Thursday, August 1, 2013

Gift in a Jar

Homemade gifts in a jar are super fun, frugal, pretty looking and exciting gifts to share with everyone! The fun part is when you have a great idea for the gift in a jar and put this special gift together all by yourself. You can be prudently smart at picking things you want to add to your jar or make them yourself too. The pretty part is the fact that you can decide how you want to decorate or enhance these gift jars and exciting because people who receive these homemade gift jars definitely love the efforts and the git jar itself!
There are endless possibilities when making these gifts in a jar. They could be yummy edible gifts like cookie mixes, cake mixes, beverage mixes, syrups, jams and so on. You can also make your own bath scrubs, spa mixes. You can make your own theme kits by adding various products to the jar and packing it attractively too!
What do you need?
  • Empty Glass Jars with lids (Mason jars or any that you may have at home)
  • Recipe & its ingredients
  • Gift Tag or Card Stock (you can make your own tag)
  • Funnel or Coffee Filter (helps you fill the jar neatly)
  • Scissors, glue, double sided tape
  • Decorative material - Ribbons, yarn, twine, fabric, patterned paper
  • Recipe or index cards
How do you make these?
  • Choose the size of the jar (tip: most recipes call for a 1-pint or 1-quart jar).
  • Measure out ingredients and fill the jar using the funnel and make sure the layers are flat and packed down (Tip: Unless the recipe specifically says otherwise remember all light powdery ingredients such as cocoa, powdered sugar or flour should be place at the bottom of the jar, coarser or heavier ingredients such as granulated or brown sugars would come next and the last layer should consist of chunky ingredients such as nuts, cereals, candy pieces, or dried fruit)
  • If you are putting together a kit and not a recipe, simply add all the products into the jar carefully so that they are visible and spaced out neatly.
  • Add in a recipe or index card if necessary, you can add in a handmade note too
  • Create attractive covers for the jar lids using fabric to cover the lid or patterned paper or add a ribbon to the gift tag.
There you go! Your gift in a jar is ready!!!
I am totally in love with this idea and have tried making some myself and you can read about one of the gift in the jar I made here. I have come also come across many more delightful ideas which I would love to share with you!
1) Cupcake in a jar - A Sparkley Silver Lining
2) Brownie in a jar - Obviously Sweet 
3) Cookies in a jar - Obviously Sweet
4) Coco in a jar - Sunset
5) Shortcake in a jar - Blissfully Domestic
6) Energy packed jar - Healthy Coconut Blog
7) Salad in a jar - A Beach Cottage
8) Soup in a jar - Food Network
9) Housewarming in a jar - Healthy Coconut Blog
10) Spa in a jar - The Gunny Sack
I hope you are inspired with these ideas... if you have some new ideas or thoughts let us know!
- Shamoni

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Redefining Mehndi Art

The history of Henna or Mehndi designs has spanned through many years and cultures and women adorning themselves with these intricate and beautiful tattoos as a decorative accent. For years artists have been adding new design concepts and ideas and have challenging themselves to create fashionable and out of the box creations.
Coming up with new mehndi designs can be challenging because the artist works on a limited surface area which is mainly a palm. With a limited working area, the designs get very intricate and due to the texture of the mehndi paste getting the shapes and designs right without smudging is tantalizing! Over the years artists have developed certain shapes and designs which are peculiar to mehndi art and keep adding newer shapes and enhancements. Artists have changed the way people look at mehndi art, which has not remained the conventional body accent. Artists have tried to get mehndi on canvas, candles, home d├ęcor and so on.
I have always been fascinated with the combination of bold and intricate network of design motifs of mehndi designs and I decided to incorporate the design motifs into contemporary artworks. I recently put together a design that combined mehndi design with fashion illustration to add in an exciting angel to this art form. I have concentrated on the hat and I plan to create a series of various hat forms. A series like this will look great as a wall art for your urban and contemporary home! 

