Chicken Dum Biryani

“Some memories are unforgettable, remaining ever vivid and heartwarming.” -J.B. Wirthlin

Chicken Dum Biryani

Often we can remember exactly what we were doing or where we were or how we were feeling before major life events. Some of those moments for me include the day I moved from Florida, the evening I met my husband, my last sleep before getting married, the first popcorn like feelings of Little Mirchi moving and the second she was placed in my arms. Similarly, I recall the night before Little Mirchi was born as if it was yesterday, the excitement, anxiousness, the love – everything is still so fresh. The Husband and my mom were watching a marathon of Bollywood movies ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ (1 & 2) and I was in full nesting mode, insisting they let me be in the kitchen; my happy place to make Chicken Dum Biryani. It wasn’t the first time I had made this Biryani, but ever since that night, it’s officially become a part of Little Mirchi’s birth story.

Chicken Dum Biryani

Biryani is a casserole type meal made with meat, rice and spices. It’s a special dish that’s often made for guests, at weddings and celebratory occasions. There are many ways of making the dish and the spices, methods, proteins used vary regionally across India. ‘Dum’ in cooking, means to cook with steam. This recipe incorporates cooked chicken with al dente rice that’s covered and baked until the rice has fully cooked from the steam. Ironically enough, Chicken Dum Biryani was the dish my mom made when my brother first met my husband during our courtship. It was also one of the first dishes I made for The Husband (looking back I don’t know how he ate my food then; I’ve come a long way!)

Chicken Dum Biryani

As with most Indian meat and gravy dishes, this gets better with time. We look forward to left overs as the spices soak in the rice and flavors deeply develop. Because this is a bit of a time consuming recipe (completely worth the efforts I assure you) I generally make it in large batches, dividing one for now and one for later in the week. It also  reheats wonderfully and can be made ahead of time.

Sticking with tradition I’m sharing this recipe a day before Little Mirchi’s birthday.

Chicken Dum Biryani


1 whole chicken (3-4lbs) (cut into 2 inch pieces)
3 1/2 cups basmati rice
2 large onions; thinly sliced
1 cup crushed tomatoes
6 cardamom pods
2 cinnamon sticks
6 cloves
1/2 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
4-5 whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
1 cup plain yogurt
1 green chili pepper; slit in middle
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon red chili powder
3 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoon garam masala
1 star anise
3 teaspoon salt; adjust to taste
7-8 saffron strands (soaked in 4 tablespoons warm milk & 1 teaspoon rose water)
1 tablespoon whole tamarind (soaked in tablespoon of water)
3 tablespoon cooking oil

How to make Chicken Dum Biryani


Marinate the chicken with yogurt, crushed fennel seeds, ginger garlic paste, red chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, and turmeric – set aside for at least an hour.

Heat oil (on medium heat), add the green chili pepper, cumin, black peppercorns, cloves, three cardamom pods, one bay leaf and one cinnamon stick. Once spices start sputtering add the onions, mix and cook until translucent. Add two teaspoons salt and crushed tomatoes, simmer until the liquids reduce. Once reduced add chicken and let cook for 25-30 minutes – mix in garam masala once cooked.

Chicken Dum Biryani

In a large pot add rice, one teaspoon salt, three cardamoms, one bay leaf, one cinnamon stick and star anise in eight cups of water. Bring to a boil until rice is cooked al dente (one boil should be enough.) Strain water and set aside.

In a deep baking dish start with the chicken as the first layer, the next layer should be the rice, spoon the saffron milk over the rice and spread the pre soaked tamarind evenly in the dish; continue this layering with rice being the final layer. Cover the baking dish and bake in a 400 F preheated oven for 45 minutes. Once done, let sit for 10-15 minutes before topping liberally with fried onions and chopped cilantro. Serve hot with yogurt or raita.

Chicken Dum Biryani



3 Things Thursday {Week 56}

Three things Thursday on a Friday! Besides today this week has been gorgeous and we’ve been enjoying every moment with afternoons walks and evenings in the park. More pictures less words this week. If you are new to 3 Things Thursday and would like to learn more check out my initial post about it. For directions on how to link up, follow the post!

