Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Design Blogger's Fab Five for the Home - Installment II

I promised you more soon, and here it is! The 2nd installment of the new series, Design Blogger's Fab Five, on All Things Nice. I have another treat for you today with Deepa, one half of the amazing duo that are behind another one of my favorite blogs, Aalayam. Today Deepa is sharing her top five must have things in her home(in this case six, since she cheated and managed to sneak in an extra one).  

I'll let Deepa elaborate in her own words...Enjoy!

And I mean the right kind! Lighting can truly make or break a room. I am a huge sucker for soft, diffuse lighting that sets the perfect stage for soulful music and quiet conversations. Subtlety breeds coziness. Nothing compares to the timeless appeal of the warm glow of a well-lit room!

Our home is bathed in many vivid shades and we like to believe that’s what makes our home unforgettable! We were not always committed to color but now it’s a décor must -have. It is an easy and affordable way to breathe life into what you already own. A few brush strokes and a painted wall can do wonders to a room and one’s mood and so we have colored it crazy!

My little one’s first teddy bear, a variegated pen stand made by an artisan in   Chennapatna – little accessories of colossal emotional worth are sprinkled throughout our home for a personalized connotation. 

Nothing is more pertinent than artwork when it comes to adding the finishing touches to home décor. Our collection has been creatively curated over many years. Friends who are aware of our love for art have contributed treasured pieces to our assemblage and we cherish these one-of-a kind handmade pieces profoundly.

And I am talking furniture! You can never go wrong by investing in furniture pieces that are enduring, functionally sound and aesthetically appealing.

We live by this tenet. We often share our home with friends and family and strive to create a memorable experience through a harmonious medley of ingredients –food, flowers, music, lights but fundamentally through love and laughter!

I want to say a huge thanks to Deepa for agreeing to be a part of this series- for sharing her thoughts and for the totally fab visual inspiration! THANK YOU!!!

[All Images courtesy Deepa & Aalayam]

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Design Blogger's Fab Five for the Home - Installment I

If you're anything like me, then your mind is always buzzing with decor ideas. You know, stuff you want to do to your home & how you can make it your personal stamp. And for inspiration I'm sure we all go through dozens of magazines, websites and decor blogs (some that we follow almost religiously) in an insatiable search for more and more eye candy- more ideas for the home. All the while we make mental notes, lists of things we want for our homes- you know lists of 'must haves'.  

Well I thought why not find out about some of our favorite decor bloggers 'must have' items- about the things that they love obsessively and absolutely cannot do without in their homes. So throughout out December I'm going to be doing a series called Design Blogger's Fab Five, which is going to give you a glimpse into the top Five things that some of the best just can't do without.

I am super excited to be kicking off this series with a guest post by one of the best bloggers out there... the lovely and totally amazing Bhavna Bhatnagar of An Indian Summer. Here's her Fab Five, and her thoughts behind them...

I love making lists. And if the list has to do with one of my favourite areas – home and décor, well, this was a fun list to put together. So here are the five things that I cannot do without at my home:

I like to think of myself as a sunflower. Not because of any other reason, but because I tend to move wherever the sun is. Our home gets brilliant sunlight through the large french windows and a skylight on top. I love the play of light within the home, in different seasons.

Nothing lifts up a room more than some bunches of fresh flowers! I am not too fond of prissy flower arrangements; I like my flowers wild, and fragrant.

Our home reflects our interest and our travels. Whether it’s the art, or little knick knacks, or tableware – I love to display the things which have a memory or a little attached to it.

And more books! Each nook and corner and table and shelf of our home has books. I de-clutter my home as each season turns, but find it hard to give away even one of the books.

My personal favourite décor accessory and/or spoiler, fuzz ball and/or arm scratcher, personal cuteoverload and/or personal madness in house – whichever way you look at, a pet (for me a cat) is the best ‘thing’ to have in a home, after your family :)

Thank you Bhavna for letting me rope you into being a part of this series- for sharing your thoughts and for the absolutely amazing images that are so inspiring! 

