Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Rock people rock

So I painted some rocks. A woman with red dress, bright yellow leggings and stylish bangs, another woman in a bright patterned salwar kameez, a bearded man in a striped t shirt and jeans, a bald headed moustached man in a white kurta pajama. One big rock for the body, one small rock for the head. There is a lot of fun involved in this, you just keep scrolling down. 

The very chic lady. 

Stripes are so in.

So is the salwar pattern.

I am sure everyone knows at least one Uncle who looks like this dude.

Fun story, I was sitting in the courtyard, taking pictures of my rock people. I spent a long time arranging and rearranging my rock people, giggling all the way.  Father was sitting close by, reading his newspaper. He now believes that I have gone crazy.

Now if the bearded man wants to wear the red frilly dress with bright yellow leggings, he totally can! :) No body is going to judge him in this tiny online space of mine. If the girl with the bangs want to rock the striped tee with a jeans, she can too. It is all cool here.

Same rule applies to the bald headed man in a salwar, the woman in her white kurta pajama.

Incidentally, if the old man wants to wear a trendy tee or the elderly woman wants to wear a frilly dress, that is also cool in this space.

These ones can go traditional too.

 All four of them!

 Use any head on any body, have fun! I used fabric paint on the stones.

The boy played with it for a minute or two and then he started throwing them stones at me.
It hurts, ouch!

Final Verdict: Appropriate for kids who are three years or more. Keep out of reach of troublesome 19 month olds who are in that weird phase of throwing everything. Stay out of their throwing track incase they get hold of these.

Have fun.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

What goes around comes around!

I am thrilled to see two lovely women sharing their versions of my tutorials to me. My attempts to inspire people to craft is hereby considered successful.

Here is Arathi and her version of a t shirt tote bag.  You can find my tutorial here. I love Arathi's choice of a t shirt.

And here is Poonam and her wax resist painting. I felt sentimental and super glad when she told me that after some seven years or so, I inspired her to pick up some colour and sit down to paint. Find my wax resist tutorial here.

My love and thanks to both of you!

Friday, May 23, 2014

10 ways to entertain a toddler while travelling

Travelling with a toddler is not easy. It can turn into a nightmare if you are travelling alone with the said toddler. Having one favorite toy might not really help to get you through the hours of waiting time in airports, railway stations, tedious road trips. Giving your smartphone to your toddler seems to be the easy way out these days. During our last trip to the pediatricians, we met a family. The father, mother and the kid all of them were glued to their individual phones. They are detached from whatever was going on around them, they were detached from each other, they were mighty bored. Getting glued to the smartphone is the last thing I want to do to myself or to my family. Here are some travel friendly tips to keep the toddler entertained.

1. Fake Wallet 

I don't know about all toddlers, but as a general rule, toddlers love to open a wallet, examine the contents, take things out, put things back etc. Save up all the random visiting cards and bills, stuff them into your old wallet, carry it along. Do not hand it over to the kid immediately. This is the golden rule. Pretend that it is your real wallet, let the toddler snatch it away from you. You will have him or her engaged for a minimum of seven minutes. Seven minutes is so long in the toddler and mommy world.

2. Bindis 

I always keep a bunch of colourful sticker bindi packets handy in my bag. When the kid starts to show signs of boredom, I take one bindi out. Point to be noted, a bored toddler can graduate to a troublesome trantrum toddler in a matter of nanoseconds. I stick a bindi to the boy's hands or feet. He usually tries to remove it, put it somewhere else in his body, on my face, on my bag, clothes etc. Bindi's always give him atleast ten minutes of fun and give me ten minutes of peace. They are not messy, they are easy to carry around, they are pure gold.

3. Bangles 

You cannot carry million little toddler toys when you are travelling. One entertaining toy for a toddler is an abacus which will let them count or just fool around with. There is no space in a travel bag for a toy like that. But there is always the possibility of wearing a lot of bangles on your hand. It will work as a rattle, it will work as an abacus. You can let the toddler count it, play with it while wearing it. You can remove a couple and just let them wear it on their hands, remove it, wear it again. Again, a minimum of seven minutes.

