Foodie Gifts For The Holiday Season| Gifts I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing Me This XMas

It’s XMas season! The festival is just around the corner, and there’s festivity in the air. There are Christmas trees and fairy lights and lanterns and snowmen everywhere. There is a nip in the air, and the pictures of gingerbread and hot chocolate and fruit cake make you want to eat something sinful, too. Letters are being written to Santa, wishlists are being made. Why should I not, as well? 🙂

Here’s my foodie wishlist for Santa – 10 foodie gifts that I absolutely wouldn’t mind Santa bringing me this XMas.

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The Sunshine Blogger Award And Meme

So, I was bestowed with the Sunshine Blogger Award by Reena a while ago. Thank you, Reena, for considering all that I ramble about here worth reading and commenting on!

The award came with a set of questions by Reena, which I will answer in this post. Here you go.

  1. Some funny or crazy incident you would like to share?

I’ll tell you about a crazy thing that happened at our place last Sunday.

The husband, bub and I were having a fun time, out of home, on Sunday evening, when we received a call from my dad. My parents and we stay in the same apartment, in different houses. So, dad told us that BESCOM cut off our electricity supply because we have dues to pay. Just like that, without any intimation to us of any sort. We were stunned, because we have NEVER, EVER missed paying an electricity bill on time! We rushed back home, nice mood all shattered, but the BESCOM guy had already left. The husband called him at the number he had left back, and was told we had to pay BESCOM 500-odd rupees as ASD (Advance Security Deposit), that it had been appearing in all electricity bills since April 2017. We had no clue about this because we pay our bills online, and this particular charge does not reflect while making online payment. And, no, this amount isn’t added to your electricity reading charges, so you can just pay the total amount – it is just mentioned as a footnote in your bill. So, how are we supposed to know?!

Fuming, we paid off the charges online immediately, and called the guy up again, only to be told that his duty timings were over and that he had left office. We asked if there was anyone else we could contact, but it was met in the negative. The electricity would be back by the next day, we were told, as soon as BESCOM could. We could do nothing but wait and fume some more. In the meanwhile, we had to shift all the perishables from our refrigerator to that in our parents’ house. The milk went too, by mistake, and my daughter spent a restless night without her nightly glass of milk – we didn’t want to wake up the parents late in the night and disturb them. Some time in the night, the refrigerator started leaking water, thanks to the being switched off for more than a few hours, and on Monday morning, we woke up to a flooded kitchen. Our UPS battery had drained off completely. Monday blues worsened like never before.

I cooked a simple breakfast and lunch on Monday morning, in partial darkness. I ensured I didn’t cook anything that necessitated grinding in the mixer. Much back and forth happened between my parents’ home and mine, to fetch ingredients from their fridge. Somehow, I packed the bub’s bag and sent her off to school. We held off bathing till the electricity would be restored (no hot water at our place!). All the water in our water filter got used up, and off we ran to the parents’ place again to fetch some more, at least for the bub. The husband worked on his laptop, using whatever little charge was available. I had some urgent work to finish off, and worked on my mobile, making my data charges shoot up sky high. Multiple phone calls to the said guy from BESCOM yielded the same answer – we will restore the power soon! Finally, after much more fuming, the power was restored by Monday evening, and we heaved a sigh of relief.

Phew! What a harrowing experience! For what fault of ours, I still don’t understand. What is the point of maintaining a good track record when it cannot be referred to, in a situation like this? Digital India, eh? If we had paid our electricity bills at the office (a la Dark Ages) this wouldn’t have happened, right?

2. Your 1st thought when you wake up in the morning?

‘God, I haven’t had enough sleep at all!’

Yes, this has become a regular thing with me for the past one year or so. I simply don’t get enough sleep due to a lot of reasons, and almost always wake up tired in the mornings. 😦

3. What stands 1st in your priority list?

My family and my dreams – both on an equal footing.

4. One thing you love about yourself?

Whatever I do, I try to give it my 100%.

5. What is  women’s freedom to you?

Being able to do what a woman wants to do, whenever she wants to, without being afraid or getting a talking-to.

6. Can you describe yourself in one word?

Human.

