Saturday, March 29, 2014

DIY Indoor Awning

I love DIY projects. I have not done any major projects yet, but many small ones. I love home decor projects like the DIY wall art in my guest bedroom. One such project which was inspired from an image I saw in some website ( which I am not able to trace now) was to make an indoor awning.

I loved the indoor awning idea and knew right away that I wanted one for my kitchen window.

I searched online for indoor awning projects and figured how I would do it. I measured the width between the cabinets on both sides of the window as I wanted the awning across those cabinets. I measured the rough length of the awning from top of the cabinets. I bought 2 yards of fabric and two tension shower curtain rod. The advantage of using tension rod is that there is no need of any nails or drills. The rod will come with instructions on how to fit it between two spots.

I cut the fabric to the desired width + 4" and length + 8". I also did a scallop design at the end to give it a cafe look. I finished the seams at both sides of the fabric by folding fabric twice by 1". On top I made a pocket for the rod to go through. The extra 8" was for that. I slid the rod through this pocket and fit it on top between cabinets at the far end of cabinets. I set the next rod below towards the near end of cabinets. The fabric was then taken over this rod. I haven't attached fabric to this second rod, but since I used heavy fabric the fabric doesn't slide down.

As they say, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, not everyone would probably like the idea of an indoor awning. But I personally love it. I think it adds a personal touch to my windows. Its modern yet very homey. 

If you would like to make one and have any questions, please use the comment section below. I would be happy to answer your questions.

I am linking this project here:

By Stephanie Lynn
DIY Show Off

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spring is here!!

One thing I find fortunate about coming to US is watching snow fall. And also experiencing all seasons vividly. Snowfall is a wonderful experience, out of the world I would say. It is magical. You feel the presence of God in every snow flake. I wouldn't go any further because I think the whole snowfall experience needs a post on its own. 

But with a baby falling sick during the cold climate, all you want is summer to arrive. And before summer hits, there comes the most beautiful of all seasons, spring! Spring brings awesomeness everywhere. You see bright flowers like tulips, daffodils, peonies adorning many courtyards. Violets fill air with fragrance. But my personal favorite is none of these. For me the most happiest part of spring is watching the cherry blossoms.

I love how the cherry trees are laden with flowers. Mostly there are no leaves on the trees at all. Flowers are not just on the branches but also cling onto the main trunk. I can just stand and admire those flowers forever. Though there are varieties in the cherry blossoms, my personal favorite is the one with layers of petals in different shades of pink. Some streets have cherry trees on both sides making it a wonderful sight as you drive through. 

Cherry blossoms in Washington D.C. is very famous. Each year National Cherry Blossoms Festival is celebrated. According to wikipedia, "The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a spring celebration in Washington, D.C., commemorating the March 27, 1912, gift of Japanese cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo City to the city of Washington. Mayor Ozaki donated the trees in an effort to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan and also celebrate the continued close relationship between the two nations." If you are interested in reading the whole story, click here. This year the festival is from March 20th to April 13th. I have been to Washington D.C twice now, but both visits were during winter time. May be next time we will manage to go during spring.

I am leaving you with some questions today. Do you love cherry blossoms like I do? What is your favorite part about spring? But spring need not be everyone's favorite. So which is your favorite season?

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Ragi Banana pancake with Raspberry compote

I made my first pancake with a store bought pancake mix. I topped it with some fresh chopped strawberries and banana and some maple syrup and called it good.

This was the case until I started looking for some new ideas for our breakfast.
I make breakfast almost every single day. I can't have cereal for breakfast continuously. For one or two days I can, but not more than that. Also I want my daughter to get used to the Indian habit of having a heavy breakfast. Its a proven fact that having a good balanced breakfast is the ideal way to start a day.

My search led me to many new ideas like rava idli, rava dosa, uthappam and a variety of pancakes made from scratch. I have made pancakes using whole wheat flour and oat meal since then. Using ragi powder was a new twist. I have at least 5 pounds of ragi that I got to make baby food for my daughter. Now that she has grown out of that stage and also since my recent attempts to make her eat the porridge made with ragi failed miserably, I am looking out for new ways to incorporate it into her diet. That is how I came up with this recipe.

