Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cranberries & Baking

I finally got my baking mojo back!!!!

It had gone into hiding for wayyyyy too long. In my last post I wrote about my 30 things to do this year, getting back to baking was one of them. I've spent most of the month of May being ill, and by the weekend I had just about had my fill of sitting in bed.

Truly, NOTHING felt better than getting into the kitchen and pulling out the ingredients, baking pans and my new ipad to look up recipes.

Saturday was a grey day with bits of rain, and in the evening just as we were about to make our cup of chai, the thought of warm vanilla cake overtook me. Nothing feels more comforting than a slice of simple, freshly baked vanilla sponge cake - Vanilla Cake it was.  I found this amazing & easy recipe which I highly recommend, especially given the outcome - Check it out here. 

With all this baking suddenly happening, on Sunday, I got a tad bit ambitious. I wanted to bake macaroons. So I got my almonds, soaked them and was all set to make almond meal at home. Just as I started, I realised my mixer was not going to give me almond meal and I had something that looked more like almond bits (and lots of it!) So quick search on the trusty net for cookies with almonds and tada, some delicious recipes popped up. I settled on a Oatmeal Almond Choco Chip Cookie recipe. Mouth watering yet?  Yes, of course I'll share the recipe - here you go.

So why Cranberries you ask? Well I had them so I added them .... besides who doesn't love cranberries!

PS: You can follow this board or repin the recipes from here
Follow Helen's board Baking is Good for the soul on Pinterest.

Friday, May 2, 2014

30 things to do at 30!

Yup it's the year I turn the BIG 3 - 0 and honestly I couldn't  be happier.

This year got me thinking about all the things I want to accomplish and work towards. Some are ones I've been pushing out over the years, others just dreams and wishes, and some others just goals I want to meet. I've been building this list in my head and thought it time to write it down.

Maybe at the end of this 30th year of my life  I get to reflect on it and maybe make this goal setting a yearly thing ;)

  1. Travel LOTS
  2.  Get a bicycle & Bike (Check)
  3.  Learn to Dive
  4. Get Fitter & Be strong (would love some real muscles and an enviable core)
  5.  Buy a Home
  6.  Send a yearly newsletter to friends
  7.  Have more sit down dinners with friends
  8. Cook &Bake more .. esp macaroons!
  9. Do more DIY Projects
  10.  Blog frequently
  11. Take the doggie on beach vacations and walks in the park
  12.  Having a garden & plants AND keeping them alive & maybe even have a herb garden
  13.  To make more 'US' time with the Husband
  14. Go back to theater in some form (Check, but want to do more)
  15. Find a way to work with Kids.
  16. Spend more time with Family
  17. Focus on the kind of business I want to build and to build it !
  18. Make sure a Goa trip happens a minimum of twice a year
  19. Keep in touch with friends on a more one to one basis
  20. De-clutter - live with the things we really need.
  21. Hike - long hikes, short hikes, any hikes
  22. Spend time with my camera and take more pictures (not the phone kind)
  23. Run workshops around social media & build out the social media community
  24. To challenge myself and not be complacent with life
  25. To be able to say NO
  26. Taste many many wines from across the world
  27. Spend time with the girlfriends and have more girls nights.
  28. Spend more time in the outdoors  - biking, hiking, picnics , simple walks
  29. Make time for the things I WANT to do and not to use the word 'busy' as an excuse
  30. To live my 30's with more passion & youth than I did my 20's

So that's it - there's my list ... I think it's going to be a fun year ! 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

