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DIY Kid’s Project – Flower Bouquets

June is almost here. May creapt upon me real fast. It’s been busy since the beginning of this year. It’s amazing. I must agree.I have learnt so much and met so many talented people along the way. Some weekends are busy with planning and cooking for our pop-up dinners while some weekends are spent with the little people we love the most – our kids. We cook, paint, color, do DIY projects and what not.

I have the interest to cook and that’s the whole driving force behind hosting the pop-ups but the whole project wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our kids. My daughter is 18 months old now. She is growing up too fast. In few months, she will start pre-school. She doesn’t scream or cry when I am gone. She is one happy girl. My 4+ year old boy is so accomodating too. He packs his back and goes on play dates when we are gone. They are truly our blessings for life.

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Like every parent, our world revolves around them. I try to involve my son in every project I work on. We cook together. When I pack a egg curry, he peels the egg shells for me. When I bake, he folds the batter for me. Weekdays are packed with swimming classes, biking, trip to the park and doing Math/English worksheets. Last week, we did three DIY projects.

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It was Teachers Appreciation Week. We made Indian desserts (Carrot Halwa Trifle, Mango Mousse and Banana-Semolina Balls) for his teachers and today I sent them flowers as well. We buy from our regular florist at the Farmer’s market. You can always find flowers and candles in my home. He sells them $3 a bunch and we bought 4 of that. I have a box of craft supplies in my garage. We grabbed brown wrapping paper and brown or baker’s twine from that. I picked them from Dollar store. We used plastic cling wrap, rubberbands and paper towels from the kitchen. Once you find everything, place them in the dining table and start the project with the energy to motivate and encourage your kid to participate and contribute. He studies in a private school that has 12 teachers for kids between 3-5 years age. We made 12 flower bouquets for them.

My son helped me with wrapping the wet tissue and cling wrapper. He enjoyed being a part of this DIY.

My son also made a small DIY Happy Face card over the weekend. I helped him by cutting the shapes and drew a circle and marked the eyes. All he did was colored the face with crayons. Once done, he wrote his name on the other side.  We gave this along with the flowers.

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DIY FLOWER BOUQUET For Teachers Appreciation Week

Things Needed

  • Flowers
  • Plastic Cling Wrap
  • Kitchen Tissue
  • Rubberbands
  • Celophane Tape
  • Brown Wrapping Paper
  • Twine or Ribbon
  • Marker

Instructions

  1. We bought the flowers on Sunday. So the first step is to keep them hydrated. Take a vase. Fill it with little water and store the flowers in it until ready to use. It will also help the flowers to bloom in couple of days. We made this bouquet to give it on Tuesday.
  2. Using a scissor, chop the stem to the length you desire. Cut the kitchen tissue into rectangles.Place the plastic wrapper on the working surface as shown in the picture. Ask your child to wet the tissue and wrap the stem. Once that’s completed, let the child wrap the plastic wrapper as well. Since it sticks really well, kids will find it easy to bring them all together tight and well sealed. Tie rubberband around it to let them stay together well. Set aside.
  3. Clean the chopped stems and leaves. Make sure there is no water in the table. Wipe them clean with a towel. Now cut the brown packing paper in the 12 squares. We did 14×14 inches. Set aside.
  4. Place the brown paper and fold it into half. Place a bunch of the tissue-cling wrapped flower at one corner and roll them tight like a cigar. Seal the end with a celophane tap. Wrap the brown paper with twine to make it look pretty. Continue to repeat the steps until you have made all the bouquets.We wrote a “Thank you” with the marker. Done!

DIY: Photoframes

You have been seeing a lot of DIY projects and ideas from Spices and Aroma. As a mother, these projects keeps my son busy and it improves his ability to concentrate on one task and at the same time, it teaches him the importance of gifting and showing love to someone. It is a win-win for mother and the kids. Prerna of Indian Simmer’s daugher made this DIY photoframe as a return gift for her birthday. I loved the idea so I decided to make it as a return gift for my daughter’s first birthday celebration. You can read about how I planned a Mexican themed birthday party here.You can find ideas for party decors, meal planning, music and free printables.

Click here to see the summary of the DIYs we did in 2014.

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Made by Prerna of Indian Simmer’s daughter. She gave this to my kids for her birthday.

