Crafty baby, DIY, Festivals

Make Your Own Rakhi – 2017

If you have been following the blog for some time you would probably know that every year darling daughter and I make hand made Rakhis. The festival of Raksha bandhan holds a special significance in our close knit family and making our own Rakhis makes it sweeter for us. Staying outside India this is one more way of keeping my kids closer to our culture and traditions. 

When VMJ was younger I would choose the kind of Rakhis we made and did majority of the work. Now that she’s a big girl of 5 she insists on choosing the design and shopping for supplies on her own. These days she is into reading and writing so alphabets were heavily on her mind while picking a rakhi pattern. She decided to make name bracelets for her brothers and picked up colorful letter beads from the craft store. Since heart is her favorite shape and she loves colors, she also picked up a box of colorful heart beads and string in bright colors. I would have preferred regular cord over the elastic one but the elastic one had more colors and glitter so was darling daughter’s obvious choice.


The rest was easy. We threaded beads in the string – full names for the younger brothers and only initials for grown up brothers, added heart beads on both ends.


VMJ’S eldest brother got married last winter so this year we were excited to make our first lumba rakhi for her new Bhabhi. In case you are not familiar – lumba is a special, more decorative rakhi for brother’s wife. Instead of the typical rakhi thread a lumba had a loop of string that is knotted around the bangle. For lumba we had bought special charms that dangle from the main loop. A smaller charm from the set was added to our rakhi to make it into a set for VMJ’s Bhaiya Bhabhi. This is how our rakhi and lumba set looks.

The best part about these rakhis was that darling daughter was able to make them on her own, I did help with tying the knots and making the lumba but that was it. 

I love how they have turned out, hope you like them as much as we do. 

Hurry now! Get your supplies and make some pretty ones for your Bhaiyas and Bhabhis.

Happy crafting!

– A

    Crafty baby, DIY, Festivals

    Celebrate Rakshabandhan 2016 with Handmade Rakhis

    It’s Rakhi time again. In our family Rakshabandhan is a big occasion, we tie rakhis to cousins and second cousins as well. This is the second time we are not able to celebrate this festival with family and the least I can do is help my daughter make rakhis for all her brothers so she is involved and stays in touch with the traditions.

    Every year I try to choose a design that is easy for her to make with minimal help from my side. These are the rakhis we have made in previous years. This year I chose rakhis made out of felt and stones. They look pretty and are fairly easy to make.


    Felt is an easy material to work with. It is readily available in a variety of bright colors. Is fairly inexpensive and easy to cut. The only challenge with felt is sticking it together. It doesn’t hold well with fevicol or other easy crafting glues but hot glue works like a charm on felt. In one of my trips to the craft store last year I had over-enthusiastically bought a hot glue gun*. Finally I was able to put it to good use while making these rakhis.

    What you need:

    • Felt sheets (Any 2 colors of your choice)
    • Decorative stones/buttons/glitter glue/pom-poms
    • Thin ribbon 
    • Hot glue gun

    The method is pretty simple.Cut circles from the felt sheets and stick them on each other. Top it with the decorative item of your choice. I have used stone but you can use anything you have available. Stick the ribbon at the back or in between the 2 rakhi layers. And Voila! Your lovely rakhis are ready.

    *Caution – Please be very careful while using hot glue gun if its your first time using it. DO NOT give it in the hands of young children and while using yourself, ask children to keep safe distance from the gun. Follow all instructions properly. Its safe to use but the glue and tip of the gun get extremely hot. Despite being careful I got a nasty burn which was very painful for a few days and I have the mark even after a whole month. 

    Now that your beautiful rakhi is ready, spare a minute to pack it equally well. Take a small rectangular card. I used the blank note cards from market (5″ x 3.5″), you can cut your own from card stock paper. Write your Rakhi message on the card and tie the rakhi on the side. Not only does it look way more presentable than putting rakhis in an envelope, it helps keeping them in good shape till they reach their destination.

    Hope you enjoy making these beauties as much as we did.

    Happy crafting!

    -A

     

     

    You might also want to read Rakhi & The Changing Paradigms.

    DIY, Festivals

    DIY Holi Colors 

    The colorful Indian festival of Holi is around the corner. It is the first time we are not in India on Holi and it almost slipped my mind until my friend Nukta sent me this picture!!

     

    Nukta is pro-natural and pro-DIY. She told me she’s making her own Gulal for Holi and that’s when all memories came flooding.

