A reflection on 2016

A reflection on 2016
All good memories – dreams came true in a blossoming way, discovering inner strengths and talents, taking paths those I even didn’t know they exist, all positive vibes.

pongal-2016Just to showcase my hidden talents – Pongal 2016 at Ramana’s place – I have practiced birds muggu as we planned to have muggulu on that day, but after I had that one, got so much inspired and checked for radham muggu on iPad and just put it on the spot, felt very much blessed.

It all startnagarjunaed with a memorable India trip in Feb/March – I met Nagarjuna (on 5th March) which I never ever dreamt of. Praveen has been asking me and I was asking praveen too about meeting him. But some how in my earlier trips, when ever Praveen asked me and he was shocked  when I was telling him that I was not ready to meet him yet. I truly admire him for many of his qualities and a day in my life wouldn’t pass on without me remembering him atleast once. But i really do not know what I should talk when I had lot to talk and for sure I did not want to meet him for just a photo op. I want him to know atleast a little bit of who I am when I know (I think) so much about him. So I have been postponing this for almost 5 years I think. This imagetime I have mentally prepared to meet him (even though i was not sure what I would talk to him 🙂 ) and I have decided to make a scrap book with some pictures starting from his parents’ pics to his kids’ pics and those all in between – from his real and reel candid shots. I had tons and
tons of his pics on my iphone and iPad – wherever i see a pic I like, I SAVE it. It took me a few days to select the pics from my humongous collection and got them printed. I have ordered scrapbook stuff from amazon.in and took some from here too and bought some stuff at Waldens. I also added some of the articles from my blog. I guess I need a separate blog article for this whole episode as I want to write every little thing related to this event. I got an apt prescription from him.

End of April – we had a baby shower for Prashanthi at my place – the first event that has brought out my hidden talents – I, Prashanthi and Chaitanya unknowingly each other’s ideas thought of Peacock theme for the baby shower. I had to thank Lakshmi Gonji immensely for bringing her artistic mind into this to make this venue a perfect Peacock land. One day, few weeks before the party ,  Lakshmi and I were talking on phone about this theme and in the next 15 min, she has sent me photo of a bird she made with paper (of course that one looked like a turkey, that is a different story) and then we  shopped for some nice paper in peacock colors.prashanthis-baby-shower

We made some banners and the day before the event Lakshmi with the help of Prithi and Babloo made some more peacocks. I was able to buy the gift bags designed with peacocks for return gifts. I found those online a week before after an intense search on the web and we were able to get those just on the day of the event. I even printed the labels with a thank you note with peacocks on it. With out any idea of this theme nor any planning, the sari I got for Prashanthi (my sister’s gift to her) is peacock colored shades one. I have ordered some sweets from Vellanki in Hyderabad and they have sent ladoos in hard boxes so that they won’t break into pieces have big peacock on each of the boxes. Of course, nevertheless to say that the flowers, eucalyptus stems  we used for decoration, the cake and the cup cakes everything is peacock themed.prashanthis-baby-shower1

When Prashanthi and Chaitanya walked into the party room around 4 pm while we were still decorating it were so amused (Prashanthi even complimented that she was feeling like walking into a Peacock land with eucalyptus and fresh flowers aroma is spreading the whole area). Chaitanya felt like he should hire an official photographer to make and preserve the event even memorable. But he could not find any in a short notice and Lakshmi gladly took that responsibility.

