Friday, December 30, 2016

And its a wrap, 2016!!

The very eventful 2016 year has finally ended!!
and man what an year this has been!!
With lots of things happening worldwide as well as at the home turf in India.
some good... some bad but all in all an extremely eventful and surprising year!
So now its high time we wish 2016 just got over and we move onto a fresh start with hopefully fresher perspective and a cleaner, happier, empathetic and more tolerant 2017.

My life in my little corner of the world, the past year, has also been quite eventful....
And this post is a small round-up of all that I learnt, experienced, and shared!!

1- We said goodbye to the deserts and our regimental family for 3 years, and moved onto a new place..Rajasthan you are missed... your gentle winds, vibrancy, solitude, and beauty cannot be compared.
and my family for 3 years.... the wonderful and fun girls of my Regiment, you have been my backbone and strength- May you grow in leaps and bounds and shine always and wherever you are!

2- We welcomed a new member into the family (my one and only brother got married) and I personally was astonished and amazed at how well the new bride and sister settled in and bloomed!! I guess she realised we were all as crazy as her ;-)

3- I made fresh friends and caught up with some old familiar ones in the new place that we call home now...
I learnt to work hard and party harder! heheh!!

5- We went on a visit to the beautiful Japan and the amazing Hong Kong....
visited family and had fun in Macau...
An absolutely memorable visit!

6- Professionally I saw myself grow as well...
learnt a couple of new softwares and techniques...
tried my hand at making a video tutorial, and still have got to refine my technique.... and learn, learn learn!!

7- Also made some new connections that hopefully will bring a couple of my dreams to fruit (will disclose them in a while coz they are still in the nascent stage)

8- I tried a new technique in painting and am loving the way that it has defined my style...
Got a couple of half finished painting still to go and put up, then I can really see if I have evolved or not.

9- I felt amazed and humbled at people meeting me and recognising that I am "that Maryam" that they have been following and reading for so long!! That has definitely been the high point of the year gone by... the feeling that u are just not writing and drawing for yourself... there are living-breathing people out there who follow you and wait for your next post, calendars, recipes and tips!!
I makes me want to better myself and my craft... just for your appreciation and accolades!

10- I still feel surprised and humbled once more at the write up that came out in an annual Army Magazine (2016 edition) about me and my creative journey....
I hope it can inspire and motivate other young Army wives who have sacrificed their jobs to follow their hearts and their man across the countryside: that all is not lost if you have the passion and determination.... and that everything falls in place eventually....
you just have to stick to your guns and work real hard.

11- Learnt a new craft: Mosaic... and did some fun DIY mosaic stuff on old pots (click here)!

12- And how to Recycle old Jam bottles (click here)

13- Threw some fabulous (if I may say so) parties for my kids as well as a farewell to our commander's wife...
here are their links:

14- And how can a foodie like me, end the yearly round-up without mentioning the many new recipes that I tried.... some were successful but there were also some humongous failures...
the failures of course will not be mentioned here ;-)
but here are some successful recipes that I loved:

a) Lauki ke Kabab
b) Whole Grain Banana Pancakes
c) Easy Chicken Pot Pie
d) Fun Mocktail: Miami Beach
e) 3 Ingredients Mango Ice-cream
f) Whole Wheat and Oats Chocolate Crepes
g) Chicken Cordon Bleu with Pesto sauce (stuffed chicken breasts)
h) Egg and Alcohol free- Easy Tiramisu
i) Sweet and Spicy, Grilled Thai Chicken

I have been pretty satisfied with how this year has gone by.... I could have done better, maybe put in a more concerted effort, but it wasn't too bad was it?
So tell me, how did your year go? Are there things on your to-do list that you feel you definitely will get around to do in the coming year?
do drop in a line and let us know. :-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

December 2016 Calendar-HAPPY HOLIDAYS people!!

This month's calendar is long in coming- its already the 13th, but life is real hectic these days.
(when it isn't? at least for me.... I just cant sleep till I have my finger in a lotta pies and believe me, my pies are getting bigger and bigger everyday.)
This month's Desktop Calendar is a continuation on the last one...which was also a coloring Page calendar!
This one too , you can download, print, and then take your time coloring!

