Monthly Archives: August 2015

Friends Who Inspire Me

I enjoy what I do on a day to day basis.  I am very lucky to have found a job that I think is perfect fit for my skill set.  While I feel passionately that SharePoint and CRM can help people run their business more effectively, it was not something that spawned out of a hobby.

A couple of my Facebook friends have managed to find that unique mix of being able to pursue their passion and make their living doing it.

Saleha Beauty

Saleha Abbasi – Saleha Beauty – Saleha and I met when I was in college through a mutual friend.  We spent a summer together when she worked at my parents’ travel business and would go work out afterwards.  Even back then, you could tell she had a gift with makeup.  She would thread our eyebrows and help us with our make up but it was just something she did for fun.  Over the years, we lost touch however I have watched her on Facebook and I am amazed with what she has done with her talent.  Saleha took her hobby of doing make up and has become a world known makeup artist with her own makeup line (those are her lipsticks pictured above).  She is listed as a public figure on Facebook and has been featured in several magazines and articles.  We exchange a few messages every now and then and even bumped into each other shopping and I am happy to say that she is still the same sweet girl I remember.


Stephan Jacob – Cotopaxi – Stephan and I were best friends during his year as an exchange student from Germany in high school.  Even at 17, I knew Stephan was destined for great things.  Stephan dipped his feet as an entrepreneur at  Kembrel, a retail shop featuring upcoming designers.   About 2 years ago, he co-founded Cotopaxi, a retailer that creates innovative outdoor products that fund sustainable poverty relief.  Not only has he found a way to start a business around a lifestyle and products he is passionate about, but also giving back to the community at the same time.  Cotopaxi also throws events including a 24 hour adventure scavenger hunt called a Questival.  Sounds so amazingly fun and I couldn’t be more proud of him!

Reve.ology Events

Snehal Vara  – Reve.ology Events – I am proud to call Snehal family!  Snehal is married to my husband’s cousin so we are sister-in-laws.  Besides taste in men, Snehal and I have always had similar interests.  We both have that creative bone and enjoy interior design and event planning.  Snehal was able to take her business acumen and eye for design to create a highly esteemed event planning company.  Indian Weddings are extremely elaborate events, and Reve.ology does not disappoint.  The pictures of her events are to die for and I only wish she had been in the industry when I was planning mine.

Jade Lilly

Neha Chokshi – Jade Lilly – I met Neha through a playgroup that I started called Desi Babies.  Our kids are the same age and we had a few playdates together.  When I first met Neha she was still dipping her feet into a few different kinds of businesses.  It was very clear  to me then that she is very driven, had many creative talents, and a mom was her most important job.  Over the last few years I have watched her start a new skincare line completely on her own.  She does her own branding, websites, and makes each and every one of her products.  I am looking forward to hosting one of her product parties soon!

Subeena Z

Subeena Zubari – SubeenaZ – Another playgroup mom, Subeena and I connected by having our first born around the same time.  Subeena has always been so kind to me and trusted me to be her real estate agent in the beginning of my career.  Subeena was able to take her love of design into a being a celebrated fashion designer for Pakistani/Indian chic wear.  SubeenaZ’s gowns have been seen on several celebs and I am sure has an even brighter future ahead of her.

These 5 are just the tip of the iceburg.  I have so many successful friends and I love to see all their stories evolve on Facbook.  Because of them, I am inspired to always dream bigger.


California Turkey Flat from Potbelly’s on Weight Watchers

After 3 weeks using the old Weight Watchers system, I am down 7 lbs!  It is just a tad slower than the last time I was on the program and lost a total of 77 lbs.  It’s not too bad considering I am starting off lighter and I am now in my 30s.  I have  been doing a medium intensity workout 5 days a week as well and have gone through the entire series of Bloodline and half way through Damages on Netflix while getting my exercise on.

