Thursday, April 16, 2015

This Place That I Call Home

I have always wanted to write about my lovely house on my blog. An opportunity for the same came knocking in the form of  'Starter Stories', a series started by (a  New York City based real estate platform), where bloggers write about their first / current house and how they made it their home.  

Ganesh (my husband) and I live in a three bedroom unit in an apartment complex in the city of Bangalore, India. We take life as it comes and don't really plan too much. Maybe our house is a reflection of that since it does not follow a particular style or pattern. Its a mix of modern and the traditional and comprises things collected over the years - gifts, holiday mementos, flea market purchases and loads of hand made goodies (by me :)). 

Welcome then to a tour of my happy place:). 

Image above: This is the main door. What you see hung on the door frame is called a 'toran', an ornamental piece, on either side  of which are bunches of paddy husks - both of which are considered auspicious and are meant to bring prosperity to the house. 

Image above: Our living room with basic brown and beige furniture. We have intentionally stayed away from adding too much here since we love open spaces. The sofa and the chairs were custom designed by us. The french windows open on to a nice balcony with lovely green views. 

Image above: A minimalistic TV unit also serves as a display space for gifts from friends. The painting above it is a traditional tribal style painting from the state of Maharashtra (called 'Warli' painting) usually depicting village life.  

Image above: The house came with light fixtures but the living room area was missing a central light source. I fixed the problem by making this chandelier with embroidery hoops and fairy lights :) 

Image above: The dining area. Though we are just the two of us, we invested in a big solid sheesham (Indian rosewood) six seater. We waited for a long time to get the right set since we wanted chairs without rexin or leather upholstery, which is what most stores seemed to stock at that time. This table has seen a lot of good food, fun and laughter with family and friends. It also often doubles up as a cutting table for my sewing projects.  

Image above: The master bedroom. This white four poster bed was a dream come true for me. We got it custom made and I made these lovely tulle curtains. These curtains bring back fond childhood memories of summer nights spent sleeping under mosquito nets in in my huge ancestral home. Of course we don't need the mosquito nets anymore but these tulle curtains lend the same dreamlike quality to the bed. The beanbag is also made by me.

Image above: My sewing space, in the far corner of the master bedroom. We made up for the shortage of storage space in the house by getting this white unit made from a pair of old castaway plywood boards, which I painted later. The boxes above the unit are also made by me from old shoe boxes (the teal ones) and a discarded fruit case (the pink polka box).

Image above: The dress form is a gift from my mother; I made a cover for it. I love sheer curtains for all my work spaces. The hat was bought at Sorrento during our Italian holiday. 

Image above: My inspiration board

Image above: The study. The box on the extreme right is the box the dress form came in; I have covered it with contact paper and it now holds all my sewing patterns. 

Image above: My favourite shelf! I love how versatile open shelves can be. This one here has my craft books and paint brushes and also serves as a display for a few cute things. The white lamb on top of the shelf is a memento from our New Zealand holiday while the framed picture of he two of us next to it was shot at Callendar in Scotland.   

A few more things that adorn my house. From left to right - 1. A painting of Goddess Durga using the batik technique, made and gifted by my cousin 2. This 'Tanjore' dancing doll  is much loved and has been with us for long 3. A ceramic plaque from Positano on the Amalfi coast in Italy 4. An intricate bead work piece made by my grandmother over fifty years ago which I got restored and framed. 

Image above: Any mention of this house would be incomplete without this breathtaking painting of a 'Bharatnatyam' (a traditional South Indian dance form) dancer that I instantly fell in love with at a street art fair in Bangalore called 'Chitra Santhe'. I love this dance form and have practised it for many years. 

And this is the place I call home. Serene, comfortable and lots of fun.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Baguettes for Valentine's Day

It happened one particular Valentine's day in Mumbai some years ago. My husband had booked us a table in a popular restaurant and we were looking forward to a lovely candlelit dinner. We reached the restaurant to find that it was bursting at its seams and the staff wasn't coping. It was absolute mayhem. We really shouldn't have bothered making a reservation. The whole situation would have been really funny if we hadn't been so hungry. In the end we were just glad we got something to eat.