So this one's for the holidays just around the corner and the festivities of Christmas and New Years!!

You can even print it on card stock paper, color it yourself and send it as a postcard to someone.
I am sure your friends will love it!
Mayb you can take a photo and send it to me.  :-)

Here is a sample from one of my followers who had downloaded last month's calendar, printed it and then had fun coloring it!
And the cherry on the cake? she sent it to me...
Boy was I one happy artist!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tasty Tuesday: Sweet and Spicy-Grilled THAI Chicken

Today's Tasty Tuesday Recipe was a lot of fun when I made it this weekend with my son, (we try and cook together on Sunday afternoons) with some ingredients that I have been itching to try out... namely the very pungent and savory Fish sauce (Nam Pla) and the Chinese Rice Vinegar.
Its easily available in gourmet stores and though I was a little reluctant to try it once I opened the bottle because of the strong smell, I needed to get over my mental block and give it a shot.
And believe you me, if you can kind of ignore the initial smell when you pour it out of the bottle... its no longer there after the cooking, just a lovely earthy taste!
But in case you are reluctant to be adventurous or you want to make this dish NOW without waiting for your trip to the gourmet store... well I have an alternative for you...

Note: You can use Worcestershire sauce or even soya sauce with a little lemon juice.
But if you can get your hands on Fish Sauce- nothing like it in Thai cooking!
Another special ingredient that I used in this is the Thai sweet chilli sauce that is easily available in all supermarkets... even with Funfoods brand.
Okay so lets get started with this lip-smacking, finger licking delicious chicken.


I kg Chicken-skinless (preferably thighs+legs and wings)
2 tbsp oil for basting.

If you can get 1 fresh lemon grass stalk (white part finely chopped) or you can use dried lemon grass like me and discard it after cooking.
1 full bulb of garlic, crushed and minced
3 tbsp fish sauce (look up the note above for alternatives)
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp rice vinegar
4 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt.

For garnish:
lemon wedges
small thai red chillies, finely sliced
coriander leaves, chopped

1. Make slits in the chicken thighs and legs. Place it in a ziplock bag and pour the marinade over it.
Rub the marinade well into the chicken and then leave overnight or at least 3 hours.
2. Remove the chicken from the marinade and keep the marinade aside for basting. along with oil.
3. If grilling over an outdoor charcoal grill- grill as you would any marinated chicken.
4. If there is no grill, you can even cook it in a deep pan, covered, along with the marinade and its juices till the chicken is cooked through and browned on both sides.
Then if you do have a grill pan, grill it on that so that you get the nice grilled lines on the chicken..
I grilled mine later in a panini maker coz I was too lazy to take out my outdoor grill.
It can also be baked in the oven at 180C for about 40 minutes (esp if boneless) while basting with the marinade and turning it over once, half way through.
5. Serve over steamed rice with lime wedges, chopped fresh coriander and thai chilli.

Enjoy licking your fingers!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Saturday Stylista... a painting.

I havent really updated you all on how things are on my paintings front... just finished one, although as things are with oil paintings: you sometimes dont know when to stop.
As is with this one...
I feel its finished, tho there are still a few more things that I could've done...
or mayb will do so, a little later... because I am itching to start with my other one and somehow not getting around to it.
My background as an illustrator (fashion and children) has somehow formed this style of painting that I am following right now...
Its not really realistic but somehow more on the fashion illustration genre, though its done in oils and acrylics as well as mixed media....I love portraits and figures and good looking people and colorful art that makes me happy.
I just cannot stand gloomy, death eaters type of paintings or themes that depress you or make you think hard as to what exactly has been portrayed in this painting in front of me.
We have enough drama and depression and gloom all around us, and I wouldn't want to be surrounded by it in my home as well.
I also cannot be pretentious... I love making beautiful people and the more stylised, the better.
Don't go looking for some profound, deep theme or story behind my paintings....
They are just happy paintings and made because I liked/ loved making them....
that I would love to display in my home.
Although I would love it if you would like to display them in yours.  Just saying!  ;-)
So another sultry, tho' happy-colorful painting that I am sure you would like adorning that dull corner of your home.

and here's a sneak peak into the whole process as well as moi photo bombing.
And this is for you to put up on you Pinterest Board.

