Thursday, February 28, 2013

Slipcovered Ottoman

The only regular television watchers in our family are my husband Jerry, and our 17-year-old son, Jeremiah. Both of them bond over the watching of basketball, football and other sporting events. Myself and our almost 15-year-old hardly ever watch any TV. Our basement is our official TV viewing area for our family. The only furniture in the basement is a sofa and an ottoman. The rest of the space is taken up by a ping-pong table. The ottoman was the color of oatmeal when we bought it in 2009 from a local furniture store. I liked its neutral fabric in the beginning but recently I thought it was looking dull. So I decided to make a slipcover for it and so for the past three days I have been working on making a slipcover for the ottoman with some fabric I had. Here is what I worked on. I used the Slipcovered Ottoman tutorial from the beautiful Dear Lillie blog to make this. I took such a long time just because I was sewing everything by hand instead of using a machine. I was inspired by Kate Spade style to add a bow to the ottoman. While I was sewing this slipcover I kept thinking of Kate Spade handbags and how many of them had bows on them and so that inspired me to tie the ribbon fabric into a bow at one corner. I tried very hard to get a good picture of the ottoman in the basement but since the basement has no natural light I did not succeed. So I carried the ottoman upstairs and kept it near the glass door in the family room to take these pictures. However, here is one picture from the basement. Now I am going to take the ottoman back to the basement where it belongs. Have a wonderful Thursday!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Paper Flowers for Easter

To be honest, before every major holiday I freak out a bit. Yes, I love Christmas, Easter, birthdays and annivs but I always worry about whether I will be able to do a good job of celebrating each holiday and celebration in the way it should be. This year Easter is a lot earlier than usual. Usually Easter comes in April but this year it is on the 30th of March and I am already freaking out. I just feel it is all my responsibility to make sure my kids understand the true meaning of these holidays, that we are able to pass on our traditions from our community in Kerala, India at the same time we embrace the way it is celebrated in the US. I feel that if I am not able to do that my children will grow up without any sense of belonging or being rooted. I think all celebrations and holidays come with a certain "feeling" and I just feel the responsibility of getting that "feeling" right for my family making me as afraid of the holiday as much as I look forward to it. Anyways, I have been thinking about decorating for Easter and I think I want to make these. I pinned this image from marthastewart.com. I hope I am able to make the paper flowers.
This is a paper Amaryllis. Don't you think it is pretty?
And these are paper Dahlias. I think, in pictures paper flowers look as pretty as real flowers. Do you like paper flowers? What are you planning for Easter?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Inspiration

Source: rubypr.com via Anna on Pinterest

I wish I could paint our front door this color.
I wish I could convert our patio into something that looks like this. Isn't this room so adorable? Have a wonderful Friday!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Paisley Pillows

I used to call the "paisley" the "mango design" like most Indians. It is only a few years ago that I learned that the mango design is formally known as the paisley. This morning I made covers for two pillows.--one with a black paisley pattern on it and the other white with the black paisley pattern fabric as a ruffle. I bought this fabric from one of the state emporiums in India. There are 25 states in India and each state has a distinct culture, language and a distinct fabric/art/craft tradition. In order to showcase and encourage the native artists and artisans from each state the Indian Government has set up emporiums/showrooms for each state in New Delhi. So, if you go to New Delhi, there is an entire street dedicated to the 25 state emporiums. One side of the street is lined with store after store,each representing one Indian state. When my husband and I lived in New Delhi before coming to the US, I had a job as a sub-editor at a news agency. My office was very close to the street with the emporiums. Every time I had morning shift which started at 8 am and finished at 2 pm I would go straight to the emporiums to shop. My husband would come home only in the evening we did not have any kids and to me there was no better way to spend an afternoon than to look at the enchantingly wide variety of textiles, arts, crafts and home decor things. So when we visited New Delhi as a family in the Summer of 2011, I made sure we went to the emporiums. It was so surreal to go to my old favorite place after so long except I was going with a family consisting of two teenagers. In my memory the emporiums were huge and colorful and magical. But this time when I went it seemed smaller, more congested and not as colorful. I don't know why. s While I was making these pillow covers this morning I could not help but think about the women and men behind all the textile patterns, and and craft items in the emporiums. I know most of them would be poor artisans working with an art form passed down to them by their parents. And because I was also working with my hands creating something artistic I felt connected to them just because I also know how it feels like to make something. One day I would like to do something to bring those artisans into the limelight by helping them make something cool using their art. I hope you have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I love Chandeliers.

