Saturday, February 27, 2016

Hello Weekend!

Tried my hand at some new brushes on the computor... 
made this with a light pencil sketch effect and feel just right!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday Fun-Time: How to Throw a "Under-the-Sea" Theme Party

Have you been wanting to throw an awesome party but with a slightly different theme?
How about a theme with sea-shells, glitter, star-fishes and blue and green colors of the ocean?
Under-the-sea Theme is fun, different and not so difficult to do...
And I'll take you through all the ideas of the decor, the food, the games and even a slightly out of the box (literally) invitation!
The only hitch being you must have seashells of as many shapes and sizes as you can get your hands on...
and if you don't, then beg, borrow or steal... because without that, the party decor will fall flat! 
We borrowed some sea shells from our neighbours, collected the ones that we already had, bought some from the market as well as rummaged through all our stuff to come up with anything suggesting sea, beach, fish, blue, river-pebbles etc.
I even picked up a twisted tree root from the roadside when I went for my evening walk because it reminded me of driftwood on the beach.
And now for a little background on who "we" are...
In the Army circles "we" usually have a monthly Ladies club, which is rotated per group/unit in the cantonment, so that while one group works hard to arrange the party, the people in the other groups enjoy that party... and then the next month the baton passes onto another unit.
Most of these get-togethers are based on some theme or the other...
its either a seasonal theme like Diwali, Christmas, Holi, or a nice color theme..
Then it could be a fun theme like a Casino or Retro or Back-to-School or Don theme.... the more wild the better!
I had even done a flower theme a year back, decorated with giant paper flowers all over the place...
you can get a link to that (here)
Its a good, fun way for all the wives of Army Officers to get together, have fun and generally uplift the environment of boring small-town stations where we are posted most of the time...places where we might not even have a basic McDonald's burger-leave alone a Mall!
Okay so back to the topic... How to throw a FANTASTIC "Under the Sea" Party!
It was kinda formal, yet fun theme because this party was supposed to be a farewell to a senior Officer's wife who was leaving the station.

So lets get started!!
The things you need:
hmmm... so we have collected enough sea-shells galore, of all sizes and all shapes, and some river pebbles and driftwood.
Lots of blue and sea green crepe paper, blue and silver tissue and ribbons as well as net cloth-for decoration and gift wrapping, some hessian cloth or burlap cloth (jute/bora) for some rustic look and for the table decor...
(Table decor and hessian cloth you say?? wait and watch!)
some round paper lanterns for jelly-fish decor, and we even used sea green curtains as table cloths...
what can I say- we are experts in improvising.
anything blue, sea green... we've got a use for it.

And now for the beautiful... out-of-the-box invitation...
First print out the invitation...
This picture has been downloaded from the internet...
The poem written in, along with the time, place, venue etc.

Paste this printed invitation on a piece of hessian cloth... like shown below, and the tie it up with a jute string, stick a few sea shells,a star fish, and voila! the pretty, rustic invitation is done!
Next, to make a box to carry the invitation... take a long cardboard box of approximately the right size to hold the invite, cover it in either brown paper to continue with the rustic look or a pretty blue paper 'coz it was a formal invite.
Stick some pretty straw (I have a whole packet full of it-comes in very handy) and top it with a colorful star fish made with salt dough.
The whole DIY tutorial for salt dough star fishes will soon follow in a subsequent post.
Its real simple and you can make a lot of crafty things with it.

And here is the pretty invitation in a pretty box that has sand and sea shells in it... to go with the flow.

So now that the invite is well and ready, and we move onto the rest of the decor and ideas.
Here is one below- of a pretty Welcome note that you can use as a place card on the table when you are welcoming guests.

Its different and looks pretty along with the rest of the decoration like a fish bowl and a sea-shell decorated t-lite holder.

