Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Crocheted Fall Throw

I am a self-taught crocheter. I started crocheting about 2 years back, mostly making small stuff like scarf, baby blankets, hats etc. Last fall, I gathered enough courage to start a throw. Not anticipating the amount of work it would involve, I chose a regular thickness yarn to go with a 5 mm hook. I had to drop the project half way through when I realized its going to take me forever to finish this.
But it was like an unfinished item on my TO-DO list, and that bothered me. Then I stumbled upon this super chunky yarn at Hobby Lobby (to be used with 10 mm hook!!). I was almost into tears (not literally of course; I'm not that crazy yet).
So here's what I accomplished in just 1.5 months using super chunky Yarn Bee's Debut yarn (solid rust orange and solid maroon) and Bernat's Denim yarn (Indigo and Batik at the edges). It turned out very pretty and soft. I love the colors too. Not sure why both of these yarns have been discontinued. They were on clearance when I bought them.
PATTERN: the waves in rust orange are inspired from
After that it's all edging with half double crochet. Pretty easy huh!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

DIY Birch Trees Wall Decal

I had tried my first ever DIY wall decal, which was fun to make, but I got bored of it soon.
This one though, turned out very beautiful!! All my guests admire it and are amazed that it was a DIY project. Also, the quality of the end product is so good, you'd be shocked that store-bought wall decals cost so much, while this DIY wall decal is dirt cheap.

All you need is:
  • contact paper (bought it from Lowe's)
  • colored paper (optional, for leaves) 
  • Paint the wall a color that contrasts well with the color of your contact paper. I painted it dark gray. 
  • Keep in mind, colors appear darker when you paint a whole big wall. So I bought the gray a shade lighter than I actually wanted.
  • Trace and cut out birch trees with free hand on the contact paper. I know it's common sense, but be mindful that if you draw on the back side of the contact paper, your pattern will be reversed on the wall. It's not a big deal with these trees because there's not much directionality to them. Add some branches here and there.
  •  Cut elongated V's cross-section-ally along the edges of the bark.
  • Space the trees equally along the wall.Start pasting on the wall from the top. That ways gravity will help you and you won't have to lift the weight of the paper.
  • Cut out and paste birds, some flying, some sitting.
  • Cut out leaves, in groups of 2 or 3 or 4 or just single ones falling from the branches. 
  • Cut leaf shapes out of the colored paper too. Paste colored paper leaves on top of contact paper leaves.
  • Place leaves randomly on the branches, and here and there. Be creative!!
On a second thought, you can also choose a very light background paint to give a soothing effect; like something for your bedroom. Like very light blue gray. I think that'll look cool too.

So ya, just be creative and have fun!!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

DIY Jewellery Hanger

Made out of:
1. set of 3 round cardboard boxes bought at Michaels
2. decorative paper
3. left over paint from previous craft projects
4. silver embroidery thread

  • Paint the lids of the boxes with your favorite color. Choose a neutral color like light gray in the picture above, because you want you jewellery to stand out. So keep the hanger itself simple by design.
  • Decorate the sides of the lids with a decorative paper. You can also do some stenciling here if you don't already have paper at home and are too lazy to go to the store :) (I always try to use stuff that I have left over from previous projects. I call it SMART-crafting!)
  • Connect bottom of one lid to the top of another lid with the embroidery thread. To give it extra strength, I cut 3 equal lengths of the thread and braided them. Tie knots on either ends to secure them. 
  • I used a aluminum wire on top of the first lid as the hanger. Other options could be decorative ribbons, beaded strings, etc. 
  • Adorn it with beautiful earrings and necklaces!!!

Now, I'm a scientist by profession, so I have been taught to report successes as well as failures of my experiments. So here you go..

1. can hang it in my closet where rest of the accessories are
2. Since it is dangling freely, the back side is accessible and I can use it for stud earrings and loops too. Jewellery holders that are hung on the wall cannot be used for stud earrings and loops.
3. I haven't done it here, but you could add a fourth lid with a round mirror pasted on it. Wouldn't that be cool?! Try your earrings there and then, no need to go look in another mirror.
4. Can hang necklaces over the lids too.

