Super Easy Paper Bows made from Sticky Notes

Easy paper bows

I am a big fan of gift toppers – ribbons, flowers, bows – bring them on. It’s always wonderful to receive a gift, and seeing that special touch of an embellishment is really nice too.

Sometimes you may have so much going on that crafting a fancy topper or making that run to the stationery shop may be out of the question. While looking for quick options to create a bow, I came across this one from the inspiring designer at How about Orange. Since I didn’t have a printer on hand, I decided to use the inspiration to make my own version with sticky notes.

These paper bows have come to my rescue often, making that simple gift a wee bit more endearing. And the best part is that they don’t need any elaborate printing or cutting. Just use your trusty sticky notes to give a gift added flair.

I’ve used sticky note prompts, but you can make these from pretty much any size or shape of sticky notes.

supplies for paper bow

Supplies from your desk

• sticky note prompts – 3 per bow

• a glue stick or Fevicol

• a pair of scissors

• a pencil (optional)

 

How to make the paper bows

Crafting the Bow

1. Take one note prompt and create a loop by sticking together the narrow edges. Now repeat with the second note.

2. Slide a pencil into the loop and pinch the glued edges as shown above. Glue the pinched bits to create a gentle crease. Do this for the other loop as well.

3. Stick the two loops to each other by overlapping the pinched edges.

4. Set aside for the joint to dry.

Tidying it up

5. Now take the third sticky note and snip off a narrow piece from one end.

6. Wrap it tightly around the pencil to curl it. Hold for a few seconds and unfurl the curly strip.

7. Cover the joint with this sliver of paper; glue the edges to the bow.

8. Hold the paper in place with your fingers until the glue dries.

Adding finishing touches

9. Fold the remaining piece of the third sticky note in half.

10. Snip off a triangle from the open side to create the ends for the bow.

11. Unfold and cut along the crease to get two pieces. Glue each piece to the back of a loop of the bow so that the edge with the ‘V’ sticks out over the loop.

12. Ta-da. Your pretty, chic bow is now ready to adorn your gift.

These super quick, easy bows look great on gift boxes, paper bags, books and can even cheer up a brown paper bag. So go ahead and make some right away!

Ideas for Diwali Decor: Lights and More

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How time files! Diwali is already around the corner and I hope you are in better shape than I am. Though my plan is to have a laid back diwali this year (the lazy me came up with the idea) I still want a sprinkling of lights in the festive season. The twinkle of lights and rangoli spell Diwali like nothing else does.

Over the past couple of years, I found some lovely ideas on Pinterest to add a few quick touches of warmth to the home. I had shared my finds here on SunnyNomad back in 2012. This time too, there is tons of inspiration to be found and I have been pinning away with glee.

If you’d like DIY festive decor but are hard pressed for time to search, fret not. I have pulled together many creative ideas in one place. These are easy to recreate while adding heaps of charm to your home. Yay!

collage

Diwali Decor Ideas on Pinterest

You can find my Diwali decor idea board here Diwali Decor: Lights and more

Pick from crafts that are snappy five minute fixes to projects that can fill your entire weekend with happy moments of ungluing your fingers. No, you don’t end up doing that? Just me then.

I’d love to know which ideas you like best. And do share with us your special way of celebrating the festival of lights.

Happy Diwali, may your year be filled with prosperity, love, good health, laughter and adventures!

For more inspiration on beautiful finds that add lots of cheer to your life, follow me on Pinterest here SunnyNomad

Balcony Love: Hand Painted Planter

Auto Rickshaw paint

Balcony Love: Hand Painted Planter

 

Now that I’m on a break from paid work, I have some mornings when I need to get onto a project for the sake of staying sane. So, I’ve been trying to fix that cursed black thumb of mine…anything I tried to grow promptly died on me in the past. But I am so happy to see that some of my new green friends are positively thriving.

To break the jinx, I bought plants from my local nursery and had them potted by their gardener. A couple of palms, a fern, a native bush that has pretty peach blossoms and a lemon tree. As they began to thrive under the care of little K and me I began to dream of bigger things. I was bold enough to bring out two old tubs that had been purchased a couple of years ago with the intention of growing tomatoes.