And in the Army parties or functions... one also has a decorated folder with some blank papers placed on a table in front of the chief guest where she can write down some competition markings or anything else.
So here is the "sea-theme" 3D folder that I made:
It has a couple of sea horses cut-outs and star fish cut-outs to give a 3D effect.
I also glued on some sea shells and some sand at the base, plus a crepe paper folded coral.

here is a peek at the various table decorations that dotted the party venue... some with boats and candles and chalkboard poem (downloaded from the internet)

to hurricane lanterns and metal fish figurine and real star fishes (dried ones)...

We also turned normal jam bottles and cases into rustic t-lite holders with a little seashells and jute strings into pretty t-lite holders!
very easy to do and looks great!

A few scattered hurricane lanterns and wine bottles with a bit or artistically arranged drift wood and hessian cloth to give a seaside beach look in one corner!

The entrance with ribbons and wave cut-outs as well as curtains that have star fishes tied to them...

Flickering candle on a base of sea-shell mirror and a blue ceramic conch shell...
I told you- we used anything we could get our hands on with blue and sea overtones!!
so a ceramic sea shell....

We had a lot of these paper lanterns in our mess, so we got half of them out... and used our grey cells to convert them into pretty jelly fishes bouncing and swaying along in the wind...
They looked beautiful!
again a tutorial will follow soon. 
I promise.

Here they are under the parachute....

All lighted up and glowing pretty as it becomes dark!

Here the jelly fishes along with paper pom poms are decorating the stage....

And now that the decorations are out of the way... we come to the snacks and drinks of the party.
We first decorated the drinks and snacks tray with pretty corals, shells and silver Christmas decorations as well as a glittery blue net cloth....

and we served a pretty drink on this tray, called the Miami Beach..
The recipe of which  is here

While on the tray below, we served Star Fish ginger-lemon cookies with colorful chocolate glaze and pretty sprinklers.... (all made in-house, nothing was bought from outside!) 
dont these cookies look pretty?

and now for the main menu....
here's a peek at the Menu-Card!

The table decoration where the eatables were arranged.... and here is where the hessian cloth (jute/bora) that I talked about in the beginning, comes in handy to take the place of sand, and the silver and blue net cloth to show the waves. The t-lites and the shells as well as the pearls add to the glamour.

You can also add a couple of songs on the sea and the oceans..."samundar mein nahakar" anyone?
and a few games on gems and pearls and sea water....
and you have got a stunning party that will linger on in everyone's mind for a long long time!!
Believe me, it will be the talk of the town and you will definitely be called the hostess with the mostest!

If you have any more ideas that you would like to share that might take up the theme a notch or two...
Do share in the comments below!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tasty Tuesday: Kerela style Chicken

Another yummy and extremely simple style of making a quick chicken curry.
My previous cook was a South Indian, a Tamilian to be precise, and he loved cooking everything with coconut oil... he got a full bottle of coconut cooking oil just for me, before he left and also taught me one of the most simple styles of cooking chicken in coconut oil and curry patta, which he liked calling Kerela style Chicken...
Now I dunno how much of a genuine Kerela style it is, but I absolutely love it!
and the cooking in coconut cooking oil and coconut milk gives it a nice earthy, creamy flavor that my kids love and I love coz of its health benefits over cooking in refined oil.

so here it is: the Kerela Chicken as taught by our Rao Bhaiyya:

1 kg chicken 
1/2 tsp red color
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp Deghi chilli powder (not too spicy but with a nice color)
1/2 tsp salt 
juice of 1 lemon

other ingr:
3 whole red chillies
1 tsp Deghi chilli powder
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
3 tbsp coconut cooking oil
250 gms onions (3 medium sized) - finely chopped lengthwise.
1/2 tin coconut milk
curry patta (leaves) 2 full sprigs
3-4 tez patta (bay leaves)
1/2 tsp of javitri
a pinch of jaiphal (nutmeg)
3 tbsp paste of cashew nut and magaj (watermelon seeds)

for the garnish:
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 sliced onion
3 whole red chillies 
1 sprig of curry leaves