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Cheese Toasts

Another super easy lunch – bread of choice, load with your favorite cheese and veggies, toast. Done – enjoy!

Cheese Toasts

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Baking Fail

I thought I was being super creative and experimenting with a chocolatey dessert but I failed terribly. Back to the drawing board.

Baking Fail

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Evening Walks

The weather has been warming up and we have been taking full advantage! Every evening we’ve been going for a walk in the park – its been wonderful to get some fresh air and a nice break from our everyday routine.

Evening Walks

Now it’s your turn! Share your blog post in the link up below. Just a few rules (well requests really). Please link back to one or all of the hostesses; Nisha from Love Laugh Mirch, Raj from Pink Chai Living, or Salma from The Write Balance, and share a link to your post (not your blog’s home page). Feel free to use the 3 Things badge in your post. We’re looking forward to reading your posts!

3 Things Thursday Linkup

Why I support #ReclaimTheBindi

Any Desi (one of South Asian decent) will tell you that growing up we face pretty ignorant comments about our culture. From “Eww I don’t eat curry” (neither do we dimwit) to “How many gods do you worship?” to “Do you speak Indian?” (And no I don’t speak Hindu either.) One of the most common questions that I got asked, countless times was “Does your mom wear a dot on her head”. When you’re a child of a first generation immigrant you have no idea how to answer these questions at such a young age. You are trying to fit in, hold on to your roots as you build your new life in a country that will now be home. There was a time where us Desi’s would get excited to see garam masala on a store shelf, curry on a restaurant menu and bindis worn by Gwen Stefani. There was an excitement about our culture finally getting noticed. Of late however, due to cultural appropriation traditions in our culture are losing meaning because of new trends and fashion.



Cultural appropriation (not to be confused with cultural appreciation) is spreading like wildfire, especially with celebrities at music festivals.

Cultural appropriation is the adoption of elements of one culture by members of a different cultural group, especially if the adoption is without the consent of the originating culture, and when the appropriating group has historically oppressed members of the originating culture. Often in the process, the original meanings of the cultural property are distorted or even desecrated. This cultural property, which may have deep meaning to the original culture, may then be reduced to “exotic” fashion. -Wiki


This is why I support #ReclaimTheBindi movement.

• Because I have respect for my roots, ancestors and culture.

• Because I know the efforts my parents made to keep our culture alive at home and in our lives.

• Because chai tea sounds just as ridiculous as saying coffee coffee.

• Because Namaste and bi*ch shouldn’t be in the same phrase.

• Because naan bread just doesn’t make sense, naan is a type of bread people.

• Because learning a few yoga poses and the word karma in no way makes you a yogi.

• Because that red dot was something I proudly wore with a blushing face the days following my wedding.

• Because there’s something so special about picking out your Puja sari, jewelry and matching bindi on Diwali, Karvachauth, Navrate etc.

• Because that stuff you thought was orange marker and “smelled” is the same Mendhi (Henna) that you now gush over.

• Because when I wear my bindi, it’s blatantly obvious that I’m Hindu. And I wear it with pride.

• Because I have a little girl, who loves to wear a bindi like her Mumma while twirling around in my suits and saris. Because I want her to know that Mumma will teach her the “why we do’s” about our culture just like her Mumma taught her.


3 Things Thursday {Week 55}

Thursday already! Still recovering from an eventful weekend and now the sniffles. On the bright side the weather is warming up, can’t wait for park days and splash pad time with Little Mirchi. Sharing a little this and that this week.If you are new to 3 Things Thursday and would like to learn more check out my initial post about it. For directions on how to link up, follow the post!

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Glass Doors

We finally got our shower doors delivered and I AM IN LOVE. We opted for a seamless look with chrome details to match our other fixtures. I’m in the process of writing a construction update post so stay tuned. If you are new to this journey of our lives check out this and this.

Glass Shower Door

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Play on words

These 21 Brilliant new word that should be added to a dictionary

cellfish internest nonversation

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Wedding Bells

One of my best friends got married this weekend. I kept thinking about our younger days when we would drive with our windows down, hair in the wind, giddy talking about what it would be like to find “the one”. So happy for her and her beau to start their life together.

