quiet Mimi! Quiet!”  and yesterday I asked her the same question and she said, ” Don’t shout Mimi” So I take it that the teacher is really having a tough time getting Mimi to do what the class is doing. Recently they even got a class photograph as the term is about end on 28th of June. But I am sending her off to the Summer camp in her school that starts on 8th of July. This Sunday, she has a class performance to which all the parents are invited and they are going to perform, ‘ Incy Wincy Spider’. The entire time, we hear Mimi singing Incy wincy spider and when she’s in the mood, she’d do it with actions. I am excited to attend her first class performance and I pray everything goes well. I know she will enjoy it because she loves to sing.

I am amazed they got her to stand. ahem.. straight!
The Class photo: The caretaker had to hold her so that she didn’t run off

2. Next is this wonderful poetry festival that I had the opportunity to attend last night. Set against the romantic back drop of the Bahrain fort, it was certainly a night to remember. 15 wonderful poets with their marvellous poetry enthralled the audience. The Poetry festival is the first of its kind arranged by the Bahrain Writers’ Circle’s – Poetry arm – The second circle.  The theme was The Colours of Life and the brochure of which you can see below. Though the lights went off in between for some weird reason, it only added to the drama of the whole evening.  It was such a good break for me from my otherwise hectic work life. To listen to soul-full poetry is the best way to usher in a weekend. Some of the participants are good friends and I had rushed from work to support them. It was a delight to see them read their work.

The poetry festivals’ brochure

3. Apart from that, we were able to watch a movie in the cinema hall, along with Mimi after 2.5 years. We avoid going to the movies because Mimi doesn’t think it is interesting to sit in one place for more than a few seconds. But now that she is a little grown up, we thought it should be easier now. We thought Madagascar-3 was a safe bet and right we were. She sat through 3/4th of the movie and enjoyed it too. This is great progress as far as Mimi is concerned.

4. I have been working out quite regularly and running as well. Hopefully by the year-end when its the marathon season, I should be able to run atleast a few of them like the 11 km one in November and the 17km one in December.

5. I have recently made good friends with a Bahraini girl in my office. She is pretty as a picture but apart from that, she is very special. She loves Hindi Movies. She has watched every Yash Chopra banner movie there is starting from Kuch Kuch Hota hai ( which was the first movie she had seen and by far her favourite movie) to the latest Anjana – Anjani or whichever is running in the cinemas these days. She watches them with English subtitles but follows Hindi quite nicely. We converse in Hindi for fun in office and she does a marvellous job at some difficult pronunciations as well. She is so familiar with our Hindu customs and festivals that sometimes I find it hard to believe she is a Bahraini. She is so moved by Bollywood that in her wedding this winter, she has a Bollywood themed ‘Sangeet” . How cool is that! She is also going to wear Ghaghara-choli ( traditional Indian blouse – skirt) for her Mehendi ceremony. She is such fun company to keep in office and I hope to learn more about the Bahraini culture from her.

6. Last but not the least, I have some great tasting, quick to put together Oats cookie recipe today from the latest issue of the BBC Good Food Magazine. I find myself trying more recipes from the BBC Good Food Magazine more than the other recipe books that I have.

But these cookies are literally child’s play and that is what prompted me make them in the middle of week after coming back from work.

Cherry + Apricots+ Oats

They were such a breeze to put together, and the original recipe did not add any cherries in it, but I did because… I felt like it 🙂

The cherries gave the blonde cookies a pop of colour and the apricots lent the gorgeous texture. Full of oat-y goodness, there isn’t anything that I can say that didn’t work in this cookies favour. I took them to office the following day and they were devoured before I could count 10.

Another reason why they were devoured so quickly was because, the recipe in the magazine was meant to give out only 6 cookies. So I doubled the recipe and managed 15 cookies out of it.  Usually when I take cookies or bakes to office, I ensure I have around 20 + individual pieces. 15 cookies stood no chance at all. I managed to save some for Mimi, who liked them equally. I am going to try them with the usual good stuff such as chocolate chips and more dried fruits.

