Do It Yourself (DIY)

Whenever I get a desire to buy something to decorate my home or my garden, I will not buy that item right away. Instead I put on a thinking cap and come up with some DIY ideas. For these DIY projects, I believe our idea should be to spend less money on buying things from craft stores. Instead we should use junk that is already available at our homes. Real creativity is to come up with some outstanding pieces using available junk material. Such DIYs are most challenging and equally satisfying projects. My vote is always for DIYs when it is about decorating my home. DIYs are most satisfying when we wanted to decorate our homes with upcycled items. On one side we are saving money and on the other we are contributing to the reduction of carbon footprint.

Ant made using waste plastic balls.
Water Can Planter made out of tin container
Upcycled ID cards.

Zero Waste Is The Best

I grew up during those times when people in general had a tendency to spend less and save more. The  attitude to save money reflected naturally on using things that long until they became completely useless. Zero wasting of resources  was attitude of the most. No one would associate repurposing to stingy behaviour. Re-purposing  things were very much normal.

I remember how my mother would wisely reuse things.
My father’s bell bottom pants were cut and made into shopping bags.
His discarded ‘Thiruppur banian’ would become a mop. By the way he wouldn’t discard it until the hole in his vest would become the size of a tennis ball. His faded shirts would be stiched as pillow covers. Old Sarees had multiple uses.
At the end of every academic year my school uniform tunic invariably
would become my summer frock. Shirt would becom a top on any skirt. My sister’s clothes that no longer fit her would naturally progess in to becoming my clothes. 
Using second hand text books was order of the day. My neighbour’s daughter was one year senior to me and her son a year junior. We all were going to the same school.  Her daughter’s text books would come to me. I would use them with utmost care so that I can pass them over to her son next year. This continued until we graduated from the  school.
We never heard fancy words like
‘upcycling’ but everyone was practicing it.

Life and attitude of people has changed over a period of time.  Increase in purchasing power made   people discard seemingly old things in a sly.  Discarding was only to replace them with the new ones. People bought items whether they really needed them or not.  Acquiring new things had become a fashion statement

Now time has changed again.
Current times, many have become conscious of protecting the  environment. People have realised that it is very important to reduce the carbon footprint. Re-purposing, refurbishment, up cycling, minimal purchasing etc. are considered to be important aspects of ‘zero waste’ life style. It is heartening to see many are adopting to  ‘zero waste’ lifestyles.

I’m also trying my level best to incorporate the principles of  ‘zero waste’ lifestyle. Ideas of up cycling is also helping me to keep my creative juices flowing.

My journey of ‘Zero Lifestyle’has just begun and it is still a long way to go.
  I’m happy that atleast I have started my journey in that direction.

I’m into up cycling many big and small things. Only few things I’m sharing here.

Upcycled Car Tires.

Tawa turned into a decor item.
I myself refurbished above 35 year old coffee table.
It’s new avtar to match modern sensibilities. I consiously avoided buying decoupage napkins from the market. Instead I used papers from old school atlas. That ensured that the cost incurred for refurbishment is very minimal.
A discarded wash basin turned into a miniature village scene. Most of the elements in the scene are upcycled ones.

చలా? అకలా?