So for the past few years, be it Valentine's day or New Year's eve we prefer to dine in. And every year I try something new always making sure that the menu is not very stressful. This year I planned to make baguettes to go with a simple pasta.

So for dinner on Valentine's day we had a simple pasta with vegetables in a bechamel and tomato sauce along with sliced baguette toasted with butter and garlic.

I followed 2 different recipes. I halved the ingredients of this recipe: Easy French Bread and because I thought the crust in the pictures looked a bit soft and I wanted a crustier bread I followed the directions stated in this recipe: Dan Leader's 4- hour baguette . I even sprayed the loaf before it went into the oven and then sprayed it again at the 5th min and then at the 15th minute. At 250 deg C it took 40 min to get a crusty French Baguette. It was just prefect.

I made them into 2 mini loaves since I use the convection option in my microwave oven for baking. The put the second loaf in the refrigerator to bake the next day. Crusty bread needs to be eaten fresh.

Since I did not get pictures of the loaf on the first day the first picture is that of the second day.

I baked another loaf the next day. This time the bread was a little bit dry but just as crusty. We enjoyed it with vegetable au gratin. My husband though did not find any difference in the bread. But then he just loves anything I make :)

We had a wonderful Valentine's weekend. Hope you did too.


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Painting a Wooden Cupboard

Like any crafter more storage space always features on my wish list. In my previous post, I had mentioned how the house that we recently moved into, though a lovely place, is short on storage space. I had to find a home for my craft supplies and craft books. And with that in mind, we got this storage unit made. And know what, I painted it myself! I’m absolutely thrilled with the how this turned out. It now sits next to my sewing table giving me easy access to my sewing supplies and books, which has resulted in faster and stress free sewing.

Finding a carpenter to make this was really an ordeal. We had 2 planks of wood which had been kept away in the balcony in our previous house. Though we had talked about making it into some kind of storage unit, it really wasn’t a priority. So there the planks lived in the balcony - through rainy days, and getting bloated on the sides with the water seeping into them. The carpenters we spoke to were not interested in making anything with the planks since they considered the project too small and quoted exorbitant prices. We eventually decided to discard the planks, but as a last ditch attempt got in touch with a Mr. Karim who thankfully turned out to be a very skilled carpenter who agreed to do the job.  He patiently listened to our requirements, put in his suggestions, and over two days, made this cupboard. He also gave me suggestions about how to go about painting it and approximate quantities of supplies required.

And here is the finished cupboard with 6 shelves.

We were delighted with how this turned out. I complimented Mr. Karim on a job well done to which he told me that his family has been into carpentry for generations. He remarked that it was certainly not easy to get regular work. What impressed me most was that though uneducated himself, he is trying his best to get his children educated. Isn't it sad that someone so talented and willing to work hard is finding it difficult to get work. That's when I decided to put in my bit.

So, if you are looking for a (Bangalore based) carpenter who is hard working, sincere, skilled, understands requirements and delivers on it, you must contact Mr. Karim. I would be very happy if, with a little mention on my blog, this man gets an opportunity to find more work.  So, with his permission, I am putting up his number, which is 9663389954.

Now to the painting part. It certainly wasn’t easy but not too difficult either. The process to be followed is thus:

!. Primer – After sanding the surface with Sand Paper 180, I applied the first coat of primer. I used wood primer by Asian Paints.  The primer needs to be diluted using a thinner / turpentine oil.

2. After letting it dry for 6-8 hrs I applied putty to fill in dents. I used Acrylic Wall Putty by Asian Paints.

Here is how this looked before putty was applied.

After application of putty.

And here is how the final surface looks after sanding, a second coat of primer and then paint.

3.(Continuing from point 2) -Once that was done, I went ahead sanding the surface with sandpaper 180 and then applied the second coat of primer and allowed it to dry once more for 6 to 8 hrs.

4. After sanding the surface for the last time with sandpaper 320 , I painted it with white paint. I used Apcolite Gloss by Asian Paints.  I applied 2 coats with drying time inbetween. I had planned to paint the shelves lilac but in the interest of time I went ahead with a total white look.

