A Miniature Family & A Happy Home

We have a dollhouse here. It came from a yard sale by a man who kindly shared the story of the house. Apparently it was built by his grand father for him and his sisters to play. Now since his kids were out of home to college he wanted to down grade his house and no more needed it. Our luck. Because most of the wooden doll houses are on the upwards of a hundred dollars and this one was 25 bucks with some furniture and for bonus point it was handmade. We brought it home.

Our little girl was beyond excited with the new addition to her room.She wasn't asking for it but I had been on the hunt for a dollhouse since the time she started pretending that the underside of the dining table to be "own home" for herself and her dolls and animals.

The house as such was in great shape structurally. It only needed some rescue from the peeled paint and wall paper which I was very happy to get my hands on. It is no secret that I love design and decor - So I considered this one to be our extended home ( is there a phrase like that? ).

I painted it a few days ( by few days I mean a month!) after it came home. I put off doing more on it with lame excuses. Actually it was looking way better with a fresh coat of paint. But when she received a nursery doll house set for her birthday ( A big thank you to Aunt Shafina  - see there are perks when mommy has a thoughtful best friend ) , I knew now it was my turn to pitch in.

So here we present our baby Tico's nursery, ( It stared out as baby Ayaan's nursery but she has changed the baby's name since) in true Before-After style.

Before :

After :

The walls are adorned by red and white striped decorative paper from Michaels ( you find them in bins along with other scrap booking material ) . I have just plain glued the on the walls with a layer of mod podge for protection.

I found this wooded sun in the scrap wood section and painted it with acrylic paint . To turn it into a mirror I added the silver lining paper that came with swim goggles. Odd place to find a silver plated card board piece indeed. It looks good though. Right?

Next, the art above the crib is a magazine cut out from last easter time. I do cut out nice pictures from magazines and news paper to frame. Again odd, but it works like a charm to add some pretty colors to walls on the cheap side.

The butterfly and the clock are also from scrap wood section of Michaels and painted by the little one herself. She would proudly tell her friends how she made art for her "own home". That reminds me that fun can come life in any form and style - sometimes from DIYing your own art.

The curtains are plain yarn tied on skewers from kitchen. Yes the skewers has such uses too.

The book shelf - it looks like a fireplace though - but intended to be a book shelf - is her building blocks stuck together with super glue and then painted. I hope she is not missing two block pieces. See they even hold books.

The lamps - that is my favorite, hers too. They are X'Mas ornaments from last year. I think that part is quite obvious.

We have rugs too - where else the big brother and sister would play when baby is sleeping? They are decorative paper with a layer of mod podge too.

Now, no home is complete without the family. Here are some scenes from their daily life.

Dad feeding the baby and Mom reading. Does it happen ever?

A confession - the whole set up stayed like this only until I finished taking pictures - After that this happened.
You might think a Tsunami happened here. But only it is safe and fun Tsunami this time.

We are not done yet friends, because there are 5 other rooms and a roof garden in this doll house.Stay tuned.

Did you like our doll house? Do let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Happy weekend & Keep Smiling,

Anatomy of a minimal work space

I have always loved a good desk. I must say my decorating fanaticism started at my study desk back at my parents home. Even now, when ever I see a home tour, one thing I look out for is the owner's work space, OK second to the kitchen of course.

Why am I talking about it here and now? Isn't it a trivial detail in a home? Because, it is actually not a trivial detail at all, at least for me it isn't. Having a dedicated place to think and write and craft - it is one thing that has had a very positive effect on my life. Getting back to writing, this blog, crafting with Akshara - all were born in this corner which I call my office.

We had this desk at this corner from the beginning. Primarily because that is where all our internet/phone connections are set up. But the top of the desk has always been a dumping yard. Papers, bills, magazines, grocery bags, random hair clips included, anything that doesn't have a space ended up there. What is the result? Ask me for a pen or an envelope or even our little girl's request for paint brush or crayons - You will see me rummaging through the piles of stuff on this table, only to apologize for finding none. I am sure many of you can definitely relate to me here.