I love chandeliers. I would love to live in a house with a porch like this, and adorned with a chandelier like this. I love the glow of the small candle bulbs that chandeliers exude.

Source: houzz.com via Anna on Pinterest

In my dream home, even the entry hall way would have a chandelier. Chandeliers represent a period of time in history when life was slower and people took time to enjoy simple, everyday rituals such a drinking tea or pleasant conversations.
The kitchen would also have a chandelier like this. How fun it would be to saute onions, slice tomatoes, peel potatoes, bake cookies, toss salads or drink a cup of tea in the light of such a pretty chandelier.
The family room would also have a chandelier and the dining room as well, as in the picture below.

Source: houzz.com via Anna on Pinterest

The bedroom also would have a chandelier. Pretty much every room would have a chandelier in my dream home. What about you? Do you like chandeliers?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Elephant on the wall behind the sofa

I added an elephant painting to the wall behind the sofa in our living room. I am not sure if this is a painting or the print of a painting. Jerry brought it for me from India in 2009 or 2010. First, I thought I would frame it but in the busyness of doing other things, finding the right frame at the right price was pushed into the background. Meanwhile, I kept thinking and thinking on what I should put there. That was when I started seeing images in blogs of how people were sticking posters and pictures to the wall with Washi tape as a frame. I didn't have any Washi tape so I just used ordinary scotch tape to stick it to the wall. I really love elephants. Since I grew up in Kerala I grew up seeing elephants very frequently. I did a post earlier about a favorite memory of elephants while growing up. But today I will share another memory. When we were kids my dad was really big on making us enjoy the little pleasures of life. So pretty much every week my dad would take us to little trips in and around the city we lived in and show us all the sights. One of those little things was taking us to see the fireworks and elephant procession in the Hindu temple in our city in the middle of the night. We would go in the car and park at a spot from where we could watch the procession of decorated elephants walking slowly to the beat of loud drums and cymbals. This happened during the temple festival. There would be so many elephants, and then the fireworks would illuminate the night sky. After watching that we would come back home and go to bed. This particular elephant is not decorated in the typical way a Kerala elephant is dressed up. This is more of a North-Indian style, I think, although I am no expert in these things. Kerala elephants are decorated with a gold sheild like thing with intricate carvings on it over their trunk and white furry fans called "venchmaram" on their backs. Our iron is not working and so this picture has still fold marks on it. I will fix it later. The wall behind our sofa is big. I have spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of art I should put on those walls. A question I have asked myself a lot of times is should I put one or two big pieces or a collection of smaller ones. I guess I am going with the collection/gallery wall style since that is easier and more us, I guess. I think I would love to have an print of a Grant Wood painting of grey skies curving over yellow corn fields, or the picture of little Iowa style houses with sloping roofs, brightly painted wood siding, dainty pathways and rolling little hills or pictures of a barn or silo against a clear blue sky since that is so Iowa. I want our home to reflect who we are so it has to reflect our Indian heritage and our Iowa heritage since we have been here for twelve years. I was introduced to the American Gothic and the Grant Wood style of paintings from our children's art teacher who really encouraged our children to learn and understand the paintings of Grant Wood. Once my husband, myself and our kids even went to see an exhibition of Grant Wood paintings at the University of Iowa Art Museum. It was really amazing. Have a happy President's day! And now if you really have a lot of time you can read a post I did last year about Elephants.
Every time I see the picture of an elephant or a peacock my heart skips a beat. It reminds me of my life in India. When I saw this picture from Johnrobshaw textiles and saw the name of this collection my heart did not just skip a beat but it also stopped for a minute. Guess what the name of this collection is! Kerala. Yeah that is the name of the state I grew up in India. In Kerala, aka God's own country elephants are very common. Elephants used to come on a regular basis to my neighbor's house from the temple. And our neighbors used to give the elephants coconuts and bananas. I with my brothers would watch the elephant eat and then walk away. Sometimes the elephants would cry. Tears would roll down the wrinkled black skin of the elephant and I used to wonder why they cried. Were they missing the forests they really belonged to or were they missing their family?
Sometimes when the temples had festivals there would be fireworks in the midnight and the elephants would go on a procession. All the elephants would be dressed up and their trunks would be covered with a gold thing (I don't know the name of the thing in English, but in Malayalam it is called "nettipattom," I think). The mahout would sit on the top with two white furry fans. Elephant after elephant would parade through the streets to loud drumbeats. This post will be unending if I go on and on about elephants and India's textile heritage. I hope you have a great day! Btw, the pantry is still a work in progress though, yesterday there wasn't much progress.