I have of course not used the actual mehndi/henna paste but rather worked with black ink on cardstock paper as I did not want to work with actual mehndi paste and add a sealant to it etc. I wanted to concentrate on the design elements rather than the substance itself and to add on lot of people may not like the mehndi odour (I have never liked it myself) but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t enjoy the beautiful design form!

I wish to keep experimenting with this art form to create interesting blend of indo-western designs and if you have some ideas do write to me and I can work on them! If you wish to purchase any of our products write to us at and we will be happy to work with you!

- Shamoni

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Special DIY Gift for a Special Teacher

Throughout Indian scriptures and culture there has been a supreme significance of a Guru (teacher), who is placed at the same pedestal as god. This is because a guru is someone who is believed to show his pupil a way away from darkness of ignorance and bring in the light of knowledge. In India 'Guru Purnima' is a festival that celebrates a Guru and is a way to expresses reverence and gratitude towards ones Guru or teacher.
On this day many kids like to get something special for their teachers. As a parent you would realize that with a gift for a teacher, there is always a thin line between showing appreciation and brown nosing. The way to avoid this dilemma and express appreciation for the teacher is to have your children make their own special gift for their teacher… with a little bit of your help of course!
Let’s look at some simple, fun and pretty ideas that children will enjoy making and teachers will sure feel excited receiving.

There are various fun bookmarks you can and your child can make. The easiest would be print/draw a design on a think cardstock paper (size 3”x6”) and have your child colour it and add in a message apt for a teacher. You can also use paper, u-pins, popsicle sticks, fabric and so on to make interesting bookmarks. Good life eats has some great ideas and so does Skip to my Lou that you should check out!

Source: Simply Perfect Parties
Greeting Card

This is a great way to enjoy some fun time with you child cutting and pasting a card together and getting through your child’s message to the teacher. Cut and fold a greeting card using a cardstock paper and ask your child to draw on it. This is a good idea and Artsy Craftsy Mom has a wonderful idea for a paper cut and stick card. You can use stickers, stamps, buttons, bows and so on to decorate the card and have your kid write a meaningful message in the card.

Source: My Busy Children
Wall Art

This is another wonderful idea where you can involve the whole class or a group of friends. You can take a mounted canvas board or simply a large size poster paper. Have the various paints poured into paper plates and loads of tissue ready… then have all the children dip their palms into the paint and hand print onto the canvas or paper. Have all the children put their palm print and one dry they can all sign it and add their message.  Here is a great idea that can be expanded into a wall art!

Source: Sometimes Creative
Hand-painted Bag

You can pick up any cloth or canvas bag and have your children draw on the bags using either fabric paint or fabric sketch pens. You can also go a step further and make interesting stamps using natural products like vegetables (potatoes, okra, pepper, celery, etc) fruits (apples, pears, etc)* or leaves of different kinds to add interesting elements to the bag! Check some ideas here and here.

(*Note: This technique causes wastage of food and is not a very good example for the children. You can use leaves that have fallen down or other products like sponges etc to make stamp shapes and avoid wastage of food)
Source: Made by Laks
Sweet surprise

How about making some sweet treats together? Check for simple recipes for cookies, muffins or chocolates that you and your child can make together. When done you can wrap them up attractively and add in a message or note on it. There are some easy recipes here, or here and cool printable notes and ideas for wraps here and here to get you started!

Source: The Busy Budgeting Mama
Notebooks and stationary

How about giving your favourite teacher his/her favourite stationary? You can experiment with washi tape… cover a note book with colourful tape and personalize it for your teacher like this. You can also pick up a bunch of paper and add personalized stamps on them to create a personalized stationary for the teacher.
Source: Lia Griffith

There are many more ideas like hand-painted mugs, handmade pen holders, seedlings, DIY scrubs and so on. You can check these additional ideas here, here and here… they are wonderful!

Well that’s it for now… we hope you have enjoyed these ideas and will pick one for your favourite teacher. So go on and show a little appreciation for these wonderful angels who have inspired you, they entertained you and you have always ended up learning a ton even when you didn't know it!!!