But I realized sooner than later that, if I could find all my writing material, crafting stuff and papers and pens at one place, I would be more enthusiastic about using them. And it actually has worked.

Now, neither this desk nor the corner as such is anything fancy. The desk is a Walmart computer desk that too passed over by a colleague leaving to India for good. It isn't comfortable nor is it good looking. Why do I have it? I don't know. But it is staying until a good deal shows up. I have tried to keep the things on the desk to a minimum because this is where I write, study, do assignments and work on this blog. I bring the laptop here when I need it. The thing usually rest on the breakfast bar / whatever it is called. (Girish prefers it there and we have only 1 that we share)

Laptop lives here until called for action

I have a bookshelf that hold rest of the craft supplies like paint and related things, beads and small knick knacks in the large pink box. Electronic accessories like cables and memory cards etc are in the beige charging station ( from target clearance section ). There are two binders that hold my paper works and important bills along with Akshara's school works.

Extra notebooks ( hoarding pretty notebooks is a disease that you shouldn't contract) and a small drawer holds measuring tapes, office tapes, stapler, glue etc.

I keep a file box and my camera under the table. There are two shelves on the desk but they are taken up by the internet/phone paraphernalia. For larger crafts and painting with my daughter - We spread out an old bed sheet on the floor and have fun.

My point is, not having a lot of space should not be an excuse for setting up an office space. Whether you work from home, run a home based business, craft or just need space for paying bills and going through kids assignments - setting up a dedicated space for yourself is definitely a key to productivity.

There are a ton of inspirations to find, probably in an overwhelming dose, that we get from the magazines and blogs. But if you are just starting out, a simple desk, chair and some basic stationary is all you really need.

Here is one that I loved from Joanna Thornhill's book " Home For Now ".

Speaking of inspiration, I do have dreams of having a great work space someday. A place I can call my office even though it would be just a corner in a guest room. Here is a blue print I have planned out for our home in India - it is still a dream, but I hope my husband will read this post and note the point.

If you already have a great space that is working for you, clean up,organize and using it well would be course of action. If you don't have one, write out the "needs" and "wants" and a budget - and set out on the adventure. You are not alone, 2 years in this house, I still haven't found a decent chair. That is in my still-to-do list.

I have heard that some people actually work better with clutter around. Is it true? If you fall into that category, you still can create a desk space and fill it with clutter.
So, what do you think? Do you think a nice space will spark creativity? Have you come across a nice chair for a reasonable price recently? If yes, do let me know. I would love to check out. Otherwise before long, my back will kill me. Do share your thoughts.

Keep Smiling,

Flowers, Butterflies, Party...

Our little girl turned four last week. And we celebrated her spirited self with a small get together with her play-date buddies.

I had nothing much to do as far as the decisions on how to party. She had all the things figured out on her own, including the colors she wanted to see. The list was long - but as enthusiastic as she was about it, I tried to bring most of them to the table - well except for getting real giraffe, monkeys, puppies and cats to her party and everyone on her friends list - obviously for space constraints!!!

She has been fixated over pink, yellow and black color theme for some time now. I can understand where pink and yellow are coming from but with black I am lost.

Anyways, the loving and creative mother I am ( How do you incluse a "wink" here?), I set out to devise a plan to bring most of the list alive. Oh, wait - there were more things on the list. As,

Flowers, butterflies, Baloons, Streamers, Pinata, cryons ,cupcakes, cookies, ice cream - everything in pink,yellow or black.

Since the time I found paint chips in stores like walmart and Home depot, Making banners out of them has been a hobby. I have done it a number of times and can do it again and again as they are "free".

I searched the available stores for economical party supplies in her theme - but in vein. Not that stores didn't carry them at all - but either the quality or the colors or the price tag did not gel well with us. I ended up making a few things by myself.