[All images- Bhavna Bhatnagar]

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

'Tis The Season....Christmas Inspired Jujups

OK, so firstly I have to apologize for being a bit irregular in my posts. The last few weeks have been hectic and stressful for a number of reasons. But December is here now... And that means gearing up for Christmas! 

Christmas for me means many things- friends & family, sharing & giving, fun, laughter, joy and delicious goodies! For me, a really important part of Christmas are the traditional (and yummy) sweets that the family makes. Sweet making is a huge family tradition, with some of the recipes being passed down over several generations. And they all taste so good! 

Now I have to admit that usually sweet making for me has always involved watching my mum making the sweets and then eating a lot of them! That's because Christmas is always with my folks, back in Baroda. This year however we are here (in Gurgaon) for Christmas, so it will be me doing all the sweet making, much to the amusement of my mum! 

I started the sweet making process a little early this year, just in case my first attempts at sweet making were a disaster! (at least there would be time for me to have another go) So the first thing I made is something we call Jujups, a sugar coated jelly candy that's a little softer than jelly beans, and a lot bigger in size. Now if I were to be really honest, I am not a big fan. But it is a family favorite- my mum loves it and so does the hubby and its part of Christmas tradition.

Aren't they pretty?

All green & red & Christmassy!

A kid's delight...

And something that makes a lot of grown ups act like 
gleeful little kids :)

This is my mum's recipe, one she has been using for years. And now it's mine too! A recipe that is part of Christmas tradition, and one that I hope to hand down to my kids one day. That's another thing about X'mas- tradition and that sense of connection you get from being part of a tradition. Its a really special feeling.

Warning- Attempt this recipe only if you really love to cook and are a little bit crazy! Although the recipe is pretty straight forward, and doesn't need a lot of fancy ingredients, it's quite a pain to make. It involves a lot of standing around and stirring till you achieve just the right consistency, and then the process of cutting and sugar coating is very messy! But the end result was pretty wonderful- jujups my mum would be proud of! 

My mum's Jujup recipe
500g sugar
50g gelatin
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup + 2 cups water
food coloring
preferred flavorings 
butter for greasing
lots of castor sugar
a brownie tray or a thali

I made two batches- peppermint & strawberry

Grease a brownie tray or a thali with butter.

In a bowl, mix the lemon juice with 1/2 up of water and sprinkle the gelatin over this. Mix it together and set aside for 45 minutes. 

After 45 minutes dissolve sugar with 2 cups of water in a large saucepan over low heat. Once the sugar dissolves, raise heat and bring to boil. Boil for about a minute and then once again lower the heat. By now the gelatin mixture will be quite firm and solid. Carefully add this to the sugar syrup and stir until all the gelatin has dissolved. Raise the heat and boil for 30 minutes. You will need to carefully watch the the mixture as it boils. Stir it regularly so that it doesn't overflow. After 30 minutes you will notice that a thickish string will start to form when a spoon dipped into the syrup is raised. Some of it will still cling onto the spoon. If it doesn't keep boiling till this happens. 

Once the string forms, add the flavoring and the color. You will need to do this by taste since the strength of flavorings vary. Be careful when you taste, the syrup is VERY hot. So to taste, drop some syrup onto a cool plate and allow to cool slightly before tasting. 

Once color and flavor is added, boil for about 15 mins. Pour into the greased tray (the jelly mixture should be at least 12mm deep) and cool for at least 24 hours. I cooled mine for 26 hours under a low speed ceiling fan. 

Once the jelly is set (after 24 hours), run a very sharp knife around the edges of the tray. Keep a large plate of  castor sugar ready. My mum managed to un-mold the entire jelly unto the castor sugar. I was nervous about doing this so I cut out about 20-25mm strips then proceeded to coat them in castor sugar. Then you need to cut each strip into cubes of about 25mm x 25mm and coat the sticky edges with more castor sugar. 

Once you have done this to the entire solidified jelly strips, leave in the castor sugar overnight. They will firm up some more. Then pack them in an airtight container lined with parchment paper and they should be fine till Christmas. 

psst! A little word of advice, hide the box somewhere safe, especially if you have little elves that may slyly eat them when no one's looking, or they may be gone before X'mas!