Wittheteamh the confidence that we have gained from Prashanthi’s baby shower, we (I, Prashanthi, Lakshmi, Babloo) have established our ‘theTeam – an event management group‘ and initiated this on Guru Pournami day with Baba’s blessings at Flushing Temple

Then came Tanvi’s langa voni event.

tanvi-langa-voniI have asked Sekhar whether we could decorate the party hall (for Tanvi’s langa voni ceremony) and it was confirmed 5 days before the event – the event was Saturday lunch and we were given a green signal on Monday morning I guess. We plunged into the opportunity and had conference calls everyday and with whats app group, Lakshmi, Prashanthi and I came up with ideas and ordering stuff from amazon with prime. We were asked for center pieces on tables – Prashanthi came up with the idea of small dolls garned with langa vonis and lakshmi got the idea of making lotus flowers with paper so that we could keep the dolls on the lotus flower and we could use them as centerpieces on the tables. We have ordered barbie dolls and we used old pattu blouses to make vonis for them and decorated them with some jewelry and bindi etc. We bought a stand for the photo backdrop and some sarees were used as drapes and I made garlands with fresh flowers (carnation and mums in pink, yellow as the color theme for the event was pink and mustard).

Then Vinayaka Chavithi
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Some how few days before vinayaka chavithi – I had some images in front of my eyes – to arrange flowers in circles and keep Vinayakudu in the center. I had another vision to celebrate Vinayaka Pooja in an open farm amidst nice plants – may be Vinayaka would bring this dream materialize soon as I have a passion for farming and am looking for the options to start something in those lines.

I usually keep some books when I do Pooja on chavithi, and since I am not studying anything new by attending schools, I have just picked up a book from husband’s humongous collection of books. That is another story for my blog (my husband’s voracious passion for books, and music ) and I realized later that the title of the book I picked was Now, discover your inner strengths, so surprised and happy that Vinayaka’s blessings are with me always.
Then Rachana’s sweet sixteen

rachana-sweet16for this event Prashanthi and I have worked with Ramana (Rachana’s mom) to make the decor as beautiful as we could think (dream) of. For this event we had ample time, almost close to a month. The color theme for the event is Aqua Blue – Rachana’s dress color. We have completely taken ownership and used our creative abilities to bring beauty to – Welcome Table, Photo Booth, Sweets Stall, Guest Book, Papers Used for Guest Book, Printing Rachana’s 17 photos (16 birthday pictues + the one on the day she was born). For all the banners we made – Rachana’s Sweet 16, Guest Book, Sweets Stall, Photo Booth – we tried to stick to the theme colors – shades of Blue and white. These banners literally takes several hours to make those big circles with floral arches and the letters – thanks to Martha Stewart Arts and Crafts tools.

#Photo Booth – This one was an instantaneous hit. 1. Hand-made paper flowers – one big blue, two medium sized blue and 4 small white flowers 2. A backdrop for Photobooth 3. Hand-made floral props (became very popular) 4. Sweet Sixteen props designed and printed 5. Small slate.

#Guest Book 1. Hand-made banner ‘Guest Book’ glued to a Blue tulle and put it nicely in a photo frame 2. Printed various pictures of Rachana as watermarks on various colored papers so that guests can write their wishes and those papers would be nicely bound for her to keep it as a beautiful memorabilia.

#Sweets Stall 1. Hand-made banner – Sweets Stall 2. Cup cakes, Cake pops and Cake cones baked by Prashanthi and those are nicely wrapped in fancy decorative paper. We have placed a cherry Blossom tree on the table to bring elegance to the Sweets table.

Printed ‘Thank You’ labels to be affixed to the return gifts. Designed the labels with the birthday girl’s attire, shoes etc with a nice message.

Printed 16 birthday pics of Rachana with an extra one that has been taken on the day she was born which goes on to the 16 Candles table and the rest are nicely positioned on the walls of the party hallrachana-sweet161

Diwali – Worked with some mason jars – nicely wrapped with jute ribbons placing LED light strings inside. Also made paper lanterns with a string of LED lightsdiwali-2016