Hardest thing to find was a decent table cloth in pink and yellow or even black. Online or in store I couldn't find anything that suited. Since I wasn't ready to invest much on such trivial things - I am a cheapo to core and core - I made one from painter's drop cloth and pink and yellow and black paint. The far sighted me could envision it as a picnic/beach blanket too. I have seen canvas drop cloth being used as curtains and even rug (Vidya from Whats Ur Home Story does such UN-imaginable tweaks. You can check it out here)

The back drop here, was the way I found to include flowers and butterflies. First I thought of hanging them from ceiling. Decided against it thinking they will be more of a clutter with all the balloons and streamers in this small house. So instead I ended up just sticking them to a foam board. In case you are wondering they are card-stock paper the kids use at school.

Cake is from Baskin Robins Ice cream cake in rosette design (remember the flower theme!). Since big-time baking is not my cup of tea, the food department as such is not, I took advice from a friend on ideas to have pink,yellow black themed food items.

Cup cakes,cookies,candy, ice cream, pinata, balloons - the rest is regular ingredients of a kids party.

I bought some crayons, paint and color pencils for a little bit of quiet time for kids ( actually to keep us adult's sanity intact ) and rest of the time they played and we adults discussed about - I don't know, world issues!

Before I conclude, I have to thank Anjana Dev - I contacted her for food ideas - If you haven't yet - you should totally check out her blog Happy and Harried here. Simple recipes with un-expected twists, presented with elegant write ups and photos.

Thus she turned four, I can't believe she is already 4 and we celebrated - a handmade birthday for a dear little girl. Did you like our party ideas? How far do you go to fulfill those little dreams they dream?

Wish you a great week ahead, Keep Smiling.

I am linking this post upto an awesome DIY blog C.R.A.F.T & Delineate Your Dwelling

Delineate Your Dwelling

Uncommon Designs

Painting a Chalkboard

I am not tweaking today, but making. And this one brought a lot of memories back from my childhood that it is very close to my heart.

My father is a teacher - retired though he is, still teaches as he has done for past four decades. We had this chalk board and desks and benches in this small room from the time I can remember. This is where he teaches equations and probability and formulas to countless students of his.

Dad's black board back home

Every year, come last week of march, dad sets out to polish his black board with Ink and a rag. Even though it is a messy affair, he never asks us children or mom to help. It has always been kind of his ritual. He would pour out the ink in a cup, and with a rag apply the ink on the board multiple times, once dry, brush it with the duster to bring a smoother surface to write.

Now back to our now and here - we don't have to use ink and rag and get messy to create a chalk board. We have special paint to turn any surface into a chalk board, available in multiple colors even available as spray paint. All you need is a surface and a brush and we are all set to create our own black board and write away. I bought this paint. But there are variety of options available in the market.

I made this particular chalk board for my daughter to draw. I could have chosen a wall to turn into a big board but decided  a smaller piece that she can carry around would be a bigger success. I got a piece of foam board from Michaels Crafts Store, but have since found out that this is available in dollar stores too.

Just to make it more appealing to her I painted the boarder with left over pink paint. This could be framed too but I didn't since it is for a four year old and more weight means less convenience for her.

So, here are the steps ( I must be crazy to write out steps here - but what if I forgot how to paint a rectangle?)

1)  Gather your supplies - meaning the chalk board paint, A paint brush, some rags for clean up.

2)  Choose your surface. A wall space, wooden piece cut to size, Foam board (have seen even a fridge painted with this. The surface must be cleaned well.

3)  Mark the part where you want to paint.

4)  Shake the paint well before opening the lid and paint away.

5)  Once the paint is completely dry ( it will take only 20 minutes to dry ) with a piece of chalk rub the whole surface and rub it off. This is to condition the board.

Here you go - simple and easy.

Do you like the chalk board option to unleash creativity in kids? Would you dare paint a wall with chlak board paint? Where else can we use it to get maximum impact? Share your thoughts here.

Best Regards,