Photos courtesy : Namit Bhatia

It has been a great few weeks so far. In a few days time,  this part of the world will fold itself into a prayer and fast non stop for 30 days. Life will slow down, offices will close early, super market racks would be empty sooner as people tend to buy more than they need when they are fasting and there will be an atmosphere of prayer and sanctity all around. It is a different kind of experience to be in a Muslim country during Ramadan, albeit a wonderful one because there will tents that come up in the evening with lavish spread of food for everybody who wants to sample it.  I hope to capture the essence of Ramadan in some posts of mine and at the same time try to experiment with some local dish that is typically eaten during Ramadan.

That is all for now!

Restaurant Review Project 22 – Vapiano

It was just the last weekend, when we were out and about in the city, we decided to hop into a new, snazzy looking restaurant in town called, Vapiano- quintessentially Italian, with its busy-ness, the cheer, colour, the drama and aroma of sizzling olive oil and basil in the air. There was no way, one wouldn’t stop and take a look at what’s the noise all about. The ambiance was the deal -sealer in our case.

chefs at work

Located at the City Center Mall, the inviting, homely decor is likely to attract many food lovers like us. To see that the modus operandi of this Italian  restaurant was unlike most others that we had been too, intrigued us further. The first thing that came to our notice was the head board which was  a chalk board with a sketch of Sophia Loren and one of her famous quotes that went,

Everything you see, I owe to Spaghetti

(I almost laughed out loud when I read that. She can’t be serious!!)

Right below the chalk board, we spotted a line of busy chefs in bright red aprons working their chef knives and skillets and dishing out delicious looking pasta.  We were completely enamored. On entering we were handed over a charge card each which we were to use when we ordered our meal. The place was jam packed which served as an indicator that the people of Bahrain were starved for a new place to try. We found a seat with great difficulty and sort of shared it with another family.

We then went over to the chefs to order our meal. The menu wasn’t exhaustive but still had enough options to hold anybody’s interest to try out something they hadn’t before. I was thrilled to bits to know that they had wholemeal pasta as an option.

The pasta rack

I ordered for a  whole meal spaghetti with pesto (basil pesto, olive oil and pine nuts)  and Insalata  Mista ( small) which was  a bowl of mixed lettuce cherry tomatoes and carrots, and small bottle of coco cola.

Whole meal spaghetti in pesto sauce

We were allowed to stand on the other side of the counter and had the previlege to see the chef prepare my dish. The ingredients looked fresh and everything seemed oh-so-posh. But the moment I had a forkful of pasta, I realized the pasta was totally under cooked to the point of being raw. It just tasted terrible and I am not exaggerating. Personally, I pride myself for developing tastes for any kind of food, however unpalatable, quite quickly. But this pasta was something else. Under cooked and the flavours all over the place; this was probably the worst pasta dish I had ever had. I didn’t go beyond a few forkful and left it untouched.

For the bowl of fresh salad was such a life -saver. The ingredients were fresh and having opted for a safer choice for salad dressing ( ceaser), I didn’t have to leave the restaurant completely starving.

The husband ordered a penne in pesto with some bruschetta ( toasted bread, tomatoes, garlic & olive oil) and a bottle of coco cola.

Penne in pesto

Unfazed by my pasta disaster, my hubby was quite optimistic about his. In all his excitement he sprinkled plenty of pepper and added flavored olive oil, and had a mouthful of pasta. His was as under cooked!! We were stumped! Was this the new way of cooking pasta?? I hope not, cause it tastes horrible. If this is what authentic Italian is all about then it is definitely not for us.

And our friend ordered, Fusilli in Pomodoro e Spinaci (Pasta in  Tomato sauce & Spinach) with a bottle of coco cola

Fusilli in tomato sauce & spinach
Bruschetta

The food looked so good, but tasted just the opposite.

Even my friend’s dish was equally ‘meh’.

But the bruschetta was a quite good.

We didn’t dare order for dessert and quickly paid our bill which came to around 17.8 BHD which was too much for a crappy meal like that.

Once again, I was reminded, that all that glitters is not always gold!

This would be my first and the last visit to Vapiano!

For the verdict:

Food = 1/5

Ambiance – 3/5

Service – 3/5

I would skip giving Vapiano an overall rating because it was such a horrible experience and hence I see no point in doing so.