Thursday, November 20, 2014

DIY : Festive Beaded Garland with Air dry Clay

Happy Friday All,

If you have some clay at hand and a small stick to poke holes and some craft paint at hand with patience (the only tough part) this is easy, too easy.

Making beads out of clay, polymer or terracotta is nothing new. The jewelry made out of this cheap and flexible material is kind of rage now, isn't it? The technique is the same, only the purpose is different here.

Here are the primary supplies:

How- To:

Make small beads with the clay by rolling a bit of clay with your hands. Once you have desired shape with a skewer or needle make small hole through the beads. Make sure the hole you make is big enough to thread a relatively strong string. Make a batch with as many number as you need the garland to be.

Next is the most difficult step, to let the clay dry properly. This will take minimum a day based on temperature and humidity around. Once thoroughly dry , paint it in preferred color and thread and use where you want.

Now, using polymer clay makes the whole process faster and since you get them in variety colors you can even skip the painting part.

I prefer air dry clay for two reasons though. For one it is cheaper, for around $4 (after coupons) you get a large tub at Michaels Stores. Polymer clay is costlier at that. For second, polymer clay has "poly" that is PVC in it which makes air dry one better for us with my little helper having a helping hand in everything that goes on here. But if you have polymer clay available, go for it.

I have mixed wood beads here with my clay ones, for one I had them in hand, for two I love the look of wood tones mixed with the beads, for third I am lazy.

And where does she hang? Well she hangs out with the antler (from Michaels, it was card board which I spray painted gold) bringing in a bit of X'Mas charm.

Happy Crafting,

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

DIY : Gold Tray for Golden Season

OK. I admit I have one too many trays here. Yet every time I see a new one at a place like Target or an old beaten one at a thrift store I have this urge to get them. So each time I see an interesting tray, I would grab and keep in my cart and walk through the store finding an excuse to buy it (you know that guilty conscience!). I fail miserably most of the time because in a 700 sq ft house there is only so much space for new and newer trays.

But not a few weeks ago in Goodwill. This one is special because it is very well designed, for people like me who like to tweak things, change things every now and then which most of the times is not the case. This one had a detachable bottom and a glass top. You know what it means right! I don't have to use mod podge or a glue or a staple gun neither have I got to paint it to change the look and feel. Simple cutting of paper or fabric in size would do the trick. I would love to give a hug to the one who designed this tray. I am so in love.

Since it is holidays season in town, I gave it a gold treatment. When spring & summer comes I would love blooms and colors just like I change photo in a frame. How cool is that?

So here you can see the winter/holiday version. In my enthusiasm I forgot to take the step of spray painting the frame. Bad blogger example. Anyways you get the point. Spray paint the frame in gold first. Why gold? Because it is a classic color and almost every design (now and later) would go with it never having to change the frame color (never say never - breaking another blogger rule here).

Most of the steps here is self explanatory. Only one other thing for you to do here is to decide on a gift wrap/paper/fabric that would make the base of the tray and cut them in size and pop it into the frame (like any other photo frame). It doesn't matter what the quality of the material used is, because of the glass top. Not that it is such a big deal to cut a piece of Plexiglass sheet to use as topper for any tray.

You know what comes next right? Filling it up with whatever you need. On the coffee table I mostly have a book and vase and random stuff me/Girish/Akshara is using at the time. Normally there would be a remote too (I have a basket to keep it, but it would end up on the table anyways), today I can't find it because it also acts as phone for Akshara.

Here are some close up shots.

My point here is a tray is a great thing to have on the table ( any where ), because any junk would look better if corralled and organised.

So happy organizing, happy crafting.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tablescape : Pumpkins and Fall Leaves

Autumn is the season to eat pumpkins and gourds and adore the beautiful fall colors. There are thousands of recipes to try with the pumpkins and another thousands of ways to decorate with fall leaves yet I decided to take on the same combination to make this tablescape. Why? Because they are irresistible and charming and I can not "not do" this.

This is yet another tablescape I did for my magazine feature ( It is also a tablescape on which I spent nothing other than some time and effort. The fun part is with some colorful leaves and flowers from the garden and some fruits and vegetables from kitchen you can take your table from ordinary to special and pretty.

I know it would be overkill to explain the "to make" part because these pictures speak for themselves. It is simple, colorful, happy yet organic. As you can see I have set it up outside to get better picture, but it lasted for weeks on our dining table with occasional change of water and of-course you have to change the vegetables as and when you use them up. (How do I insert  a smiley here? You can't see but imagine I am smiling here)

So go around your neighborhood, collect as many bounties as you can possibly collect and set them on your table, make your dear ones feel special and as in my case get the ordinary food to taste special.

Hope your weekend was relaxed and memorable,
Keep Smiling and enjoy your surroundings.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

DIY : Faux Malachite Bowl for Floating Candles

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you would know that I have a thing for painting things. I can paint, rather I am willing to paint anything - paper, plastic, vinyl, metal, wood, clay, canvas, glass, walls, ceilings - I haven't even left our poor fan alone. Anyways my point is I love painting.

Today's DIY is painting just one another thing lying around here for a while now. I bought two bowls from the local thrift store when this "succulent terrarium" thing was hot, actually it is still hot in the blogland I believe since it is a thing of beauty. In my enthusiasm I painted the first one red and planted some but they soon died, like a 'month soon' died. It made an appearance here.For a fact, I did try again, multiple times until my poor husband asked me to stop spending money to kill.

