Feb 11

Lippan art work from Kutch

My recent trips to Himachal, Punjab and the Kutch region in Gujarat have made me appreciate our country’s diverse culture more than ever before and I stand amazed seeing the quantum of richness that we are gifted with. Well, one might think what is there in the barren Rann of Kutch, but then the beautiful artisan villages surrounding the Rann remove all the barrenness in the heart, especially for the art lover in me. Its fascinating to know that each tribe from that region has its own signature textile embroidery and the name of the karigari is derived from the name of the tribe e.g. Rabari, Aari or paako. So,the next time I step into a Gurjari Emporium I know what to ask for πŸ™‚

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Its interesting to see that some of the art styles have evolved because of a need. One such art is the Lippan Kaam, a traditional mural craft of the Kutch region. It is a simple mud and mirror work done on the inner and outer walls of a house. This is believed to keep the house cool during summer and a single lamp would be enough to light up the whole house. I was so impressed with this work that i designed a small patch for our house. As usual I added a flavour of the South and went with “Aishwaryam” kolam pattern in the center, which is a symbol to welcome Goddess Lakshmi. In this way I also make sure that even if the states in our country are not united, my artwork will have them bonded πŸ™‚ This time, I was pleased to see the Gujarat float in the Republic day parade completely embellished with the Lippan work. As the saying goes “Kutch nahi dekha toh kucch Nahi dekha” …is so true!

written by Vidhya

Aug 29

candy_theme_birthday_party

Akshara wanted a Candy Theme for her 8th birthday party. This time though, with Advika around, it was difficult to do all the elaborate planning which we usually do. So, it was a last minute rush to get all the ideas and decorations ready for the party. The presence of my BIL & his wife, Rajaram’s mom helped a lot to get things done on time. Rajaram of course contributed by staying away πŸ™‚

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The ideas were split into decorative items, menu items (that which can be consumed), return gifts and wearables.

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We made candy necklaces. This was made using a satin ribbon and tying up candies on them to resemble a necklace. I wasn’t sure whether the boys would fancy wearing a necklace, so i made a bow-tie for them. Gems has a 10 rupee long packet. A black satin ribbon was used to tie by pinching it at the center to resemble a bow-tie.

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candy_theme_birthday_party_decorations

We created an arch with couple of cardboard boxes and some chart paper. The candies were made by rolling coloured cellophane paper on thin bottles. The lollipops were made by sticking coloured paper strips on circular pieces of cardboard and rolling up newspapers to make the stick.

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I made a simple chocolate bouquet by sticking various long chocolates onto a circular thermocol piece placed in a vase. We also made candy skirts for barbie dolls. The candies were chosen based on the colour of the dress.

candy_theme_birthday_party

I wanted to make many things for the kids to munch on. We stuck coloured jujubes on a stick and then put them up on a thermocol decoration to resemble jujube kebabs. I had also bought cooking chocolate bars and then using a smiley mould, made smiley chocolate lollypops.

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candy theme snacks birthday party

We made vanilla muffins and put a candy on top of each of them. Using gingerbread man cutters, i made cookies. Going with the colourful theme, we put a small amount of assorted gems in a small cup and topped it off with strawberry cotton candy.

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candy_theme_birthday_party snacks

For the return gifts, we included a small glass jar filled with various types of candies and a satin ribbon for a bow. The first idea i got when planning for this party was to make a train. We made one by stacking a kit-kat and a five star for the body, hershey’s kisses for the steam spout, glucovita bolts to make the circular section of the engine, coffee bite for the back and stuck together with a cellotape to bring in the brown colour. For the wheels, we originally had thought gold coin chocolates, but we couldn’t get enough of them. Then, jim jam biscuits were used for the wheels.

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candy_theme_birthday_party

What’s a birthday party without games? We had many small games, the prizes for which were, of course, chocolates and candies.

written by Vidhya

Jun 16

framed monogram return gifts

“Monogram” – A design with one or more letters, mostly the initials of a name, used as an identifying mark.

It was Advika’s first birthday party and I wanted to come up with customised return gifts for the kids.I thought of making monogram picture frames with kid friendly designs with the first letter of each kid’s name. The easier way would have been to get them done online through some print shop, but then i wanted to completely customise it to my interest and hence decided to do them myself. I started off with the basic raw materials like card stock, flashy stickers, buttons etc. It was fun creating my own designs , letting my imagination run wild with all the scrap material that I had at home. The result was quite satisfactory and I got them box framed.