My office Christmas party –  Everything is hand made except for the raw materials. The decor completely reflects the holiday spirit. Made food place card holders with glass candy canes; Printed some food (our menu) labels with all Christmas based images;

oppba-christmas-party-2016decorated Mason jars which reflect the holiday spirit – lights, snow, pine cones, leaves and the red fruits; Made #GrinchFruitKabobs, Bombay Halwa (an Indian sweet) with Christmas colors; Made a beautiful garland with 100 multi colored lights string by knotting different colored ribbons (red, green, blue, silver, gold, white and jute). Made cotton ball garlands for bringing the snow effect; Made photo props; and finally the backdrop for Photo booth. Used meshed ribbon (close to 2 ft wide), with cotton ball garlands and the lights floral garland as the border with some Christmas decorations. Of course I was there with Canon DSLR and became the official photographer of the event and won the appreciation from many including the admiration and recognition from Ms. Bettina Tucci Bartsiotas (Assistant Secretary-General, Controller Department of Management)

New York Cares giving gifts to kids project – with the help of family, friends and colleagues was able to answer 105 kids’ wishes. New York Cares – Give Holiday Gifts 2016

My floral Christmas Tree – read about my passion for having a Christmas Tree at home christmas-tree-week-2

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On my birthday – I have been seriously thinking of celebrating my birth in a different way from next year onwards (regretted for not doing anything constructive this year) _ iad a a beautiful experience at the place I go to volunteer two days of a week – teach Math and English to students (adults) who are preparing for college entrance exams.

birthday2016“The place where I go to teach (through New York Cares) is 1199 medical insurance company
. They had a tutor appreciation day dinner a week before my birthday and I could not attend that one. Today when I was working
with my two students, the coordinator asked me to see her supervisor after the class as she had some gifts for all the tutors (I went to the class yesterday but she did not say anything) I wasbirthdat-gift-2 with the students and her supervisor came to me and handed over this to me in a small gift bag, I thought there were some cookies, I came home and opened it and to my surprise I found a data bank and on that engraved Rabindranath Tagore’s quote, very emotional moment to me, a perfect birthday gift from Baba, my parents and my beloved husband, I was in tears 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻”

Taking all these beautiful memories and with the confidence and strength they have provided, and with Baba’s protection, guidance and grace and the love and support from my dear parents and my beloved husband, walking into 2017 to unveil more talents and to blossom into a better human being 

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Everlasting kindness

card stockThis is something that happened during Christmas 2015. As part of my New York Cares Winter Wish Program, with the help of family, friends and colleagues, we as a group answer letters from kids, teenagers and senior citizens for almost 8 years. This time one lady asked for either a fruit basket or food basket. Somehow I felt like making one by myself for few reasons – it seems little expensive online; not exactly sure of what fruits or food items be included in the basket; and also I want to do it (my #DIY project). I have included many different fruits, chocolates, spaghetti, sauce etc, spent around $40 to $45 but I was so happy that I could add whatever I felt like adding. I could have actually made atleast two baskets with the stuff I had put in one. And then taking this humongous basket to the center is another major task but as I always trust and have faith in Baba’s helping hand, He came to my rescue and I made it through successfully. Somehow I felt like having a pat on my back or a warm hug from my husband to appreciate my efforts by going through so many hurdles in achieving this goal. I know he must be very proud of me but I want something physical which I could felt. and then He did react, never ever failed to show his support to me. Actually I had to handover two gift cards to two other ladies and I bough the cards. So I was looking for greeting cards to keep these gift cards inside rather than keeping these cards in blank envelopes. My husband used to send New Year cards to all his friends, family members and acquaintances (in US and in India too) for almost thirty years. and I stopped it after he passed away. We used to buy boxes of cards every year. I have some left overs from many years and luckily I haven’t thrown these while I did a massive clean up during my apartment renovation last year. So I opened one box which has few cards and I opened one card and that one has my husband’s scard1ignature. This is the only card amongest 10 different cards I had in that box that has his signature.

