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‚Äôt 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? ūüôā 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… ūüôā

Advertisements

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!? ūüôā

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 souffl√© with those lovely delicious bits of orange rind. ‚Äď 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‚Äôs birthday as we had just returned from a trip the previous night and being a weekday, I didn‚Äôt 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? ūüôā

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
* ¬ĺ cup¬†oil
* ¬ĺ 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! ūüôā

Mid-Week feel gooders #2

mid-week-feel-gooders

With my days getting busier than ever, I feel even more compelled to take a break and ogle at beautiful objects/places/crafts. There is just so much creativity in the world, and hardly much time to truly value any of it. Sometimes I wonder what the purpose of life really is. It certainly cannot involve just working your life away. There is so much to see, so much to take in and most importantly, so much to appreciate!

Okies, before I get lost in my thoughts, I shall cut myself short and leave you with some stunning finds that will surely recharge your batteries.

mid-week-feel-gooders2

1. Gorgeous Light and Shadow Painting by Rashad Alakbarov. Would love a small one for my home!

2. Cheery Magnolias on a Dictionary page by FauxKiss.

3. The Bangalore Wallflowers have been transforming blank walls into beautiful pieces of art. They work in collaboration with the community and encourage people to contribute ideas and participate in the painting process.

4. I once owned a bag almost identical to this one. Hand made from recycled plastic. I bought mine from a small market in Manila. Dying to get my hands on another one.  

5. Would you have the heart to put a fork into this lovely plate? This Malaysia based mother of two creates lovely designs with edible items to get her daughters to eat. She provides step by step instructions on her blog- www.eatzybitzy.com.

6. Yes, I believe Unicorns exist! Digital Drawing by SnowSkadi.

7. Art installation made by Ronald van der Meijs from 5,000 repurposed bicycle bells set on steel pins. As the wind picks up, the bells gently ring against one another!

8. The Magic Mountain Lodge in Chile. What an amazing experience it would be to spend a couple of nights here!

9. Paper art by Jen Stark that will blow your mind.

Have a lovely rest of the week! ūüôā

xoxo

Drab to Fab – DIY Hutch Makeover

This is an old DIY project that I didn’t find the time to document earlier but is one of my favorites for sure. The husband had this OLD boring brown ugly traditional¬†dated hutch. I honestly didn’t care much for it and was all set to toss it. Instead, I decided to do a little experiment with the old piece. Never thought it would fit in a contemporary setting but well, take a look at the results. ūüôā

Here is a picture of the top half of the hutch just before we got started on it –

hutch-before

(Yes I know the husband’s taste in furniture is definitely questionable!)

I decided to paint it an ivory white so it would add more dimension to the room and create that illusion of space as opposed to what it was currently doing – occupying all the space in our tiny dining space and looking quite hideous at the same time! Since it is a big piece, it did take time to take it apart, sand it properly so the surface was all even and then finally paint it. This was way before I had gotten comfortable using spray paints so we went the traditional route and spent about two weekends painting away. I bought brand new knobs from Cost Plus World Market and love how they look. I was initially looking for animal face shaped knobs for that whimsical touch but couldn’t find them anywhere. These ones work pretty well for now, especially the tiny patterned ones. Instead of using a traditional pull out knob for the drawers, I decided to use two small ones.

hutch-process

A fresh coat of paint and pretty new accessories did the trick! I love how it looks now and at some point I might remove the mirrors from the inside panel and experiment with some chevron patterned wallpaper for an interesting look. But that’s another project…

I recommend using Spray Paint as it is faster and far more convenient. Refer to my post Furniture Makeover DIY for details on what paints to use and tips for painting furniture.

hutch-knobs

photo 4

before-after-hutch

Easy Two Ingredient Chocolate Mousse & Our Oscar Party

Chocolate-mousse-opener

It’s that time of the year again…when we settle down in front of the telly and watch the starlets of Hollywood walk down the red carpet. I personally love watching the red carpet pre-Oscar coverage so I have sort of started a custom of making a party out of it. Husband and I invited only! We make some yummy treats, sip cocktails and make a night of it. The main features tonight are a rich and creamy Chocolate Mousse and Tequila Sunrise that the husband concocted. ¬†(Winner combo!)

So when I first read the recipe for this super easy Chocolate Mousse at Eat Live Run, I couldn’t believe that the ingredients consisted only of chocolate and water! Seriously, I was a little flabbergasted. Once my shock subsided, I decided to test the recipe. Now I am even more in shock because not only does it look perfect, it tastes JUST like Chocolate Mousse made the traditional way. I used 72% dark chocolate and you can add some sugar if you like your mousse sweeter. I didn’t add any and love the way it tastes.

DSC01162 DSC01168

This fabulous recipe, Jennifer Lawrence in her gorgeous red Dior and Lupita Nyong’o in the powder blue Prada sure look like winners tonight!

Recipe by Herve This & Heston Blumenthal

Adapted from Eat Live Run

chocolate-mousse

Ingredients
4 servings
265g bittersweet (%70 cocoa solids) chocolate, chopped
240 ml water
4 tbsp sugar, optional

Method

  • Place a large mixing bowl on top of another slightly smaller one, filled with ice and cold water (the bottom of the large bowl should touch the ice). Set aside.
  • Put chocolate and water (also sugar if you‚Äôre using) in a medium-sized pan and melt the chocolate over medium heat, stirring occasionally. I added a¬†tablespoon of dark rum to this mix for a nice bold flavor.¬†
  • Pour the melted chocolate into the mixing bowl sitting on top of ice and water, and start whisking with a wire whisk (or an electrical hand-held mixer) until thick. Watch the texture as you whip and make sure not to over-whip as it will make the mousse grainy. If the mousse becomes grainy (which is possible at your first try), transfer it back into the pan, reheat until half of it is melted, pour it back to the mixing bowl and whisk again briefly. I got it right the¬†second time around.
  • Garnish with orange rind (optional but it tastes so good!)
  • Divide into serving cups, chill for about an hour and serve.

DSC01170

Mid-Week feel gooders #1

mid-week-feel-gooders

I am a lover of pretty things, beautiful places, yummy food and innovative functional objects. Very often, in the middle of the workday, I take a couple of minutes off just to look at things that make me feel good. Helps me stay stimulated and the feel good factor doesn’t hurt either.

Here are my top mid-week finds to help get you through the rest of the week –

mid-week-feel-gooders

1. Aren’t these table mats lovely? Find the simple DIY tutorial at Design Sponge.

2. Bioluminescent Phytoplankton. Maldives, you are on my Travel wish list. 

3. Very cool rug from Loomrugs.

4. Chocolate Baileys Mud cake that I am dying to try. Find the recipe at Citrus and Candy.

5. Spring-ready sandals from Anthropologie.

6. Cheery and colorful prints by twoems!

7. I just cannot get over this wallpaper print. Available at Tangletree Interiors. 

8. Paleo Coconut milk Panna Cotta from Culinarystorm that looks so pretty, I might not be able to eat it.

9. I am a little obsessed with pendant lamps these days and absolutely love these ones from Urban Outfitters. 

Happy mid-week browsing! ūüôā