One of the biggest cut backs is trying to eat out less.  I am a huge Potbelly’s fan and I was in love with their new California Turkey Flat as soon as I tried the sample.  ctf_headlineIt is probably one of the healthier options on the menu but for someone who is trying to budget every Point she can, 11 Original WW Points seemed too high for such a simple sandwich.  I decided to make our own at home version for a total of 6 Pts.

  • 1 Joseph’s Flat Pita Bread (I found these at Walmart and have been using them for everything!) – 1 Pt

  • 2 Oz. Lean Turkey Slices – 1 Pt
  • 1 slice of Cheddar Cheese – 2 Pts
  • Cucumber – O Pts
  • 1 Oz. Avacado – 2 Pts

There are some other artisan flats out there that you can select for 2 Pts which isn’t bad either, but this simple sandwich tastes just as great at home.  The key is warming it up in an convection oven for a few minutes with just the bread, turkey, and cheese.  Give it a shot!

Back to School Classroom Assignments

Our elementary school releases it’s class lists in the very last days before school starts.  It is a day that everyone looks forward to so they can find out who their teacher is and most importantly who else is in their class. IMG_8709

This year both my daughters were so disappointed to find out that neither of them were in the same class as their closest friends at school.  School starting went from being a day that they were counting down to, to being a day that they were dreading.

For some kids, starting with a new group of friends is not a big deal.  My younger daughter, Aria, will be certain to be best friends with the girls in her class in no time.IMG_8718

My older daughter, Avani, has been with the same group of kids more or less for 3 years and struggled to find kids that she fit in with.  She finally found someone that she really got along with and it was devastating for her not to be in her class this year.

Will my kids still learn and thrive this year?  Yes, I am certain they will.  But it is so sad to see their opinion of school deteriorate based on the school assignments.  Unfortunately, requests for children to be placed together will not be considered.

After their first day of school, they still came home with a smile on their faces.  Thank goodness for lunch and recess.



What Racism Looks Like For Kids

Even though she is still young and lives a pretty sheltered life, my oldest daughter Avani has experienced her fair share of racism.  While I do believe the US is moving in the right direction when it comes to cultural awareness, we as Indian Americans are still minorities.  At the end of the day, we are different.  In the eyes of most children (and some adults) it’s as simple as what color crayon they should use to draw skin.  I remember when my younger daughter was describing her new friends after the first day of school, she would describe them as “peach skin”.

When Avani  was only in Kindergarten, 3 years ago, a classmate told other children that they didn’t like her.  When my daughter asked her why, she said “Because you are Indian”.

During 2nd grade, a classmate told my daughter that “[she is] going to hell because [she did] not go to church”.  I will always wonder if that was what her parents taught her or it was how they made sure their children went to Sunday School.  Proudly, my daughter handled these extremely difficult situations so much better than I ever would.  She simply told her classmate, “That might be what you believe, but that is not what we believe.”

What is the most amazing is her perseverance to stay proud of her heritage.  When I was little, I was embarrassed of being different and just wanted to fit in.  My daughter will be the first to tell you that she is Indian, want to wear traditional Indian clothes, and bring her favorite Indian dishes to school.  She is so much stronger than I ever will be!

Today marks the first day of a new school year.  Hoping that it is drama free for a 4th grade girl is probably unrealistic but hopefully any drama that does rear it’s head is not based on the color of our skin.


India’s Independence Day Celebrations

This weekend marked India’s 68th year since it became an independent nation.  In the Chicago burbs, it was the 1st year that a parade was held outside of the city in the beautiful city of Naperville, IL.  I like to take advantage of every opportunity that I can to expose my children to their heritage and since it was close to home, we decided to check it out.  Akash Indian Day Parade

Unfortunately we only saw a little bit of the parade.  From what we saw, there were lots of floats, with loud music, and  lots of people celebrating.  Kudos for being able to generate a buzz!IMG_8655

We went over to the pavilion for the program.  In true Indian style, they spent almost an hour introducing politicians, sponsors, and other important people.   After the speeches were done, they were several performances that my kids really enjoyed watching.IMG_8660

Finally we made our way over to the booths.  My girls can not leave an Indian event without Mehendhi/Henna so that was one of our first stops.  IMG_8662 IMG_8670

My husband and the kids chowed down on some samosas, bhel, naan, and more.  I did not want to use too many points from my weight watchers plan but my mouth was certainly watering.  Everything looked delicious.