Ragi banana pancakes


Ragi flour( finger millet) 1 1/2 cups ( I powdered ragi in my blender)
Ripe Banana 2 nos
Milk 1 1/4 cups
Baking powder 1 tsp
Salt 1 pinch
Vanilla extract 1 tsp
Chocolate chips 1/4 cups

  1. In a blender( mixer grinder), blend together banana, milk, vanilla extract until smooth.
  2. Add ragi powder, baking powder and salt and blend again until smooth.
  3. Heat a skillet/ non stick pan. I do not spray skillet with oil as I use non stick one. If you are using an iron skillet , spray oil.
  4. Pour 1/4 cup of batter and spread it to form a small thick circle.
  5. Place 4 or 5 chocolate chips on top.
  6. Once the pancake starts to bubble and edges set, flip it over.
  7. When the other side also gets cooked, remove pancake to a serving plate.

Raspberry compote


Raspberries 1 cup
Water 1/4 cup
Sugar 1 tbsp
Vanilla extract 1 tsp

  1. Heat raspberries, sugar and water in a sauce pan.
  2. Keep stirring occasionally until it boils.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and mash the raspberries lightly with the stirring spoon. Do not mash completely as chunks of fruit adds to the texture of compote.
  4. Keep stirring frequently once the sauce starts to thicken.
  5. Continue until the sauce reaches the desired consistency.
  6. Turn off heat and add vanilla extract.
  7. Stir well and serve over hot pancakes.
Ragi pancakes came out soft and fluffy. But you should have it hot, as once it cools down it loses the softness. 

Regarding the raspberry compote, once you try it, you will never want to go back to the store bought maple syrup. I have tried strawberry compote too by replacing raspberries in this recipe with chopped strawberries. But that cannot be compared to this. Raspberry compote is divine and has a very pleasing aroma and taste. It is lip smacking good and complements ragi pancake well. 
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Monday, March 17, 2014

3 Rs: Reduce, Recycle, Reuse - project 1


So I have this issue with hoarding pretty things that normal people would probably toss. Like cute gift boxes, gift wrappers, pretty bottles. My excuse would be that I would find some use later on. But this time it was a bit different. When I bought this bottle of hot sauce, I knew exactly what I would do when its empty. In fact I was waiting eagerly for the sauce to get over.

So with an empty hot sauce bottle, few varieties of colorful lentils and a cute little helper, this is what I ended up with. A decor piece for my kitchen island. :)

PS: I will probably do a series on projects done by reusing old stuff and hence the 3 Rs title for this post. 

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Easy & Quick Microwave Halwa Recipe


We have a small temple in Reno, where I live currently. Every Sunday the temple is open till noon and we have pooja and bhajans followed by arathi. Devotees bring nivedyam ( food offering to God) prepared from home. We went to temple today and I prepared this halwa as nivedyam. It is a very quick recipe, you just need time for the halwa to set.

Corn flour halwa

Adapted from RaksKitchen


Corn flour - 1/2 cup ( I used Corn Starch 1/4 cup + All purpose flour 1/4 cup )
Sugar - 1 and 1/2 cups
Water - 2 cups
Cardamom powder - a pinch
Food color - half a pinch
Cashews - 10 nos
Ghee - 1 Tbsp


  1. Mix all purpose flour, corn starch, food color, sugar and water in a large microwave safe bowl without any lumps. Using a whisk would make this process easier.
  2. Microwave in high for 4 minutes. It would still be in liquid consistency. Stir well with a spoon.
  3. Microwave again for 2 minutes. Now the mixture would have thickened and would resemble yogurt. Mix well. 
  4. Microwave again for 10 minutes*, stirring in between at every 2 minutes interval. Mixing well every two minutes is necessary as it ensures even cooking. 
  5. Fry the chopped cashews in ghee till golden brown and mix them well into the above mixture. Mix the cardamom powder in.
  6. Use the remaining ghee from the above step to grease a shallow dish.
  7. Pour the mixture into this dish and let it cool for an hour or so. 
  8. Cut into pieces as desired and serve.
*Cooking time will vary depending on the microwave. I found that doing the step 4 for 10 minutes set the halwa perfectly.