Thank you, Reena, for this meme. It feels good to be writing on this space again, after ages!

 

Nostalgia Overdrive!

I’m on a nostalgia overdrive since yesterday.

You ask why?

Well, I discovered this Facebook page called Jolly Food Fellow (brilliant name for a foodie website, BTW!) yesterday. This fellow is really jolly good, and a big-time foodie, who is bent on posting about all the gorgeous food that is available across the length and breadth of Ahmedabad.

How do I not get nostalgic on seeing a video about my very own Swastik Ragda Pattice or Old Pizza? How do I not miss the countless number of days I have gulped down these goodies, to much satisfaction? How do I not start craving for them all over again?

I was not much of a food blogger back when I used to stay in Ahmedabad, a fact that I deeply regret now. There was so much to gorge on, so much to write about, so much of interesting stuff, so much variety, and yet not back-breakingly expensive. Had I been then the food blogger that I am today, these favourite Ahmedabad eateries of mine would definitely have found pride of place on my blog.

I wasn’t much of an explorer then and, I realise now, that there are a whole lot of eateries and eat streets in Ahmedabad that I never bothered to check out, in spite of them being around for ages! Sad, right?

What’s more, the city has changed so much since I left it, in 2008. The food scene, lovely as it was then, has become all the more lovely. There are a whole lot more interesting eateries that, I am sure, I would have thoroughly loved, were I there.

The food, just the food, is enough of a draw for me to plan a visit to Ahmedabad right now. Sigh!

 

If We Were Having Coffee…

… I’d tell you of how Bubboo’s second birthday celebrations went off smoothly. She seemed to like the cake I had ordered (one with her favourite animals on it!). She also seemed to enjoy herself, given that there wasn’t much of a crowd around – we had invited only very close family. I can’t believe she has entered the third year of her life!

… I’d tell you of how tensed I am feeling about the fact that we still haven’t decided on a school for Bubboo. Everywhere around us, people have gotten admissions or are fighting tooth and nail for them, or their 1.8-year-olds are already going to school. I know we are doing the right thing by waiting it out, researching schools, and trying to get Bubboo into one where she will fit in, but still I can’t help worrying – that’s how I am. We are still not even decided on whether we’ll be going in for Montessori schooling or traditional. It feels like such a big decision – it’s the first few years of her life when her brain is rapidly developing, and I am freaking out at having to get it perfect, for her sake. Wish us luck and clarity, please, will you?

… I’d tell you of how much I’m enjoying experimenting in the kitchen these days. I mean, I always used to enjoy that but, lately, I am getting more and more creative in my experiments. I am using new techniques, new ingredients, daring to deviate from the way things are usually done in the kitchen. I love just how much I am learning in the process.

… I’d tell you of how I am facing a sort of reading slump these days – nothing, absolutely nothing, is making for interesting reading. The latest I picked up were two well-accepted books – The Matchmaker Of Perigord and A Man Called Ove – but could get into neither. I think the lack of interest could also be because of the fact that I have got a too-full plate as of now, my fingers into too many pies. Way too much is happening, at a very rapid pace, and most of it is leaving me stressed out and tired. I will wait for this phase to end, and hope to pick up a beautiful, beautiful book that will simply blow my mind away.

… I’d tell you of how much I loved attending some foodie events recently – the sampling at Route 42, the Diabetic Dessert Trail, and the Diabetes Masterclass. Each one of these events has been enlightening – in the sense that it has opened me up to a whole lot of possibilities, as far as food blogging is concerned. I have learnt a lot about the food blogging ecosystem in Bangalore, at least, and can’t wait to learn more.

… I’d tell you of how some big-time changes have happened at the OH’s workplace, and we aren’t sure of how things are going to turn out in the times to come. We surely have our fingers crossed. Things haven’t been very smooth for him, at work, lately, and we are wishing the recent shifts will change things for the better.

… I’d tell you of how I am feeling far, far, far away from the corporate professional I used to be, once upon a time. I don’t think I can ever get into that kind of role ever again, except if it is a really, really special firm. It is sort of sad to think about how, maybe, I might never work again, but something deep inside me has changed, and I can’t deny that. I hope I will find a middle path.