5 steps for a sustainable social strategy

I’ve been keenly following Kellogg’s Special K in India and more so their Facebook page. Why? Because I thought their social strategy was really amazing. They had hit the spot in terms of understanding the pain point for most Indian women - weight management, AND had devised a strategy to be that friend to the Indian woman with custom meal plans, tips and just really being that online friend. They clearly spent lots in the offline world too - billboards, print ads the whole shabang (let’s not forget spending on Facebook as well) 
Their Facebook page specifically had thought through messaging, images and what was even more amazing was the engagement they were creating around it.
Today their ad popped up in my news feed and I clicked to see what they were up to. Surprise surprise - their last post was the 4th of august!! After all that hard work of creating an engaged community there was no plan or strategy to take this forward. They are still replying to posts on their page but are not producing any new content. They have directed traffic to their website but that’s no reason to stop your social conversations. All this left me with one thought.This was a campaign - the campaign had a goal, budget and a timeline and social media was thrown in with the campaign Or did they simply run out of content? (There is always the chance I could be wrong of course..)  And here in lies the importance of a content plan and planning out your social strategy.
So as a brand tiny, small, medium, big - whenever you choose to venture into social media and create a page or account for your brand here are 5 steps to help ensure the longevity of your brand on social media and ensures you don’t come to a grinding halt because of lack of content or a longer social strategy. 
1. Define your target audience
Put down on paper who the people you want to target are. Create an ideal profile for them - age, gender, country or city, competitive brands they might be interested in or larger interests that are connected to your product. 
2. List what you aim to achieve via the platform 
While social media is largely used for engagement a lot of brands have driven sales through these platforms. Some use it solely to manage customer support. Whatever it is, define what you want to achieve. 
3. Define your tone of voice
Define the tone of voice you want to take - are you going to be funny, or serious, irreverent or a bit of everything. It’s important to think about it and define it as this gives you clarity in the kind of content you share. 
4. Create Content Categories
Think of all the content you want to share on your page and put them into broad buckets - product, offline activities, broader interests related to your brand. When you are going into the details in your content plan this will help give you consistency. Eg- Home Decor brand would also look at - ideas of home decor from around the world, or DIY projects for the home, seasons latest trends etc. 
5. Create a Content Plan
This is one of the most important parts of your social media strategy. I use a simple excel sheet and put down a day & date calendar. Google has a ready to use social media calendar . Start by broadly defining what you will talk about each week. Once you have that plan set, work on each post. This helps you plan images you might need for a post, or ensuring supporting content you are creating is ready in time - like a blog. This also gives you a view of what you’re doing on each platform and helps maintain consistency in language, tone of voice and messaging. 
Deploying these 5 simple tips will help you ensure you have a long term social media strategy. It will also ensure you don’t run out of content and will help you prepare in advance to create content you will need. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

3 Tips To Create Effective Status Updates

When it comes to Facebook Status updates a question I’ve always been asked by brands is ‘How can I get more likes & comments on my status update’ . While there is no set formula on what makes a status update engaging there are a few thumb rules that help in making them more  appealing to the general Facebook audience. 
1. Use a picture
The old saying ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ has never held truer than today. With audiences having lesser attention spans a picture grabs your fans attention almost instantly. Once you’ve piqued their interest with the picture they then proceed to actually read what you have said. It’s is this point that then leads them to interacting with the brand via a like or even better a comment. If you have video content - it ranks even higher. 
2. ”Quote” the article
When sharing interesting articles & blog posts try and pick out the most interesting line in the article or post and quote it in your status update. This again grabs your fans attention and makes them want to read the article you have posted. The quote gives them that little extra push to click the link & interact with you. Don’t be shy to have an opinion on the articles you post 
3. Short & Sweet = Effective
Remember this is a status update and not your blogpost. Keep your communication to your fans short & precise. Don’t use overly complicated language. Adding a call to action (click here, read this, tell us your thoughts) opens up ways for them to react and interact with your content.

With the decreasing attention span fans have and the increasing amount of content being generated and shared it’s important to find ways for the content you share to stand out & grab their attention.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

30 Minute Meals: Indian Salmon with Dill & Lime / With a side of Grilled Asparagus

Yes I am completely inspired by Jamie Oliver's 30 minute meals. But to be honest those are a bit more like 1.5 hour meals and require ingredients I most often don't have on demand in my kitchen. So I came up with my own :) 

When I needed to turn all health conscious a year and a half ago - apart from the gym, our food was something that was directly impacted. The hunt for quick, delicious, healthy meals started. Every diet I had been on before demanded me to make huge sacrifices when it came to tasty food. This is when I realised if I needed this time to be different and sustainable, I needed to create a food plan that was  a fundamental life change. More importantly one that both me and the husband could enjoy & didn't spell SACRIFICE. 

This is the part where Norway comes into the picture. They are fundamentally a health conscious lot and with the help of friends I slowly started seeing and learning how simple meals could be healthy and tasty all at the same time. 

Moving back to India meant re-adjusting to all the available ingredients around you. It's taken us a while to go back to our healthy ways (and stop the always easy home delivery) but now that were there - I'm going to share some recipes with you. Or at least till we decide to move again and I have to re-discover & figure it all out ;) 

I dedicate this recipe to my Salmon eating Norwegian friends who taught me so well. 