What X'mas goodies are you making? Would love to know!

[All images- Shalini Pereira]

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Tashya- by Charged Voids

Bringing you something different today... a first of sorts. A luxury, high-end bridal store located in Chandigarh. I came across this store on Dezeen Magazine and just loved the design. Modern and yet Indian, it celebrates India's rich heritage in traditional craft. Take a look...

Inspiration for Tashya, a luxury, high-end bridal wear store, was derived from traditional Indian embroidery with its abundance of intricate motifs, says Aman Aggarwal and Siddarth Gaind of Charged Voids, a local design studio based out of Chandigarh. The store won Shops Category in this year’s Inside Festival.

The design makes extensive use of wooden panels having traditional patterns out. These panels serve as ornate screens that are seen throughout the store. The motifs are repeated in different scales and on different materials ranging from wood to metal. The screens or Jalis, as they are termed in India, provide a perfect backdrop to showcase traditional bridal garments that are equally resplendent in their ornate character.

Although the design makes extensive use of pattern, it is used very sensitively and so still manages to achieve a contemporary, luxurious  setting that in no way overwhelming or jarring. 

[All images via Dezeen]

Friday, 22 November 2013

Jane & Vivek's Quaint 'n' Cozy Living Room

Yes folks, My Space, My Style is back! I'm thrilled to be sharing with all of you, a few images of my friend Jane's home... well living room actually. 

I've known Jane since I was in my early 20's. We were all part of a closely knit group of friends in my hometown of Baroda. She shifted to Mumbai after she married and we sort of lost touch, but reconnected a while back thanks to Facebook. Isn't Facebook amazing?! 

Jane lives in Mumbai, in a 1000 sq ft apartment, and when she posted a picture of her living room on Facebook some time ago, I nagged and nagged her to send me more images so I could share it with all of you! 

In Jane's own words, "My growing up years have always instilled in me that a "house is built by hands, but a home is built by hearts". And this is absolutely true because Jane's place is a warm, quaint mix of modern and country style that is incredibly welcoming and cozy, filled with curios and artwork that she cherishes dearly. 

A wonderfully bright living room bathed in filtered sunlight

Their tiny balcony filled with greenery

Some of the artwork Jane has collected over the years

The living room awash with the warm glow of light from a custom made lamp

Jane has also recently launched her own brand of jewelry Elizabeth Creations. Here are a few of her creations & you can see more of here creations here.

[All images - Jane Sridharan]

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Ridiculously Easy Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

I have recently discovered a love for cupcakes. OK, that's not quite right, I've always loved cupcakes, but I've recently discovered how much I love making them! They are just so darn pretty! There's a strange sort of calming pleasure I get when I make them, and especially frost them! I know it sounds a bit crazy, but there it is... And the best part is that they are so easy to make! You can whip up a batch in about an hour from start to finish, & then top them with whatever frosting you want. And although they are so easy to make, they can really wow your guests because if you take a little care they can look really sophisticated.

It's because of this that I've been experimenting with cupcake recipes in the attempt of finding go-to recipes that are simple, uncomplicated and made from ingredients that aren't too difficult to find. I found a really nice vanilla cupcake recipe the other day on Live Love Pasta and I tried it over Diwali when we had a few friends over for dessert. Filled them with homemade lemon curd and topped them with vanilla butter cream frosting. They were a hit with the friends.

After that success I thought I really needed an easy recipe for everyone's favorite- Chocolate cupcakes. And after a few unsuccessful attempts, I came up with one that is easy, quick and most importantly, YUMMY!

Aren't they pretty? I topped them with chocolate sprinkles

In fact the batter itself was so good that I had to resist the urge to eat it straight out of the bowl (wasn't too successful, ended up eating a few spoonfuls).  

The cupcake itself was light, fluffy, moist and had a great chocolate flavor. 

