My home and my kitchen are always open to my friends. The joy that I derive out of cooking a meal for someone is inexplicable. So when one of my friends recently asked me if I cleaned up the place because she was coming to visit, I was surprised. My home is mostly organised, atleast on the face of it. I know some cheat tricks that I learnt way back in college when I shared my tiny room with two other girls. Then of course, I would re-use shoe boxes and cartons, but mostly I put things I didn’t use (and didn’t have the heart to give away) in a dump spot. I maintain that theory till date and I have an organised home.

But there were these things like keys, stationery, CDs and all the ear-rings that I remove just before going to bed that never really had a place to go to. They had to accessible and cannot be put in my ‘dump spot’. So when I found these beautiful, colorful boxes, I thought it was a perfect thing to put such stuff away. The fact that these were made by our enterprising women from the tsunami-ravaged Pulicat adds to the charm!

orange palm leaf kottan box from Pulicat

Orange palm leaf kottan box

You can use them everywhere to put CDs, stationery, keys, medicines and that little bedside stuff that you need. With dimensions of 10 inches by 7 inches, it comes with a matching lid.

Set of 2 Kottan boxes from Pulicat

Set of 2 Kottan boxes

While this stand alone box was bright and colorful, there is one with a neutral shade, a set of 2. With dimensions of 8 by 8 inches and 6 by 6 inches each, these boxes fit into each other.

Set of three pink kottan baskets from Pulicat

Set of three pink kottan baskets

I am very partial to pink and cannot end this with my favorite ‘shocking’ pink colour. A set of 3 boxes, these fit snugly inside each other and come with a matching lid. Dimensions are 9 inches, 8 inches and 6.5 inches in diameter respectively.

Hope you like these boxes. If there is a good response (which can happen if you share this), the women can be commissioned to make more of these boxes. It will be of great help to them! :)

I love winters. It is the only time of the year when we can sit down and read a newspaper in our living room. I live in Ahmedabad and the temperature is an average 38+ degrees Celsius.  So during winters, I use this space to the maximum.  Apartment therapy’s series on ‘how to entertain’ got me write out my ideas for this favourite winter activity. I drooled over the inexpensive, yet awesome options that IKEA provides and decided that we need to have our version of the same.  Since I am obsessed about handcrafted options for almost everything, I’ve made my ideas as handcrafted and personal as I can!

Over years, I’ve hosted parties with as much as 30 guests in a 2 bedroom, hall, kitchen apartment with my ever limited crockery and on really tight budgets. I love having people over, I love the laughter and the conversation and am sure that budget and time will never constrain me ever. Inspite of such constraints,  I refuse to use that plastic glass or order pizza. So here is my list of things to do to host that perfect party.

Dress up your home..

  1. Clean up. You are not aiming for a sparkling new home here, just make sure your bathrooms (and the adjacent bedrooms) are turned out right.
  2. A small arrangement of the following in the bathroom will work great.   A couple of hand towels, handwash, a small tea light candle. I’ve used my old jam bottle for the effect. You can add flowers of your choice to this arrangement. Marigold, anyone?
  3. Tackle your living room. I don’t have a couch at home. I use floor mattresses, so I get out my pillows to add to that comfort. Do not use light coloured sheets.  Light a lamp in your living room. Get out all your old stack of bottles and light candles in them. A typical tea light (non-scented) burns for about 6 hours.
  4. Pull out those Diwali diyas and string lights. Decorate your TV or your potted plants with the string lights!

Be a smart Cook!

