Sunday, 6 November 2016

Snippets

Time is speeding these days in Cocoville. The lazy woman is literally juggling a multitude of activities and loving it all! Add the festive season to the scene and watch her going crazy multitasking. 
1. Celebrating the wintry festivals which arrive like a train, beginning way back at Dussehra and going on till Makar Sankranti in January. To us, festive season also means all our birthdays and anniversaries. Both Coco and 'Bringing Up Coco' became 4 year olds, one a naughty preschooler and the other a creative outlet, both of them bringing oodles of happiness to me.
2. Going dizzy receiving orders at 'Pink Pitari', making stuff and delivering them. It is hugely satisfying to watch my craft dream grow. 
3. Creating marvels like 'Chinese Chilli Idli', an absolute makeover of these desi delicacies into something unrecognizable. These turned out well.
4. Receiving such pictures from delighted customers and feeling great that my absolutely rustic work is actually finding place into people's nicely decorated living rooms.  

 5. Doing Zumba, getting fitter by the day and enjoying the company of amazing army wives full of energy, inspiration and good vibes. Seen above is my incredibly motivated and awesome Zumba instructor who by the way is also an army wife. 
6. Completing craft courses one after another and crafting to my heart's content. This place has a dedicated hobby centre and most of us are making the most of it. Last week it was candle making which I did with a close friend and we totally rocked at it. Before candles, it was decoupage and mural art is lined up to be the next. Not only did we make all the candles in the course package, we also shared a lot of new ideas from the internet and the very talented instructor herself learned a thing or two from our brainstorming! She is a local woman who does not have much access to the internet for ideas, learning new skills or selling her handmade stuff, but she still has a room full of amazing crafts, a lot of which has been picked from army wives like us during instructing them, I think. The above candle is one of almost a dozen candles and all those flowers are handmade with wax. Reminds me of my wild roses!

7. Learning to take good pictures with my new digital camera, highly inspired by the friend who did 'Pink Pitari's' first photo shoot. In the above picture, I have tried to go artsy by using one of my candles as a flower vase. I hope to learn soon!

8. Exploring an amazing craft outlet in the neighborhood and amazed to find great stuff and superb yarns in a place where it is difficult to find even the basic craft supplies. Bought a few supplies and made a wishlist of the gorgeous yarns that Pony craft store have at their factory outlet in the Nilgiris.

9. Visiting beautiful places and getting lost in the amazement. Visited a tea factory last month and saw the journey of teeny tiny tea leaves from gardens to tea cups. Truly mesmerizing...

10. Meeting talented army wives and getting surprised to find that there are many like me. This Diwali, I made these two handmade purchases, a paper lamp by an army wife who is also a Madhubani painter and sells her work through Facebook; and a tea-light holder candle, also by an army wife who shared my stall and goes by the name Candle CRAFT on Facebook. Not only this, my surroundings are buzzing with creative energy from other entrepreneurs like chocolatiers, bakers, painters... you name it, I have them here!

Monday, 31 October 2016

A 'Pitari' Full Of Happiness!

Hello wonderful people. After many weeks of busy crafting and quiet on the blog, I am finally back. And I have loads of news to deliver here. Let''s begin from the beginning..


Somewhere in the middle of August, I became fascinated with beads and my crafty mind could not rest after that. My sister brought me a little bagful of craft goodies from Bangalore and I found a few necessary supplies online. Even before the crafting for old age home ended (which is described in my last blog post), I had gathered quite a lot of jewelry making supplies and I was raring to have a go at them. I have never ever made jewelry except a pair of quilled earrings for a friend a couple of years ago. So, this kind of craft was new to me and hence full of exciting possibilities. 

The pair shown in above picture is my first pair, awkward but cute, and only I know how proud I felt after completing this. Back then, my bead supply was very limited and I could combine those wooden beads and metal spacers after a lot of thoughts, afterthoughts, hesitation and plain old frustration. My sister instantly reserved these for herself, if only out of kindness :)
After a few more near failed attempts at making good looking combinations with my limited beads, I ordered some more and after they arrived, I went into a reclusive living and except for basic household chores and pressing social needs, I spent all my waking hours and minutes to the fullest in making these bead earrings till my supplies exhausted. It was a sweet moment for me when one of my friends actually bought one of these pairs. Then went another pair and a couple more. I was delighted that people actually wanted to wear something I made.
Meanwhile, I heard about the upcoming Diwali mela and that anyone could put up a stall. Till now, I was making stuff with no specific use in mind. This information gave me a sense of direction and I immediately booked half a stall for exhibiting and selling my jewelry.