1- Marinate the chicken in the marinade (ingredients given above) for nearly 3 hours.
2- Heat oil in a deep pan, and then add the curry leaves, whole red chillies, bay leaves and javitri and jaiphal... saute lightly.
3- Quickly add the onions, the ginger garlic paste, and the chilli powder, roast till fragrant and the onions change color.
4- Now add in the marinated chicken along with the marinade, and cook stirring on low heat for 10 minutes.
5- Once semi cooked, add the coconut milk and the kaju+magaj paste, mix well.
6- Simmer-covered, on low heat till cooked for another 15 minutes.
7- Just when about to serve, take the chicken out into the serving bowl, keep aside.
8- In the meantine, in a tadka pan ( a small pan for frying the garnish) heat oil, add the whole chillies, and onions... once they change color-add the curry leave and allow to sputter.
Pour this tadka garnish over the chicken and serve immediately with Malabar Parotta or rice.

p.s. : will be putting up a recipe +photos of the Malabar Parotta soon.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

c'mon Inner PEACE!!!

Just one of those days... with too much on my plate and too few hours in the day.

gotto learn to reeeaaally be productive with my time...
stop the Facebook scrolling....
make a list of daily to-dos (have made them) and stick to them!!
stop with the yawning please!!
crank up the music a bit louder...
and get GOING!!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Feb 2016 Desktop Calendar: Sibling love!

Month of February... month of LOVE...
and there can be no other enduring love, than those of siblings.
Bothers and sisters fighting with each other through thier growing-up years.
Its a love-hate relationship that can go from hot to cold in matters of seconds, esp when one is young and hormonal...
one can be best of friends or the worst of enemies...
You can question God on why did He saddle you with such a loser of a brother/sister...
Try hard to ignore them when you are hanging out with your friends and the younger ones want to tag along...
But one can never get rid of that bond that runs in our veins.
And the bond only strengthens as we get older and realise that come what may, there is at least one person (other than the parents) who knows you, who understands your pain, shares your giggles and is always there for you... just a phone call away!

We are a brood of six siblings... five sisters, with just one brother squeezed in between us!
We either ignored each other, or fought like cats and dogs when we were younger...
tore apart each others books or broke up favorite toys in retaliation...
told tales to get the other in trouble but stood up to a school bully when the younger one came crying!
We shared bedtime stories, makeup tips and secret crushes...
we were each other's first beautician and hairdresser, to stylist and Agony Aunt all rolled in one!
and we always had each other's backs when the chips were down and times were rough!
We, like most families, have been through a lot, and one thing we have learnt over the years is that no matter the distance, none of us is alone!!
We are, and always have been there for each other.
even though we might even be continents apart, (now that most of us are married) but one hint of trouble and we all come running... alhamdolillah!
Our father's demise a couple of years back was the last time that all of us siblings were together under one roof and that wasnt a happy occasion...
But we got strength from each other's presence and the shared pain and loss.
That was then, and now we got together for our only brother's wedding.
The wedding was chaotic and frantic and FUN!!
It was from our ancestral home in our village and there were dogs and puppies, and turkey, hens, goats and what have you... with guests squeezed into every corner of the huge house.
It was fun, and it was mad-house crazy...
and before we knew it, the wedding was over and we got a new addition to the sibling gang... a bahu who is just as bindaas and kick-ass like us...  :-)
and in a month's time, along with our happiness (alhamdolillah) so did our household grow-with an addition of a Persian Cat and a rabbit as well...
They are there as well in the picture below-see if u can spot them!

So do enjoy the Big-Fat-Indian-Wedding Celebrations Desktop Calendar with my my sibling brood this February... made with a lotta love and nostalgia..
I wish we coulda got more time to spend together....and talk, and of course fight!!

just right click, save, and set as desktop calendar.
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