We started with a $0.99 wooden photoframe from Michael’s. I prefer wooden as the paint will adhere to it better and I didn’t even spend the time bruising the surface with sandpaper. I grabbed self adhesive glitter alphabets and multi colored glitters from Michael’s and a bottle of smal paint from a home improvement store (home depot). It is one of the easiest project to work with a pre-schooler and trust me, my son loved it. He always helps me with paint wooden boards for my food photographs so this was a known task.  This activity is a great place to start teaching the kid to apply colors in a single stroke.

For this DIY frame, we started off by covering the work surface with used cloth or $1 table cover from dollar store and began painting the wooden frame on the top side. Once it was done, sprinkle generous amount of glitters on top. The wet paint will help the glitters to stick on the surface. Let it dry overnight. The following day tap off the excess glitters over newspaper. Now paint the back side of the frame and let it dry for 4 hours. I helped my son with grouping the self-adhesive alphabets according to each of his friend’s name. Once the frame is dry and well set, ask the kid to stick the alphabets on the frame. That’s all you are set to gift it as a holiday gift or return gift for your kid’s birthday party. We made this one for grandparents in India.

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DIY Photoframes for Holidays and Party Return Gift Idea

Things Needed

Instructions to make it:

  1. Locate a working place. We did this project in the garage. First spread a old bed sheet on the floor or you can use $1 table cloth from dollar store
  2. Let the kid know what the task is. Better the communication is better is the interest of the child
  3. Remove the plastic wraps around the frame and arrange them on the side. Take one at a time and ask the child to apply the paint neatly. Have baby wipes or any tissue to clean the finger before touching the bottle of glitters. We applied two layers of paint. We made 10 frame on one evening. You can do more or less depending on how occupied and interested the child is. We had 20 kids for the birthday party and we decided to do the task on 3 evenings.
  4. Place newspaper before you start sprinkling the glitters. This will help us collect and reuse the ones that didn’t stick to the paint. I poured the glitters to a bowl and let my son sprinkle on top using fingers. This makes the process faster and we need to cover the paint surface before it dries.
  5. Let it dry overnight
  6. The following day, mother or father can dust off the glitters that didn’t stick. Collect the glitters into a fresh bowl.
  7. Now ask the gift to pain the back side of the frame. Let it dry for 4 hours.
  8. Once both sides of the frame is well dried, ask the child to stick the self-adhesive alphabets with correct spelling of his friends or if you plan to stick “Happy Holidays” or whatever is planned by the parent.
  9. Tada! The most pretty frame is ready and your guests will appreciate the effort and love that went in making the personalized gift.

DIY: Lentil-Rice | Dahl-Chawal Kichdi Mix in a Jar

It’s 19Dec2014 today and we have just few more days to celebrate Christmas. We are almost there to celebrate end of the year. Santa visited my son’s school yesterday and they had PJ’s party.  Today is my son’s last working day for the year. He will on a Christmas break till Jan 4th. Since the beginning of October, I have been busy with Indian festivals, Halloween, my kid’s birthday party, Thanksgiving and Christmas. We have been making handmade gifts for our friends and family. You can see the list of easy DIY we did in the last 1 month here.

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I made a bowl of rice-lentil kichdi and I added a handful of soaked mung bean.

I woke up early to wrap the gifts for his teachers. I am also attaching hand written thank you cards for them. Being a working mom, I am so thankful to them. Our Indian meals are hearty and so flavorful. I always cook in a pressure cooker. I wouldn’t mind to be Hawkins or Prestige or Futura Pressure Cooker’s brand ambassador. My recipes are inspired from what my mother and grandmother cooked it. I make curries, subjiz and main dishes by adding all the ingredients, may be a quick saute, seal and cook in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes. The meal will be done while we clean the kitchen and sink. I make dahl-chawal a lot, it could be plain rice and red-yellow lentils or South Indian Bisibelebath or Dalia-Rice Kichdi. I add all the raw ingredients and cook them in the pressure cooker. So this gift jar evolved from that idea. Anyone would love one jar food mixes and it will come handy on a busy week night.  This will be a great gift for pregnant or new moms or even anyone who needs help with serving a hearty meal.