I really wanted to add more colour to my balcony garden, so the pepper saplings (I grew them from seed. Hurrah!) were planted in a tub that I painted turquoise blue. I stencilled on a simple graphic of elephants and voila, I had a happy place to nurture my bright coloured peppers. (If and when they actually arrive, that is. Fingers crossed.)

The baby steps I took towards sprinkling some balcony love, have added a lot of happy mornings to our life. K and I spend time watering, pruning, weeding and learning about nature in the early morning sun. What a great activity for a toddler, which also gives him the daily dose of vitamin D.

So to add a touch of whimsy to our morning ritual, I decided to paint a plastic basket before I planted some basil in it.

Now, much to my dismay, my wee one is head over heels in love with vehicles of every kind. His love affair began with ‘bus’ and ‘auto’, and now has spun out of control. I’m dismayed because I didn’t want him to be such a boy. I do find some solace in the fact that he loves ‘cooking’ just as much. So to begin with, maybe I should try not to slot him.

I’ve been meaning to paint an auto rickshaw for a long, long time. With the renewed burst of optimism from nature, I thought I could do it this time. Or maybe it was just a case of too much sun, if you know what I mean. For over a week the poor basket had sat on my table painted a staid grey on white just crying out for some colour. And against my initial inhibitions against kitsch, I went for it.

I used acrylic colours for this planter since they hold up well to rain and sun. The simple joy those couple of hours brought me is something I will hold onto for a while. As K napped, I pencilled in the outline and went to work with the colours. It’s been a few years since I’ve held a brush, so I was thrilled with the final product.

 

Auto Rickshaw painting

Balcony Love: Hand Painted Planter

Hand Painted Planter with a polka dotted back

Hand Painted Planter with a polka dotted back

 

My special props assistant did a smashing job as I clicked these pictures. But by the end of his shift, he’d had enough and decided that the only way to stop his mad mum was to make away with the ‘ahtou’.

 

Props Assistant: Various Moods

Props Assistant: Various Moods

 

The results are here for you to see. What do you think?

DIY Handpainted planters1

The Makeover: a shabby plastic basket turns into a quirky, fun planter

 

 

Loving the Sea

Hello! Been a while hasn’t it?

It’s good to be back after my long sabbatical from this sunny nook. The sabbatical began as a forced leave due to medical reasons. We were expecting our first offspring, you see. And somehow, I wasn’t ready to share the news until…well, until I had said offspring safely tucked into my arms.

But once that happened, my life, it sorta stopped being my life. I was transformed into a 24-hr snack bar and thus began my zombie phase… Being a new parent, it is a job that is difficult to prepare for. I am so grateful to my family for being the most amazing support system in the world. Couldn’t have done the first leg of this journey without them.

So, in short, priorities changed (duh!). This blog was my baby until a real baby came along demanding my complete attention. I put on my training floatie and dove into my new role, focussed on bonding with my wee panda. And here I am, a year later, trying to rebuild some semblance of an adult person’s life.

My toddler is a fount of joy and life has never been as fulfilling for me. My little man K keeps me busy all day…and when he naps, I read. The blog has been on my mind, I have a couple of unfinished posts sitting as drafts. Somehow, I never hit the ‘publish’ button. After months and months of consuming content – books, articles, blogs, ad campaigns, movies and music – I feel I’m ready to share again.

What better way to start than begin at home?

We moved two cities in the interim. From Porbandar to Kochi and now to Visakhapatnam aka Vizag. All along this cross-country tour, the sea has been with me. It is the one thing that has instantly soothed away the feeling of being in a new place. I really is a kind of a home for me. Given the choice, I will  always want a holiday by the sea, choose to breathe salty air instead of crisp mountain air and would rather buy a tropical island than a log cabin (ahem…once I have the dough, of course I’m buying an island).

This is the first time I have lived on the East coast of India…so I’m pretty excited to glimpse the Bay of Bengal everyday from my balcony. This quote I found on Pinterest explains my addiction better than I can. I added it to my favourite click of the morning sea in Porbandar. Perfect inspired creativity for my muse – the Sea.