I was so emotional as he was talking to me and wishing me all the joy, peace and love. Thank you very much Bangaru and thank  you very much Baba for your everlasting kindness and love

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Fruit basket

imageAs part of my New York Cares Winter Wish program, for the past couple of years, I have been answering 25 letters from senior citizens. Most of them most of the times ask for bed sheet sets or comforters which I buy from Macys and directly ship them to the center. This year, one lady who is 69 years old asked for food basket or fruit basket. I decided to make a fruit basket and hand it over to the center in person. They are having a party tomorrow and I was asked to bring it tomorrow. I have been making Easter baskets to our dear Arya for a few years and I used to make Diwali sweet gift hampers to my friends and family and colleagues. But I never made a fruit basket. So I watched a video on youtube last week and I got confidence and I bought few baskets and ordered the cellphone bags from Amazon.com.

Today I bought fruits – green Apples, red Apples, Oranges, Bananas, Pears (three different types),  Plums, Peaches, Watermelon, Cherries, Grape fruit, Kiwis, Persommon, Strawberries and also I have added some spaghetti, Chipotle salsa, Lingt chocolates, Italian baguette, Italian Panettone cake and some hot cocoa packets.

 

I dropped the empty basket in to the cellophane bag and I used my shredder to cut the paper to fill the base of the basket and I used bamboo skewers to attach to the back of the chocolate to make it stand in the basket.

and then I filed up the basket with all the stuff. Naaku konchem asa lavu peeka sannam – hehehe. I bought so much stuff for the basket, so the basket has become very bulky, I could have made two baskets with the stuff I have. I am very much worried how I could carry this one to the center (which is located in Bronx) tomorrow in the subway. Just praying to Baba to make my journey painless and smooth. He would’t let me down at any circumstance and especially when I am doing with all good will.

I am very happy to make the basket and feeling little emotional too. I need someone to pat my back for what ever I am accomplishing. Thanks for experiencing God in everything I do. and thank you very much for every opportunity in life … Counting on innumerable blessings ….

 

Blessings from Heaven

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Today my student with whom I have been working for the past 3 to 4 months has passed her ACT Compass Exam (math and essay writing) which allows her to take college level courses. She is a high school drop out and after many years she wanted to go back to college and has been working on this exam for quite some time. I met her few months ago at the center where I do voluteer work on two week nights. She is working at a doctor’s office and wants to pursue her career in nursing.
She is on ‪#‎Cloud9‬ and where would I be, ofcourse with her only 😀💃

Thanks for every blessing coming my way – thanks to Baba, thanks to my parents and thanks to my dearest husband, each and everyone of them are holding my hands and leading me on the right path – truly believe in Manava Sevae Madhava Seva,

She has been trying to pass this exam for some time and she was very much devastated with some personal happenings in the past year. When I spoke to her on phone, she said that she was so lucky to meet me and moments like these make me cry. I am having some impact on some people’s lives as their lives stood as strong examples for many basic principles in life to me. The feeling is mutual.

feeling very emotional, I want to share this happiness, this madness with some onemanasuna manasai brathukuna brathukai thodakurundina adae bhagyamu adae swargamAnyways accept the life as is ….
#‎CountingOnInnumerableBlessings‬ what a way to end the year !

 

 

Meelo evaru Koteeswarudu

Yesterday I staimagerted a tweet for Nagarjuna about #MEK program – since he has excelled as a small screen TV Host, I would like to suggest to him to have an episode with popular telugu TV anchors – of course I have mainly Suma and Jhansi in my mind. But for some reason, before I framed my tweet, I got distracted and did not send the tweet. But whatever I have been thinking for the last few days has been already materialized, today I saw the promo of #MEK with Suma and Jhansi in the hot seats and it is going to be broaimagedcasted on this Sunday (MAA TV has added an additional day too – Sunday) 🙂

I guess Sundays would be shows with celebrities ! manasulo edi anukuntae adi materialize aipothuntae, I am on #Cloud9. Of course thanks to Baba. Edo cinemalo dialogue gurthu vasthundi (i guess it is from SUthradharulu) – Manishi sankalpam Chesthadu devudu daniki pranam posthadu …మనిషి సంకల్పం చేస్తాడు దేవుడు దానికి ప్రాణం పోస్తాడు ! Man (woman) initiates the thought and God gives Life to it !

