Non Traditional Tree with Photo Prints.

This was originally conceived and executed for a feature for Malayali Magazine. This one was for December edition and we needed something in X'Mas theme. Since the traditional tree and ornaments and their all imaginable varieties are playing all around us, I thought I would skip it and do something non-traditional. Thus was my photo print tree born.This one is not only non-traditional but also can last through seasons and festivals yet bring back beautiful memories every time you look at it.

It is simple to make. You would need :

1. Photos printed in 4*4 or 3*3 grids ( Basically wallet sized or smaller pictures ). I created a photo collage with  and printed them out in our home printer in A4 sized paper. Then I cut them out in circles.

2. Cork tiles in circle shape. I bought a bunch of them after the Halloween clearance from Michaels. If you don't have it, cutting down packing card board boxes or shoe boxes would do the trick.

3. Mod Podge

4. Washi Tape or marker to mark border of the tree.

5. Branches from backyard for stems.

6. Scotch Glue Dots. 

How- To :

This is simple and kid friendly craft. First you decide on the size of the tree you need to create and number of photo circles you would need to make it. I have done 8 Circles for the bottom grid and reduced one each for the next layer, working from bottom of the tree to top until I had exactly one at the top. I had to have 36 tiles for my tree of reasonable size.

Once I arranged this roughly on the floor, I cut down the photos and glued them on to the cork tiles. I gave a thin layer of mod podge treatment for added sheen and protection.

This is most of the work you have.  To make the tree itself, I marked a small line to hold 8 corks for the bottom line. You can use yarn or tape to mark of straight lines. I chose the scotch glue dots for getting the tiles on the wall. The glue dots are re-usable and they don't leave a mark. This also helps if you need re-arranging.

Once the tree was done, I used the washi tape ( They can be pricey, especially if you look for patterned designs.I grab them when ever I have 50% off coupons for Michales) had in hand to mark the borders and glued the branches for stem.

That's it, your memory tree is ready. So print out some of your favorite moments of the year and make one. I am sure it will bring a smile on your face every time you look at them.

How did my tree fit in grand scheme of things ? That is the whole feature in December Edition of Malayali Magazine and some more.

Hope all of you are doing great.
Keep Smiling,

DIY : Winter In a Wine Glass

Hey All welcome back to This Design Journal,

I didn't do much of holiday decorations at home this year. Mainly because we are taking a vacation back home in India and around the rural world that is here, seasonal decorating isn't a big thing. Rather most of the home decorating/designs here are permanent fixtures, once done is done kind.More on that later.

Today's matter of interest is one of the very few crafts we (me & my little one) did before leaving, with a wine glass that was lying around here. The supplies are very basic and the craft itself is low profile but a nice and interesting scene.

First we gathered the supplies from backyard. After cleaning the glass nicely, we first filled it with a layer of soil and then mixed some snow flakes.

Next we glued on some leaves on the glass and  ( because that is the color in vogue! this season ) and placed some painted acorns randomly in the glass along with small twigs. I had some left over glitter paper which I folded in the shape of cone and stuck it on a small twig to make a fake tree. We had a small bird ornament from last year's X'Mas tree, so added that in the mix. Reindeer, Santa, Snow man or any other animal figurine would have done wonders here. I just used what I had in hand.

The LED lamp was actually an after- thought. I just felt it lacked some bling in the night so used a small LED candle to make it stand out on the shelf.

That's it. A snowy winter captured in a wine glass.

Hope all of you are having a wonderful time.We are already home in India and settling down.

See you soon with something new next time.

Take Care,

Room Tour : Our Dining Room

I have shared most part of our home here in the blog, except for kitchen and dining space. I put it off for many reasons, most important being, "not knowing" how to photograph these two. I thought as time passes by I will learn the technique by some magic which hasn't happened yet. I haven't done a great job of it today either, but since I don't believe that I would learn how to photograph it well anytime soon, today is the day.

In my defense it is a long room, long and not that wide. I couldn't really get a good wide angle picture, but hope you get the idea.

It is the open design plan where living,dining and kitchen are all but one room.But there is a small ceiling beam that divides the living and dining areas well enough, so visually there is a good separation between the rooms.

The dining space as such is not big and it is not small either if it's only function was to be a dining room. I find it a bit confining only because the space is really 4-in-1 in terms of function - meaning, we use it as a dining space, work space with the desk area, passage way between living and kitchen and also to backyard and also our primary crafting/art/project area. It does lives large though within the humble means.