She loved the Sea

 

New Zealand – The Happiest Dream Holiday Ever!

For the past six months, I have been working on a rather enchanting little project. It involves looking at destinations in gorgeous New Zealand and exploring them from (alas!) my armchair. I trundle through the thicket, swim with the dolphins and indulge in some virtual zig-zagging on pristine snow-capped mountains. And I d-r-e-a-m. I dream of the day when I will finally set foot on kiwi soil.

When I first read about Yatra’s Creating Happy Travellers contest on Indiblogger, I realised it may be one of the best chances I’ll ever have to day-dream shamelessly about NZ! Perhaps the very act of writing about my dream holiday will encourage the Universe to set into motion mysterious forces that will make the trip actually happen. I believe in miracles, you see.

There are three things that will make this trip the happiest one ever – the place, the people and the experiences.

Okay, so dream destination – bewitching New Zealand – check. Next up, travel buddies.

Yellow Eyed Penguin, New Zealand

My wanderlust has taught me that no holiday can be truly complete without the perfect companions. I have often travelled to far off lands and sighed wishfully, for I wasn’t with the people who I knew would have loved to be there too. Through trial and error I have realised my most compatible co-adventurers are my husband N, my sister Miss P, my Mum and my Dad.

Amongst this motley crew I can find a mate to try anything that chance will bring us on our holiday. Mum and Miss P are of course super awesome for shopping. Dad can pick out the most unique spots and vantage points. N can ferret out humour and a live music gig almost anywhere. I can hatch insanely detailed plans and Miss P brings her characteristic dash of eccentricity to make these plans fun. Mum, well she has enough enthusiasm and prudence to propel everyone into making the most of every moment. So all in all a good crew. Very enthusiactic prospects for ‘Creating Happy Travellers’ indeed!

Since I’m the maniac who draws up the travel plans, I can promise this will be an overly ambitious list of experiences. Almost always, I do bite off more than I can chew. However, I fancy myself to have matured a bit over the past couple of trips; wizened up to the fact that we may have to leave something off the list. Still, I think being over-prepared with a dream list never hurt anyone.

On a real holiday, we may be forced to focus on either the North or the South Island of New Zealand, since it may not be possible to cover all that ground in one trip. But since am freewheeling, I can go the whole hog. We could embark on the famous New Zealand bike trail, gaze at the amazing wildlife, camp on the brilliant camping sites along the ocean, cruise the scenic fjords and sounds or explore deep forests with ancient Kauri trees that are multi-centenarians. Go horse-riding near icy glaciers, sample scrumptious sea-food, watch as the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean in a great swirl of currents at Cape Reinga and stop at the Arctic Centre to get a feel for life on the Antarctic continent. Whether we can actually do and see everything or not, here are a few adventures that we definitely wouldn’t want to miss:

 

Kaikoura Retreat

Kaikoura by SidPix

We’ll begin by spending a few days along a stunning coast backed by snow-dusted mountains in Kaikoura. Situated on the Eastern flank on the South Island, Kaikoura is a paradise for whale watching, scuba diving, dolphin spotting, seal meeting and lots of exploring. The natural diversity is as breathtaking as the views from atop the cliffs. And the scrumptious crayfish here gives the sea-side town a well-deserved spot on NZ’s culinary map.

 

Queenstown Thrill-dom

Sky Diving, Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown is called the adventure capital of the world for a reason. It offers you a host of adrenaline pumping activities to enjoy all year round. Take your pick from skiing, snowboarding, white water rafting, bungy jumping, ziplining, swinging, paragliding or skydiving. Phew! Add to that the charm of the Skyline Gondola, a bustling city, immersive Maori cultural experiences and it’s easy to see why Queentown is a hit even with the locals. While the youngsters (ahem! that includes me) may enjoy swinging like monkeys, I’m sure my mum and dad will also be able to enjoy more relaxing activities like cruising on peerless Lake Wakitapu and visiting an authentic high country farm.