Also tell us what you think of these ideas and if you have some more interesting ones :)
- Shamoni

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cross Stitch Basics

Here is a quick look at some basics of Cross stitch as promised in my earlier post here.
Materials needed:

Fabric:  There are lot of different kinds of fabrics available for cross stitch. Cross stitch requires a grid like weave on which you can easily make an X. I use 14 count Aida cloth for the wall arts and some greeting cards. Count of the cloth means the stitches per inch. For example, 14 count cloth means that there are 14 stitches (squares) per inch. Aida cloth comes in various counts like 11,14,18,22. The bigger the count the more dense the linen is woven. you can also use linen for cross stitch projects and these linen cloths also come in different counts.  

Threads : Threads are available in cotton, pearl cotton, silk, metallic etc. materials. I use DMC cotton threads/ Most of the cross stitch patterns mention the number of strands to use. Generally you need 2 strands, unless a pattern mentions otherwise.

Needle: I like to work with tapestry needles. They are slightly blunt and have a large eye to thread the floss. They can accommodate floss which is thicker than the sewing threads. For example, embroidery floss, crochet thread.

First and foremost, we need to determine the center of the fabric.  All you need to do is fold your fabric horizontally and vertically and mark the center. But, my OCD doesn’t let me do that. Here is how i figure out where the center of the cloth is. 

Once the center is marked, it corresponds to the center given in the pattern. I generally mark it with a different color thread. It helps to find the center again. The center stitch works as base for counting the stitches. I, then, work the stitches in the outward way.
So cross stitch designs are just many tiny X’s. This is how you make the X's..

You bring up your threaded needle up from the back of the fabric. 

Then insert it down diagonally to the right from where the needle came up.
This is half of the cross stitch (X).
Now bring the needle back up from the hole above the hole you just went down through. ( yeah, sounds confusing, check the image) 
The needle now goes down diagonally to the left from where the needle came up.
The X is now completed.

One thing to keep in mind while doing cross stitch is that all the X’s should cross the same way. So it means, going up from left to bottom right for each stitch ( this makes half an X) ...

 and then completing the X by coming up from right to bottom left.

So that’s how complex cross stitch gets! Enjoy!


Friday, July 12, 2013

Quilling Book Review

Today I’d like to share my opinion on The Art of Paper Quilling’ book by Claire Sun-ok Choi.

The book has good information about the history of the art, different paper types, list of tools and materials, basic shapes and several tips and techniques. The photographs and the written detailed description of the shapes are brilliantly done.  The book has some beautiful designs and many styles of shaping flowers that are unique.  Some leaf arrangements are very interestingly done.

As I have been quilling for over 4 years now, I found this book to be good for a beginner. It has simple and a few advanced projects, which can be great gifts for friends and family.  Each project is explained in detail with information from the color, length of strips, shapes required, and assembly.  

The one thing that I was confused about in the book was the lengths of the quilling strips mentioned. They don’t seem to match up with the actual size templates given at the end of the book. In some projects, shorter length strips are mentioned, but a look at the picture shows it is made from a longer length of strip.

The gallery of Claire’s work at the end of the book is just mind-blowing, especially the butterflies. I was hoping that the book would have some tips for making those too, but I was disappointed.

To sum up, I personally would have not bought the book if I could browse it in the library/book store. At the same time it is a worth read for beginners,especially at a reasonable price. 


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Go eco-friendly yet creative to wrap that gift!

Has there been a time when you had to wrap your gift at the last minute and you are out of wrapping paper? Or after your last holiday gift exchange you were taken aback by the ton of gift wrap you chucked into your garbage! I have faced both these situations and after a few rounds of running through stores, buying compromised paper, some guilt and frustration I figured I could actually take this up as a challenge and be innovative with my gift wrapping skills. I also realized after some search that there were many more creative souls like me and I had share all their creative ideas with you too!
So you want to go eco-friendly with your gift wrapping ideas or are simply looking for something that you may have at home to wrap your gifts? Read on...
Newspaper wraps:
You can use a newspaper to wrap gifts and make them interesting.