… I’d tell you of just how tough it is to try to be a food blogger and try to keep your health in check, too. The two seem to be mutually exclusive to me, at least as of now!

… I’d tell you of how we’ve been going almost cashless for a while now, thanks to the demonetization. Good move or bad, I don’t know, but the demonetization has surely taught me that anything can happen at any time, and that you have got to accept it. It won’t be long before we have got to go stand in a queue at a bank – we have escaped doing that so far, somehow.

… I’d tell you of how my heart goes out to a neighbour’s 16-year-old daughter, who recently met with an accident. The girl is a a sportswoman who has always dreamt of making it big. She has never been academically inclined, and studies on a sportsperson’s quota. She was returning home, walking, after her early-morning practice recently when a drunk car driver jumped the red signal, hit her and ran. Thanks to CCTV footage, the idiot driver (I don’t have any good words for him!) has been arrested, but the girl is now lost. She has had a near-death experience, a life-threatening surgery, a rod in her foot, and a big, big, big blow to her career as a sportsperson. Why on earth do people drink and drive? Fun for you maybe, but see how much it can impact the life of the people you might hit on the way! No fun for them. 😦

… I’d ask you of how you and your loved ones have been doing, too!

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For Weekend Coffee Share, an interesting meme here. Do check it out!

 

 

 

 

Your Ideas, Please!

Friends,

I am fast approaching the end of the (free) media upload limit for this blog, The Girl Next Door. This means I will soon not be able to upload any new photos/videos on this blog.

I am here to ask you for suggestions as to what you would like me to do in this case. I have the following ideas:

  1. Keep this blog going as long as there is free media space available (and till I use up the posts that I have saved as drafts), and then shift to a new domain entirely.
  2. Shift to my other blog The World Through My Eyes, after the media upload limit has ended and all the drafts have been used up.
  3. Apply for the purchase of extra media space for this blog.
  4. Continue writing non-photo posts on this blog, and do the photo posts on The World Through My Eyes.

What would you recommend me to do? Any of the above or something else altogether?

Do let me know! I’m all ears. Thanks!

 

Of A Liebster Award And A Meme

A while ago, this girl passed on the Liebster Award to me, which was a happy and humbling moment, as it always is. Thank you, dearie, for reading me so patiently!

The award comes with a set of questions that I should answer as best as I can. These questions, framed by Babushka herself, are lovely – they made me look within myself a whole lot, and I am happy about that.

Without further ado, here we go with my responses.

  1. What does writing mean to you?

Writing, to me, means speaking my mind. Considering that I am a hardcore introvert, I find it easier to express myself using the written word, as against the spoken word. Words flow much more easier for me when I write, rather than when I speak.

Writing, for me, is also a means of discovering myself. Often, I discover myself in the process of writing. While writing, I find out what I really and truly like and want.

Writing is also therapy, for me. It is uncluttering of the mind. It is the freeing up of mind space. It is unloading my burdens so as to feel lighter.

Writing is also connecting. It has helped me connect with like-minded people, and figure out that all human beings are ultimately that – human. It has helped me realise that I am not alone with my fears, doubts, joys and thoughts.

2. How do you break a writer’s block down?

By letting go and just writing. Whenever I feel blocked, I just let go and write my heart out. I don’t care, then, whether my writing is good or bad. I persist at this for a while, and when I am ready, I am out of the block.

I also think reading something evocative or listening to some music that will make you feel, helps. Clearing out your head via a long walk or long conversations with those you love help as well.

3. What is your idea of a good piece of writing?

Writing that is from the heart, which speaks to you of the author’s real state of mind, as opposed to formulaic writing.

Writing that provokes you to feel and think.

Writing that is evocative, which makes you imagine words and shapes and colours and places and smells in your mind.

It doesn’t necessarily have to have a beginning, middle and end.

4. What are some of the things you look out for when you travel?

Always, experiences that I will remember, which will go on to define our trip. It could be as simple as a conversation with the keeper of the home stay we are staying at, tasting a certain cuisine for the first-ever time, or trying out something that we have never done before. Travel, to me, is not just checking off places off a list – thankfully, both the husband and I don’t work that way. To us, travel is to see and feel a place as best as we can and, in the process, find ourselves, render ourselves transformed.