 

Central Otago Wine & Food Nirvana

Wine & Food - Otago, New Zealand

Otago has many exciting wine experiences in store for the four wine lovers in our troupe. We shall happily explore the boutique wineries and gladly sample some of the best wines in the world. It will be a great way to learn about wine and the local culture, followed by delectable tasting sessions in the cozy comfort of wineries. And mom will be rewarded for her patience with a pampering at a luxurious spa followed by a sumptuous lunch. Yay!

 

Thermal Pool & Hot Spring Rejuvenation

Hot Springs, Rotorua New Zealand

Soaking in natural thermal pools till the toes are all wrinkly is like a rite of passage for Kiwi littlies. We won’t be far behind, I say! After all the exploring, binging and adrenaline rush we’ll really look forward to the soothing waters of hot pools that can be found in many parts of New Zealand. NZ is a hot-bed for geothermal activities and you can find some natural, mineral-rich pools dotting the country. The ones in Rotorua, Hanmer and Miranda are most preferred, so we’ll take our pick.

I could go on about the many things I’d really like for my dream holiday. New Zealand is so diverse and rich in natural as well as cultural heritage, that the entire trip will be an unmatchable experience. It is a small wonder that the beautiful, bountiful ‘Shire’ of The Lord of the Rings movie is real and in New Zealand. NZ’s adorable ratio of 10 sheep per person, the love for outdoorsy adventure and a penchant for celebrating diversity, culture as well as history makes it such an exciting country to visit.

If we do make it to kiwi-land, I’m absolutely sure we will create happy memories and come away more enriched for life. Isn’t that really the best part of travelling?

 

All images used here are from Flickr and are available under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Yellow Eyed Penguin by Sarah M Stewart, Kaikoura by SidPix, Queenstown Sky Diving by mnapoleon, Central Otago by robertpaulyoung, Hot Springs by Erik Streufert

 

Infectious Creativity: Neil Gaiman Made My Monday!

This January I cut loose from my previous life as an account planner with a very important advertising agency, with very important clients and insane deadlines. It’s not that I hated being chained, it just felt like the time had come to swim solo. To give my creative urges an outlet. You know, just hang with the artistic crowd.

There are many things that are awesome about this life change. I may have reached a place where I may end up sharing more about the freelancer’s lifestyle/workstyle. But today I want to share the best thing I’ve earned from my decision. I actually enjoy Mondays more than I ever did!

I wake up without the fear of being late for work, or staring at an endless job-list (I look at one voluntarily around noon). I sip on my of tea while basking in the company of my lemon tree and stare out at the wind mills in the distance. When I get to my desk (which is actually an ironing board since it adjusts really well with my chair’s height) I look forward to immersing myself in the inspiration that has poured in over the weekend.

Today I stumbled onto Neil Gaiman’s 2012 commencement address at the Philadelphia University of Arts. And it is so full of wisdom, so perfect for anyone who’s a freelancer, an artist or aspires to create art, that I had to share it with you.

It’s an absolute pleasure to hear his thoughts on creativity, courage and strength – things that any artist needs to inculcate into their very being. No matter how difficult life may be at the moment, he urges artists to create good art. The great advice has now been made into a delightfully designed book Make Good Art

I felt like he was talking to me. Every once in a while, it really helps to know that you’re not the only one who doesn’t know the rules of a game. And it’s even more reassuring when someone so smashingly talented as Neil Gaiman tells you that you’re actually better off without any rules. That way you won’t limit your creativity and what you could ultimately achieve, he suggests.

Listen to his speech here. Like, now!

xoxo

 

Wanderlust: Ant’s-eye View of The Taj Mahal

In my short life, I’ve had two encounters with the Taj. While one was at that tricky age of 16, the other was at a slightly more befuddling 31 (does maturity really come with age?). Each visit is sharply etched in my mind, and I’m happy to see that by the second one, I seemed to have grown up a little. Or so I’d like to believe.

For most Indians, the trip to see the Taj Mahal is like a tiny pilgrimage. It’s after all the poster child of India, famed to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World. We grow up listening to the magical experiences of people who’ve been to this inimitable symbol of limitless love. On my first trip to the Taj, all of this was pretty much lost on me.