During this time my phone camera not working well was a major spoiler. I love taking pictures at different stages and later looking at them and sharing here. Using phone camera makes everything so quick and easy. When I thought of charging my long-out-of-use point-and-shoot camera, I found that Coco had poured a glass of water inside the drawer where its charger were kept :(
Anyway, I managed to dry up the camera charger and clicked a few pics to share on my Instagram. After this photoshoot, as I was again waiting for more beads and supplies to arrive, I could not keep my hands off of a gazillion packs of sweet colorful quilling strips which I had bought for no specific purpose.
I started making quilled earrings and became addicted to it. In about a week or so, I had made all sorts of jhumkis and danglers, all set to dazzle the show. By the due date, I had made one hundred and ten pairs of earrings, a showstopper necklace and a couple of handbag charms. My friends suggested me that I should make pom-pom jewelry because they are the most in thing nowadays. So I tried hard to find pom-poms in the local markets and ended up making my own pom-poms. 
I added pom-poms to my quilled jewelry and this was not only a novel idea, it also helped me create some of my most beautiful pieces out of ordinary quilled ones. Though, I was already challenged in photography section this time around and could not click pictures of my most beautiful pairs. Thankfully, a friend offered to do a photoshoot of my best pieces for promotion of the stall and the result was these stunning pictures which are the talk of the town nowadays here.

I have always loved crafting more than anything. During all those busy days, I realized that I could do it all the time and could not live without it. So it only made sense that I should sell my crafts so that I can continue making them. The stall seemed a great opportunity to launch a facebook page with a cool name for selling my crafts. After a lot of brainstorming with my sister and my friends, I finalized the name 'Pink Pitari' for my craft shop. I created a page and printed out little cards to be attached to the 'shagun potlis' in which my earrings were to be packaged. 

The night before the show, I was so excited, I could not sleep, though I had planned to sleep early. So I tiptoed to my craft table in the dead of the night and made a few more charms. The next day was and amazing day which went by as if clouds were floating around me. Ladies thronged my stall and at times I was overwhelmed with the crowd, totally lost at the great response that my quilled earrings were getting. The first piece that I sold was a handbag charm that I had made the night before. The quilled-pompom earrings were the first ones to vanish and all the festive peacock/flower earrings and chandbalis became extinct soon. They sold out so fast that I had practically nothing left in quilled ones post lunch.  
By closing time, I had covered all my costs, with only 5-6 pairs of quilled earrings and almost half of my beaded pairs unsold. I am nowadays getting many queries and orders too, through friends, neighbors and social media, because a lot of people actually missed the awesome designs that they saw in my promotional poster.
..and just like that begins my new venture, 'Pink Pitari'. Three cheers! 

I plan to start selling through my facebook page soon. Please do visit and let me know your valuable thoughts.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Craft And Perspective!

The lazy woman is nowadays racing with time, trying to keep up with craft projects, writing assignments, Coco's exams, his coughs and colds and fevers, ladies meet preparations, Zumba classes, decoupage classes, welcoming guests, managing maids and combating severe water crisis, all alone while her husband is away on some official field area tour or locked away in his room preparing maps and writing assignments. 
 
So, it was a difficult choice when I was asked to accompany senior ladies to a nearby old age home and assist the old people with some crafts that they could sell and raise money. But the senior lady told me that I required to actually visit them only once or twice in a month, I agreed to accompany her. She also said that we needed to get something ready out of waste materials for the starters. So, after a lot of vague ideas, I used torn newspaper and comic strips on handmade paper to make the following cards and clicked them from every angle, praising my bright bulb of an idea.

But when we reached the home, all my sense of designer accomplishment vanished. We were greeted by a cheerful and old nun who beamed at everything that we showed her, but refused to accept cards made with newspaper, saying they would not sell. So I tore up all newspaper parts and replaced them with good coloured paper and other material upto the possible limit. I also threw in the pop up sunny card that was sitting on my husband's bar for almost a year now, and which is seen in this picture with all my re-decorated cards and a few others created by accompanying ladies. The old nun was incredibly happy to see the pop up card and I promised to make more of them for her.