4. Lollipop 

Make sure you have a food item that will last for a long time. The time is the most important factor here. Do not give the kid a chocolate or something else that can be wolfed down quickly. A lollipop is my perfect travel companion. It has a handle, it is a chore to finish it. It will take atleast ten minutes to finish one. There will be a considerable amount of drooling, but you can always wipe the sugary drool.

5. Fellow travellers 

It is really ok to talk to strangers. Sometimes they might turn out to be the best travel companions. Like this old woman we travelled with this time, she was happy to take the boy out on a stroll inside the plane introducing him to other passengers on board. The kid had fun and I had a five minute break from holding a wiggly toddler in my lap while sitting in the really tiny airplane seat.

6. New book 

Carry one new book with a lot of pictures to look at. Seven minutes. Ten minutes guaranteed if it has a goofy rhyme.

7. Activity Toy 

Carry one toy which has an interesting for the toddler irritating for you kind of activity. Something that can open and close a million times with a clicking noise would be perfect. May be a box with a lid, a car with a door, a ball point pen with the spring action. It will give you atleast five minutes.

8. Play dead 

This is an extremely ridiculous and hugely entertaining game we play. I play dead and he will try to wake me to life, often by poking to my eyes. This game is a never ending fun game for us. Most often I get bored with the game and I distract him to some other activity. He never gets tired of this one.

9. Count random things 

The kid can count two and three. So where ever we go, we count the twos and threes, be it chairs, buses, stairs, people, trash cans, anything.

10. Luggage Stroller  

Another entertaining item in an airport is the luggage stroller. I put him in the top most space in the stroller and I keep the luggage bags under. He enjoys the ride for sometime. Soon he will realize that this is somewhere you can't run away from and then he would want to run away.

I hope at least one or two of these tips will make someone's life easier someday.

PS: Always always wear a backpack. You need both your hands while travelling with the toddler.

PPS: Carry  hand towels and  a change of clothes at all times.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

tshirt to grocery tote bag tutorial

You might want to say no to a plastic bag when you go grocery shopping, but what is the alternative? All those shopping bags, those horrible looking monstrosities, how are you supposed to carry those around? Here is something that matches your cool quotient while being eco-friendly. Presenting before you, the re-cycled grocery bag made from an old tshirt. This does not include any complicated sewing process at all. All you need is some 15-20 minutes of your time, an old tshirt and a pair of scissors. 

First step is to pick an old tshirt that is too tight or too loud or too old for you to wear. If it has a cool print, your bag will have it too. 

Chop the hands off.

Now chop the neck off. At this point, if you are a Mallu, remember Akkare Akkare Akkare :)

Cut some fringes.

Knot them fringes. Make sure you knot it twice to make it strong.

Tie a piece of fabric to create a handle. (You can choose not to do this too.)

You are all done!

I love these fringes.

But if you are of a non fringe loving, simple bag person, trim those fringes and turn the bag inside out.

I turned it inside out and quickly scribbled a Frank Sinatra song lyric to it, you know, just to make it extra cool. :)

May be I should have saved those leftover dreams. Funny, but here's that rainy day.

In my grocery bag today,

It seriously will take 15 minutes to do this. The bag is unbelievably sturdy, it will put any of your plastic grocery bags to shame. It is washable. It is just an old tshirt.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The little book of fish

Remember the very tiny alphabet book and the little red book of Malayalam Alphabet? We made another little book, this time about fish. This is dedicated to Daniel and his love for fish. 

Mee Mee is the kid lingo for fish in Malayalam. He calls fish Mee Mee! 