IMG_8677 IMG_8678 IMG_8687

There were plenty of clothes and jewelry booths as well which is always fun to browse.  IMG_8690

Finally, I found the booth for Little Medical School the most interesting.  This is a program for kids ages 5-11 to get them interested in the medical profession.  Basically taking Indian’s tendencies to brainwash their kids to become doctors (yes I do this too) to a whole new level!  Gotta love our culture.  🙂

We will be back next year!


Results after 30 days of Blogging

Why am I blogging? The truth is I have no idea. I have been trying to figure that out myself for the last 30 days.   Honestly, you may have noticed, grammar is not my strong suit. (I can think of several of you who are probably shaking their heads while they read each post). I still thought it was worth trying and hopefully the content makes up for it.   While I am not sure where I plan on going with, I do think it is the first step to something great.

Here are my stats after 30 days and 23 Posts.Stats

The big dip being the week away for vacation.  Somewhat surprisingly, here are my top posts.

Live Like Anj

3116 page views doesn’t seem too shabby.  I guess everyone really wanted to know how to beat the common cold!

I have found several reasons why I think blogging is good for me.

  1. I feel I have more to offer the world then I currently am doing.
  2. I spent several hours cruising the web, Facebook, and watching TV after my kids went to sleep every night. I felt those hours could be spent more productively.
  3. It challenges me to improve my writing skills.
  4. It allows me to share my knowledge on topics that I have researched.
  5. I can share what is going on in my life with my friends and family.

I’d like to keep going. It takes way more time to create content then I would ever imagine but I also might be trying too hard. I’d love to hear ideas for new blog posts, ideas to boost traffic, or ideas for what to do with my blog.

If you have found any of my posts interesting or just want to show support, please subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook page Live Like Anj.


How to Lose Weight with Old WW Program

In recent years, Weight Watchers revamped their program with PointsPlus.  While I am sure there was years worth of science behind it, I wonder how much had to do with carbs getting a bad rep?   The biggest benefit to the old plan was that you could look at a nutrition label and get a basic idea of the Points value in your head.  The new plan is just way to complex.  If you can do simple math in your head, unlikely to write everything down, but still motivated to lose weight, here is how to follow the old plan.

First figure out your daily points: 

  Once you figure out your points value, that is your daily target plus 35 flex points for the week.

They no longer provide the old program’s point calculator but you maybe able to find some on ebay. 

 To figure out points from a label.

Calories/50 = PTS

For every 4grams of fat, add 1

over 4 grams of fiber, minus 1.

Example – 150 calories = 3 + 4 grams of fat = 4 + 2 Dietary Fiber =4

It is not the perfect formula but it is easy and it works.  I lost 77lbs using this method!

Exercise can also earn you additional points.  Since I don’t have a special calculation for that, for a 30 minute medium intensity, give yourself 2 extra points for the day.

Interior Design Plagirism

Have you ever seen something on HGTV and thought how amazing it would be to have your place look like that?  Well, why can’t it?  I would love to take credit and say I was the creative genius behind all of the rooms I have renovated.  The truth is, for some of the rooms, they started as an idea in my head.  Then I searched Houzz and found that idea in a design that I loved, so I copied it.  The biggest benefit is knowing that you will love the finished space rather than wondering if these 2 components are going to look good together.

If you are wondering if it actually is plagiarism?  Have no fear, if you were to have the exact same dimensions and use the exact same components, maybe.  I 100% guarantee that will not be the case.

Craft Room key features desired:

  • White Cabinets
  • Large Work Area
  • Homework Aea

I found this design:

Our final product:

Copied Design for Craft Room
Finished Craft Room

Boys Nursery key features desired:

    • Horizontal Stripes
    • Pale Blues

I really like the contrast of the colors in this design.