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framed monogram return gifts

framed monogram return gifts

Monogrammed initials are not something new but have been around for centuries. History suggests that a ruler in a particular period used to stamp the coins with his initials for authentication purposes. It has also been widely used by artisans, craftsmen to put their initials on their piece of work.
So, what are you waiting for? Get yourself monogrammed and make your identity seen for ages πŸ™‚

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framed monogram return gifts

written by Vidhya

Jun 15

bib_necklace_for_kids

‘Bib Necklace’? What’s that, exclaimed Rajaram!

I then had to explain to him that it’s nothing but a necklace which is huge like a bib and usually worn with a low neck evening gown. There is more to a bib necklace than it just being an accessory. Bib necklaces have been prevalent right from the period of Cleopatra to Victoria to Alexandra to Elizabeth ..and finally have found their way to my princesses:) It’s also interesting to note that the intricate design and the vibrant colours of the beaded bib necklaces worn by the Maasai tribe in Kenya not only add to their beauty but also make a statement about the person wearing it. I never thought that a colour in our accessory would mean so much, like red for bravery, white for peace, blue for the energy & sky, orange for hospitality, green for health and black representing people and their struggles.

bib_necklace_for_kids

I came up with the idea of making bib necklaces for Akshara’s fashion themed birthday party. Well,I didn’t have organic beads, ivory or heavy metals to make them and hence i resorted to simple materials like felt and gemstones that the little girls would adore. I chose to create my own designs and the glue gun came in handy for the sticking part. As a final touch, i tagged a piece of satin ribbon on the edges of the bib necklace so that it could embrace the pretty necks.

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written by Vidhya

Nov 08

Once the Navratri Golu was dismantled, i was left with lots of colourful bangles lying around from the Bangle Rangoli i had done. Rather than finding a way to pack and store the bangles safely, i thought of an idea of converting them into tea light candle holders. I had seen this somewhere online and had always wanted to give it a try. Its such a cool and simple project that involves stacking the bangles on top of each other and glueing them together, that even the kids canΒ do it with great ease πŸ™‚

Bangle Tealight Candle Holder

With Diwali just around the corner, here are some more ideas to dress up a LED light string. These are more of “Best out of waste” projects.
Pretty flowers made out of egg cartons

Light Decoration from Egg Cartons

Origami cubes made from colorful flyers & waste paper which deserve a much better place than a dustbin πŸ™‚

Light Decor from paper balls

written by Vidhya

Apr 04

green summer cooler drink

The tartness of this fermented drink caused by the action of lactic acid bacteria and the health benefits due to the probiotic microbes in it make it a favourite for the summer season. Btw, this drink is known as buttermilk, in simpler terms! Effect of writing a post after reading too many “3-idiots” jokes πŸ™‚

Since the “flavour” of the season seems to be “go green”, I decided to add a dash of green to the standard buttermilk. Blend together a handful of mint leaves, curry leaves, coriander leaves, pieces of raw mango, ginger, gooseberry along with some curd,salt and asafoetida. Strain the blended mixture by adding lot of water to get the thin desired consistency.
Sip away your drink and have a cool day !

written by Vidhya

Oct 12

Flower_lollies

Joy of giving week is an annual charity event celebrated in many companies across India. As part of the event, Rajaram’s workplace organises a “food fair” where employees/spouses put up food stalls and the revenue generated from the sales is given to charity.

Rather than making just any dish for the stall, I wanted to make something which was attractive to see and to taste but still conveyed a meaning. So, I chose to make a flower. Giving a flower to someone symbolises affection and the feeling of sharing. This is the essence behind “joy of giving” and I wanted the person handing out the “flower” and the person buying it to feel this.

Last year, I made a “honey bee”. That was much more time-consuming to make. This year, it was a bit simpler (or at least I thought so when I planned). The dough (made of biscuits,milk powder and milkmaid) would form the main part with different coloured chart papers forming the petals. I melted chocolate bars and dipped the flower in them forming the topping for the flower. The paper cuttings did take up a lot of time with me having to outsource part of the work to Rajaram. So, all the irregular shaped ones are made by him πŸ™‚

written by Vidhya

Aug 07

DIY Rakhi for the brother

The memory of Rakhshabandhan from my school days is that it used to be the only day when girls used to run after the boys to tie Rakhi πŸ™‚ Every year I step into a shop to buy a Rakhi for my brother. But this year I chose to make my own Rakhi. As expected, Akshara wanted to follow suit and make some Rakhis for her friends. So, we sat down together and started crafting the Rakhis based on some themes (chota bheem, lion, bird..). The raw materials that I used are very common things that one can find in any household. Just let your imagination flow freely to build these beautiful strings of love and affection.

Make your own Rakhi

A closeup of the Rakhi. The base is a circular piece of thermocol. On top of it are multiple layers of paper quills. The ‘pearls’ have been made with Sago (Sabudhana). Click for a better view.