    I loved playing Holi as a child. We used to play with wet colors – the stronger the better, packet load of dry colors was bought and handfuls were emptied on the heads of unsuspecting people, water balloons were thrown and thick paste of water color was smeared on faces. Some even played with paint and grease. And when all inventory was over there was always water to throw. The whole fun was around making people as dirty as possible and with the color that wouldn’t go easily. After a whole morning of playing I remember spending couple of hours trying to wash it off using chick pea flour, yogurt or some other kind of natural cleanser, yet having pink or green patches on the face and hands which refused to go for days!!

    Times have changed now. People are more aware about the harsh chemicals that are added in the colors to make them strong. Most prefer to play only with dry gulal which is bought herbal and dye-free from special shops. Some have even started to play with flower petals and sandalwood paste. 

    If you want to play this beautiful festival with your family without exposing them to harmful chemicals you can also make your own natural color at home instead of buying the fancy over-priced stuff that may not be very natural after all. Nukta has been kind to share her recipe with us. Here it goes:

    Gulal 1

    Ingredients:

    • Corn starch
    • Liquid food color

     

    Method:

    Make a smooth thick paste of corn flour and water. Add few drops of food color , the quantity will depend on which shade of color you want. Mix it well, spread it on a tray for faster drying and leave for about 2 days. Once the cracks appear on the surface, put it in a zip lock bag and crush it to obtain a fine powder or pulse in a mixer grinder. The drying process can be sped up by preheating the oven, turning it off, and putting the tray in warm oven. Rose water or 1-2 drops of essential oil can be added to the corn flour paste for fragrance. 

       

     
    Gulal 2

    Ingredients:

    • Turmeric/Sandalwood powder
    • Talcum Powder/ corn starch

    Method:

    Mix turmeric/sandalwood powder with talcum powder/ corn starch. You can choose to add a bit of food color and dry if you prefer a deeper color. While using turmeric and corn starch you may add a couple of drops of essential oil or rose water for fragrance. Sandalwood and talcum powder will have fragrance of their own.

    Water Color:

    Water colors for Holi can be made by using easily available kitchen ingredients. For reddish pink color you can boil beetroot in water. Use turmeric for yellow color, saffron for orange color and red cabbage for purple color. You can mix corn starch in the colored water prepared as above for making gulal if you don’t want to use food colors, but these will not be very bright.

    Wish you all a very Happy and Colorful Holi!

    -A

    Crafty baby, Festivals

    DIY Christmas Ornaments

    It is that time of the year again – the time when you hit snooze button on your phone alarm every morning, when your tea is generously flavored with ginger, when the air is cold and crisp, when everyone looks forward to sunny afternoons after a hazy morning and one wonders how fast the last few months have flown by.

    Onset of winter also brings Christmas cheer, especially if you are in the western world. Even if its not part of your culture Christmas is usually a favorite with kids – the idea of a chubby jolly fellow bringing them candy and gifts is exciting.

    I bought a small Christmas tree on VMJ’s first Christmas to expose her to this festival. When she got older we started having Christmas party for her friends and made Christmas crafts. This is what we made last year:  Learn how to make it here

    This year we are in the US and VMJ is having the time of her life with the plethora of holiday activities and  with the decorated trees and streets everythere. While thinking about Christmas gifts for her teacher it struck me that I should include a hand made card from Vaanya. The idea evolved into a hand made Christmas ornament when I realized that it will be something new and more fun.

    Attempt 1:

    We started off with making ornaments with white clay. It was easy but somehow didn’t appeal to me. Moreover curiosity got better of VMJ and she poked and played with the beads until they fell off. Idea rejected for now!!  

     Attempt 2:

    Next attempt was with ice cream sticks. We painted them, glued them together and decorated them. It was fairly easy, quick and I liked that it involved a few different skills from start to finish. We loved the end result. This is how it looks: 

     

    You will need:

    For Christmas Tree ornaments:

    • Ice cream sticks
    • Green Acrylic Paint & brush (I didn’t have green so we mixed blue and yellow)
    • Fevicol/ All purpose glue
    • Decorative items – Pipe cleaners, glitter glue, small beads, stickers, ribbons… let your imagination take control

    For Raindeer ornaments:

    • Ice cream sticks
    • Brown paint & brush
    • Googly eyes
    • Thin red ribbon

    For Snowflake ornaments:

    • Ice cream sticks
    • Blue and white paint & brush
    • Decorative items – Glitter glue, sparkly stones
    You will need a string or thin ribbon to attach a loop for hanging and you are done. Hang them on your tree, gift to teachers or send with the holiday card to family and friends – no matter what you do these are going to be a hit!
    Hope you and your child enjoys making them as much we did!
    Happy crafting!
    -A
    Crafty baby, Festivals

    DIY Diwali Crafts

    Diwali is around the corner and I roped in VMJ in making some Diwali crafts. She enjoyed and I got my decorations ready… win win for both! 🙂

    If you haven’t bought or made your Diwali decorations yet, try these crafts. They are fairly easy and quick, and you can make them using stuff lying around the house.

    We made Kandils, Clay Diyas, Bandanvar and Crepe paper flowers.

    Material you will need for Kandil:

    • Cardstock paper
    • Crepe paper
    • Glitter sheets
    • Thread/ribbon
    • Glue

    Just follow the design, its fairly easy to make.

      

    Material for Bandanvar:

    • Card stock paper
    • Glitter paper
    • Glue
    • Long ribbon
    • Pattern scissors 

    Nukta inspired this one. She showed me a picture of her pretty toran and I copied her design, tweaking it a bit.    

     

    Material for Diyas:

    • Crayola white clay
    • Assorted colorful beads
    • Paint

    I only made a fancy outer shell for real lights. Molded it in shape and pressed small beads in the clay. We are waiting for it to dry to paint it but I feel it is looking good as it is also. You can decorate with anything… Make patterns, use sea shells, pebbles… Anything at all. 

    Material for Crepe paper flowers:

    • Crepe paper
    • Pipe cleaner

    The crepe paper flowers are very easy to make and look like beautiful marigolds. You can use paper of only one color or 2 colors. Watch the video tutorial here.

    You might also want to learn another way to make paper marigolds here 

    Hope you like these and enjoy making them as much as we did.

    Happy Diwali everyone. May the festival of lights illuminate all aspects of your life and brings you countless joys.

    -A


    Crafty baby, Festivals, Recipes

    Star Shaped Meethi Mathhris (Sweet Whole Wheat Fritters)

    Today was Ahoi Ashtami – the day I fast for my 2 munchkins and pray for their good health and well being. As a tradition we make meethi matthris and suji halwa on Ahoi for the evening pooja.

    As I was making mathris, VMJ came in the kitchen curious to know and see what’s going on. Seeing how she wouldn’t let me alone I decided to involve her in mathri making too. My dough was ready, so I rolled it and asked VMJ to cut it in shapes using a cookie cutter. She was more than happy and chose star shape. She cut and I fried and we both had a good time.

    The matthris did come out very nice and crispy. Because VMJ was involved in the making and because she loves stars she happily snacked away on the star fritters. And they are healthy too as I used whole wheat flour, ghee, sesame seeds and very little sugar. 

      

    I used the following recipe from Nisha Madhulika:

    Ingredients:

    1 1/2 cups Whole wheat flour 

    1/4 cups Suji (semolina)

    1/4 cups Ghee (clarified butter)

    1/4 cups Sugar 

    2 tbsp Sesame seeds 

    1/4 cups Water 

    Ghee/ oil for frying (I used vegetable oil)

    Method:

    First dissolve sugar in water if you are using granulated sugar. 

    Mix all ingredients except for water and mix well. Then slowly add sweetened water and make a firm dough. Now cover and leave it for about 15 min.

    After 15 min heat the oil on medium. Make small balls from the dough and roll into matthris. If you want you can also cut them in various shapes using cookie cutters. Fry on medium until golden brown. Take them out on a tissue paper to absorb the excess oil. Let them cool and enjoy!!

    These mathris should be stored in an air tight container and stay good for about 2 months. 

    You can find the video here.

    Happy Ahoi Ashtami everyone. May God bless good health and happiness to all the children.

    -A

    Festivals, Mundane musings

    Why I celebrate Karvachauth?

    One of my fondest memories as a child is to see my mother get dressed for Karvachauth. She rarely wears a sari and Karvachauth was one day when even if she didn’t want to I begged and pleaded for her to wear one. I remember going to a neighbor’s house to see other aunties all decked up and then watching the pooja. Even as a child I loved the karwa song. In the evening my grandmother used to share the goodies and cash my mom gave her as gift  with me. The festival was celebrated simply and there wasn’t much hoopla around fasting and gift giving as it is these days.