Boys Nursery

In the design I found, the trees were too creepy for a nursery and we were using an existing crib.  Luckily the modifications still came out great.  Check out DIY Murals and Designs on painting the stripes and decals for the trees.

During my first renovation project, I saw a design of a backsplash that I really loved.  It had little accent tiles added to a horizontal beige random tile very sparingly.  I loved my accent tile so much, that I added full lines of it to the top and bottom of the backsplash too.  Unfortunately it did not have the same effect, and I ended up tearing it out.  Tweak cautiously.  If you can, copy in a way that you know you will love the final result.

My Motivation for Losing Weight

It is no secret that there have been periods in my life where I struggled with my weight.  I wish it was a secret.  I debated even writing this post.  My daughter said, “You are putting that in your blog!??!  You are not supposed to talk about your weight with other people”.  I wish there was a way to hide this from everyone but weight issues are something you can’t hide.  Food is also one of the only “addictions” that you have to continue with, just differently.  Not like an alcoholic who needs to stop drinking.  Or a gambler who needs to stop gambling.  If you are trying to lose weight, you still have to eat, you just have to eat smart.

It started at puberty but the most troublesome times have been around the birth of my kids.  Fortunately some of best times have been during formative years of high school and college.   When I was a freshman in high school, I lost 50 pounds somewhat naturally by being involved in sports and eating less at boarding school.

8th Grade School Photo (12 years old)

Sophomore in High School (14 years old)

I met my husband in college and got married by 21.  My weight started to slowly creep back up and sky rocketed when I got pregnant with my daughter at 24.  The 2nd time being even worse than the 1st.

Ready to Pop with Baby #2
Ready to Pop with Baby #2 (26 years old)

When I was ready to stop nursing my 2nd daughter at 27, my sister and my mom had started their diets and were starting to see some success.  I didn’t want to get left behind.  Another daily struggle was the fact that I could not fit into any of my old clothes.  Shopping was even worse.  It was so hard to find something that flattered me.  I decided to start Weight Watchers and over the course of 10 months, lost 77 pounds.

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At goal weight (28 years old)

Not long after reaching my goal, I started a new job over 30 miles away from my house in the city.  I was able to maintain my routine for the first 6 months where I left at 5:45am to work out and avoided all traffic.  Since I was basically rolling out of bed and it was so early, after being in the car for 30 minutes, I started falling asleep on the commute.  After the 3rd time it happened, I decided it was not worth the risk and stopped working out.  My diet started falling apart and we started trying for a baby so it started going back up.

Here we are 4 years later with a 1 year old boy somewhere in between.  I stopped nursing a few months ago and while I am not starting ALL OVER,  I have gained a good chunk of it back.  I am determined to be get back down to goal weight but for a completely different reason; my children.

  • I want to be someone they look up to, especially for my girls.  I want them to be a mom they are proud of, not embarrassed of (although I am sure that will come in time regardless of my weight)
  • I want to be an example for them.  How can I tell them that they have to eat healthy and stay active when I am not.  I never want them to look at me and hope that they don’t end up like me.
  • I want to keep up with them.  We love to take bikes rides to the park, walk around the block, and dance.  I never want to slow them down.
  • I want to be around for them as long as I can.  Being at a healthy weight can only help that.

I worry that being in my 30s will make it much harder than it was naturally in my teens, and somewhat easily in my 20s.  However I am determined.  I started last week, resisted pizza at a birthday party, cookies at a company picnic, and nachos during a show.

Before and after picture coming soon 🙂

Whip Nae Nae

Why is this song so popular?  I have no idea but I love it.  There was the original.

Then there is the pregnant mom and daughter combo who have so much spunk.  They have over 33 million views and had become sensations over night.  This girl is absolutely adorable.

And several grandmas doing it.  But by far, my favorite stanky leg around is my daughter Aria’s.  Yes I am biased but she is so cute when she dances.  Enjoy!