Paper Quilling Rakhis

written by Vidhya

Jul 18

This has been a long pending post and I felt that this is the right time to bring back some memories from Akshara’s earlier birthday parties. Making the arrangements for Akshara’s birthday party is one of the tasks that I enjoy doing every year. It does take a lot of time and effort from our side but the outcome makes all of that worthwhile. “Why not call a party planner?” may be the question that pops in your mind but believe me, the amount of satisfaction that you get in doing the things on your own and the kids liking them brings a lot of happiness.
Here, I have summed up some ideas that we had come up with over the years based on the party theme for that particular year. Hope you enjoy reading this lengthy post πŸ™‚

5th Birthday Party (Theme: Princesses and Pirates)

Princess and Pirate, a beautiful and deadly combination by itself πŸ™‚

Pirate hats, swords and masks for the boys
The hats were made using black chart paper, feathers, glossy tapes.
The swords were rolled out of newspapers with a coating of silver paint which gave a real metal effect. Egg cartons used for the cross-guard.
Princess crowns,magical wands for the girls
Pink handmade paper was used to make the crowns with satin ribbons and some embellishments.
The wand was a simple one made with a chopstick and a pink star.

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princess_crown_wand

Princess and Pirate round badges were made to order after some customization with names of the kids.

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Pink(strawberry) and blue(citrus blue) drink for the kids.

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Sweet wands.

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Princess theme cake, Disney princesses and the Pirate faces.
The Disney princesses were made using small cake moulds (for the gown part) and the figurines (from Disney magical moment doll set) inserted into them to get the real look. Of course some frosting and icing in the appropriate colour was done to give the final glow.
Pirate faces were made using the desired icing on banana muffins.

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A mini treasure hunt for the boys.
A map was crafted by pouring some tea extract and burning the edges to give a real old, torn look.
The treasure hunt took them to a nearby book shop and from there they had to go to a friend’s place to collect a small pouch of chocolate gold coins πŸ™‚

treasure_hunt_map

Return gifts for the Pirates.
Wheat flour storage bag converted into a pirate rucksack with lot of goodies like magnetic compass,book about pirates,kaleidoscope etc
Return gifts for the Princesses.
Pink paper bags with items like princess key chains,photo frames,jewel sets etc

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Dairy milk chocolate bar with customized wrapper

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4th Birthday Party (Theme:The Teddy)

This was the year when Akshara started choosing a theme for her birthday party. She had developed a craze for teddies and that is how we ended up having a teddy themed party. We had ordered a Hawaiian bear design for the cake.

Hawaiian_bear_cake

Fun food items.

Yummy Honey bees with the concept of “Winnie and honey” πŸ™‚

The recipe was quite simple : mix some marie biscuit powder, milk powder and milkmaid to get the body and use slit almonds for the wings. Finally top it with some designs using Hersheys chocolate syrup.

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Honey loop cones – ice cream cones filled with honey loops

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Teddy pancakes

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Return gifts
We had planned for some assorted customized gifts like popsicle photo puzzles , photo puzzles piled in a jar, photo frames etc. Unfortunately I missed talking a pic of them.

3rd Birthday party (Theme: Nursery Rhymes)

Akshara used to like rhymes a lot and so I came up with the idea of having a party based on it.

Humpty Dumpty cake..If you have a closer look at the cake you will notice that Humpty Dumpty (with a broken leg) already had fallen by the time we brought him home from the cake shop πŸ™‚ (Thanks to Rajaram for this!)

Humpty_Dumpty_cake

Teddy bear biscuits...featuring the rhyme “Teddy Bear Teddy Bear turn around”

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Return Gifts.
We had ordered customized story books for the smaller kids. One of the character in the story would be Akshara and the rest of the characters would be her friends themselves.
For the older kids we had ordered customized school bag tags with their photos on it.

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2nd Birthday Party (Theme:Farm animals)

Akshara used to be obsessed with animals and at that age of two she used to call out and make their sounds whenever she spotted them.So we decided to have a farm animals inspired theme party.

Farm house with farm animals cake.

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Made to order farm animal cookies.

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Home made return gift bags.
It was fun making bags out of charts and satin ribbons and having Akshara’s hand stamped on them.The contents in the bag were quite assorted mostly some stuff we had bought from Malaysia & Indonesia (best places to buy fancy things)

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return_gift_bag_personalisation

written by Vidhya

Apr 09

paper_coasters

Every time I see the old newspapers lying in the storeroom they remind me patiently “free us from this place”. I have been behind Rajaram for months to get this cleaned up but I guess the time has not come yet. So, just for a change I chose few privileged newspapers, moved them to our coffee table after transforming them into beautiful coasters. I am not sure if the newspapers were happy after being soaked in so much glue and colours but they definitely brightened up my coffee table πŸ™‚

written by Vidhya