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

 

 

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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

 

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

 

SEASON OF LOVE: FREE PRINTABLE VALENTINE CARD

I know it’s quite cheesy to say this, but am going to risk it – Love is in the Air! It is February after all.

While I believe that we don’t need a special day to tell people that we love them, I still like to indulge mildly in this month of pink and crimson. Yes, St. Valentine’s Day is a one of those hyper-commercialized days even in India. But, if we don’t give in to the hoopla, isn’t any excuse great to have special time together? To simply expresses how grateful you are that you found this person. To tell them you are the luckiest person alive to be with them. To just put all your feelings down on paper. And to do it in a fun and special way.

Each day of the year, we express our love through actions – by showing care, by tuning in to the other person’s needs and even by just lending a helping hand. On hallmark days, a simple gesture to express your love tells your partner that you have taken the time to think about them. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be surprised with a love note yourself?

Ever since I can remember, I have never really obsessed about Valentine’s Day. That specific date. Back in college, we used to have a ‘Rose Day’ sometime in February. A day celebrating secret crushes and love (because you could send anonymous rose cards). When I started working, my agency used the same idea, but we didn’t make a day of it. A half hour after lunch was spent listening to poetic messages (most were anonymous, again) and swapping chocolates. All through my teen years, it was mandatory for girlfriends and boyfriends to give each other cards. So the point am trying to make, is that for me, the celebration of love is closely linked to messages on paper. An email will just not cut it.

All of this was running through my mind last week, and I wanted to create something that would let us say ‘I Love You’ without being predictable. I saw the abundance of flowers, cute animals, hearts and chocolates swirling around as tokens of love,  but my mind kept searching for more. Like most ideas that pop into my head, the one for this card popped in when I was engrossed in a totally unrelated activity. I was pickling! So bizarre. Red chilies being pickled led to me the image you see above. I refined my initial thoughts to craft a couple of messages that I think will work.

The picture above and a message variant is now available as an art print and on other merchandise like iPhone covers, totes and throw pillows in my Society6 Shop. And just for you, I have created a FREE printable card to tell your loved one that they are indeed the spice of your life!

To download your free printable click on this link: Only You Valentine Card

Can you think of a message that will go with this image? If there is something else that you’d like to say to your sweetheart, drop me a line in the comments section below and I’d be happy to work on a custom card for you!

Hope you have a lovely season of LoVe!

INFECTIOUS CREATIVITY: ART BY BEN GEIGER

Whenever am sapped for inspiration, I head to Society6. It’s a deep, deep well brimming over with fantastic art. Just looking at the beautiful photographs, illustrations and collages opens up my mind to newer ideas and perspectives. I really love the fact that it’s a celebration of so many different styles of work.

Once such blissful journey brought me to Ben Geiger’s profile. His works are not just illustrations, photographs and collages but magical little glimpses of the world around us. I am hooked. And am not the only one, as the few hundred ‘loves’ of his work show. I’ve picked out some beautiful creations for you to see here, because I simply couldn’t resist sharing them with you lovely people.

Now am waiting to see what this artist produces next. You can find more of his work here.

Being Brave: I will NOT be Helpless

To truly understand what this post is, you need to first watch the video at No Country For Women (http://nocountryforwomen.com/)

As I watched this video, I had several reactions – anger, frustration, repulsion, gut wrenching pain and a complete sense of helplessness. I found myself asking, what should we do? How can we change this? Will this ever change?

I was tempted to give into the powerless feeling that was sweeping over me. It is the bane of my generation, this feeling that we can’t do much to change anything. We carve our lives with ambition, hard work and success, insulating ourselves from things that we have no power over. Most days the insulation works, keeping us away from the realities that surround us. On some days like this one, something manages to slice through that insulation and hit us at our soft spot.

But the answers I was seeking, were yet to come to me. Conversations with friends and sharing the link on Facebook wasn’t going to cut it this time around. This wasn’t one of those Social Media activations that make a dent in the shape of the problem. Something had to be done in real life, in our everyday, in our homes, offices and on the streets.

Then my friend Mou shared this video about the History of Wooing Women made by cdza and also this article written by Sarah Hepola. The comments section is particularly illuminating. All this was symptomatic of where our very ‘global’ culture has moved.