Mendhi Party

Now it’s your turn! Share your blog post in the link up below. Just a few rules (well requests really). Please link back to one or all of the hostesses; Nisha from Love Laugh Mirch, Raj from Pink Chai Living, or Salma from The Write Balance, and share a link to your post (not your blog’s home page). Feel free to use the 3 Things badge in your post. We’re looking forward to reading your posts!

3 Things Thursday Linkup

New Mom Guilt & A Birthstory

New Mom Guilt & A Birthstory

Early this morning I woke up to make sure Little Mirchi was tucked in, covering her with the blanket she always kicks off. After tossing and turning in attempts to fall back asleep, I opened up my social media in defeat and the first article to pop up was about C-Section Mamas. Immediately after reading it the memories of my labour came rushing back.

“And in these moments, a c-section mama must hold onto the strong and fierce love she has for her baby.  She lets fear wash over her…and then she lets it drift away. She know that in this moment, this is what is best for her child, even though “what’s best” means a major surgery with real wounds and scars. Even though “what’s best” means letting go of a dream or a vision of birth that she’s been building up for the last nine months.”

I remember the guilt I felt when I had to have a C-section, the way so many people thought it was a “shortcut” to childbirth (even though I had been in labour for over 12 hours). I remember the detailed explanations people would ask for to justify the surgery. The healing time is something I don’t even want to remember, the way I felt useless on bed rest, the way my body went through major shock and my milk was delayed, the way they had to rush away my husband and newborn child immediately following birth, not giving me a moment to soak in what was the most beautiful moment in my life to date, the birth of my baby girl.

New Mom Guilt & A Birthstory

In honor of April being Cesarean Awareness Month and Little Mirchi’s birth month I wanted to share her birth story and a few ways I helped get over that new mom guilt.

On a beautiful April night, almost two years ago, we were blessed with a precious baby girl and life as we knew it would never be the same.

During the last trimester of my pregnancy, friends and family often asked me if I was nervous or worried about anything. My answer was always no. I had heard that moms-to-be frequently questioned themselves “Can I do this? Will I be OK?” Those thoughts never really crossed my mind. “It’s the most natural process,” I thought, instinctive and nurturing — how could I not be OK? After all, this was something I had always wanted, to become a mother.

We tend to build up the “ideal version of parenthood,” what we think is perfect for our little ones and ourselves. I too had certain ideals that I didn’t blink twice about. My delivery was going to be natural (no medical intervention), I would try and stay at home for the bulk of my pre-labour and only go to the hospital when necessary, we wouldn’t give formula — our little one would be exclusively breastfed, etc. My husband was fully on board and neither of us gave our “plan” a second thought.

At my 38-week appointment my doctor explained to me that our little one was not engaging, she was in birth position but was too high up and if I did not go into labour naturally by 40 weeks he would induce me. Induce? I hadn’t even given a passing thought to the fact that I would need to be induced. During those two weeks I tried every natural trick in the book, whatever Indian old wives tales my mom had up her sleeve — I did it, drank it, ate it.

I continued to stay active by walking, climbing stairs, doing squats, I was determined to stick to “the plan.” 40 weeks rolled around and I found myself, laying on the hospital bed waiting to check if our little one was ready for her appearance. Unfortunately there was no progress and after monitoring her heartbeat, I was admitted and put on Pitocin. Seeing my disappointment, my husband and mom reassured me that everything else would be fine and this was just a small hurdle. And so we waited.

New Mom Guilt & A Birthstory

The contractions started and soon after so did dilation. As the hours passed, the doctor came in every few hours to check on the little ones progress (she still wasn’t moving down). My contractions were getting closer together, I was dilating more and more, surely it was just a matter of time. After 12 hours of labour and several progress exams the doctor explained to us that due to complications with the little one and my body we would have to proceed with a cesarean. He left the room due to an emergency and stated the nurses would be in to prep me and he would be back shortly for any questions or concerns. I was stunned.

This was not how it was supposed to happen. I asked my husband to speak to the doctor to see if that was the only option. Every nurse that entered the room was asked the same question. After several nurses and the doctor explained that this was the best route for sake of the little ones health, our so-called “plan” went out the window and I was taken into surgery. Forty-five minutes later I heard the most beautiful cry ever. Our daughter was here, with a plan all of her own.