    As I grew older I looked forward to fasting myself when I got married. So when post marriage I was told that my in laws side doesn’t celebrate Karvachauth I was a tad disappointed but decided to still keep it because not fasting on Karvachauth somehow felt wrong. 

    My celebrating this day and fasting is not a compulsion, not a tradition I am expected to follow and certainly not an image I have to live by. I fast as a way to thank God for giving me a husband who loves and respects me, who may have his flaws but has a heart of gold. As much as I fight with him, I do know he’s the best thing that happened to me and in the very cheesy Karvachauth style I want him as my husband for all 7 births or more. 

    Since I fast mainly for myself I maintain the flexibility and trade early morning sargi for a couple extra hours of sleep. I wear a sari or a suit as I find convenient. I cook an elaborate meal or go out for dinner depending on my mood. I have kept very lenient fasts during both my pregnancies and I sure will do it again if I feel myself physically incapable of staying thirsty or hungry all day. If we don’t have any sweets at home I break the fast with chocolates. Since I define the way I celebrate this festival I enjoy it more. 

    I do get mehandi, dress up, do pooja and wait for the moon. It feels nice to celebrate my husband and our marriage in a traditional way. Though we don’t do the channi thing, it still makes me warm and fuzzy to do the aarti and break the fast after moonrise. 

    I don’t expect a gift, my husband is oblivious to this newer custom and I never saw this during my childhood so it has never been part of the celebration for me. If he gets something it makes me happy, if he doesn’t I’m still happy because it’s Karvachauth 🙂 

    Wish you all a very Happy Karvachauth. May everyone finds happiness and peace in their married lives and may all husbands and wives have a happy and healthy life. 

    Dress up, glam up and sing a happy song. Don’t follow the rituals if you don’t feel they belong. 

    Haha… Sorry for the silly rhyme.

      

    “Veero Kudiye Karwada,

    Sarv Suhagan Karwada,

    Ae Katti Na Ateri Na,

    Kumbh Chrakhra Feri Na,

    Aar Pair Payi Na,

    Sui Ch Dhaga Payi Na,

    Ruthda Manayi Na,

    Suthda Jagayi Na,

    Behen Pyari Veera,

    Chan Chade Te Pani Peena,

    Ve Veero Kudiye Karwada,

    Ve Sarv Suhagan Karwada …….”



    Happy fasting,

    -A

    Crafty baby, Festivals, Parenting

    DIY Last Minute Halloween 2015 Costume under 45 minutes-Chef

    I had no plans to dress up my son for Halloween this year. I was just slacking to think and was being lazy. On Tuesday, at the school I was told that Thursday is the costume day and all the kids will be dressing up and going out for trick or treating. With no plan in mind, I freaked out. At night, my son, as usual asked me for my cooker and spatula so he can “cook” food for me while I cook him his dinner. While watching him play, it stuck me, why not make him a chef? All I need is a Chef’s hat and an apron.

    Now my mind started thinking how to make all that in such a short time span. I figured I can possibly use parchment paper and A4 size white sheets to make a hat. I googled and I found just the video I was looking for.

    Now for the apron. I figured we are running out of milk and I can run to Braum’s (a small grocery and ice-cream store) and get their sturdy brown bags and use those to make the apron. Equipped with a plan, on Wednesday evening, went to Braum’s and got 3 gallons of milk (and 3 brown bags with it). Next I grabbed two sheets of white paper, 3 foot long parchment paper (from my stash of baking items) and gathered the rest of the stuff as pictured below:

    IMG_0105

    I used the following video to make the Chef’s hat:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mGJ6zFkl34
    Next I cut open the seams of the brown bag, folded it in half-inside out, cut out a hole to put it on and shape of arm pits. Then I stapled the two pieces together and used glue and stapler to put on the pocket on the apron. The pocket was actually the printed side of the brown bag that already had the Halloween print. Additionally, I put scotch tape on backside of all the staples so that they do not hurt my lo. Here is the end product under 45 minutes, from things that can be found at home easily. Additionally, I recycled the grocery bags and my little one enjoyed helping me and testing the costume out 🙂

    IMG_0122

    IMG_0112

    ~N

    Festivals, Mundane musings

    Rakhi & The Changing Paradigms

    Rakhi just went by and most of us celebrated the festival with their families. Social media was abuzz with the whole jingbang – mushy messages, personalized gifts and rakhis, pictures of the celebration…

    As I scrolled past pictures after pictures on Facebook I realized girls who don’t have brothers and boys who don’t have sisters were awfully quiet about the festival and understandably so. Rakhi is traditionally celebrated between a brother and sister only. Then like a whiff of fresh air I saw a post from a friend who doesn’t have a brother and her note about how to her Rakhi has always been a festival celebrating her 2 sisters. And it made so much sense! 