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కోరి కనిపించవా, లేక కోరికని పెంచావ – 2

I went to bed earlimagey yesterday as I was not feeling that great and suddenly woke up around 11:30 and thinking of posting Bapu SeethaRamulu for SriRamanavami wishes, and I was looking on Prashanthi’s Timeline on Facebook for a pic I gave them on their wedding anniversary, which I could not find. Then I checked back in my Bapu’s collection (the posters I bought at NATA convention few years ago) for some wedding ceremony pictures, I do not even remember that I had bought Seetha Ramula pic. And I found this. My joy knew no bounds. Ekanga Bhadrachala Ramuluvarae Sakshathakarinchaganae, felt little emotional.

Forimage the past few months, whatever comes into my mind is materializing very divinely ! Thanks Baba for being with me and holding my hand all the time.

I have few more experiences to pen down in this series – kori kanipinchava leka korikani penchava

 

Devi Navarathrulu – Day 1

Do not think I am trying to write anything on the spiritual side.

శరన్నవరాత్రులు – నైవేద్యాలు by Brahmasri Chaganti Koteswara RAO

పరాశక్తిని నవరాత్రులు ఆరాధి౦చడ౦ అత్య౦త శుభప్రద౦. ఈనవరాత్రులూ జగద౦బను ఆరాధి౦చే వారికి సర్వమ౦గళములూ స౦ప్రాప్తిస్తాయి. వారి వారి విధానాలను అనుసరి౦చి జగద౦బను ఆరాధి౦చాలి. ఈ రోజులలో అమ్మవారికి ప్రత్యేక నైవేద్యాలు కూడా పెట్టడ౦ జరుగుతో౦ది.

అ౦తేకాక నరాత్రులలో దేవీభాగవత పఠన౦ మిక్కిలి ఫలదాయక౦. కుదరని వారు దేవీభాగవత౦లోని దేవీగీతలు అయినా చదివి అమ్మవారి కృపకు పాత్రులు అవుదాము.

So I started with the food …

మొదటి రోజు – పాడ్యమి – కట్టుపొంగలి

(There is a list with the item for each day. I have decided to go with this Naivedyalu list, I happened to see this from Padma V Putta (on Facebook) shared post last night when I was about to sleep and decided to follow this). How I made this Pongal today is a miracle, not preparation wise, but having the ingredients at home, the main one rice itself. Recently I am using brown Basmati rice and not having white rice at home. I had to go to grocery store to buy it and I do not have one close to home. I came from exercise class around 10:30 am and I was supposed to go to a family friend’s place for lunch. So I did not have any option, and I had to wait until evening to prepare this dish which I was not completely happy with as I wanted to offer naivedyam to Ammavaru in the mornIMG_5350ing itself. Then I suddenly remembered that I have kept some rice in a ziplock bag just before consuming the white basmati rice last month. It was a real miracle that  I opened the cupboard in the kitchen and that was the first thing I laid my hands on without my knowledge that the ziplock bag was there behind another item in that cupboard. I strongly felt that Ammavaru wanted this list of naivedyams from me during this Navarathri period.

kattae pongaliSomehow immediately I remembered this following dialogue from a movie (Soothradharulu, I guess), “manishi sankalpum chesthadu devudu daniki ayuvu posthadu” – మనిషి సంకల్పం చేస్తాడు  దేవుడు దానికి ఆయువు పోస్తాడు .

I experience god in everything I do, everything happens to me – good or bad, in all mundane matters, I get all the strength from HIM only. I do not do any special poojas, just deeparadhana every day morning, before I even take my tea in the morning – same routine weekday or weekend. I link anything and everything to HIM. So that is the reason I even relate my preparation of Pongal today is His wish and His will.