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I prepared the gift jar with dry ingredients and like me you can re-use pickle jars or buy new mason jars. It’s totally upto you. I placed 1 cup rice (Raw ponni or Basmati), 3/4 cup red lentils (masoor dahl) and 1/4 cup mung dahl directly in the jar. I like to wash my rice-lentils few times before adding to the cooker. Hence I didn’t mix any spice to it. I was cracking my head on how to place rest of the ingredients. During our growing up years, we didn’t have these fancy supermarkets where everything is packed intact in a sealed plastic bags. I remember our good old Nadar grocery stores India where the shop keeper will wrap the spices and rice in newspaper. So I packed dry onions powder, ginger-garlic powder, little chilli powder (optional) and salt in a sheet of newspaper. I wrapped it with baker’s twine to make it look pretty and added a handwritten note on top. When you pack such food jars, it is important to attach a recipe card in the gift basket. The bottle of rice-lentil, spice mix, vegetable stock cube, recipe card and a holiday greeting is ready. Time to pack them in a gift basket. I used a porcelain container. You can use either of them. Wrap it tight with transparent gift wrapper and add a cute bow on top. This idea was inspired from my good friend Sala Kannan’s Veggie Belly blog. You can find one pot one shot recipes by Rama Krishnan and United by Food Volunteers in his blog page.

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DIY: Lentil-Rice | Dahl-Chawal Kichdi Mix in a Jar

Recipe Idea: Veggie Belly Blog with my tweaks & additions

Makes: 1 jar

Things Needed for the jar

  • Clean and dry pickle bottles or mason jar
  • 1 cup Raw Ponni Rice or Basmati Rice
  • 3/4 red split peas (masoor dahl)
  • 1/4 cup moong dahl
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
  • 2 teaspoon salt (you can add more if needed)

How to cook it?

Ingredients

  • 1 Tomato, chopped
  • 1 Green chilly, minced
  • 1/2 cup vegetables (1 small carrot, 10 beans, handful peas or any other vegetable of your choice) – This is optional too
  • Items from the jar
  • 7 cups water
  • Cilantro to garnish

Cooking Direction

  1. Add all the ingredient (except cilantro) into a pressure cooker and cook on medium low flame for 15 minutes. Switch off the heat and let the pressure come down. Garnish with cilantro, dollop of ghee and serve.
  2. You can cook over a stove top in a pan for 30-45 minutes or you can also use a slow cooker.

Notes:

  1. Without the green chilly, this dish is great for toddlers and babies above 10 months old.
  2. I pack this as lunch for us. It’s a great lunchbox recipe
  3. I highly recommend giving this as a gift to pregnancy and new moms. Even better gift them a pressure cooker.
  4. You can replace rice with cracked wheat/dalia for women with gestational diabetes or for those who arepre-diabetic.

DIY: Handmade Holiday Gift Photo Globe

With Christmas approaching quickly, I have been thinking on what handmade gifts to make for my family. The stores are glittering and shining with lights, great food and gifts. There really wonderful gifts out there and I have no doubt about that but I am considering making my own. Creating this simple photo globe is quite simple and infact, its lots of fun for the kids. There are endless possibility to decorate the photo globe making it very personal and very festive.

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Things are cooling down outside. It’s raining non-stop in California and I am hunting down activities to keep my son busy. As I walked down the street to pick the letters, I  see the holiday lights glowing in everyone’s home. It has been celebration time since October – Navratri, Diwali, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year. I am not much into baking but I need to make something sweet to honor the celebratory tone in the town. As many of you know, my older one loves to help me in the kitchen. We are planning to make quick and easy Indian sweets to meet our cravings for calorie laden treats. I am inclining to make coconut almond bites for his teachers or his friend’s parents. Even the gulab jamun cheese cake is a awesome gift to give our friends. Should we do that or this?

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It is a time for giving. So in the spirit of the season, Sidd and I rolled our sleeves to make few DIY projects I found at Pinterest. We made this for our home and also for the grandparents. The photo snow globe with a Christmas theme were the return gifts for his birthday party too.  If you plan to gift it to your family or friends, start by emailing them right now. By the time you get their pictures, it will be Christmas. Trust me, everyone are busy with their life so getting a photograph is an ordeal by itself. Ask me and I can tell stories about it. When we made this, I requested all the moms to send me the picture 1 week prior to the party date. For those who missed sending it to me, I grabbed the kid’s picture from facebook as they are in my friend’s list. You can either laminate the pictures from Printx office or use transparent packaging tape. Once that was done, you are ready to involve your kid with the photo globe building process. I used mason jars as my globe and used styrofoam to hold the pictures. Water and glycerin were used to make the liquid. Grated styrofoam was used to get the snow effect. All in all it is a wonderful activity to do with your kid and once it is ready, they would love to shake and swirl it to see the snow and glitter dance its way inside the bottle. I have placed mine in the kitchen window silt.