Can you spot "Friday DIY" there?

I had my desk in the far corner of the room until recently. Had to change it when we were hard pressed for some extra storage for my growing art & craft supplies and paper work. So got two shelves that could flank the dining table. The shelves are from Ikea, the thinnest ( is that word correct?) one I could find in a small budget ( though $100 is not small by any standards for me). But they are kind of cute right! I love them so much that I have forgiven myself for spending a hundred instead of regular and thrifted book shelves. For bonus it feels great to fill them up with my creations and tweaked goods. Anyways, moving on..

Our dining table is also from Ikea, the glass top keeps it as much airy as possible. I always make it a point to have something nice on the table to distract from all the "space congestion" going on there. The chairs have been with us for past 5 years which I recover with curtain panels. I wrote about them here.

I have my work desk on one side, I pull up one of the dining chairs when needed as I don't have space for anything there. When I have projects that take up more space or our little girl has her friends over, we push the table to the other wall. The table isn't heavy and that helps.

The other wall has the newer shelves. It is great to have the extra space to keep my craft stuff and crafted ones too. They hold things from the internet/phone paraphernalia to pretty plant pots. Documents and files to fabric scraps. I am proud to say that most everything on those shelves have some sort of "hand made" touch to them. They are all made or tweaked by us ( me & Akshara), reminiscence of our afternoon "art sessions".

Date, Time & Location!!!

The breakfast bar area is really small and it is kind of Girish's office. Meaning he does his e-mail/mail checks, bill payments and he even watches movies there. I make it my own during day time. I think I write better when I do it from there. My point is, it is our favorite place to sit and relax alone.

A few more shots, I think we have seen almost all nooks and corners of the room.

Wow, so many elements in this picture has my "hand stamp" on them

One of my favorite books, hope Akshara will enjoy it too..

Tired yet? Do you have to pack a ton of functions in small space like us too? Do you have a better layout in mind for this room? Do let me know your thoughts.

Take Care,Keep Smiling,

Christmas Ornaments - The DIY Way

We don't have big Christmas plans this year. There is one and only one reason for that - We are going to my parent's home in India this week end, which I have known for a few months now. So no big plans. For that reason I haven't put up the tree either.

But I did take out my smaller table top tree for a feature for the magazine I write for. I couldn't put it back though because its presence is festive, pure happiness and when it lights up, our little girl is ecstatic. I had ornaments from last year, pink and purple and blue which I used up to make a wreath for the magazine feature. I had left the tree bare (it is too small for that to be bothersome) but when Vidya and her blogger friends started this 12 days of ornaments series, I was inspired.It helped that I have some clear plastic ones I bought way back in September.

I had no plans to spend any money, meaning "none at all", on Christmas this year for the reasons mentioned above - So I just used what I had in my craft supply to whip up some, for bonus it was fun for the little one who loves glitter and gluing.

So here we go,

1. Washi Taped Ornaments

The only supply I used are the clear glass ornaments I had from Michaels, They have made an apperance multiple times here on the blog, like here and the ones shown above. To turn them into tree worthy, I just spray painted two in white and wrapped them around with washi tape.

2. Frosted Glass Ornament

This set also has spray paint involved. I had frosted glass paint in my stash for a long time, so tried that with the first one. I just used the frosted glass paint just the way you use regular spray paint. Let it cure for a day and then painted over with regular craft paint. It will be better if you have a roller brush, I believe. Once the paint thoroughly dried, apply the mod podge and use glitter powder and let it rest for a few hours.

3. Spray Paint & Glitter Ornaments

The rest of them are done the same way. Spray paint-->tape off a pattern to glitter-->mod podge--> glitter-->dry time.

I believe Akshara loved the second set more with the glitter involved.

So that's the start for a handmade holiday season. We did make some clay ornaments to gift Akshara's best friend and few more crafts for the magazine feature- more on that later.

So are you all set for the holiday season? Lights, glitter, Santa, tree, yummy food, gifts, merry & bright?

Keep Smiling,

DIY : Beaded Garland with Air dry Clay

Hey 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.

Supplies :

  • Air Dry Clay
  • Craft Paint
  • Twine

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.

Happy Crafting,

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.