After spending a few hours with them, we returned, clearly knowing that they did not want waste material crafts, neither did they want to learn anything from us. We could make crafts for them and they could sell it. Dozens of other crafts made by other ladies who visited previously made this evident. The home already had dozens of string lamps, cards, folders and flowers. We were now asked to make something different that would also sell well. The old age home people sell these crafts very cheap and we wanted to give them something that would still bring them a good amount.  

While other ladies attempted making lamps, flowers and wall hangings, I thought of using my old experience with paper crafts and utilized my Pinterest account to the fullest to get ideas. After going crazy pondering and wondering about what to make, I settled on making paper craft pictures. I also completed the above newspaper basket that I had started before my visit.  

I made two pictures, the picture above and the one below and sent them off to the senior lady who got them cheaply framed without glass. I also prepared two pop up cards pictures of which are at the beginning of this post. I had also intended to paint an Old Monk bottle to make a lamp like in this post, but could not do it and sent the blank bottle back along with all the ready stuff.

It was an awkward moment when the empty rum bottle came out of their bag when the ladies visited the home on their next turn and were taking out their crafty stuff.  

Last weekend we had a 'Linen Fete' organized at the local club where the old age home also had a stall and the senior lady informed us that all the stuff made by us sold off quickly. She specifically mentioned that my two pictures were sold in her presence. This got me thinking, who would have bought it and for how much? Who has a piece of my soul and what did it bring to the old people? 
Making cards on our visit, listening to the old nun's endless stories..

I did not need to wonder a lot, because a sweet sweet friend of mine came home to meet me and told me it was her who had bought one of the pictures. Though she wanted the one with roses and lamp, another lady was already clutching it dearly. I promised my friend we would make the roses-and-lamp picture again together. FYI Each of the pictures sold for Rs. 100 each which is a good price by old age home standards. 

It is needless to say that visiting places like an old age home can be an immensely enriching experience. If only young people were nicer! 

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Love, Shove And Blue Hills



Loving It: 
1. Tea: This incredible place has so much to offer to tea lovers like me. The fact that I have a tea lover neighbor increases the charm manifolds. I had swore off green tea, even for health reasons. She introduced me to her super tasty green tea infused with black pepper, ginger, lemon juice, sweetened with jaggery and now I am addicted to it. Then she went off to the local market and bought these ultra delicious flavored black tea bags and kindly gave me samples from each flavor. Now I am crazily in love with these and have declared Peach flavor tea the love of my life. I gifted one pack to my sister who confirmed that they tasted amazing.  

                            

But since the pack has four different flavors, I am saving trying to save the peach tea bags, having them very occasionally, because, hey, that's what you do with the things you love most. You keep them. But there are days like today when it is just me and my peach tea. So Peach tea it is! Cheers!

2. This Weather, This Place:  The weather here is amazing and while the rest of India was burning under the scorching sun during June and July, we were curling up under cozy quilts and sipping the above mentioned beverage, clad in sweatshirts and woollen socks. The incredibly picturesque blue hills and the green carpet like tea gardens spread about us create a magical scenery together. Though I am busy in other activities so much that I rarely find time for a walk these days, the knowledge is enough that I can take a walk in bright green tea gardens under swirling steamy clouds whenever I wish.  



Shoving It:
1. This Weather, This Place (Again!): While the list of lovely things about this place can still go on, the only thing that is enough to spoil all the love is the prevalence to common cold and cough in this environment. Cold, gloomy and damp atmosphere and sunlight playing peek-a-boo are the usual weather details here which make people, especially children susceptible to viral infections and once the illness starts, it spreads like a wave in the entire neighborhood. A couple of weeks ago, almost every human being in sight, man or woman, adult or child was coughing and sneezing, harbouring germs and passing on the legacy to others who were not sick. All this becomes overwhelming and unbearable after a point and one wants to run away to a sunny and cheerful place. And if you are someone who reads this blog regularly, you would know the exact location I am talking about. Oh, how I miss those sunny days that I spent nestled in my bean bag!


To add to the gloom, sometimes the wind starts howling unpredictably. It goes on for many days at end and the noise makes one go crazy. It is louder than an ocean and gives us sleepless nights. On the second (also the topmost) floor of a building which stands high on a hill, this howling and growling wind is even more noisier and makes me feel like a caged bird. I would not have mentioned this noisy wind if it would have stopped only at that. Take a look at the following picture.