I also look for unwinding, relaxation, a break from the routine while travelling. I get enough stressed out in our day-to-day lives and, so, a holiday means de-stressing and an unfollowing of timetables – it is not a holiday if it is any other way.

5. What is/who is your favourite/best travel companion?

I haven’t travelled much without the husband – I really began travelling only after I met him, actually. Both of us think we make for perfect travel companions. Neither of us has enjoyed trips we have made without each other, with other travellers. We are just too different a sort of traveller.

6. When was the last time you were mesmerized, and by what?

By the charms of this little being, I think.

7. Describe happiness in a picture.

Tough question, because the definition of happiness keeps changing for me, every now and then. At the moment, happiness is a bowl of gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous Via Malaysia Ramen at The Fatty Bao. We visited the place a few months ago, and I was charmed by this dish. I’d be thrilled if I could get my hands on it some time soon (Husband of mine, are you listening? 😉 )

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8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would love to be less of an introvert, but then I’m working on it. Rome wasn’t built in a day!

9. If you could give one thing about yourself to someone, what would it be?

My ability to put my best into the things I do. I don’t do things by half-measures, which is both a boon as well as a curse. I can do very few things in a day that way, and that often frustrates people around me. But then, that is an essential part of who I am.

10. What is your go-to stress-buster?

Talking to the husband. Playing with the little one. Reading. Writing. Music. Cooking. Going out for a walk. Going out exploring the world around me. Lounging around the house and doing absolutely nothing. Gazing out from the balcony, uninterrupted. Being in the midst of nature without a timetable.

11. Where do you go to to find peace?

Home. Family. Inward. In the midst of nature.

Not necessarily in the same order.

Thank you so much for this, Babushka! I had a lovely, introspective time taking up this meme!

 

3 – 3- 1, A Time And Space Experiment

I will start out by explaining what 3 – 3 – 1 is. ‘3 – 3 – 1’ stands for ‘Three people, three places, one time’. It is a time and space experiment of sorts. It goes like this – three people living in three different places click a picture at the same time of the day, agreed upon beforehand. These pictures (along with a short introduction to them) would show just how different the lives of people can be, in spite of existing in the same world at the same time.

The idea of this experiment was born some time ago, when two bloggers known to me were discussing about a picture one of them posted. The two bloggers got fascinated by the idea that two people can be leading such completely different lives, at exactly the same time. Out of their discussion was born the idea of doing such an experiment. Both of them agreed to click a picture at the same time of day (one lives in Bangkok, Thailand, and the other in Lafayette, Indiana).

The first installment of this experiment was successfully posted here, a while ago. There were two people doing the experiment, so it was called 2 – 2- 1 (two people, two places, one time). Recently, a 3 – 3 – 1 was concluded here, the second installment of the experiment. And, now, here I am, with the third installment, a 3 – 3 – 1 this time around. The time agreed upon was last Saturday, 5.30 PM India time, and I am a contestant too.

I hope you enjoy reading all about it! Here you go. The time agreed upon

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The first photo is by Norm, who blogs at Classical Gasbag, and lives in Lafayette, Indiana, USA.

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I went downtown to take my picture for this edition of 3-3-1. From the time I left the house to the time I parked my car, the day turned from a bright sunny morning to an overcast morning. I hope that it isn’t a portent.

I had a wide variety of subject matter for the picture. I could have chosen a number of wall art subjects, or a sculpture on the courthouse square, or a busy farmer’s market a block away from this site. In fact, I was heading to the farmer’s market (the first of the year) when the clock in the courthouse tower started chiming 8 a.m. So I quickly took a picture of Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette. Commonly known in the U.S. as Lafayette. Lafayette, Indiana was named for him.

He was a French nobleman who came to the U.S. and became a Revolutionary War hero in our battle for independence from the British crown. He also was an important figure in the French Revolution. But I’ll let you Google him if you want more information.

I once attended a wedding that was held when the fountain was running. It was a small event. The happy groom was a probationer in the court system, his inamorata was a bubbly lass, and the ceremony was officiated by the judge who had originally sentenced the fellow. A good time was had by all.