Really happy with how its turned out, tho its still looking a it unfinished....
but now I've gotto start with this one below- all sketched and ready and waiting for me.
Remember I had made a coloring book kinda Desktop Calendar for this month of November?(click here to see) and I was wanting to start a painting with the same pose?
Well here it is.
Will keep you updated on how this one turns out too!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Monday Moods: Lets go Graphic Black and White!

My Monday Mood today is very graphic and bold...and not everyone's cuppa tea!
I haven't done a decor post for a loooong time and have been toying with a decor idea for my home (particularly living room) for sometime.
 Now, I have big black leather sofas that kinda dominate my space which I combined in the last posting with splashes of red and gold...
This time the combo is black sofas with blue and gold and a surprise splash of fuschia....(view here)
It seems to go really well and looks elegant,
but I am sort of bored with it now, and thinking of changing it in a few months when we get posted to a new place.
So this time why not go all black and white??
with mayb a relief of just gold?
How do you think it'll look?
so to pep myself up, as well as start preparing for my next makeover.. here are some ideas that are bold, graphic and and totally black and white.
And there are ideas for all of your rooms in this blogpost!
to just. maybe. inspire you to do a makeover? what say?
Now I am not suggesting that you start with the "poore ghar ke badal daloonga" enthusiasm, but mayb start with just your kitchen, or your bathroom?
So here is the Monday Mood Board for black and white inspirations!!

How about we start with the bedroom makeover if we want to do it up in stark black and white...
stripes, dots, zigzag and any kinda graphics... thats the idea!!
go bold in the framed prints as well.

How about these amazing cushions?
The bolder the print... the better I say!

And a study table and curtains of your bedroom done up in bold graphic prints. 

If you dont get prints but you come across some nice design on a cloth or even wrapping paper... have it framed and put it up to jazz up that wall.

and to go very bold... how about painting an entire accent wall black or dark grey to go along with the black bed post and the fantastic mirrored side table!
do you think this looks a bit much? I kinda like it.

Now that the inspiration for your bedroom is done- we move to the washroom or the powder room...
An extreme change would be to make one whole wall as your statement... with matching cabinets and lamps... dont you think this looks fabulous? 

or paint a wall black with a pretty black art print to jazz it up?

 This one is pretty too! with the brass fittings, pretty lamp and of course the red flowers! 

Black and white window as well as shower curtains + some graphic towels to up the design.

 This pretty bathroom shelf adds a lot of character to the room too.

If you want to add a bit of relief to the starkness of black and white... this turquoise does a fabulous job, dont you think?

We now move onto this beautiful living room done up in shades of black and white with an accent wall of grey, which looks not just elegant but very simplistic too... I love the play of the different mirrors on the grey wall!

Maybe one can have a focal point in one corner of our living room that is highlighted with fun art prints, graphic chair and elegant cushions.

or how about this side elegant settee, done up in black white and gold?

This one is exactly what I want... a beautiful combination of black white and gold.
It looks elegant and glamorous.
I think I'll go for glamour rather than  simplistic this time!

These black and gold lamps are sooooo gorgeous...
Where can I get them??

Or these beautiful silver candle stands balanced out by the black ones.... 

Another way to add a graphic feel to your room is to go all black and white in your favourite photos and frames... and put them up on the wall shelves.

How about a sparkling  clean Kitchen done up in simple monotone colors?

I would love to cook up a storm in a kitchen like this!

Maybe have a small elegant french toned sit out near the window?

Or a country-home feel in this white kitchen with accents of black?


How about this elegant black and white Dining Area?

And before we leave the graphic about some striking planters to add some interest to you exteriors?
You can paint your normal pots in black and white like I did with my old pots (here)

So did I inspire you enough to get you itching to start a color makeover in one of your rooms?
Do let me know if I did.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

November 2016 Calendar: Coloring Special.

I am in love with the whole concept of Adult Coloring Books that has taken the publishing world by storm, especially the ones by Johanna Basford- They are absolutely exquisite!
And they are available on all major bookstores, if you are interested. Just saying.
If you are fond of coloring, need a destresser... buy one and get started!!
Believe me, all your stress will just melt away, because this color therapy is considered as good as meditation and touted as the next big thing on the things-to-do list!