Today I read my friend Sonal’s post about this. And she has given me the answer. The first thing to do is to stop being helpless. There is no way we can allow ourselves to shrug our shoulders, draw the dupattas/jackets/stoles closer and promise ourselves that we wouldn’t be in such situations. Because every woman I know has been in this situation where men have behaved in a way that disrespected womankind.

I have been there too, and am guilty of doing nothing more but looking away in disgust. And thinking later, if only I had said something. But pacifying my conscience by thinking that there was no way they would have heard you anyway. Sometimes I’ve been so angry, that I haven’t been able to say or do anything.

Only once have I physically reacted by slapping the first face I saw when a mob tried to grope me on a local train. I was 19 and my mom was travelling with me. The courage of the young and the fact that my mom can smack the daylights out of anyone probably made me actually take action. We travelled the rest of our journey with a imaginary body bubble that no one dared to cross.

From personal experience, I have seen that there are two things that hold us back – Fear and a feeling of Helplessness. Which is why, we must be brave, there is no other way. By pledging that I will Not be Helpless, I am making a choice, to think, speak up and do something. 

If you’re a woman, I urge you to do the same, irrespective of where you live. Take control and do something, anything. Don’t risk your lives, but don’t be passive. Sonal’s action points are a good place to start. Write about it, talk about it and, most importantly, when faced with a situation that calls for you to be brave, be.

If you’re a man who believes that women have be disrespected long enough, help spread the message too.

Feel free to use the graphic above, if you’d like to use it somewhere to spread the message. No attribution needed.

P.S.: You may wonder, what a post like this is doing on a blog about travel, design and spreading cheer. But this blog is all about sharing with you everything that inspires me. All creative pieces shared above urged me to voice my thoughts to you. And I also believe that life just shouldn’t be compartmentalized like that!

MIDWEEK TREAT: LOW FAT BROWNIES

I firmly believe that chocolate, ice cream or brownies can fix anything.

A few days ago, I had a super high intensity craving for brownies. Now, I can’t get my hands on any brownies, living where I live. Thankfully, I had on hand all the stuff I needed to bake some and a nice Sanjeev Kapoor recipe too. I improvised a little tossing in some walnuts and adjusting the flour ratio.

Since they turned out pretty yummy, I had to spread the love! So here’s the recipe with some modifications and tips.

Makes about 16 brownies | Prep time: 20 minutes | Cooking time: 25 mins or more


Ingredients

4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup wholewheat flour
3/4 cup refined flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda bicarbonate
3/4 cup caster sugar (Original recipe calls for a cup, but I cut down on it for a less sweeter version)
2 egg whites, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
4 tablespoons oil (Original uses 1 1/2, but I found this makes the brownies too dry and flat)
1 tablespoon butter, melted or a blob will work too
My own little fourish, 1/2 cup of walnuts broken into tiny pieces. Avoid the temptation to chop or bash the walnuts, you will end up with quite a bit of crushed powder.

Method

Preheat your oven to 180 deg C / 350 deg F. Grease an 8 inch square tray or line with butter paper.
Sift the flours, baking powder and soda bicarbonate into a bowl.
Melt the butter over very low heat. Add the cocoa powder to this and slowly stir over the low heat for two minutes. Make sure the mixture doesn’t boil or burn. You can also add some of the milk to this, to prevent the chocolate from burning. Melting the butter and cooking the cocoa powder makes for a better tasting, non-doughy batter.
Beat the caster sugar with the eggs until combined and fluffy.
Divide the flour up into three parts. Start with folding the egg whites and sugar into a portion of the flour. Alternating between dry and wet ingredients mix in the remaining ingredients until everything is well integrated. Be careful not to over beat the mixture. If you’re using an electric blender, keep it to low speeds.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until it’s firm to touch and an inserted knife comes out clean. Leave in the tin until completely cooled.
Use a sharp knife to cut into 16 odd squares and remove from tin using a spatula.

These low fat brownies are a real treat, especially if you have been on a diet. The walnuts add a crunchy texture and crank up the health quotient too. A perfect excuse to stuff face.

They are great as a dessert after a scrumptious lunch or even better as a midnight snack. You can wash them down with some chilled milk.

Have you ever been consumed by a craving so much that you’re willing to do anything to satisfy it?