After delivery and settling back in our room the nurses explained to me that due to our little ones size they would be monitoring her blood sugar levels every few hours. While trying to satisfy her hunger I kept thinking about delivery and what caused everything. Was it something I did? Was it nazar (evil eye)? Day two the nurses came into the room explaining that our little ones blood sugar levels were dropping and glucose water would no longer suffice.

We would have to supplement with formula while my body recovered from trauma mode and wait for my supply to come in. This was the breaking point. Why? Why were things not going according to plan? I had taken such good care of us during pregnancy, stayed active, ate healthy homemade meals, watched and read positive things. Why was my body not responding to the changes, was I not ready for this, was I not good enough? A rush of emotions swept over me as I began to question myself as a mother. I suddenly understood the doubt new mothers have.

I was lucky and blessed to have an amazing support system (my mother and husband) that ensured me I could only control what was in my hands and I was doing the best job possible. It took several days for me to let go of the guilt but once I did, I realized the grief I was giving myself was only making it harder for me to enjoy motherhood. After speaking to a few close friends I was surprised to hear that they too went through similar waves of emotions, parallel hurdles, and the same doubt. Some had harder times then others dealing with the frustrations and no one to talk to. I sit here now, staring into my little one’s big brown eyes, knowing that I did and will try and continue to do what’s best for her without worrying about a “perfect plan” and the sooner I get rid of the guilt — the happier we’ll both be. Having a cesarean, feeding my child formula to satisfy her hunger didn’t make me any less of a mother.

Motherhood is a choice

For any mom to be or new mom my advice to you is as follows:

Cut yourself some slack: Whatever you do or have to do to keep yourself and your little one healthy is for the well being of your child. Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go according to plan, not everything does and that’s OK.

Talk about it: Share your feelings with someone you feel comfortable with, whether it be your partner, parent, or close friend. You’ll be surprised how much better you will feel just by confiding in someone. You may even find that they too felt the same way at one point.

Ask for help: You will find yourself trying to be superwoman by juggling no sleep, adjusting to a major life event, a recovering body and a newborn that needs you 24/7. Take all the help you can get when you can get it. There is nothing wrong with asking for support and in no way will it make you any less of a mother.

ENJOY this time: Enjoy each and every second of this amazing new journey. The only thing your baby wants is your love. Don’t stress the little things and take time to soak in your newest blessing.

After all, if momma is happy, baby is bound to be happy.

Atte Ka Halwa

‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding. -Alice Walker

Atte ka halwaAcross Northern India and worldwide throughout the Punjabi community,people are celebrating the spring festival of Vaisakhi (also spelled by some as Baisakhi). India, in history has always been an agricultural country; therefore many of the cultural and religious holidays revolve around the harvesting seasons. Historically Vaisakhi has been a “Thanksgiving” for farming families, as the first crops of the year are harvested. Visits to the Gurudwara are paid to thank God for the bountiful harvest and hope for future prosperity. To the Sikh community, Vaisakhi has major religious importance as it marks the birth of the Khalsa.

Atte ka halwaAtte ka halwa Growing up we would visit the Gurdwara the Sunday following Vaisakhi. I remember anxiously waiting for the karah prashad (atte ka halwa) that would be passed around immediately following the prayer service. Years later, not much has changed; atte ka halwa is still my favorite type of halwa and I still eagerly look forward to it when visiting the Gurudwara. Because of its filling and wholesome properties, atte ka halwa is often given to sick children and nursing mothers.

Atte ka halwa

There are several variations of atte ka halwa but the base ingredients (whole wheat flour, butter (or ghee) and sugar) remain constant. The best part about this dish are that most of the ingredients are common pantry ingredients and it can be prepared in less than 20 minutes!