Choose a plain news section and add interesting elements like colourful ribbons, buttons, tags or embelishments to make them look chic.

A Beautiful Day


Or choose the cartoon, crossword or advertisement section to make the base look interesting itself and you can add some twine or ribbon to it to make it glamorous.

Happy Money Saver
You can also make newpaper bags and add colourful tissue and ribbon to put it together as a gift wrap!

Rubow Happenings

Brown Paper wraps:

Use the brown paper bags or paper itself to make a vintage looking gift wraps or warm christmas wraps.
You can choose to doodle, draw or stamp on the brown paper to make a personal wrap.

Huffington Post

You can add ribbons, embelishments, tags all with bright colours to create some excietment.

Authentic Simplicity

You can once re-use brown paper bags that you have stored from your stores by adding interesting lables, tissue and embelishments.

Kids Artists

Inspiration for Home

Fabric wraps:
So you are a fabric collector and may have scraps around the house... Use them to wrap!

A Table in the Shade
Your fabric gift like a scarf, t-shirt, blanket can itself be a wrap


Re-Purposed wraps:
Do you have some rice sack or bags in which you got your bed sheets in? Why not use them creatively!
Add in some ropes, lace and embelishments to the sack to turn it into a wrap

Sarah Lee Soap's Blog
Or add some stickers, ribbons and flowers to the old sheet bag to wrap something new into it!
Recycled Alluminum wraps:
Use your foil to avoid a spoil! Team the shiney foil along with some ribbons and you are good to go!
Also remember to save any interesting that you recieve cause you can use these interesting trinkets creatively.
  • Some greeting cards can be doubles as lables or tags
  • Interesting ribbons can be reused
  • Twigs, dried flowers etc can become interesting embelishments
These were only a few ideas and we would love to hear some more from you and if you have interesting wrapping ideas do share them with us!
- Shamoni

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day - My Dad, My STAR!

Here's a look at the card I made for Father's day last week. I wanted to make something with star as my theme , so I made a star shaped iris folding card.

I took the iris folding pattern from here and traced the pattern on the cardstock paper. Then I cut it creating a star shaped window.

Iris folding is done by layering strips of papers in a spiral form. Once it is completed, it resembles the iris of the camera and hence the name. Next, I placed the back side of the card over the pattern. The lines/numbers on the pattern indicate the order in which the strips have to be placed. I used two shades of origami paper for this project. Selecting the number of papers would depend on the pattern, but there is no such norm. Ideally, I should have used five colors for the star pattern, but I ended up using only two. For example : a square pattern can be done with either 4, 2 or 1 color paper. 
I then cut 1-1.5 inch strips of the paper and folded them in half. At this time, I assigned colors to the numbers. I generally make 2 copies of the pattern.. one which is taped to the card and the other one I use for tracing on the card and then assigning the colors to the numbers. 
Then I started taping the strips of paper with the folded edge towards the center of the pattern. Using thin paper gives it a crisp look and doesn't make the project bulky. Alternatively, you can use ribbon or just thinner strips of paper without folding them. That's something I want to try too. 
I trimmed the pieces as I went along so that the paper didn't extend out of the card. While taping the strips make sure you tape only on the card/paper strips and not on the pattern guide as it will show on the right side of the card. 
Once I finished taping all the paper, I stuck a bright colored paper over the iris. For a finished look inside I stuck the same colored cardstock on the back side, so that the tape and strips of paper won't be seen. You can also make the aperture card that I showed in my previous post. I used the decorative frames set with the Big Shot  machine for the tag. 
Here's the link to a tutorial that I found interesting. They also have some free patterns that you can use. I find this to be a very simple, easy technique to make unique handmade cards, especially when I have less time on hand. Until next time.. 

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