Indian Salmon with Dill & Lime
Grilled Asparsgus

Indian Salmon with Dill & Lime / with a side of Grilled Asparagus 

Serves: 2      Time: Under 30 Minutes       Heat Oven to: 210 Deg C

  • 600 grams Indian Salmon Fillets (Approx ₹500 kg. Ask you fish man to fillet it for you)
  • 2 Handfuls Fresh Dill Finely Chopped 
  • Drizzle of Olive Oil
  • Juice of 2 Limes 
  • Sea Salt to Taste (I use the regular unrefined salt)
  • Pepper to Taste 
  • Chill flakes to taste 
  • Oregano to taste 
  • 100 grams Asparagus (available at foodhall, namdaris, nature's basket)
  • Butter as per preference
  • Sea Salt to taste 
  • Pepper to taste 
  • Wash Salmon and lay it in foil on your baking tray 
  • Garnish with chopped dill, salt, pepper, chilli flakes & oregano
  • Squeeze lime over the fish & drizzle with olive oil
  • In a smaller dish put your asparagus also on foil
  • Garnish with salt, pepper & butter (we love the asparagus a bit salty)
You're all set now - just pop both these dishes in the oven for 20 minutes or till you have the consistency you like and then dinner is served :) 

And I promise this really does take 30 minutes.....

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rebooting Country: Norway to India

Talk about being MIA. Seems like my last post was AGES ago. I'm just going to blame it on moving countries.

The hubby and I decided we were going to move back to India by November 2012. I had this bunch of things I had to get done before I left beautiful Europe and Norway that was our home for over 3 years. So in short here are all my excuses for not blogging for so many many months....

  • Getting the travel bug out of me with lots of last minute travel - The Ascot Races, Paris, Bulgaria, Bodø
  • Doing 2 amazing hikes with friends in Norway at Prekistolen & Kjerag and seeing NOTHING thanks to the Norwegian weather.
  • Watching Roxette LIVE along with Lenny Kravitz and Tom Petty& The Heartbreakers 
  • Having my mother visit and take her to Paris
  • Seeing a Moose. Yes this was top priority I couldn't leave without seeing a Moose... (I did manage to see a bunch of other animals from the region as well)
  • Celebrate my birthday one last time there (I was suddenly legal to enter a bar which had an entry criterion of 28 !) 

And once these were done the packing started & I got the Farewell of my life from our friends. The tears didn't stop for a very long time..                                                                            
Farewell Cake with the Marius Design

Before I knew it the Norwegian chapter of our lives closed, I was back home in Bangalore. What started next was a whole different kind of crazy - 7 weddings, My Sisters Graduation, Norwegian Christmas Dinner we cooked, House Hunting, Luggage Arrival & custom clearances & finally setting up home .. you get the picture.

Ribbe - A Norwegian Christmas Dish

Not like we didn't have enough on our plate we decided to adopt a dog - YES a DOG. Turns out she is the center of our lives - an absolutely bouncy, love-able, sometimes crazy Labrador. Silly people who abandoned her truly had no appreciation for this furry ball or the immense amounts of love she brings with her..

Ms.Penny Lane Muffin

Changing countries comes with its fair share of challenges but brings joy in equal measure. More to come on that ... for now this is just to say I'm Alive, Kicking & got a few more posts up my sleeve... 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

You've got to give to get - Even in the Social World

There is one conversation I have over and over again, with my friends and colleagues - Social Media and it's benefits. I am a social media addict + + and quite a lot of my friends have signed up on every social network possible. They know more about new and upcoming products in the space than I do, who funded which company, when they were launched and so on and so forth. But they really spend no time contributing to these social products, and question the time I spend on them 

I keep trying to stress on the point that being an addict, constantly posting things out and participating is NOT a bad thing. (of course i don't mean you need to tell us every time you are in the toilet)

Let's move to your offline world for a bit - lets say you choose to be a total recluse, not go out when friends call, don't keep in touch with them, never initiate anything social. Then out of the blue after not being involved an inch in their lives, you decide you need these friends to help promote your company. I think we all know you'll probably end up with zero help from said friends. 

Move back now to the online world. Just because you have someone in your "friends" list on Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook - does NOT mean you are networked.

Simple eg: I love baking and I enjoy it more when my friends encourage me to do it. Their responses to my posts or pictures are constant encouragement. In return I need to also ensure I do the same for my friends in whatever sphere their interest lies. Sounds transactional? YES! But when has the world not been like that - and that's where Social Circles online or offline actually help make it less transactional, because you also end up building a relationship in the process. 

I know tomorrow, if I need help promoting my newly founded business, or an event I am managing for work - this very network will be there to help me spread the word.

THE SOLUTION: Build online relationships with your network, show interest in their lives, share, comment, like, tweet, post interesting content. Even more important is to RESPOND when your network shows interest in your life - if they comment on your content, or tweet something, always, always respond & acknowledge what they have said.

Ultimately like any relationship even the social world is based on giving and receiving. They say there is no marketing better than word of mouth and that word of mouth starts with your inner most circle. Today that's your online social circle. 

So take those two hours off to be involved in the life of those in your "friends lists", remind yourself how you function in an offline world and I guarantee the pay off's will be worth it.