సంక్రాంతి కొరికే చలి. వేకువ దరిదాపుల్లో రాతిరి.  పూరి గుడిసెలో  రెండు చింకి దుప్పట్లకింద  నాలుగు జీవాలు.
చంటిదాన్ని కావిలించుకొని పడుకోనుంది లచ్చి ఓ దుప్పట్లో. ఇంకో దుప్పటి కింద
ఓ కాలిని, చేయిని అయ్యమీదేసుకుని తొంగున్నాడు వెచ్చగా బుడ్డోడు.  చంటిది పుట్టినా అమ్మను వదలని బుడ్డోడు చలికి కామోసు,  ఇప్పుడిప్పుడే అయ్య పక్కకు చేరటం మొదలు పెట్టాడు.
  వాణ్ణి పక్కకు తోసేసి గబుక్కున  లేచాడు రంగడు మెలుకువ రాంగానే.  చలిగాలి తగిలిందేమో మరి, పక్కకు జరిగిన చింకి దుప్పటిని పైదాకా లాకున్నాడు బుడ్డోడు నిద్రమత్తులోనే.
లేచిందే లేడికి పరుగన్నట్టు, రంగడు నెత్తి కింద ఇంతసేపు ఉంచుకున్న సంచీ పట్టుకుని గుడిసె బయటికొచ్చాడు. చింతచెట్టు కింద గంగి నిల్చోని ఉంది. వెన్నెల వెలుగేమో అది మెరుస్తోంది.
సంచిలోంచి ఒక్కో గుడ్డతీసి గంగి మీద కప్పాడు.  సంచి ఖాళీ అయింది కానీ రంగడికి తృప్తి కలగలేదు. గుడిసెలోకి వెళ్లాడు.  బుడ్డోడు చలికి దుప్పటిని నిండా కప్పుకుని తొంగున్నాడు.
ఏం ఆలోచించకుండా దుప్పటిని ఒక్క లాగు లాగాడు రంగడు నిర్లక్ష్యంగా.  చలికి వణుకుతూ సన్నగా మూలిగాడు బుడ్డోడు. ఏం పట్టనట్టు తెచ్చిన దుప్పటిని గంగి మీద కప్పాడు. దానిమీద మిగిలిన గుడ్డలన్నింటినీ సర్దాడు.‌
ఇప్పుడు అందంగా, నిండుగా అగుపడింది రంగడి కళ్లకు గంగి.   ఖాళీ సంచిని భుజానికి తగిలించుకుని,  తాడుని పట్టుకుని గంగిని నడిపించుకుంటూ ఊరి వైపుకు వడివడిగా అడుగులు వేస్తూ  బయలుదేరాడు రంగడనే  బుడబుక్కలవాడు. ఎంత సంపాదించినా ఈ మూడు రోజులేగా మరి.

సుగంధ సుమము

క్షణికమైననేమి తన జీవితము
మనోహర సుగంధ భరితమై
చేయును భువిని విస్మయము
దివినుండి భువికి దిగివచ్చినదట ఈ కుసుమము
ముత్యపు రేకుల సౌకుమార్యము
పగడపు కాడల పారిజాతము

If You Can’t Go Outside, Go Inside

Even if you can go outside,
often do go inside
Far from the madding crowds
Far from deafening sounds
Far from the spamming thoughts
Inside you is a whisper that you never heard of
Inside you is a world that you have never known about
Inside you is an insight you should kindle
Inside you is an intuition you should
be aware of
Even If you can go outside do go inside
Go inside into the calmer You!
Go inside to know the power of You!

One more Jewel

It is always been my interest to try various art and craft forms that satisfy the artist in me without punching a hole in my pocket.
Some thing that took my fancy recently is crafting different styles of jewellery using clay. Moreover
it is also now in trend to wear bold and crafty jewellery. The happiness to wear or to gift some one a self crafted jewellery is unparalleled.

Patience, perseverance,
practice: these are the most important things that one need to achieve perfection. If passion is the the driving force then there is nothing to stop creative indulgence.

Since I have not got any professional training, my learning so far been purely through trials and errors that I gain through experience. Every effort is worth the time and is enriching my experience.

‘Kooja’ (கூஜா) As An Art Decor

A Tamil Aiyyar wedding is an elaborate two day affair comprised of many rituals. One such ritual is ‘Kashi Yatra’ which is performed on the day of the wedding. During ‘Kashi Yatra’, the groom will ‘act’ as if he is going to Kashi to become an ascetic. As the part of the ritual, Bride’s father will plead with the groom to not to go to Kashi, instead marry his daughter and settle down as a ‘Grihasthu’ (house holder). Eventually, the Groom will agree and come back to the wedding Pandal ready to marry. The symbolism behind this funny ritual can become a subject of some other blog some other time.