1. I used the round box itself instead of the lid for the third layer so I could use the extra width to hang necklaces. It didn't work quite as expected because the weight of the necklaces causes it to lose its balance and tilt downwards from the back. So use lids for all the layers. You should be able to hang 1 or 2 necklaces over each lid layer.

I hope you like it, but feel free to leave comments even if you hate it!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Quick and Healthy Vegetarian soup

I get easily bored of making the same food again and again. So I'm always looking for new recipes. My full-time job does not leave me enough time to cook elaborate recipes, so my main search criteria for new recipes is that it has to be QUICK,EASY and yet HEALTHY. (Yes, I'm very demanding :))

So I came up with this super easy recipe for a very healthy vegetarian soup, and you can get really creative with this, adding whatever vegetables you like or skipping the ones you don't like from this recipe. So here's the recipe. Hope you enjoy it.

Ingredients (serves 2):
  • 1 cup mixed beans cooked (you can buy mixed bean packs from most grocery stores, or mix your own)
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped (i like cutting onions in approx. 1cm X 1cm square shapes. Make 4-5 vertical cuts, the 4-5 horizontal cuts)
  • tomato puree from 3 ripe Roma tomatoes
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon juice 
  • Add chopped green bell pepper, carrots or other vegetables if you'd like. I add or reject them depending on how much time I have. Just mixed beans are very healthy by themselves.

Here's a tip to cook beans perfectly:
In a microwave safe bowl, soak beans in water, and run in microwave for 7 minutes. Set aside until partially cool. Cooking in microwave quickens the process. Now cook it on gas in a pan filled with water. For soups, I don't like to pressure cook beans, else they get too mushy.

Heat oil in a pan.  Add chopped onions to heated oil and saute until golden brown. Add tomato puree. Add salt and black pepper and let it cook for 5-10 minutes or until raw taste of tomatoes is gone. Add cooked beans, add water for soup like consistency. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add lemon juice. Simmer for a couple more minutes. Yummy soup is ready to be served!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Protein Rich Soy Stuffed Roti(Parantha)

I don't like tofu. I don't like soy based meat. But then, people ask me, how do you get your protein?  Oh I have many options, I tell them.

So here's one. Yes, the main ingredient is SOY. But, even if, like me, you don't like soy, keep reading because you'll love this.

Ingredients for stuffing:
3/4 cup soy nuggets (boiled and finely chopped in a chopper)
1 large chopped onion
3-4 chopped green chilli (vary the quantity based on how spicy you like it)
1/2 to 1 tsp grated ginger
chopped coriander leaves
powdered spices (1/2 tsp cumin powder, 1/2 garam masala)
cumin seeds
bay leaves
salt to taste

The magic is, of course, in the stuffing. Add bay leaves and cumin(jeera) seeds to heated oil in a pan. Add chopped green chillies, grated ginger and onions, and saute until onions turn light brown. Don't burn them. Saute on medium flame.
Now add powdered spices and salt. There's really no rule here, add or subtract whatever you like or don't like. Be creative.
Cook for a couple seconds and add chopped soy nuggets. Sprinkle some water to mix spices well if it looks too dry. Cook for a couple minutes so the soy chunks take in the flavor nicely.
Add chopped coriander leaves.

The important trick is to not add too much soy. Just the right proportion so that filling is juicy, not dry.

Let the stuffing cool. Take the bay leaf out. It has done its job. Use around 1 tbsp stuffing per parantha.
Serve with tomato chutney/garlic chutney/bitter gourd chutney/raita or plain yoghurt.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Healthy Oatmeal Bread

I am a big fan of healthy snacking. So I often tweak bread and cake recipes  from the Pro's to make them healthier. Here's  a healthier version of Vonda's Oatmeal cake recipe I found at the Central Market. I used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour and less sugar than the original recipe.  And I just add chopped walnuts to all my breads even if the original recipe does not call for it, that's how much I love walnuts!