Source: johnrobshaw.com via Anna on

Friday, February 15, 2013

Tory Burch's Picture Perfect Fall 2013 Collection

One of my greatest accomplishments in life is reading Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace when I was 15 or 16 years old. I did not have to study it for school, nobody told me to read the book and no one else was reading it either, but I read it nonetheless. It is not easy to read War and Peace because it is 1440 pages and has pages and pages of descriptions of war, and accounts of the thoughts of odd people. Needless to say, I pretty much did not understand a lot in the book. But I plodded through it. My favorite character in the book was Natasha, the main heroine of the book. Natasha is beautiful and good. Tolstoy gives very elaborate descriptions of Natasha's social life which involved a lot of traditional dances, and so in my mind I conjured vivid pictures of Natasha, her fashion, and her style, as I read the book. When I saw Tory Burch's Fall 2013 collection, I thought to myself that these clothes are so Natasha...except Natasha with a modern spin. If Natasha lived now, these are the clothes she would be wearing.
After watching the show on my computer a few times I decided to try to come up with phrases or words that described the Tory Burch, Fall 2013 collection. Sophisticated in a soft and feminine way; deep, rich, or dramatic colors enlivened with silver or gold, very wearable and practical, yet refined with delicate ornamentation; dreamy and whimsical yet regal and aristocratic; prim and demure but not stuffy. In many ways I thought the clothes, the style and the entire sensibility of this collection truly represents Tory and all that she embodies.
The bags were the cutest. Playful, fun yet chic and just plain completely and overwhelmingly cute. I loved the bags which had long tassels hanging from them.
I loved all the white outfits and how Tory made all the white outfits gorgeous with embellishments in gold or silver.
How cute is this white top! Notice the heavy, thick velvety texture of the bottom part of the skirt. That is so Natasha from War and Peace, don't you think?
Look how lady like and feminine this outfit is!
You can check out the entire collection from Tory's blog/website. I will be posting a recap of my valentine's day crafts tomorrow, if time permits. But, have a wonderful weekend anyway!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

This is our Valentine's table. I made the place mats and matching table runner with fabric from Hobby Lobby. After all that work I was so tired yesterday that I forgot to make these sweet little paper cones I had been planning to make for our children. So this morning while croissants were getting a little over done in the oven I was running around looking for my scrapbook paper and ribbon to make these cones, put candy inside them and give my kiddos. I made it on time. Croissants remind me of France and since this fabric has the picture of the Eiffel Tower on it and many French words, french sounding names, french addresses, french symbols like the fleur-de-lis and others I made croissants for breakfast. I had help from Pillsbury. To make the candles like this I just stuck heart ribbons from Target available for $1 and stuck it with tape on the candle. The place mats are slightly slippery since the fabric is very thin. So I will improvise with a lining later on. I just set this table after my kids left for school since I love table setting. We will be eating at a restaurant tonight so we will not be using this table at all. At least not this year. My beloved husband, Jerry bought me chocolate yesterday......just the kind I like. Jerry and I are truly blessed to have each other. Jerry is really like a rock to me...loving and supportive in everything I do. Happy Valentines day to you and yours. I hope all of you have a fun day!