The broken tree as seen above was standing in front of a window which also provided me an awesome view of the town spread on the hill in front of our neighborhood. One windy morning I woke up and thought something was missing in the entire view from the window. After a few moments I realized that the green foliage that framed the scene was missing and my jaw dropped as I peeped outside. The tree had broken into half vertically and then had fallen on the road, incidentally on our car boot, scarring it minorly. My sweet tree which was also home to many birds was gone, and my car was dented, all because of this unsettling and utterly noisy wind. 

When my maid told me that the weather was going to stay like this for a couple of months, I was heartbroken, Thankfully, it got over after a week or so and it is not windy anymore apart from an occasional cool breeze. At least we are sleeping comfortably. Phew!



The blue hills have been a mixed experience till now. It is taking a lot of effort to like this place, quite different from Himalayas, which are effortlessly adorable and feel like home. I cannot say it enough that I miss those Himalayan days!

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Century Post: Reminiscing Through Pictures!

What happens when someone scores a century? The highlights of their innings are shown. So as the lazy woman is finally scoring a century of blog posts, highlights of her blog-life are a must. For this express purpose, I tried to collect a few favorite images published on this blog. These images have meant a lot to me, because to me, these are frozen chunks of time gone by. These are moments that meant a lot to me for many reasons or even without a reason. These images open floodgates of memories and nostalgia. (Links of relevant posts at the end of descriptions.)
 

 I have tried for long to use the first image as my blog banner(mission not accomplished due to technical challenges). It is a wall art done by some art students based on the above picture of me and Coco. We were hosting a ladies club meet, and as everyone was getting their picture clicked with this rainbow umbrella at the end, Coco came running, having found me after hours of separation. He would not leave me for getting a solo picture clicked. So, we got this picture together. Little did I know that it will be such an iconic picture to inspire artists.

 The image above is the first image on the first blog post. Those were the days when I used to spend all my time with Coco, quietly in my room, clicking a lot of pictures. The image reminds me of those early days of motherhood. It does not make me very happy though. Too many reasons! Link
 
 Looking at sweet pudgy hands and feet of a sleeping baby can make any mother happy. It was a matter of special joy for me to see my prematurely born underweight son fully recovered and turned into a chubby little cutie within three months of being born.
Tiny feet and little legs! Coco had just learnt walking, and would wobble away, wearing shorts that were too long for him. I could capture this precious shot after a lot of missed opportunities and blurry images.  Link
 We all were on a trip to Pathankot, and one evening, the guys decided to take a walk. I tagged along, hopping and skipping, plucking leaves and flowers, listening to birds, feeling the breeze in my hair, when I spotted a  cloro...dendro..er..rhodo..um...chlamy...WTH.. a Dandelion...! Clicked it instantly, before its strands could separate and fly away. Link
 We had just started setting up a new home. It was a first for Coco. He might have thought of helping us by categorizing things like above. A new insight in home decor.

What happens when little people meet other little creatures? This beautiful image, clicked in Rock Garden, Chandigarh. 
This bell was bought from Bikaner, though it is a product of Moradabad clearly. It was beautiful and I literally loved it. Sadly, it was stolen when we were not at home. This image reminds me of the lovely Bikaner trip, the first Diwali that we three celebrated together, of the joyous festivities and beginning of sweet pink cold weather in Doon valley. I have been trying to find a similar bell, but all my efforts have not yielded any fruit. Soon, I hope! Link
In the picture above, Coco is sitting on top of and amid his birthday gifts, on his second birthday. It was a busy day for me, but I still managed to click this cute picture. It was quite unlike his first birthday, which was an utter chaos, with barely a memorable picture of the day. Link
 I was merely splashing colours, trying to get a feel of free hand painting. The resulting image became the background image of 'Bringing Up Coco's' Facebook page. Why do I love this image? Look at those colors and ask again! Link
 The joy that I experienced when I came back home after a week long trip is still with me, in the form of this image. Those days were really incredible. Link
 One look at this image, and the lovely spring scents come back to  me. A picture is more than a visual sometimes. Link
The picture above was taken on a visit to my parents, last year. The visit was quite a memorable one for many reasons, especially bad reasons. During this visit, the Nepal earthquake came, which shook us all up pretty badly. Though we were safe, it had a deep impact on our minds. Even at the slightest shaking of furniture I am sitting on reminds me of the day I ran three flights of stairs barefoot with Coco clutched in my arms.  Link
A paper boat is always loaded with memories. This image is a reminder of the friends who brought me a gift wrapped in this beautiful paper, the beautiful rainy day and the thrill of making paper boats for Coco. On top of everything, it reminds me of the story that I wrote about monsoon, the reason why I made this paper boat and clicked a picture. Link
A lovely sunny day in Himalayan winters, a long walk in Landour, Mussoorie with friends and a refreshing brew of ginger, honey and lemon, with a satisfying snack, this picture says it all.   
 Just my favorite, for no specific reasons. 
The image of this setup and its accompanying blog post got me a winner's seat in a blogging contest, with some good shopping vouchers up for grabs. As much as I enjoyed the shopping, I loved this whole setup even more. Because at the end of it, I got to sip this lip smacking lemon tea. Mmmm!  Link