Atte ka Halwa | Sweet Whole Wheat Pudding


1 1/2 cup atta (whole wheat flour)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter (or ghee)
3 cups hot water
7-8 whole raw cashews
1/8 teaspoon elaichi powder (cardamom)

Atte ka halwaMethod

In a heavy bottom pan on medium low heat add butter and cashews. In separate pan heat water on high heat, once it comes to a boil reduce to low, add sugar, mix until dissolved and turn off heat. Once butter is almost done melting add the flour and mix well. Continue to mix until the flour turns golden brown (this will happen fast so keep a close eye, else it will burn and taste bitter). Add the hot sugar water and stir to ensure there are no lumps. Once the halwa starts to thicken add the elaichi power, mix, cover and turn off heat.

Atte ka halwaServe warm and enjoy!

3 Things Thursday {Week 54}

What a week! We’ve had a lot going on and the week started out with Little Mirchi’s first day of school – so it’s been an eventful few days to say the least. Sharing a little this and that this week.If you are new to 3 Things Thursday and would like to learn more check out my initial post about it. For directions on how to link up, follow the post!

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Hummus Toasts

One of my favorite quick lunches is a toasted bread with hummus and different vegetables and cheeses. It’s filling, flavorful and made in no time. This one in particular has lemon hummus, cucumbers, tomatoes, red capsicums, scallions and goat cheese.

Hummus Toasts

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The kitchen faucet for the new house was finally installed and I’m in love! Does it sound crazy to say I can’t wait to wash dishes… ok it probably does!

kitchen faucet

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Our little one had her first day of play school this week. It was an emotional day for us all and I still can’t believe how big she is getting.

first day of school

Now it’s your turn! Share your blog post in the link up below. Just a few rules (well requests really). Please link back to one or all of the hostesses; Nisha from Love Laugh Mirch, Raj from Pink Chai Living, or Salma from The Write Balance, and share a link to your post (not your blog’s home page). Feel free to use the 3 Things badge in your post. We’re looking forward to reading your posts!

3 Things Thursday Linkup

A couple weeks ago our link-up celebrated it’s one year birthday with a giveaway and randomly selected a winner this week. Congratulations to Taslim from Let Me Out! We love reading your 3 Things Thursday posts each week. Thank you for linking up, sharing and spreading the love.

Kesar Pista Kheer

“It’s difficult to meet an ungenerous cook. The very heart of the experience of making food is about sharing, nurture, generosity, the giving of pleasure.” -Tamison Day-Lewis

Kesar Pista Kheer

There are few desserts that I could eat anytime of the day. This Kesar Pista Kheer (Saffron Pistachio Rice Pudding) is one of those dishes. Saffron in Indian dishes is used in a variety of sweet and savory recipes. Traditionally it’s often used when guests come to dinner to show hospitality and prosperity. A few stands topped on pulao with slivered almonds or infused into a creamy kheer goes a long way with what is known as the most precious and the most expensive spice in the world.

Kesar Pista Kheer

Slow cooked and infused with flavors of saffron, cardamom and rose water this dessert was often made during special occasions by my Mom in my younger years. Funny enough I’ve never been a fan of rice, or what we call ‘Chawal’ at home. Aside from Biryani and Rajma chawal (kidney beans & rice) this was the only other way I would eat rice as a child. Years later I’ve expanded my liking for rice, although this dish still remains as one of my favorites. I like my kheer semi thick and not overly sweet. The sugar can be adjusted to your taste but I find when too much sugar is added the other flavors get hidden. The rose flavor seems to marry the saffron and cardamom together but if you don’t have it on hand you can skip that step.

Kesar Pista Kheer

Kesar Pista Kheer

4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup basmati rice (wash and soak for an hour)
1 tablespoon sugar (adjust to taste)
7 oz (half a tin) condensed milk
1/3 cup pistachio, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder, coarsely ground
6-8 saffron strands
1/2 teaspoon rose water

Kesar Pista Kheer

Heat milk on medium heat in a heavy bottomed wok/pan. Once warm add saffron and increase heat while stirring for 5-10 minutes to medium high until the milk becomes golden in color. Reduce heat to medium and add pre-washed, strained rice. Let cook for 30 minutes until the rice becomes tender. Stir often to ensure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom. Once the rice is soft and done, and the milk has reduced to half, add condensed milk, sugar, cardamom powder and pistachios. Cook for 10 minutes on low heat occasionally stirring. Remove from heat, add rose water, mix and let cool before refrigerating.