The icing, which was a bit of an experiment using some left over butter cream icing, was light, silky smooth, velvety and delicious. Trust me, it was so good, I literally licked the  bowl clean :) What I loved about it was that it's not clawing and sweet, and even though its rich, it still tastes light. It's also not too heavy on the chocolate, so kids will love it too! 

I will try the frosting again from scratch and update this post so that you can make it from scratch if you don't have some butter cream frosting in the fridge.

So now that I have my chocolate & vanilla go-to cupcake recipe, I'm looking forward to some interesting experiments with frosting combinations... will keep you updated :)

Chocolate Cupcakes  (makes 12 with a bit leftover which you can eat out of the bowl)

1/4 cup un-sweetened cocoa 
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/2 cup sugar
60g cup butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp honey

1/3 cup + 1 tbsp cream
1/2 cup dark chocolate (chopped up into bits- smaller the better)
1/3 cup of some old left over vanilla butter cream frosting (softened)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Boil the water and stir in the cocoa until a smooth mixture forms. Allow to cool. Sift flour, salt and baking powder together. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat for about 2 minutes. Whisk in the vanilla and honey, and alternately add the flour and cocoa mixture, starting and ending with the flour.

Pour into a lined muffin tin, about 3/4 way up and bake for about 20 minutes. Check them after about 15 minutes and keep an eye on them so that they don't dry out or burn. NOTHING worse than DRY cupcakes! They are ready when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 

For the frosting, heat 1/3 cup cream in a pan till it just comes to boil. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Stir constantly till the chocolate melts and you get a completely smooth mixture. Place in refrigerator till just cool. In a bowl, whisk the butter cream frosting till it is creamy and soft. Add the tablespoon of cream and continue to whisk. slowly add the chocolate mixture, all the while continuing to whisk. Fill mixture in a piping back and pipe onto cooled cupcakes. 

[All images- Shalini Pereira]

Monday, 11 November 2013

Boho Styled Bedrooms

Winter, it seems, is here to stay. It's come early this year, but there's no mistaking its presence. The days are getting shorter and colder, winter clothes are slowly making their way out of storage and its just so difficult to climb out of bed- out from under the reassuring warmth of those warm, snug covers. And it's even worse on Mondays, when you know you have the week ahead and the weekend is 5 days away! So here's a post to help you look forward to the weekend, to sleeping in & lazing around in your warm, cozy bed.  

I love this set of bedroom images. The rooms are so warm and inviting and give you a real sense of comfort. I also love the Boho style of the rooms, which whisper of a gypsy's life- of far away lands, mysterious strangers and travel. All this is so easily achieved with clever layering, old/traditional fabrics and a trip to the local flea/craft market. 

Love the ethnic touches in the textiles, bed linen and accessories like rugs and baskets. I think this style is perfect for bedrooms because you can really go crazy with things like cushion covers, throws, old quilts, traditional art, wall hangings and traditional crafts. Only drawback is, with a bedroom like this, you may never want to get out of bed!

What do you think of this look? Are you inspired? I'm a fan. I think its inspired me to do up the tiny spare room in our flat. 

[1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8]

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Colorful & Cosy

If you live in Gurgaon, I'm sure you must be longing for the sun to peak out from behind all the smog & clouds. Diwali has come and gone and it seems that we are all being made to pay for all the fun, revelry and cracker bursting! 

For the last few days the weather outside has been dull, grey and quite depressing. Winter seems to have rolled in quite early this year with temperatures slowly creeping down, promising colder days ahead. Not that I mind the cold, but this dreary weather is getting a bit much. Bring back the sun!

So, keeping in mind the bleak, grey conditions outside, I thought I'd do a post of some colorful rooms which are sure to raise your spirits and cheer you up. It definitely worked on me. Well, partly anyway. I suspect that the chocolate cupcakes I baked today also had something to do with raising my raised spirits :) 

These are a rather eclectic bunch of images - rustic, contemporary, mid-century & kitsch, but the underlying theme is COLOR! There are solids, prints and textures and they all work together so well in a symphony of color and styles adding a sense of playfulness and cheer. Enjoy! And don't let the awful weather outside get you too down.

Images via [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9]

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