This shelf reiterated the fact that nothing comes close to the joy and pride of a DIY project :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Year and a Poem

Wishing you all a very very Happy New Year!! Hope this year has begun on a wonderful note for you. I am glad that 2014 has come to an end. The last few months were particularly stressful. We had to shift to another house since the owner of the house that we were living in sold it. But on the brighter side our new house is much cuter albeit with lesser storage space - which has been a blessing in disguise since it has forced us to throw away all the unnecessary clutter. It is also a much warmer house. I'm looking forward to happy days here.

On New Year's eve  I wrote a erm...poem. It just came to me :) I have never written a poem before. Ok, I wrote one a couple of months ago. It was called "Life under repair" and was just 4 lines long. This time I wrote a longer one and since I'm feeling a bit brave I'm posting this.

Title: Dear New Year

My dear new year
I'm so happy you are here

I hope you give me chances
To break into happy dances

Let time not run in a frenzied pace
I want to meet my friends face-to-face

I'm looking forward to days
When you show that hard work pays

Let there be days of peace and calm
For the soul there's no better balm

Let there be moments of solitude
And moments to look back with gratitude

Let there always be good food
Cos it always puts me in a good mood

These are some wishes from me
I'm not that fussy you see

I'm saying this again dear new year
I'm very happy that you are here.
I'm very happy that you are here.

Though things have been a bit crazy I've managed to get some projects done. I can't wait to put them up. See you in my next post!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lining a Knit Baby Blanket


My mother loves the colour mustard . It works very well with grey. And that's what inspired this baby blanket. Its a simple rectangular blanket in garter stitch knit with 4.5 mm needles which gives it an open texture. The border is crocheted in a shell stitch pattern. It measures around 30 x 36 inches.

The yarn is Glamour by Supreme from The Happy Hands Store

The blanket is lined with a very pretty strawberry printed cotton fabric. This was my first attempt at lining a blanket. My mother and I worked on it together and once it was done I couldn't believe how amazing it looked.

So here are my notes on how I went about lining the blanket:

I started with 2 adjacent sides of the blanket. To do this I cut the lining fabric into a larger rectangle than the blanket itself. Laying the lining fabric wrong side up on the floor I marked 1inch lines from 2 adjacent edges. I used 1 inch as the seam allowance. So the  marked lines became the fold lines along which the blanket would be attached.

Placing the blanket wrong side down I matched the fold lines with the edge of the blanket and started pinning. The crocheted border is not lined.

The picture below shows the blue line which is the fold line. I used a pen with disappearing ink. You just spray water on it and the ink disappers.

The picture below shows the 2 edges pinned.

Once this was done I was left with fabric on the top.

Again marking a line 1inch away from the top edge I cut out the excess fabric. Folding the seam allowance inwards I pinned this edge too. Working in the same way the fourth side was also pinned.
I added additional pins to the inner rectangle as well.

 My mother sewed up all the pinned edges using  basting stitches. These were later finished using whip stitches all around. She also added some more diagonal stitches from the corners of the outer rectangle to the inner one. You could even do parallel lines of stitches.

When it was all done all of us spent a good amount of time ooh-aahing. Once everyone got back to their respective activities I spent some more time wrapping it around myself, twirling it, folding it, opening it all over again to admire it and generally wasting copious amounts of time( totally optional)

The next day it was lovingly wrapped and gifted to my cousin's cute little baby. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Printed Culottes

Remember the palazzo pants I made early last year. This is from the same pattern. I used cotton this time and to make my culottes just reduced the length. Medium weight cotton worked just great and it was really nice to work with cotton after so long. I used one of my machine stitches to blind hem the culottes. It worked fabulously.

I just love the blazer that I'm wearing. Its actually my sister's. She is the same size as me :)

In other news, a new yarn line has been added to the store - Dani by Supreme in 6 gorgeous colours. Its a 100% acrylic yarn and has 125 metres in a 45gm ball. More details here :


Monday, October 6, 2014

My Very First Interview

Recently I was interviewed by an online magazine called Smart Indian Women. For a change, it felt nice to talk about myself and of course about my blog which was the hero of the piece.

Here is the link to the interview :