An A-moo-zing birthday

One of the most exciting part of motherhood is celebrating milestones of the children’s lives. I am happy to introduce My friend Linda who threw an amoozing (yeah moo for the theme was cow) party to celebrate her son’s birthday last year. She has hosted and styled many beautiful parties for her family and friends and has agreed to share a little bit about her style and process with me today.  I think we don’t celebrate moms enough-  Linda is a woman of many talents. Born and raised in a beautiful Eastern European country, Latvia, She left home in 2001 and has been traveling ever since. She studied Art in latvia, majoring in oil painting, pencil sketching and collage. She is a certified Level 1 Tea-Sommelier and a certified  advance makeup artist. She has lived and worked in Switzerland, the USA, the UAE and the UK.  She immigrated to Canada in 2007, got married and now has a very precious baby boy. Last year she quit her job in the hospitality industry and started her own business to be able to spend more time with her family. She is a freelance professional make up artist specializing in bridal, special events, beauty and editorial make up – Visit her website here. Over to Linda now:


Linda and her son Sandis

I have always loved planning different events for my family and styling them with different themes, whether it was a Christmas concert where my brother performed for the family or stage presentations in school, Baby showers or weddings. I also have a higher diploma in Event Planning and Management. My biggest event was of course planning my own wedding in Latvia with influences from Latvian culture and incorporating my husband’s Indian roots.It was an east-meets-west event which came together quite spectacularly- I wore a white dress with burgundy red shoes, adorned with Indian jewelery and the hair and makeup was inspired from the Bollywood movies from the 80s.

I am really interested in planning  and styling an event, from the theme to decor to the food and every other detail. When it came to my son’s first birthday I wanted to do something that was bright and vibrant and personal at the same time.


The Sahoo family

I started planning my son’s birthday three months in advance. I knew I wanted to do something special and the idea I came up was to tie the whole party together around his favorite toy (a stuffed cow who wears a sea blue sweater). The main colors for the decor were black, white and Sea blue. I was disappointed to see all that was available in party stores were boring shades of browns greens and blues for boys whereas there were many brightly colored party themes available for girls so I had to customize the look I wanted for this party.

I looked around on Etsy and found Colleen of ASweetCelebration who agreed to making the birthday banner  and turned my vision into reality. She made the banner and the  12 months banner both in similar color palettes.

 cow theme birthday banner 12 month banner

My mom had flown in from Europe for her grandson’s first birthday and was a great help in putting the rest of the decor together. I found very pretty material in ocean blue with kind of golden pattern on it for the table at the local sewing store on sale but unfortunately it was not long enough, so I had to borrow black table skirt for the table from the Banff Centre where my husband works. It took a while to decide what to do as a backdrop for the table, and I decided to make 6 garlands 6ft in length, with craft-paper circles of various sizes in blue, light blue and black which we stitched through with the thread. On the window itself we placed yellow plastic table cloth cut into rectangular shape, and then hanged a custom frame, which we painted in coordinating color together with Letter “S”. That created a focal point.

desert table

Dessert Table

We had Indian fusion buffet, and sweet table was color coordinated. We had lollipops, which looked like sugar sticks in blue, yellow and white, as well as candy in similar hues. My mother and I made the cupcakes from scratch and created the cow figurines from marshmallow and gum paste…we were basing it on a drawing and some knowledge of cake decorating. The cake pops were dark chocolate brownie in flavor, and we just added some food coloring to white melted chocolate to get that exact color. Again all made at home using Wilton supplies.

lolipop cake cupcake

The cake was cream cherry cake custom made for us was initially a bit of a disappointment as it was plain white cake with green/blue spots- nothing like I had envisioned. Early in the morning I had to salvage it to make it look more like I initially intended, and added some black patches, gumpaste flowers and one of the cows we made for the cupcakes.So in the end, it looked pretty decent.

cow theme cake

Picture frame with Sandis’ picture we painted ourselves to achieve the exact color.
table setting Sandis wore bow tie outfit through the day, and later on I changed him into cow tea shirt and pants, purchased for the occasion. As a guest favor, we used kid umbrellas which where cow themed too.

cow  themed umbrellas birthday boy Sandis

At the end of the day I was very satisfied with the outcome.