For that reason I left the other one alone in a deep drawer and forgot about it. Then I came across this cool project from Little Green Notebook blog and felt this "compulsion" to do something similar. I love painting, I told you right! So I started looking out for a surface to do the same and during a de-cluttering spree ( do you ever do that?) came across my bowl again.

To cut the already long story short I painted my bowl with faux malachite effect ( I hope so) .

Supplies :

1. Two shades of green acrylic paint , one darker than the other. ( I did not have in hand, so just mixed a bit of black to make it darker.

2. Paint brush ( Best if you have what they call "fan" brush - if not no worries, regular one will work too)

3. A bowl, rather a surface to do this.

4. Sealer. I use my Mod-Podge all the time. But poly acrylic sealers are recommended for protecting such surfaces.

How-to :

This is a simple project. The trick is to use a brush that has bristles with some width and loading half of the brush with one shade and the other half with the other shade. Once you have the brush set up, paint with your hand moving in circles as in the above picture.

The result is :

That's it. I fill the bowl with some water and light some candles from time to time, to make some of our evenings a bit warm and special.

I love how the flame reflects in the water against the pattern. Isn't it pretty? Here are some detailed shots of it.

And if you like a neat before & after shot, here you go.

Happy Friday friends, have a great weekend.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Simple & Colorful Tablescape

A beautifully decorated table takes a regular dinner from ordinary to extra ordinary, right! We splurge or wait to splurge (like me) on our dinnerware, glassware, table linen and even cutlery just to make dining special for friends and family - especially on festive occasions.

In my case, our temporary, non immigrant situation still prevails and for that reason I am yet to get me some classy dinnerware and tableware, and my cooking situation is not that special either, so I always device plans to have a pretty something on my dining table that would take any attention to those things away and far away.

How do we do that now? A pretty centerpiece  is always the best solution. That way your family and your guests feel happy, relaxed and special even with not-so-special 'other things' on the table. A nice view, some great conversation, laughter in the air and great wine (Do we need that?) - All you need for a memorable evening.

As part of a feature for the November edition of my magazine - Malayali, I had created 3 tablescapes rather centerpieces that are simple, organic yet budget friendly. I say budget friendly because I know for a fact that if you don't have a great flower garden, having fresh flowers is a bit expensive. My approach here was to get smallest possible bouquet (mine was $3 from Trader Joe's- they have amazing selection at lowest cost, yet lasting for at least 2-3 weeks) and combine it with with some from neighbors and friend's homes. I may or may not have stolen one or two from our community garden. In autumn, branches and leaves will go a long way for the variety of colors.

Just to add a twist, I switched traditional vase for a cabbage (it tastes as yummy as it looks). Only thing to do there is to carve out the center to fit in a small glass. Then I placed the glass inside and filled water half way through.

If you have just one variety of flowers, then it is a no brainer - use some flower tape, regular tape will work too in grids and fill up the outer ones first and work towards the center. Make the stems longer as you go inwards creating a nice curve. If you have a varied selection of flowers and leaves, then you have to be mindful how those colors work together. I arranged my bigger pieces first, some single and some grouped, and threw in the green leaves to break the monotony of colors.

One thing not to forget is to have a few candles to light up. The warm glow of a candle makes any setting delicious.

There are 2 more simple settings, which I will share in the days to come. I must thank my friend Priyaroopan for the beautiful pictures.

So what do you think? What are your tricks and tips to make dinners special?

Keep Smiling,

P.S : These were originally conceived and created for Fall Issue of Malayali - Find the details here.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Fall for these Fallen Leaves

I believe with all my heart that autumn is the season when nature looks and feels the best. This fall season, autumn-2014 is especially close to my heart for many reasons. This fall is also the season where I have taken conscious walks around the neighborhood, sometimes with my little girl for the pleasure of it and sometimes, to beg, borrow or steal flowers and leaves.

I had decided to get some leaves to dry between the pages of my journal ( the real one, not the digital version) as souvenirs of the season even though collecting stuff is really my little girl's thing (she collects anything - leaves, rocks, feathers, branches, paper pieces, wraps - anything by road side and pavements are for her "collection". I thought I will save up to show her when she grows up.

But the other day when we walked around after school and came home with a bunch of leaves, she directly went to the fridge to put up some leaves on it with magnets. That made me think, why not frame them and keep for a few days before I move them to my book. They will make her happy and also adds a bit of fall "charm".

I had those frames for some years now, they are from target clearance. They are kind of floating frames, in the sense that, they didn't come with a mat, instead art is supposed to be sandwiched b/w two glass pieces. But this will work perfectly fine with an ordinary frame too and instead of leaves you can use flowers or feathers there.

The leaves are already drying but I kind of like the organic vibe they have while drying.

Wanna see the beautiful scene we walk through every day? here we go.

Front yard of Akshara's School

Only down side is this is the fag end of fall - most of the leaves have fallen and the rest will go away in a few days - another windy day or an un-called rain - they all will be gone and the long wait for the spring will begin. I am hoping these pictures will keep them alive at the least in our minds, for I love fall, I love it the most among all other seasons.

Have you ever fallen for the nature's beauty like us? How do you savor the seasons and memories?

I am hoping you had a wonderful weekend and all geared up for a great week ahead.

Stay blessed,