Kesar Pista Kheer

Serve chilled, garnish with chopped pistachio and rose petal dust.


3 Things Thursday {Week 52}

3 Things Thursday LinkupHappy Thursday and more importantly Happy One Year of 3 Things Thursday! When we started this link up it was to share the little things in life that we loved: a new flavor of tea that we tried, the amazing lip gloss that we found, a song that we couldn’t stop singing or a new recipe we tried that everyone loved. We often wanted to share little bits of life with our readers, an entire blog post wasn’t warranted but didn’t want you to miss out either! That’s when 3 Things Thursday was created!

If you’ve been following along for the last year you’ve seen us grow as a community and make connections with fellow bloggers. Thank you for making those relationships with us, linking up and sharing peeks of you lives.

In celebration of our one year link up anniversary all three of your hosts (Raj, Salma & myself) are hosting a giveaway. All you have to do is enter below for a chance to win all three of our hand picked prizes. Oh and because it’s 3 Things Thursday, here are the 3 things we chose for the giveaway:

If you are new to 3 Things Thursday and would like to learn more check out my initial post about it. For directions on how to link up, follow the post!


rehal recipe reader rehal recipe reader

“As most of you have come to know I have a soft spot for childhood memories and Indian culture. Whether it be food, fashion or decor; I love when there is a little touch of ‘desi’ in the things I love most. For the giveaway I’m giving away a hand carved rehal (book stand) made from Kashmiri wood. I have fond memories of my Nanima (maternal grandmum) resting the Ramayana on it while reading stories to me. Because of its intricate detail I adore the idea of this being a kitchen showpiece – a place to rest and display your favorite cookbook or even just use while cooking when you have to flip through pages. Hoping this little part of me will make your everyday cooking routine more enjoyable.”


Jaipur Notebook

“I’m an old fashioned girl and I love writing putting pen to paper when jotting down my thoughts, making to-do lists, or trying my hand at poetry – so a notebook is my contribution to the one year giveaway for 3 Things Thursday! This notebook is extra special because I picked up from a little shop outside of Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, and it is completely handmade {and pink of course!} The pen was a find from the Amer Fort in Jaipur, and I think it’s the perfect little accessory for a desi girl. I hope the winner will enjoy penning some personal thoughts in this notebook – and who knows she might even find a special little note inside!”


book gift card

“For a first anniversary, the traditional gift is usually paper. Now I highly doubt that anyone would be excited to win paper. But then I thought, books! Not only are they made of paper, we love books in our house. Growing up, I was what someone would call, a “bookworm.” I couldn’t get enough of reading, now my kids love reading and I’m happy to share that with all of you! One lucky reader will get a gift card to a bookstore. If you’re Canadian, the gift card will be for Chapters. If you’re American, than it will be for Barnes & Noble. Happy Reading!”

If you are new to 3 Things Thursday and would like to learn more check out my initial post about it. For directions on how to link up, follow the post!

Now it’s your turn! Share your blog post in the link up below. Just a few rules (well requests really). Please link back to one or all of the hostesses; Nisha from Love Laugh Mirch, Raj from Pink Chai Living, or Salma from The Write Balance, and share a link to your post (not your blog’s home page). Feel free to use the 3 Things badge in your post. We’re looking forward to reading your posts! And don’t forget to enter out anniversary giveaway through the rafflecopter below.

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

3 Things Thursday {Week 50}

Florida Happy Thursday! I’m in Florida this week visiting my parents. Sharing some of my favorite things about the Sunshine State. Less words more pictures.


If you are new to 3 Things Thursday and would like to learn more check out my initial post about it. For directions on how to link up, follow the post!

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Family Time

Family Time [t w o]

Year round pool weather

Pool time

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Backyard Garden

backyard Garden

Now it’s your turn! Share your blog post in the link up below. Just a few rules (well requests really). Please link back to one or all of the hostesses; Nisha from Love Laugh Mirch, Raj from Pink Chai Living, or Salma from The Write Balance, and share a link to your post (not your blog’s home page). Feel free to use the 3 Things badge in your post. We’re looking forward to reading your posts!

An InLinkz Link-up

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