  1. Though ordering in sounds the easiest thing to do, trust me cooking at home works out a lot cheaper and definitely way healthier. Go heavy on starters and have a simple main course.
  2. I make a lot of dips all this time. My favourites are hummus, satay sauce and a simple boondi raita.  Super simple to make, I store them all the time in my fridge (except the boondi raita!) Pour this into tea cups, bunch them together and leave it at a few vantage points. Keep tooth picks handy.  Buy plenty of crackers(I like the Parle variety), Monaco biscuits, inexpensive plain chips. Roast roast plain papads.
  3. Popcorn!
  4. Pani Puri is another simple, yet interesting snack for an evening.. Boil potatoes, mix it up with some dry spices, buy a huge pack of puris and make the paani (follow the instructions on the pack, add some boondi to it and you are done.  For a twist, you can spike the water with alcohol (rum or vodka would be just fine). A piece of advice, make sure you spread loads of paper below this container and discard it as soon as the pani puri is over. You don’t want people walking over that mess all evening!
  5. Serve bite size cheese cubes and if you have the time, string them with pineapple cubes and black grapes on a tooth pick.
  6. Chop mushrooms into four, add a little salt, chilli powder, lemon juice and sauté for a few minutes. A quick tasty starter is ready.
  7. Salad! Sliced cucumber, tomatoes and onions. Avoid the salt.
  8. After gorging on all this, your guests may not be hungry for dinner. So if you are making dinner, plan to make a wholesome single dish- a biryani or a pasta. You have that boondi raita for  the accompaniment.
  9. If you are serving alcohol, serve pitcher drinks. You can make a drink of vodka, Rooh Afza (a rose sherbet) and mint leaves. Not only does it look beautiful with it’s pink shade, it tastes awesome. Top up with soda. I recently had a Khus drink, with white rum, soda and lemon. Sliced lemons in the pitcher looked so beautiful!  So go on, be creative!
  10. Keep loads of ice and bottles filled with water. A few extra bottles of soda, a range of soft drinks and loads of tissues.
  11. Keep a shoe box or carton in each corner. You’ll have less to clean up the next day.

During the party

chai-kullad-set from Sweet Couch

  1. Plastic glasses make it look like a children’s party. If you are not sure of getting out those expensive glasses, buy Kullads. The in-expensive terracotta glasses, add that dash of innovativeness to your party and offers the local potter some business.  (Photo Courtesy: Sweetcouch.com)
  2. You can use Phirni bowls (again terracotta) for the Pani Puri. Once the party is over, Wash them, dry them and stock them up for the next party.
  3. Arrange your food on the table or the counter, along with a few diyas. Lemon wedges and mint leaves look ravishing on the table. Your guests will be impressed even before they start!

So put that music on and get going! Have a great party and please share your suggestions, comments and experiences :)

Though I no longer live in Bombay, I still look forward to Ganesh Chaturthi every year. Part of the reason is that it signals the beginning of the festive season and the other is of course, the creativity in all of us that comes to the forefront. Every street has it own Ganapathi and the whole works around it is almost like a competition. Here are some of our Ganapathis :) Check out some renditions of the elephant God from various craft forms across the country.

Dhokra Ganesha from Dhenkanal, Orissa

Dhokra Ganesha

 

Made in Dhenkanal, Orissa, this Dhokra sculpture was handcrafted by Dushasan Behera.

Ganesha made by Oklipura artisans

Ganesha made by Oklipura artisans

Found in a small alley in Oklipura, Bangalore, this metal sculpture is used in homes for Puja (prayer)

Silver Ganesha and Lakshmi Udaipur

Silver Ganesha and Lakshmi Udaipur

The auspicious silver sculptures are part of the Puja (prayer) room. A new bride is gifted these as a symbol of luck and prosperity.

Shivarapatna Stone sculptures

Shivarapatna Stone sculptures

The stone sculptures of Shivarapatna in Kolar.

Contemporary stone sculpture from Udaipur

Contemporary stone sculpture from Udaipur

A modern style Ganesha made in Udaipur.

Pattachitra Ganesha from Orissa

Pattachitra Ganesha from Orissa

A Pattachitra of a  five headed Ganesha from Orissa.

Paper machier Ganesha masks from Orissa

Paper machier Ganesha masks

Ganesha masks on Papier-mâché.

Leather puppet Charmakari Ganesha from Andhra Pradesh

Leather puppet Charmakari Ganesha from Andhra Pradesh

That is me holding a Ganesha made with goat leather. The puppet craft Charmakari has Ganeshas on just about everything- lamps, puppets and even wall screens.

Sadly, every year after Visarjan (the day when the elephant god sculptures are cast into the water bodies), I hate to think of the pollution levels that our fun and festivals have caused the environment. A bio-degradable Ganapathi is a great option, but if you wish to retain your Ganapathi or even gift your friends, write to us at mail@craftcanvas.com.