There is a tiny aquarium in dmy place in Kerala. That was bought in when Maman was a little boy. Maman was the first batch of DPEP, the primary education program that emphasized on alternative methods of learning. The aquarium is kept alive even now. I remember the little boy Maman obsessed with creating a perfect natural habitat for the fish. His text book told him to create an 'avasa vyavastha' for the fish. Avasa Vyavastha was probably the first ever big malayalam word he learned. Anyway, years later, Daniel too enjoys looking at Maman's aquarium and the fishes in their aquarial avasa vyavastha :) 

And like any other fellow Mallu, he loves his fish fry with his rice. :) That makes him a well rounded fish-lover.

His favorite fish is Rohu. While we are in North India, we try to overcome our coconut oil hangover and fry the Rohu pieces in Refined Mustard oil.

But we love other fishes too, sea fish, fresh water fish, dried fish, pickled fish, all kinds of fish.

And that is our little story about mee mee.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Macrame love

Macrame is a knotting technique that is belived to be originated among the 13th century Arabic weavers. Earliest representations were found in the carvings of the Babylonians and Assyrians. Macrame can be used to make a simple knotted bottle or plant holder. But the knotting can graduate into very complex decorative pieces, bags, jewelry or even fabric. I am taking my baby steps in macrame and I don't think I will ever be able to make a complex macrame piece. However, I am overjoyed at the possibilities of a hanging planter :)

A beer bottle macramed into a hanging planter :)

There is something so charming about the affair between light and beer bottles. There is something equally charming about the affair between biriyani and beer bottles, but that is another story I am reserving for a better time.

My my!

Just days after the beer bottle was installed (yeah, installed), we carried out macrame love to kerala.

Here is us tightening the knots in a macrame plant holder.
Me, Ma and the Boy.

Plant on a mango tree.

Mother plants orchids in coconut husks.

Macrame knots.

Next summer vacation, this planter will be replaced with a swing.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Whimsical Sock Monster Puppets

There are these socks, you do not know where the pair is. These socks, they have the habit of disappearing. You can either be a hipster and do not give a damn to the colour coded sock wearing world, go ahead and wear them mismatched monsters, or you can transform them into sock puppet monsters. Now, I don't really care whether the socks on my feet will match with each other, but I so wanted to try out making some whimsical sock puppet monsters. Just look at them, adorable things! I am also adding a step by step tutorial into how to create one of these using an old and fuzzy sock.

Before we move into the tutorial, take a look at what fun thing a sock puppet monster is... 

It sure does have a lot of character! 

It can talk and give weird smiles and all...

They are very smart photobombers!

I have used wool for the nose and hair of this one. You can use pretty much anything, it is that random whimsy.

Here he is displayed next to the boy's artwork :P

Ha ha, monster smiles.

Hide and seek.

Let us feed the monster a magician panda!

Now the tutorial.

Draw a rough oval on a piece of chart paper.

Cut the said oval. No need to put pressure on perfection.

Grab any random waste cloth, preferably bright shaded, fold it and cut it in a similar shape. This should look somewhat like this. Again, no pressure on perfection.

Keep the paper oval inside.

Next item you need is your old sock: the fuzzier, the better.

See that line over there, that is where we cut.

This should look like this.

Lookie look, the plan is evolving now.

Now insert the oval paper covered in fabric.

Next step is to stitch the said oval formation to the sock, cut the sock as and when you want it fit around the oval.

See, this is how it looks.

Now we will make eyes. You can buy those readymade teddybear eyes, but I wanted it to be from recycled stuff, so I cut a piece of fabric from an old tshirt.

Then that was rolled in to a not so neat fabric ball...

Finished rolling it.

They were then stitched into the sock as eyes.

My washing and sketching unit.

Sheets are washed and monsters are made in this household.

I drew eyes with black fabric paint. He now looks a little tipsy, don't you think?

Then I made some hair from another piece of waste fabric.
I took a roughly cut long piece of fabric.

This was then cut to make tassels, all done quickly, not so neatly.

That was then rolled and stitched on to the sock where hair should be.

Sock puppet happiness :)

This is really easy folks. Next time you see a sock without a pair, make a monster.

Enjoy the puppet show.

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