The point here is, I had inherited a steel ‘Kooja’ that was bought to be used during ‘Kashi Yatra’ ritual during my wedding. ‘Kooja’ is a vessel that was used in olden days to carry water by travellers. Since the ‘Kooja’ served no purpose in my modern kitchen, it was lying there until one day I had decided to use it as a water jug to water my Tulsi plant. It served some purpose, but was getting exposed to hard water and dust for years.
Over a period of time, it lost its shine, also got rusted in many places. Being emotionally attached to everything that I have got from my father, I had decided to upcycle the ‘Kooja’, before it is too late.
I immediately sat down with a mission to revive and beautify the ‘Kooja’.

I used materials that were available in the house at that time. It required lots of patience, and lot of brain storming as I was working with limited resources. Never the less, the results were worth the effort.
It was my first attempt at trying my hand in a French technique called ‘Decoupage’.
Whatever, my efforts paid off and ‘Kooja’ turned out to be a stunning art piece that now occupied pride of place in our drawing room as a decor item.
I have seen upcycled Kettles, Milk cans but I have not seen a Kooja so far. Who knows, may be I’m the first one who turned a South Indian ‘Kooja’ into a French art decor.
Smitten by my own art work, now, I am looking around for next object to upcycle. Let me search for the
‘Vishiri’, the fan that was used during Kashi Yatra ritual 27 years ago.

Kooja’s present Avtar. In an excitement to upcycle, I forgot to click before photo.

Ammini Kozhukatai

Ammini Kozhukatai is a traditional Kerala preparation, consumed as a tiffin or a snack item. “Small rice marbles” can be a literal translation to the word Ammini Kozhukatai.

The Preparation is very simple, healthy and very tasty too. Let’s see how to prepare as a serving for two people.

Ingredients:

1. Rice Flour – 1 cup
2. Grated coconut – 1 tbsp
3. Oil for tempering- 3 tsp
4. Few dry chilly pieces
5. Few Curry leaves
6. Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp

Preparation:

Sieve the rice flour into a bowl. Add salt to it and mix well.
Boil few cups of water.
Once the water starts boiling, remove it from the stove. Immediately
add little by little the boiling water to the rice flour, all the while mixing the flour with a big spoon.
The water should be added only that much as to make the flour fit enough for a kneading consistency.
Once the flour is ready, let it cool down until it is warm. You may kneed the flour gently once to avoid lumps if any though it is not mandatory.
Once the flour warm enough to touch, you can start making small marble sized balls out of it. You may apply few drops of oil on to the palm as to avoid flour sticking to the palm.

Once the entire flour is made into the balls, steam them in an idly plate/steaming basket in a cooker. While steaming in a cooker don’t put the weight. Let it steam for about 15 minutes. Switch off the stove. Let it cool for few more minutes. If the rice balls look shiny and non sticky that means they have got cooked enough.

Now gently remove them and seperate if they are struck to each other.

In a kadai, add oil and mustard seeds for tempering. Once the musturds start crackling, add dry chilly pieces, curry leaves and granted coconut. Now also add steamed rice balls to it. At this stage you can add little salt if you feel the salt added to the rice flour is not enough.
Keep stirring until the balls get roasted to a golden brown colour.

Remove from the stove and enjoy ‘Ammini Kozhukatai’ fresh and hot.

పూసే పూవై

నిన్నటి గూర్చి చింత వదలగా
రేపటి కోసం బెంగ దరికి రాకపోనీయగా
పలువురు నను పొగడాలని ఆరాటం లేదుగా
కారడవైనా, ఉద్యాన వనమైనా
ఎండైనా, వానైనా, ఇక్కడైనా, ఎక్కడైనా
క్షణికమైనా, చిరకాలమైనా
మొగ్గై , సడి చేయని‌రేకై
అరవిరిసిన పూవై
నా నిన్న కన్నా నా నేడు, మెరుగై
ఇంతై, అంతింతై, ఎంతో కొంతై
ఈ క్షణమే నాదిగా
విరపబూయటమే నా కర్తవ్యంగా…