The next photo is by the author of This Labyrinth I Roam, who lives in Bangkok, Thailand.

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Being in Bangkok, unfortunately, means getting caught in the inevitable clutches of an extremely fast-paced city life. No matter how much you say you will walk your own pace, you will end up being caught in the undertow. It’s for that reason that the concrete jungle sometimes rubs me the wrong way. I miss the chilled pace of life in Bangalore, and the giant trees under which unsuspecting chai-drinking aunties rest.
But then, there are moments, in this city, when you can open your window and watch the full glory of a passing sunset. Transforming from divine golden hues to rose gold in a matter of seconds, the whole process of settling down for the night seems otherworldly. I love those moments because they allow you a rare chance to catch your breath and actually watch time in motion – you can see the slow change, you can taste its inevitability, and you can feel how much a part of this planet you are, however insignificant. It is in these moments that you can finally look at the big picture outside of corporate stress and everyday human struggles and see that life, it’s good!
And then, there’s me with my picture!
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At 5.30 PM last Saturday, which was the time chosen for this experiment, I found myself in the bylanes surrounding the posh HSR Layout in Bangalore. The hustle and bustle of the evening hadn’t started yet, but the sky was getting cloudy and darkness had already started to settle in. I was walking around with my camera aimlessly, because I hadn’t planned on what I would click – I wanted this to be spontaneous. I spotted this chaat cart, and knew immediately that this was what I wanted to snap.
This cart is one of the many ‘Mumbai Chaat‘ outlets that have set up shop in Bangalore. They have a distinct style of making chaat, that is different from the usual South Indian-style chaats found in the city commonly. This particular guy was just getting read for the evening ahead when I passed by, laying out plates and chopping vegetables. Maybe he was anticipating a huge crowd later in the evening, considering it was a Saturday? I wonder how he fared that day.
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Did you like reading through this post? Do let me know in your comments!
If you’d like to be a part of the experiment the next time we do this, do feel free to get in touch.

Liebster Award

I’ve been nominated by Jennifertheprincesz for the Liebster Award. Thank you so much, Jennifertheprincesz! 🙂

The award comes with 11 questions, which I need to answer to the best of my abilities. Here we go!

1. What made you start blogging?How is blogging different than keeping a diary for you or is it the same?

It has been over seven years since I started blogging. I was new to the internet then, new to the idea of blogs, and new to writing out my thoughts and voicing them to the world. I am a late bloomer, yes. So, the world of the internet and blogging fascinated me, and I wanted to explore more of it. Also, I was experimenting with writing in different forms – I still am – and a blog sounded like the perfect platform for doing that. That’s how my blogging journey started. I no longer blog at the place where I started, though. For certain reasons, I gave up on that blog. Later, I started this blog, and it has been a faithful companion for the past few years.

How different is blogging from keeping a diary? For me, both are very different things. My personal diary would reflect the heart of me – the true me – while my blog reflects only the surface of the iceberg. I am so not comfortable with sharing anything and everything about my life on my blog – that is for certain ears (and eyes) only.

2. Do you have a pet? If yes, which one? And if not, why?

I would love to have a dog but, sadly, we don’t have any pet at the moment. The OH and I have always had busy schedules, so it didn’t seem fair to bring a dog home, though both of us would dearly love to. Here is a post I wrote about the very same thing, a couple of years ago.

Things have changed now. I don’t have a full-time job any more. In spite of that, we are not ready to get a pet. Yet. So, that will have to wait for a better time in future, I guess.

3. Which city do you think is the best to settle down in India? And why?

I have lived only in two cities long-term so far – Ahmedabad and Bangalore. I love both, for different reasons. Ahmedabad appeals to me for its small-town feel, the vibrancy of life, the food, the culture, the (comparitively) lower cost of living, and the ease of commuting. Bangalore occupies a place in my heart for its beautiful, beautiful weather, the cosmopolitan culture, the thousands of things I can do here, the wonderful employment opportunities, and the things that I can learn here.

In the long run, I think living in a smaller city like Ahmedabad is great, in the later part of life when most experiences have been had. It is much easier on the nerves.