The halwa is soft but not at all oily. I got very good reviews from every one and there were requests for the recipe too. I couldn't take any pictures while I prepared this for nivedyam. I made another batch after coming back from temple for posting the recipe and to take along for the dinner party we are having tonight at a friend's place. This time I cooked it for 10 minutes in step 4 while I had only done for 6 minutes first time I made it. Cooking to 10 minutes helped in solidifying halwa correctly, so it looked beautiful when sliced to square pieces. This can be a life savior if you want to make a quick Indian sweet. No one will know that you made it in less than 20 minutes , unless of course you tell them this recipe.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

No Sew Tutu Skirt - a tutorial

The first Tutu skirt I made was for my daughter's first birthday. She wore it for her cake smash and looked very cute in her Tutu.

Wikipedia definition of a tutu skirt is 'A tutu is a skirt worn as a costume in a ballet performance, often with attached bodice. It consists of a Basque (or waistband, as it can either be part of the bodice or a separate band) and the skirt itself might be single layer, hanging down, or multiple layers starched and jutting out.'

Tutu skirts are really pretty, but it is difficult to get one with super lush in the normal stores. I prefer one with multiple layers of fabric. Etsy do have many shops that sell good quality Tutu skirts.

Tutu is usually made using tulle fabric. Tulle is a light weight very fine netting fabric. It is mostly stiff and gives Tutu skirt a puffed out look.

Supplies needed

  1. Scissors
  2. Tulle fabric in colors of choice - I used bright pink and light pink tulle( comes in 6" wide spool or bolt which can be cut to strips) I used tulle from bolt and 1 yard each of both colors.
  3. Net headband (Normal elastic can also be used)

How To
  1. Cut tulle to strips. Length of each strip = Length of the finished skirt  * 2 + 1.5". I wanted mine to be 7" long, so I cut strips 7*2+1.5 = 15.5 " long. I eyeballed the width of the strips, but a 3" would be perfect.
  2. Stretch the headband such that the holes in it are visible. I put the headband over my daughter's toy stroller. The width was perfect to keep the headband stretched so that I could work comfortably.

3. Count the tulle strips and the holes in the headband and find out how many strips should go in each hole. I had around 90 tulle strips and my headband had 30 holes. So 3 strips went in each hole. Take the tulle strips and fold in half.

4. Take the center portion and insert it through the hole in the headband from behind.

5. Pull out the ends through the loop created.

6. Pull the end slowly and tighten it so that it will not unwind. You will have to be careful as the headband elastic is very delicate and can break if you pull on the ends too strong.(Speaking from experience)

7. Do the same with the next hole. I followed a sequence of 2 dark pink & 1 light pink and 2 light pink & 1 dark pink strips alternately.

8. Repeat this until the all the holes in the headband are done.

Here is my daughter's doll modelling the completed Tutu skirt.

Two of my friends had a baby shower this past weekend and both of them are expecting girls. So I made one each for both of them.

By choosing different colors and length of the skirt, this can be used for different occasions. Using shades of blue and green can make this a peacock costume for Halloween. Red and black tulle can be used for a Mickey/Minnie mouse costume. The possibilities are endless and I would definitely be making some more in near future.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

DIY paper wallart

I am smitten by these 3 letters DIY (Do It Yourself), especially when it comes to decorations. First time I tried this wall art was for our daughter's first b'day. I made few of these pinwheels in different shades of yellow (party theme color was yellow) and different sizes. It was the backdrop for photos and many people complimented. I loved it too and knew right away that I want to make a set of these as home decor for our home. 

My original plan was to make a huge arrangement for our living room with many pinwheels using paper with different designs in navy blue. But when I went to buy the patterned paper, I couldn't find any in navy blue. So I bought few papers in different shades of blue and few in grey. Since the curtains in our living room is navy blue, I didn't want these in that room. Still I made the pinwheels and while making it struck me that the bedding set we bought for guest bedroom has the same color scheme. All I had to do to make it perfectly match was to dig through daughter's b'day party decor items and pull out two small yellow pinwheels to add to the set. 

These pinwheels are really easy to make. All you need is patience. Pinwheel is made by folding paper to either sides to make a fan and then by gluing the ends together to form a circle. The method of folding a paper to make a fan is called accordion style of folding. You can find many tutorials on how to make these pinwheels. I found this tutorial explanatory. I used a paper punch to make a lace pattern over the edges before folding the paper. This can make the pinwheels more beautiful especially if you are using solid color paper like the yellow one in my set.

The advantage with this wall art is that you can change it anytime you want and it is eye catchy. You can customize the colors to suit your decor. With a little effort and a lot of patience you will have a statement wall all done by yourself. :) 

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