    Post Rakhi I was talking to my husband’s cousin and she said how her daughter feels it is a very sexist festival. The younger generation women don’t need a man to protect them and they are right. I am not a feminist but let’s be honest, for generations now we have seen sisters protecting sisters, sisters nurturing brothers, sisters raising younger siblings and sisters being the lifetime pillar of strength. It’s high time we acknowledge this and improvise our customs and traditions to suit the changing dynamics.

    Won’t 2 brothers or 2 sisters have each other’s back in times of need? Won’t they be there to care and support each other through life’s ups and downs? Do they love each other less than a brother and sister duo? Moreover, it just doesn’t seem right to celebrate a festival with our cousins but not with our own sibling just because they are not the right gender!

    In fact, with the decreasing family sizes it’s more important to cultivate the love between siblings than ever before, irrespective of whether they are only girls, only boys or both. It is a festival that celebrates sibling love… lets extend it to all siblings and spread the joy. 

    Love,

    -A

    Crafty baby, Festivals

    Handmade Rakhi – DIY Project for Your Daughter 

    In our house the festival of Rakhi holds a special place. My husband comes from a large close knit family and Rakhi is celebrated with great gusto. 

    The preparation starts months in advance – who will host the function this year, what day would be convenient for everyone, what will be the menu, what to wear, what to gift. With all cousin sisters tying rakhi to all cousin brothers and all kids tying to each other it becomes a 2 hourly affair only for the ceremony. The conversations and delicious food adds to the fun. 

    I had my daughter 3 years ago and have been making rakhis at home for her cousin brothers because I love the rakhis my Sister-in-Laws make for my husband and I, and also because I want to teach my daughter to make a little extra effort for special occasions and special people… at least for as long as she can manage to. These are the hand made rakhis we received last year: 

    These are the rakhis we have made in the past years: 

      
    Last year I wanted to make a macrame rakhi but didn’t know how to do it. Nukta bought me the material and showed me how to make it just like the one in the pic below. Though she tried very hard to teach me I couldn’t do it as nicely as she does, so she ended up making the entire batch for me 🙂

      

    If you would like to make these and don’t have someone around who can teach, you can learn from this video: Easy Macrame Tutorial

    This year’s Rakhi is going to be special as it will be the first since I had a baby boy. It’ll be the first time VMJ will tie Rakhi to her little brother. It’ll also be the first time we will be celebrating this beautiful festival away from out family In India since we recently moved to US of A. 

    I took VMJ shopping to a local craft store so she can buy the material for making Rakhis herself. We brought home thin beige ribbon, small colorful pompoms (VMJ is obsessed with anything colorful), a pack of ice cream cone buttons especially to be put on the rakhi of her baby brother Oreo and a bottle of glue. 

    Back home I cut the ribbons, opened the pompom packs, told her how I will put glue and she can put pompoms in whichever order she likes. I could tell how excited she was…. Mummy was letting her play with brand new usually-restricted stuff!! 

    She diligently chose colors of pompoms and arranged on the glue. We made a few strings and then I cut paper circles on which VMJ made flowers. The ice cream cone buttons just needed to be strung in the ribbon and tied with a knot. This was the final product:

     
    Rakhis are very versatile and can be made with whatever material you can find, the basic being a ribbon/ wool/ string and something to string/ paste on it. I recycle the decorations on the rakhis we get every year. If you only have ribbon or wool you can still make lovely rakhis by rolling them together like this:

     
    So look around the house, find old rakhis from last year for inspiration and let the creative juices flow. Use cloth, foam, paper, beads, buttons, stickers, rhinestones, store bought decorative stuff… Whatever you get your hands on. Trust me it’ll make your Rakhi more special 🙂

    Do share the pictures!

    Happy crafting!!

    -A

     

    You might also like to see more Rakhi designs here Celebrate Rakshabandhan 2016 with Handmade Rakhis.

    You might also like to read Rakhi & The Changing Paradigms.