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Handmade Holiday Gift Photo Globe

Things Needed

Instructions

  1. Print the photographs in 4×6 size. Cut them to make sure that it can go inside the jar. You can bend it to make it more visible. I cut the extras around the face of the person so that they can easily go inside the mason jar.
  2. Laminate the pictures or use transparent packaging material to seal them tight. Neatly wrap them around the photograph. I wrapped it more than four times.
  3.  Cut the styrofoam into a square that can be stuck on cap of the mason jar. You should be sticking the styrofoam on the side that will stick with the rim of the bottle. Please use water resistant glue. Let it air dry for 12 hours. The following day make a small incision on the styrofoam with a pairing knife. It should be deep enough to insert the laminated picture. I applied glue to the picture and pressed it firmly into the incision. You can also stick some Christmas prop. Let it dry for another 12 hours.
  4. Grate the styrofoam to form snow like particles. Next day ask your kid to sit comfortably in the work area. Let your kid sprinkle glitters and grated styrofoam into the jar. Ask him or her to fill the mason jar with water upto the rim. Using a dropper or spare Tylenol or Moitrin syringe, add 5-6 drops of glycerin to the water. Mix it well with back of a spoon.
  5. You gently slide the photograph sealed to masor jar cap into the water. Press and screw the cover to seal them tight. Wrap baker’s twine to make it look pretty. Make sure it sealed tightly to avoid water from dripping down. Give it to your child and watch him enjoy the Christmas magic.

DIY : Handmade Holiday Gifts Ideas (Step by Step Instructions)

First week of December is done. Gosh! Time is  running so quickly and we have only 15 more days for Christmas. I am sure that all of us have started with Christmas shopping. I started with my DIY projects. I am making handmade gifts for the holidays for the last two years. I love to spend that time to create  personalized gifts for my friends. The smile in our loved one’s face when they see this package is as magical as the Christmas spirit. Every time I make a gift basket, I think about that person deeply. It’s my way to say I love you and I care about your friendship and love forever.

This year I am making gift baskets with a cooking item, one all-natural body scrub and lotion bar. My son helped with transferring them to tiny glass bottles. I can call this a great project to do with your kids. This post will help all the busy moms and dads who want to make handmade gifts for the holidays. I know many moms like me would like to do this DIY and I will try to give as much detail as possible so all you have to do it shop for the items mentioned here and follow the instructions.

We are making three items

  1. Panch Phoran Spice Mix
  2. Oats-Sugar Body Scrub
  3. Homemade Lotion Bar (Moisturizer)

PANCH PHORAN

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OATS-SUGAR SCRUB

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HOMEMADE ORGANIC LOTION BAR

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To make the beautiful gift basket:

Shopping List:

I hand wrote the recipes for Panch Phoran, listed the ingredients for lotion bar and face pack just to make sure that the receiver is aware of what was used to make these. Give it to your friends with all the love, hippo hug and monster kiss. Happy Holidays everyone! Keep the smile and spread the joy. Love you all!

PS: You can also make these as return gifts for house warming party or birthday parties.

DIY: How to make Homemade Lotion Bar (Moisturizer)?

I have been having a lot of skin issue after the pregnancies. I have started to use coconut oil for my skin but the problem is it stains my outfit. My colleague gave me the recipe for homemade lotion bar. I used organic coconut oil, olive oil, turmeric powder, cardamom powder and beeswax pellet to make them. It’s all natural with no chemicals at all. I find them perfectly save so my kids use it as well. Next time I will add essential oil or nutmeg or cinnamon to flavor them. I am giving the recipe that will make 12 lotion bar in a muffin pan. It is a super quick recipe and it takes 30 minutes from start to finish. I saw a Pinterest post where a slow cooker was used to make a large batch. I have provided amazon links to make your shopping easy. You can also grab the oils from Costco or any local super market.

The following recipe uses 1:1:1 :: Beeswax pellets: Coconut oil : Olive oil.

