A couple of cakes and some party inspiration

I am renaming the “Craft” column in my blog to “Party inspiration” Because I’ve been most un-crafty Because the craftiest I’ve done recently is.. hmm.. is.. (give me some time, will you) So that I can pass off my picture-perfect (not) whacky creations as inspiration as opposed to craft and not offend genuine crafters So that I have a place to show-off my cakes and So I can inspire you guys to try Here is a list of tips that will be useful when you’re planning a DIY (with help) party. First things first, THE CAKE 1.       Cake decorating is best done between 11 pm and 3 am, in the wee hours of the night when everyone is asleep, when you won’t be interrupted for someone’s potty, when the courier guy, gas guy and cable guy won’t come calling, when there are no more filter coffees to make, when the kitchen is finally cool and quiet, when Mysskin is probably filming somewhere. 2.       “Always sketch your cake” as Subashini Ramsingh wisely says and borrow your kid’s crayons to colour-test them. 3.       For the sake of your own sanity, do make more frosting than you think you need. Always! If you are planning to try a new cake recipe or frosting recipe, don’t. 4.       Split up the work. I am no cake decorating professional. I am easily psyched out by a simple ruffle skirted Barbie cake. I like to split up my work. Bake the cake ahead. Make the fillings and toppers even ahead of that. Of course make a whole lot of frosting, also ahead of time. Then the night before your event, sit down and put it all together. And before all that, clear the largest dumpyard a.k.a your fridge and make space. Here is the barbie cake I made for Hasini’s 5th birthday, not all that justifiable given my nightly research for more than a month, but it’s a barbie cake. Here is a butterscotch cake I made for my best friend Menaka’s birthday.     Party Planning Did you know that the first thing to do when you decide to have a party is to plan the party décor and clear out your fridge? And also remember to make an appointment for a foot massage the day after the party. You’ll know why at the end of the party. 1.       Well, I always feel that I should start...

In cake Decorating Mood

I am in cake decorating mood. My fingers are itching for the piping bag. I am making ‘rosette’ motions with my hands while talking, practising ‘ruffle’ actions while waiting at traffic signals (like Bhanupriya in Azhagan who is always dancing; dancing while talking, dancing while arguing with her lover). Not that I am an expert. Far from it. But I want to decorate everything that comes out of the oven – muffins, sheet cakes even. Cake decorating is addictive.  Don’t believe me? Go to Home bakers Guild on Facebook. There’s a new cult of Home Bakers out there that make stunning, irresistible cakes that are far superior to anything in the stores. I took Subhashini Ramsingh’s buttercream decorating class recently and thoroughly enjoyed it. Subhashini is the most patient of teachers, calm and unruffled piping away buttercream roses and carnations over and over for us even when our roses looked like unfurled cabbages and our carnations like crumpled paper. She’d just start over again – “Ek Gaav me ek kisaan raguthatha”. The first day we practised our basics – stars, rosettes, beads, ruffles, ropes, leaves and shells. We filled our piping bags, piped, scraped it back into the bag, again piped, scraped, piped the whole day. At the end of the first day, my fingers were numb and I couldn’t squeeze my toothpaste tube that night. I’d never worked my fingers as much in my entire life. But I loved it. The second day we decorated our own cakes from scratch. I used a palette knife to make the shabby-chic (that’s the word I gather from Pinterest for anything that you’ve made uneven, imperfect by design but want to warn people from calling it shabby – it’s an ingenious word. I am going to be using it often) top, piped a crochet style lattice around the sides of the cake and finished with a dual tone buttercream carnation. What do you think? I call it my “Chingu Cha” cake – pink colour chingu cha, orange colour chingu cha, green colour chingu cha but I think it has its merits. I love the carnation at the top. With the decorating class behind me, I was looking for an excuse to decorate a cake. It was nobody’s birthday or anniversary, it wasn’t Mother’s day, Father’s day or Husband’s day, I don’t know my neighbours enough to give cake, my friends at office...

Cookie box – Choco-chip cookies & Eggless Shortbread cookies | Thank you gift for teachers