So here's the recipe. Enjoy!!

1. Soak 1 cup rolled oats in 1 1/4 cups of boiling water. Add 1/2 cup melted margarine. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes, or until it cools down.
2. In a mixing bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups wheat flour, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp baking soda,  1 tsp cinnamon powder, 1/2 tsp salt, and 2 beaten eggs.
3. Mix oats from step 1 in dry mixture from step 2.
4. Add chopped walnuts and raisins/sweetened dry cranberries to the bread mix.
5. Pour in a 9 inch X 5 inch greased baking pan, and bake for 40-45 minutes, or as they say 'until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean' in a 350F hot oven.

Wait for it cool down to room temperature before you dig in.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Spice up Christmas with Indian food

It's a tradition within my friend circle. I host the Christmas dinner every year. This year I hosted 2 dinners in 4 days; one for my new colleague-cum-friends, the other for this regular group of friends to keep up the tradition.
So I knew there'd be a lot of cooking to do. I thought I might as well make it fun for myself.

Dinner on Dec 22nd, 2012:
I had invited my colleagues to my house for the first time. The gathering was one of its kind because some of them were also accompanied my their (indian) parents, some by their children, some indian colleagues had american spouses and some american colleagues had indian spouses. (Also, after the party I realized all the couples, including us, had inter-religion marriages!!! which is not so common in India). That just made the evening ever more special!!
So,  here's the menu:

  • pani puri (buy puris, and Mirch Masala pani purwh i paste from Apna Bazaar)
  • Tostitos chips and salsa
  • Water melon
  • Pistachios
  • Veg Pulao (I'll post a very easy yet amazing recipe very soon)
  • Daal Makhani (Vah chef's recipe is very popular among my friends)
  • Ghatte ki sabzi (because I'm from Rajasthan and because an american colleague loves it)
  • bhindi fry (okra with sauteed onion and tomato)
  • fish curry (my husband made it, christmas without fish curry is no christmas for him)
  • roti (ordered tandoori roti from Mayuri Indian Cuisine restaurant...wasn't a very good idea as the rotis were cold and chewy by dinner time)
hot gulab jamun and cold vanilla ice-cream..a deadly combination! Must try!

Overall it was a fun party. Lots of food!! Amazing people!! Music and games!!

Dinner on December 24th, 2012:
Now my regular group of friends. With this group, everytime we get together, the menu is set : chicken curry or mutton curry for all the meat eaters, some paneer gravy for the only vegetarian in the group (me), and roti. Even the dessert is fixed forever - ice-cream cones.
I was craving for some change, but I still had to please the very picky eaters in the group. So here's the menu I came up with:

  • pani puri again (since it was a favorite on the 22nd dinner)
  • chips and salsa again (easy and everyody's favorite)
  • garlic bread (i tried this garlic bread from Winco for the first time, people just loved it!)
  • veg spring rolls (Sanjeev Kapoor's recipe, people love this too!
  • Chicken Tikka burger (sanjeev kapoor's recipe)  - i tweaked the recipe a bit by serving jalapeno ranch dressing, Mirch Masala coriander chutney, and pickled jalapenos to make the burger spicier and juicier!
  • Spicy roasted potatoes (recipe)
  • Hawaiian salad (mixed greens, chopped pineapple, chopped mangoes, roasted almonds, lemon juice, a pinch of paprika powder)
  • Didn't do much here, asked a friend to bring ice-cream cake from Coldstone bakery. 
Overall, I think my guests liked the change too. The food was easy to make, easy to serve, and easy to just pick and eat.
We did the White Elephant gift exchange too. Some gifts were oh-so-funny!!
  • a beautiful gift bag(of course empty)
  • past Halloween's masks, wigs
  • underwear (of course new and unused)
 And then played our favorite holiday game - Dumb charades!

and danced a lot, on desi music!!

All in all, it was fun 4 days to have all the friends over, eat, drink,  and party!!