Images from parents' home are always full of stories and nostalgia. My mom had bought these dolls for us sisters from Banaras after a lot of pleading, when I was a kid. The little pot was probably a gift my sister got from her friends in school. My mother keeps these and all our stuff safely and lovingly. When I went home with Coco, needless to say he was very attracted towards these, and soon the dolls started losing their limbs. I salvaged what I could and clicked a few pictures before the naughty boy would totally destroy my precious toys.  
 Before I threw away the empty cocoa powder container, I spotted COCO written on it and immediately took a picture, profoundly proud of my artistic eye. 
 
These colored feet have a long story. Traditionally, in Eastern UP and Bihar, married women colour their feet with 'Alta' on any auspicious occasion or while travelling etc. Coco and I had to catch a train that evening, when my mother called her domestic help to colour my feet. Coco was very interested in this activity and I allowed him to get his feet dyed too. Irony is that we missed our train that day. We traveled two days later in a sleeper coach, through a hot May night. I swatted mosquitoes all night, standing near the middle berth that Coco slept on while he turned and twisted and cried intermittently, only half asleep. All the red dye could not make our journey happy. But looking back from here, all this looks like an adventure, especially with these red feet.
During school and college, I used to read a lot. My mother has kept all the books that I bought during that time. On my last trip home, I re-read a short story collection by Munshi Premchand. This particular part from the story 'Eidgaah' had me in tears. It is written beautifully. I aspire to write stories like this one day. The shot was worth saving.
There was a phase when Coco used to pretend cooking. He liked it so much, he did it all day long. While I fed him khichdi hidden under soupy instant noodles, he prepared all kinds of exotic dinners for me, even ice creams and cold drinks. He served me beverages in saucers and his cakes were made up of building blocks. But boy, did they taste amazing! Or at least I pretended so. Link
Those initial day of his playschool were quite a job for me. He stayed for only an hour in the school and while I waited outside in my car, I used to bring a snack and something to do. The doodling paid off, as I used them in making ladies meet invites. Link
Why would I not show off my embroidering skills, when all I was required to do was use a permanent marker for Coco's lunch box napkins? Sometimes, I am a pain in my own neck! Anyway, loved doing this.   

When we are talking about the best images of this blog, this one has to come up. I would not write a lot because I already did quite a marathon series of posts about these. I just love looking at these pictures, wondering when will I have so much time again! Link

Cars, cars and more cars. Coco is in love with cars. The above picture is from an evening in Mussoorie. Lovely time! Link

 On this particular day of his school, Coco was dressed as Hanumanji, in a red dhoti made with my dupatta, though he was also wearing a red shirt and an orange sweatshirt owing to the cold weather. His dad made him a 'gada' fashioned with a ball and a stick and a newspaper tail. After dressing him fully in this costume, I laughed for a whole minute. When I went to pick him up later, the dhoti had come off and the tail had withered, hanging from his waist. 
 My beloved rosebush. I am so in love with these flowers, it seems crazy sometimes. I had no other plants to transport but I made grafts of these rosebushes and happily hauled them to Nilgiris. The plants are doing well. I intend to keep them forever. Link
 After I copied this from internet and it came out pretty okay, I assured myself that I could draw and paint if it came to it. Even small successes count, don't they? Link
 My first ever published story. Is it the beginning of a journey or the end? In fact, I cannot decide, nor do I know. But it felt good definitely! Who knows what comes next?
 An image that signifies the bond that we share, Coco and I. What's not to love?
The last picture ever that was taken in my lawn in the previous station, after the truck was loaded. I was tired and sad, but also excited and happy. Moving is such a part and parcel of army life, that it makes us feel all these emotions at the same time, and we love it!