One last question, How has your experience been of living in so many different places around the globe?

I’ve lived in Latvia, Switzerland, France, USA, UAE, UK and Canada. I have extensively traveled through Europe as well in my teenage years both with family and as part of volleyball team…and I also have been to Russia. For me it’s boring to live in one place for a long time…I love to experience new environments, cultures, values…it changes your perspective on things and values in life, you learn something new. Sometimes, you have to be brave enough to take a leap into unknown, especially when you leave the first time all by yourself to live/work in totally unknown country without a single friend or family member there by your side but it has always been very rewarding, and I guess made me a “richer”, more broad minded person. I have always thought that In the end, if I don’t like it, I can always go back to my home, Latvia, to where I am my safe haven…life is too short and there is so much to experience out in this world!
For the time being our home is Canada…but it can change any time really 🙂

Thanks Linda, for taking the time to talk to us. I can’t wait to see her ideas for event styling this year!

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Phir Milenge!!

GuestPost & eBook giveaway: Annie Douglas Lima

Internet and blogosphere is a great way to meet people whom you wouldn’t have met otherwise. Today, I am happy to introduce to you Annie Douglas Lima, whom I met through her mother who introduced us when I wrote to tell her about my book. Annie has published two young adult action/adventure fantasy novels Prince of Alasia and In the Enemy’s Service, and a collection of poems by her students, A Boom in the Room

Hi!  My name is Annie, and I’m an American currently living and teaching in Taiwan.  After Soni published her book Teach us to Pray, my mom (a friend of hers) put us in touch because I’m also a self-published author of children’s books (though my two books are geared more toward preteens).  Soni and I have arranged to write guest posts for each other’s blogs (you can read her post on my blog here).

When I was working on my second book, In the Enemy’s Service, I found a great idea for writers on – to deepen your characters’ personalities, conduct interviews with them.  The site listed some sample questions and suggested that the writer imagine sitting down with one of her characters and asking them the questions, and then writing their responses in their own speaking style.  Even if you haven’t read the book, I think you’ll still be able to understand and (hopefully!) enjoy this interview with Lieutenant Lasden.  If you’re interested, you can read more of my character interviews (as well as more about my writing, teaching, and life in Taiwan) on my blog.

Want a chance to win a FREE copy of my book?  Scroll down to the bottom of this post for details!

Interview with Lieutenant Lasden

 Lasden and I sit down in the empty conference room in the Alasian palace where he has agreed to meet with me. As I face him across the table, I notice he looks weary – not just the weariness that comes after a long day, though that’s there too, but the weariness that comes from discouragement, perhaps depression. His eyes are dull.

1. Do you like your job? Why or why not?

He doesn’t look at me. “I’m a soldier. I follow orders. What does it matter what I like or dislike?”

I wait for him to elaborate, and finally, reluctantly, he goes on. “No, I don’t like my job. Not anymore. Not since being a Malornian soldier came to mean invading a peaceful kingdom and slaughtering civilians.”

2. Do you have any friends? Significant others?

“I’ve got friends in my company, but no one I’m all that close to, especially lately.” He shrugs. “We don’t see eye to eye about the Invasion.”

3. What is your idea of success?

Lasden chuckles humorlessly. “If you’d asked me a month ago, I would have said defeating an enemy with minimal casualties on our side. But that’s pretty much what we’ve done in Alasia, and I can’t feel proud of it.”

4. What do you hate?

He stares, unseeing, out the window, where rain beats against the pane. “What we’ve become. What I’ve become. Oh, I’m a good soldier. I’ve always put everything I’ve had into this job. But I feel like a failure as a human being.”

5. What do you do in your spare time?

Lasden shrugs again. “Haven’t had much spare time since we came to Alasia. Before, I’d usually play cards or dice with my friends. Swap stories in a tavern or around a campfire. You know. On my days off when I was stationed in Sazellia, I liked to go out riding, or just sit down with a good book. Histories, especially.”