Yesterday was Hasini’s last day at school. No, she is not off to college. She has finished L.K.G and would be starting U.K.G in June this year. As a token of thanks we gifted her teachers these cookie boxes – choco-chip cookies, shortbread and tea bags in neat little Tupperware boxes topped with bows and a thank you note. I bunked office (stepped out I mean) for a couple of hours, jumped 3 red signals (not technically but almost), ran into a bike, again almost (don’t you wish I actually did instead of almost) and still arrived late at her school. But Hasini was too happy to mind – “Paravale ma, paravale ma” she said when I said I was sorry I was late. She was mighty pleased to hand over the cookie boxes herself. I made those bows myself (I am not very crafty but I like to think so. I am quite proud of these.) and downloaded the thank you note printable from the internet. I wanted to throw in a nice old-fashioned fountain pen along with the cookie-tea goodie box but then changed my mind later on. I didn’t have time to go get one and also I wasn’t sure everybody’d appreciate a fountain pen. I love them and I think they’re the best things to write with. I made the cookies in the morning. It wasn’t my plan and I am no super-mom. I am anything but that. I wanted to make the cookies the previous evening and have everything ready the night before but I was suddenly called for joint-family duty and I could not (am not allowed to) refuse. I made those bows while we travelled 2 hours (the bows take only a few minutes, mind you) to a wedding reception on the outskirts touching all the major traffic hotspots on the way. We were so late – we were just in time to stop the hosts from leaving. Anyways, we arrived home quite late that night and I overslept and woke up late. And that happens every-day, even the days I am not on joint-family duty. So it is just me. Anyways, these cookie boxes would make great party favours for small birthday parties, Navarathiri/Golu functions or as thank you gifts for teachers. I am mildly obsessed with party favours and I start planning for any party with the party favors. The recipe...

Plastic cup lamp – Booze party (Sarakku party) décor

I made this plastic cup lamp for a Sarakku party (Booze party) that we had last week-end at home. It was a barbecue cum Sarakku party that we had been planning for a very long time with friends and which finally happened last weekend. It was also the eve of my husband’s birthday. I thought it would be fitting to have a huge plastic cup lamp as the centrepiece. You see the plastic cup is synonymous with sarakku (booze) here in TamilNadu (drink, crush and throw). This lamp is super easy to make, fully functional, practical and symbolic of the Moda kudi (extreme booze if you will) that happens at such parties. Best of all, the lamp is so cheap! I bought 2 packs of 100 plastic cups each and the total cost was less than 100 rupees. You’ll need a stapler and about half a pack of stapler pins. That’s it. Staple away.  You could make these lamps in any shape you want – I made a dome shape. I actually wanted to make a spherical lamp but I used up around 130 lamps just for one half of the sphere, I knew I didn’t have enough for another half, so I let it be a dome shaped lamp. This dome shape with the underside open turned out to be more convenient to fit in the light. So being flexible like this and not having a plan is actually good. We didn’t factor in the weather while planning this outdoor party. Who does that in Chennai? How often does it rain in Chennai? But we’re notoriously unlucky in that way. It was super sultry that evening and we had to retrieve our long forgotten air-cooler to create some circulation on the terrace. We had the barbecue going and everything went along great. And then it rained. Really lucky, right! Thankfully we were almost through and only our last batch of chicken remained to be grilled. We hurriedly moved everything in. But it was a short shower. It was then nice and chill, almost like in Ooty (not that cold obviously, but how would Ooty be if Ooty was in Chennai? It was like that) – even better for boozing. The men continued un-deterred determined to out-puke each other.    We couldn’t hang the lamp in the middle as we didn’t have a near enough light socket, so we had...

Glass Bangle candle Holder

These glass bangle candle holders are pretty, thrifty and functional. They’re super easy to make and are best for kids aged 3-6. It’s fun for moms to do on their own as well as these are beautiful and are a nice alternative to expensive store-bought candle holders and you need not worry about buying the same ones that everybody else has bought (think home-centre). The best part is it’s more of a candle shade than a candle holder. So you can light the candles first and then place these candle holders around the candle. Moving them around is also just as easy, you can remove the holders and then the candles. They need not go together. Every year we receive lots of these assorted glass bangles for various occasions – Seemandham (baby shower) or Aadi Pooram and they just sit there in a box as they’re mostly too big for my hands and they’re too mixed up to go with any one saree. These candle holders make the best use of my over-sized glass bangles. I made a “Crafts” menu-tab on my blog initially hoping to post simple and pretty crafts that ordinary moms like me could do. I’ve posted 60 recipes now and not a single craft. You should know by now that I am not very crafty. I wish I was. This glass bangle candle holder is something I did with my daughter a couple of months back. I say “with my daughter” because my kids don’t generally stay till it is done. My kids are too impatient to sit for long and are more naughty than crafty. My daughter likes using scissors to cut pillow covers, barbecue brushes, books and all sorts of important stuff that’d make you scream. My son is too young to handle scissors; instead he soaks up everything in water. I usually start with the two of them seated by my side, patiently explaining what we’re going to do, how it’s going to look and how much fun it’s going to be. My son bolts within the first 5 minutes with the glue or some crucial element. My daughter stays for a little longer and is a bit more interested but she too wanders away before long and I am usually left alone to complete what we had started. Does this happen to you? My craft principles: 1.      It’s got to be simple. As simple...

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