Earring making (DIY)

It is quite hard to imagine that earrings were a predominantly male ornament, and the connotations were different for different civilizations in different times! According to the World Wide Web, this ornament actually became a fashion accessory in the 1590’s during the English Renaissance. The gentlemen would be seen wearing gold rings embellished with pearls or other stones around that time. I must admit, I have always had a fascination for earrings. I am often caught  starting shamelessly at people’s earrings, especially if I like them a lot! A younger me would long to wear the bold statement pieces that would be dangling from my mothers ears. And I may have inherited a taste for similar stuff rom her.

mom-1   mom2

She totally rocks these doesn’t she?

Now, I am constantly on the look out for one of a kind, crazy, unusual pairs. Back in India, there is no dearth of variety and the styles catered to my taste so finding the right pair was never too hard. But after moving here, I have found very few that were to my liking. And buying anything that is mass produced is something I just do not endorse. I like exclusive, I like whimsical, I like a little melodramatic… so I attempted making some myself :). Incidentally, that was also the birth of this blog! The name makes more sense now doesn’t it ;). I just never got around to blogging about my earring making efforts because life just got in the way. And something I JUST realized – today is also my 2nd anniversary with WordPress! Perfect occasion for this post then, isn’t it? :) When I look back now, I feel like 2014 is a bit of a blur. Yet, it is a significant year for me and I am so glad I got a chance to rekindle my passion for creating things while so much else was going on!

Coin-earring   Bird-earring-handmadeIMG_1226   yellow-earring

It felt amazing to be able to create exactly what I wanted (I am QUITE picky, you see). Of course, these are nowhere near perfect, I just picked up the basic tools, wires, links and some very exotic beads and other trinkets from old markets in New Delhi and got to it. Some turned out quite well, while others had issues with the wiring and the links and stones would keep falling off! Plus there was a lot that I couldn’t achieve purely due the my lack of knowledge or expertise in working with the wires and other tools.

IMG_1196  coral-rose  IMG_1198

I read a lot of blogs on jewelry design, watched innumerable YouTube videos and just kept at it. After about a month or so, I could tell I was getting better at it and the quality was far better than when I had started.

black-white-gold-earring   pompom-red

I love combining patters and textures so after a couple of weeks, I started experimenting with shrink plastic. Being able to create patterns and watch them shrink down to perfect little tiles for my earrings was so thrilling! Of course, I messed up a lot of them and none of the pairs I made were perfect or identical. Fortunately for me, I like a little imperfection. I feel that it adds a little more character to each piece. This also satisfied my urge to up-cycle and repurpose stuff that would otherwise be thrown away. Plastic salad take-out boxes became pretty little tiles for my earrings. The whole process was truly satisfying and rewarding.

ear-red-shrinkplastic  ear-shrinkplasticear-gold-shrinkplastic  shrink-plastic-new

I don’t think I ever left home without my black sharpie during this phase. I would constantly look out for opportunities to start drawing on plastic and then shrinking it down, much to my husband’s dismay. He didn’t like me staring at the oven, waiting for my wonderful little art pieces to shrink down to perfect (maybe not) patterned tiles. (I promise you, I read a lot about shrinking plastic and this is perfectly safe, provided you keep your windows open and don’t inhale the fumes directly!)

I also did a couple of bracelets and neck pieces with the odd shapes I ended up with. Linked them to old beads I had and voila, I had a brand new piece that looked great. At this point, I was pretty pleased with myself but unfortunately, this was also when things got really busy on the work front and I had to push pause on the earring/jewelry making.

bracelet2  bracelet1

I do plan to get back to making some shrink plastic jewelry and combine it with unusual stones and beads. I haven’t had a lot of time to work on any DIY projects in the last couple of months, but I plan to dedicate one night a week purely for this purpose.

neckpiece-shrinkplastic  rose

Watch this space for updates… :)

Roasted Carrot Ginger Soup

Nourishing. Refreshing. Comforting. Delicious.

This soup is the perfect way to end a cold, damp, rainy day. The Ginger was almost an afterthought but I saw so many recipes online that totally recommended it so I decided to go with it. The mild heat from the Ginger complemented the sweetness from the carrots perfectly.

Carrot + Ginger = The best idea ever! 

I didn’t really follow any one recipe but sort of came up with my own variation. Instead of roasting the carrots in the pan with everything else, I decided to roast them in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper for that lovely caramelized taste!

Roast carrots

roasted carrots  Broth

Here’s what you need –

  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut in small pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and Pepper as per taste

Let’s get cooking –

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place carrots in a large bowl and drizzle olive oil. Toss to coat and add some salt and pepper. Toss again. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake, flipping every 15 minutes or so, until tender and browned in spots.
  3. While the carrots are cooking, heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until brown. Add the ginger and the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. When both the roasted carrots and the broth have cooled somewhat, add the carrots to the broth. Puree the soup in a blender or use an immersion blender directly in the pot. Please make sure your soup has cooled enough before you start blending.
  5. Place pureed soup over medium heat and return to a simmer. Add some thyme and ground cumin. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired. Garnish with dried parsley. Serve.

Carrot ginger soup

Quick homemade soups are my new favorite meal! :)

p.s. This also makes the perfect detox meal after a week long celebration.

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Us crazies turned 3 last week

Easy Peasy Chocolate Cupcakes

I love recipes that involve only a couple of steps. Especially when it comes to baking! This recipe was passed on to me by my mother, who is a terrific baker and would whip up the most extraordinary desserts in minutes! Icing on the cake right!? :)

She never really had the patience to spend a lot of time measuring or whipping or sieving and yet anything she made would taste so incredible. The ingredients would just come together so well! (I still dream of her Orange soufflé with those lovely delicious bits of orange rind. – coming up soon).

I, on the other hand, have always focused on the recipe, getting the exact measurements and making sure it looked exactly like it did in the book or photo and still struggle to get the taste right. With this one, I didn’t have to try too hard to get it to taste good. It is definitely a winner! Made a batch on the husband’s birthday as we had just returned from a trip the previous night and being a weekday, I didn’t have the time to bake an elaborate cake…like this 30 layer cake on his 30th – 

30 layer cake

This year, he just had to make do with these mini cupcakes!

chocolate cup cakes

Doesn’t look terribly disappointed now, does he? :)

Here is what you need to make these beauties –

* 4 table spoons of good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1  cup all-purpose flour
* 1  cup sugar
* 1  tsp baking soda
* 1 large free range egg
* ¾ cup oil
* ¾ cup yoghurt
* 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the over to 180C or 350F. Line muffin tins with paper liners. The recipe makes about 24 mini cupcakes.

Mix all the ingredients in one large bowl and the batter is ready.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling each two thirds full. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the tops spring back with touched with a knife.

Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely before icing.

Simple icing –

* 1 can of condensed milk
* 4 table spoons of good quality unsweetened cocoa powder

Combine until smooth, decorate your cupcakes and watch them disappear! :)