6. What did you have for breakfast?

He frowns, trying to remember. “I think they served eggs with bacon this morning. Not bad, but the coffee isn’t as good here. I miss Malornian coffee.”

7. Did you ever have a pet? Describe it?

“My family has always kept horses. I think I learned to ride before I could walk.”

I look up from my list of questions, puzzled. “Then I’m surprised you’re in the infantry, not the cavalry.”

“I didn’t exactly have much choice.” Lasden looks away. “My father’s a colonel in the infantry.” His tone of voice makes it clear that further questions along that line would not be welcome, so I go back to my list.

8. Do you believe in luck? Why?

“No. I believe in skill. In my experience, soldiers who rely on luck don’t last long.”

9. What is your favorite scent? Why?

He considers this. “Wood smoke, I suppose. Especially if we’re sitting round a campfire roasting a rabbit we’ve finally had time to trap after days of field rations, on our way back home at the end of a successful campaign.”

10. What is the strangest thing you have ever seen?

Lasden thinks this over. “I saw a family of Mountain Folk up close once. Usually they stay up in the higher slopes of the Impassables, but in the winter they come down low where it’s warmer, and every now and then you see them camped in the foothills. My company was on our way to the Western Wilderness, and we came across a group of them trading for supplies in a little village near the Grenn. There were maybe five adults and twice that many children, all dressed in animal skins, most carrying spears. They looked just as savage as people say they are: shaggy hair, shifty eyes, and all. And it’s true, they do smell like the goats they keep. But something about how tenderly they treated their horses made me wonder if they might be a little more civilized than everyone thinks.”

11. What is the most frightening thing that has ever happened to you?

“I don’t know. I’ve had a lot of close calls since I’ve been with the army.” Lasden hesitates. “But usually, when you’re fighting for your life, things happen too fast for you to really feel much until afterwards. Really, I suppose I haven’t been as frightened out on the battlefield as I used to be sometimes at home when I was a boy. When I did something to make my father angry.” He looks away again, and I can tell by the way his lips tighten that he wishes he hadn’t said that. Abruptly, he pushes back his chair and rises to his feet. “I have to go. I’ve got to make my rounds before the workers turn in for the night. Excuse me.” He strides to the door and leaves the room without a backward glance.

Now, enter to win your free copy of In the Enemy’s Service!  You can enter as many times as you like to increase your chances.  The contest ends at the end of this month. Please click on the link below to enter.

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Thanks Annie.

Phir Milenge!!

Post 27: Christmas Guest Post


Middle East and India based Frank Raj is the founding editor and publisher of ‘The International Indian’, the oldest magazine of Gulf-Indian society and history since 1992. He is listed in Arabian Business magazine’s 100 most influential Indians in the Gulf and is co-author of the upcoming publication ‘Universal Book of the Scriptures.’  His book ‘Desh aur Diaspora’ was published in 2012 and is available online here. You can read more of his work here. He blogs at

Today I have the privilege of sharing with you this poem written by him.

By Frank Raj
It is the evening of my days, it shows quite clearly on my face
In my immortal youth this was definitely not the case
I gave little thought to finishing the end of the race
How sweet are the hopes and pleasures of our youth
Yet so futile, for a life not undergirded by liberating truth
Divine, vital nourishment to anticipate our eternal youth
I wish I had understood early how quickly life concludes
Strength depletes, the skin wrinkles and time deludes
Teasing me with memories of promising days and youthful moods
I have my regrets but the loss of my youth does not figure very high
For that was the phase when my life was mostly big and small lies
Pride and ambition got out of control, as if time was something I could buy
I wish I had learned to be more alert about my enemies within
The most dangerous of all, camouflaged and so stylishly hidden
Invincible, unless Bethlehem’s birth brings new life in
Many beloved friends and family have gone ahead of me
I grieve for those who are taken unaware, who do not see in Galilee
God’s purpose and loving concern, as they choose to live carelessly
I know the evening of our lives is no time for a face forlorn
But a chance to innovate and discover newness in every dawn
To engage with life’s greatest adventure, and learn to be reborn
Phir Milenge!!
Phir Milenge!!