I recall being armed with a Kodak point-and-shoot camera, wearing a hideous blue tee-shirt identical to the ones worn by 40 other teenagers. It was a school trip with my batch mates. All of us had recently faced one of the biggest hurdles in our academic careers – the 10th standard board exams. We’d been slogging out butts off for over a year and now, were finally taking that well-earned break. The trip focused on a seven day trek in the Himachal hills and the visit to the Taj Mahal was just a tick on the North Indian itinerary.

And what a rotten time to pick for a trip to the Taj! It was the peak of summer, the sunlight glinting off the white marble made it difficult to see anything without squinting. People have to walk barefoot to get near the main dome but on this day, the tiled floor was so hot we had to make a mad dash for it. All we wanted to do was sprawl out under a tree and doze off in the gentle breeze. We weren’t interested in the back story; none of us had experienced true love yet. During the one hour guided tour, the only thing that made us pay attention was the barbaric folklore of how the hands of master artisans were chopped off so that no one could replicate the majestic Taj ever again.

We’d brought packed lunch from Delhi. It was made by our school cook at the crack of dawn and had been emanating promising smells on the four-hour bus ride. By the time it was lunchtime however, the food was stinking so ferociously that even rodents steered clear of the dustbin! The heat had been too much for the poor fried rice. Our fiscally prudent principal was in a fix, but made a stupendous, last-minute recovery with some packets of chips and flavoured milk.

As we left Agra, I felt a pang of dissatisfaction. I vowed to myself that I’d be back some day.

Taj blog 1

Now, almost 15 years later, I had once again come to Agra. This time around I was with family – N, his brother and my dear friend who’s married to N’s brother. We’re all shutter-happy people, so we had four cameras of differing capabilities to make some memorable pictures. We drove to the place where you have to park your cars, about 2 km away from the main grounds. From there, you can either take a ride in an eco-friendly electric rikshaw or ride along with an uber-friendly horse cart.

Taj blog 5

Is it a surprise that we chose the horse cart ride? Our awesome steed, Sajaan, was quite a cute fella. His owner claimed that Sajaan was super busy during the peak wedding seasons. North Indian grooms are notorious for riding up to the mandap on a beautiful stallion. Who can blame them? There’s probably no other way to match up to the gorgeousness of the brides. But I digress.

After a full-body search, we entered the sprawling compound. While my troops lingered around, I was impatient to get a first glimpse. When we entered the main archway, I remembered something the guide had told me all those years ago. If you stand directly facing the Taj and walk briskly towards it, the building appears to move back, and shrink in size. And, if you back away quickly while still looking at the Taj, it grows steadily and comes closer to you. This delightful quirk of the architecture was interpreted by our guide, “when you gallop towards it, the Taj bows and welcomes you but when you try to run away, it rushes forward and says ‘don’t leave me’!”

Taj blog 2

Over the years, Shah Jahan’s ode to his precious wife has turned a mild shade of yellowish-cream. Despite this unfortunate reality, it is one of the most enchanting buildings on Earth. When you see it across the water canals and lush green gardens, its hold over you intensifies. You cannot run away from it, if anything, you almost never want to leave.

The Taj Mahal’s beauty stunned me, I felt paralyzed. How do I capture an authentic bit of what I see and feel in a few photographs? How can I translate this inexplicable sense of wanting to get closer and yet being afraid of missing out on seeing it whole? Of wanting to touch the perfect reflection in the still water? Of being overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the art that has witnessed the turn of over three centuries? How do I convey the delicate, gossamer dreams carved out of Makrana marble? The peace and serenity that I feel here?

Eventually, I realized it was my only chance, so I had to try my best. The pictures in this post aren’t entirely satisfactory, but someday I hope to get another chance to improve on my humble attempt.

Seeing the Taj with grown up eyes was a gift. Having lived through some of the highs and lows of love myself, I think I better understood the creation this time around. When you see the Taj, you can’t help but think about how deeply the emperor had loved his sweetheart, and how inconsolable his grief must have been to inspire this final resting place for her.

Tagore perhaps interpreted it best when he wrote, “let this one tear-drop, this Taj Mahal, glisten spotlessly bright on the cheek of time, forever and ever.”