So this month's calendar is dedicated to my Coloring Book fascination.
This will also be the inspiration of my next oil painting... hopefully.
Just the thought is getting me all excited and dancing.
Will keep you all updated as it progresses.

So for this illustration... just download and set as desktop picture.
Aaaand... take out a print out on a decent paper, and color it in the colors that you want!...
Do send me a picture once you'v done!!
would love to see everyone's take on the color combinations :-)

One question: would you all be wanting more coloring pages on my blog?

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sunday Sketch....

After taking a break, its a little difficult to get back into the groove, tho' I was kinda raring to go....
But I think that was all just in my mind...
When I tried getting my enthusiasm down on ground, there were too many things to do, lots of photos to upload, lots of catching up to do with friends and family... exams of the kids to take care of... PTMs to attend... and the list goes on.
My desk called out to me every day- feeling neglected.
Just a couple of days back, I came across this new software that I hadn't yet tried and which my friend had suggested to try out...and which was getting rave reviews form artists everywhere...
So while trying my hand at this new software, you are going to be getting a lot of squiggles and rough drawings and sketchy stuff!!
.... till this software fits my groove and I get a little comfortable !
p.s. this is a digital sketch, and NOT a pencil sketch, in case you haven't already figured it out ;-)

Friday, October 14, 2016

October 2016 Desktop Calendar

Have just got back from a hectic whirl-wind tour of Japan and HongKong which will def be covered in a more detailed blog post.
So inspired by the beauty, hospitality and the ever smiling faces of the Japanese people, this month's Desktop, Tablet calendar is dedicated to them.
Hope you like it.

and for all you Tablet and Phone holders out there.... 
here's one for you as well!

So, just right click, save, and the set and Desktop picture.
and like they say in Japanese:
"Ari Gato Gosai Maas".... thank you very much!

Friday, September 9, 2016

September 2016 Desktop Calendar

Just one of those dark and gloomy days with an incessant drizzle...that makes me want to curl up with a juicy thick book and a big mug of coffee...
So this month's calendar is an ode to the monsoons of India...

Just right click and save.
Then set as desktop calendar...
The phone version will be up soon in a couple of hours, so do check back after a few hours and save it for your phone or tablet.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Thrifty Thursday: How to reuse glass bottles as t-lite holders

We Indians have a thing with hoarding and recycling things...whether its those plastic/jute/cloth/paper bags that we with our shopping, or old pretty gift wrapping papers that we are loathe to throw away, old pickle and jam bottles that are used over and over again to store chutneys or spices in the kitchen...
Here I will tell you how to convert an old jam/ pickle bottle into a pretty t-light holder, but with a twist... its a sea/ocean themed t-light holder that you can use in your sea theme party (like I did)
Or use it in your bathroom decor to store your brushes and lip gloss... with a few star fishes in a little basket on the side.
Anyways here is how its done: 
These are the things you need-

I took transparent blue Camel photo color,
some white glue... either Mod Podge or Fevicol,
some water in a bowl... add the glue and a few drops of color
mix well to make a blue liquid and then paint onto the glass bottle.
Paint it in two-three layers till its smooth and not patchy.

Take some more white glue in your brush and paint the lower portion of the bottle with it.
take some coarse sand in a plate and roll the glued on part in it till well coated.

Take some straw strings and glue them onto the neck of the bottle like shown...
attach a couple of strings to hang below with a few small seashells glued at the end to add weight to the hanging strings.
Maybe you can glue on some more seashells over the straw at the neck of the bottle.

To continue to make a few more bottles in the same sea theme...
with a rustic feel-
what you can do with a little jute string and some pretty seashells...

They are used in the decor of the sea themed party that I threw a year back.

There are also other paints that you can use of you have them... glass paints also work as well and they have really bright colors to perk up some bottles...
like I colored these old wine, rum bottles and jam bottles in bright hues... gave a few some golden designs to give them a moroccan look and used them in an Arabian Night theme party

The old jam/ pickle /wine bottles lying around your house are like blank canvas... trust your imagination and get started to use them in varied themes in your parties or around the house in your decor...
I hope I have inspired you enough to get you to start hoarding!!  ;-)
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