4. What is the one thing that you ordered in a restaurant and it turned out to be totally yuck and expensive?

A green pesto pasta in an Italian restaurant. I ordered it out of curiosity, and it scarred me for life.

5. If you see your enemy (or simply somebody you dislike) in a helpless situation, will you go forward and help them? Or leave them and enjoy mercilessly?

I would go ahead and help, if the other person is willing to receive it. I am not the kind of person who would stand back and ‘enjoy mercilessly’, in such a situation. Fool? Maybe, yes, but that’s who I am.

6. Have you ever been caught by your parents doing something totally inappropriate for your age?

No. I have always been a role model of a child and adolescent. I am not sure my parents still think the same of me. 🙂

7. What is that one thing that you criticize publicly, but do the same in private?

Usually, I don’t do that. First off, I am not a big public voicer of complaints or a criticizer, considering that I am a big-time introvert. Secondly, if I don’t like something, I say so. I try my best not to do it just for the sake of doing it, and then stew inside.

8. Do you like water sports? Which one?

Nah. I am not at all a sports person, water ones included. The closest I have come to water sports is walking in the rain, and I love doing that.

9. Have you ever thought (or actually did ) of harming somebody very badly in order to get back at them? How?

No. That, again, is so not me. The worst I would do in such a situation is shout at the other person in my head, and leave the rest to life to take care of.

10. Do you fart and behave like the other person is guilty of the crime?

No.

11. Have you ever been caught by the police ( or worst locked up)? For what reason?
No.

Jennifer, it was fun answering these questions! 🙂

I am not tagging anyone in particular for the award, since most of the bloggers I read have received it already. If you want to take up the tag on your blog, please do feel free to do so!

Tagged!

So, I was nominated by Sangi for the ‘Very Inspiring Blogger’ Award, and tagged for a meme. Thank you so much, Sangi! 🙂

The rules for the nominees are:

  • Thank and link to the amazing person who nominated you.
  • List the rules and display the award.
  • Share seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
  • Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

Here we go, with the seven facts about myself…

1. I am presently reading a book called Life According To Lubka by Laurie Graham, one that I discovered at a used books store. It sounded interesting, and I picked it up without ever having heard of the book or the author before. I am more than halfway done with the book, and quite enjoying it.

2. I am eagerly looking forward to the OH’s being at home tomorrow. He has a leave tomorrow for Eid.

3. I picked up some fresh, fresh, fresh vegetables from the Malleshwaram market yesterday. Eagerly looking forward to cook them.

4. We had dinner at Halli Mane over the weekend – a meal. It was not a traditional Kannadiga meal as we had expected, but a North Indian one. The food was lovely, though!

5. I had ordered a late gift for the OH’s birthday, online, about 15 days ago – my first real brush with online shopping. One delay happened after another, and there was a pathetic response from the website concerned. Me being me, I told the OH yesterday that I had ordered something for him, but was ultra frustrated with the website. Thankfully, my big mouth didn’t tell him what I had ordered, so that is still a surprise. 🙂 Today, the gift finally arrived. Phew! I am so looking forward to the OH’s returning from work today, to see the expressions on his face as he unwraps his gift.

6. The OH somehow got my Whatsapp up and running, after it not working for a couple of months. I have been rediscovering Whatsapp, and having fun with it, snapping pictures on a whim and sharing them with like-minded friends.

7. The security guy in the apartment next to ours is a Tamilian, and he loves chatting with our family whenever we get out of home. He calls the OH and his two younger brothers Periyavar, Nallavar and Vallavar respectively, which is quite an accurate representation of the brothers, I must say. He calls me, my MIL, my SIL and my mother Amma, my dad Aiyyah, and my SIL’s children Chinna Aiyyah and Periya Aiyyah (they are in Std. 6 and Std. 8!). This little one is referred to as Amma, too. I have super fun listening to him, and the way he describes the things happening in our neighbourhood. I think I can do one entire post on him!

As for the nominations, most of the bloggers I know have already taken up this meme, so I’m not nominating anyone here. Moreover, there are only a handful of blogs I read these days.

And, as for the award logo, I already have it up in this post.

Thanks for reading, guys!