This is the basic formula. You can add your flavorings as per your liking.

Shopping List

Preparation and Packing Instructions

  1. Heat a large saucepan with water. Once it boils, place a glass or stainless steel container on top. Make sure the bowl is steady and the hot water doesn’t spill and burn you. Add 1 cup beeswax and slowly mix it with a spatula until it melts, pour 1 cup coconut oil and 1 cup olive oil and mix them well. You can now add your flavorings. I used 1 teaspoon turmeric powder to get that pretty yellow color and cardamom powder for the fantastic aroma. Afterall my blog is all about spices and aroma right? :-). This leaves residue in the lotion bar as turmeric and cardamom powders will settle to the bottom. If you are fine with it, go ahead and use it otherwise you can add 10-12 drops of any essential oil.
  2. Line a muffin pan with liners and pour the hot liquid. This will almost fill 12 muffin cups. Transfer the pan to the fridge and let it set. It will take maximum 20 minutes.

DIY: How to make Oats-Sugar Scrub?

In India, I grew up using kitchen ingredients as face and body packs. Milk is generally boiled before consumption in most homes in India. The milk residue and cream that’s left in the botton of the pan is scraped out and mixed with either turmeric, honey, almonds, or fruits like banana, papaya to create a face pack. Every day my mom will religiously save the leftover cream for me. Since they are all natural, we apply the pack every day. The skin will definitely look radiant and healthy with all these pampering. I loved Sneh of Cook Republic’s recent post on natural face masks.  You can even make a pack from her post and gift it to a friend but make sure that it is used within a week. My daughter who completed 12 months uses only oats powder for he bath. Hence for our holiday basket, I wanted to use our good old oats along with white or brown sugar to make a face pack. The coarse texture of sugar will act as a scrub and when we rub it over the skin, the sugar will dissolve and forms a smooth texture with oats paste. I used dried orange peel for a citrus effect. I grabbed a lot of clementine from farmer’s market. I saved the peels, sun dried and made a coarse powder out of it.

Shopping List

  • 2 cups Old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup white or brown sugar (I used white sugar)
  • Peel of 2 Clementine or 1 Large Orange – sun dried and powdered

Preparation and Packing Instructions:

  1. Clean the skin of clementine with water. Pat dry clean and place it in a baking tray. Sun dry it for a 2-3 days or until the skin looses its moisture. You can also dry it in the oven at 200F for couple of hours. But I left the peel in the kitchen and it air dried by itself in 3-4 days.
  2. Dry roast the oat in a large pan. Once cooled, grind them to a smooth powder.
  3. Mix the powdered oats with sugar and dried orange peel.
  4. Neatly pack them into your container.

How to use?

  1. I place a bottle of this mix in the bathroom and remove 2-3 tablespoon for each shower. Transfer the powder to a bowl and make a paste with water. Use it like soap. After my first pregnancy, I developed mild rashes in skin. It would itch and the scratches left marks on my skin that’s when I switched to no-chemical/ no preservative, all natural kitchen ingredient – oats. I added sugar as it acts as a scrub. I love the refreshing scent of oranges and since oranges/clementine are in season, I added them as well.
  2. I also make face mask by adding powdered almond, honey and milk or yogurt to it.
  3. I started to use for my daughter when she turned 11 months so please consult with your doctor before you use it on your baby.

DIY: How to make Panch Phoran at home?

It is a whole 5-spice blend popularly used in East Indian Coooking. The below mentioned ingredients are added in equal portions and stored in an air tight container for upto a month. It is usually fried in oil or ghee and other ingredients are added after that. It is used as a base spice mix for Indian dahls and vegetable subzis (stir fries). I have provided amazon links to make your shopping easy. You can also grab the same from Indian grocery store or in the ethnic aisle of major super markets like Whole foods, Trader Joe’s, Safeway, Safemart. I also included a recipe card which will detailed instruction on a recipe that uses panch phoran. There is a great post about Bengali Five Spice in Kitchn. Do hop over to Kitchn to read more.

You can make recipe card from these recipes:

  1. Potatoes with Indian Five Spices from Soma of eCurry

Shopping List

Preparation and Packing Instructions:

  1. Mix equal portion of each ingredient in a large bowl. Add to the bottle that you are using to make the gift basket.