Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Nothing says 'Welcome to our home' like a vintage country table

Hey ! Sorry for the sporadic posts off late, I've been busy with other things while looking out for new ideas to share.... Here's one I hope you'll enjoy, and if it inspires you to do the same, I'd be happy to hear from you !

I have a soft corner for antique looking furniture and since I love having guests over, I'd been looking for a rustic table for quite some time. Unfortunately, the ones that suited my taste were very expensive, even second hand. 
Since I didn't find it worth buying 'ready made', I decided to make my own.

After checking out a few DIY dining table videos on Youtube I was ready to get started. 
For the Bangaloreans readers, I got the reclaimed pine wood at the Bamboo Bazaar in Shivajinagar for 36 rs/kg, including the cutting and planing. I wanted a comfortable six seater, that could be extended to an eight seater with two additional chairs on the ends, so I took boards that amounted to a 6*3 feet surface, to which I added the wood for the frame and the strong feet to maximise the stability.

I got some wood screws at the hardware store, as well as a wood saw, file, and sand paper because the cutting they'd done at Bamboo bazar was very approximate, to say the least. I also bought some corner clamps to fix the top boards to the frame from underneath, because I didn't want any screws to be visible.
Last but not least, the visible iron corners are from Thar, a furniture shop right opposite EGL (Domlur), I love the antique touch they add!

I started by fixing the frame and feet together with screws and after the base was assembled and approved by the cat, I could move on to the top surface.

I proceeded to screw the top boards together to the central support. For that I used a belt to tighten them as much as possible so as to avoid gaps on the table... The belt suffised for the first few boards, after which I had to get a little creative with laundry wires and wood blocks for the tightening...

When I was ready to fix it all together I placed the frame, upside down, on top of the assembled boards and screwed each board to the frame using the metallic corners. I didn't have a C-clamp then, but I'd higly recommend you to get one for this step. Instead, I used my UPS battery for weight, again to minimise the gaps between the top board and frame. This monster was so heavy it was nearly impossible to maneuver, yet the stubborn girl that I am managed it somehow, but honestly, never again ! 
Not to mention that when my husband got home he panicked and told me that the battery was full of sulfuric acid that would burn my skin if it leaked... You know that 'Oops' moment? Yeah... I had no idea...
So I can't insist enough, get a C-clamp !! If you have one you'll have to put everything right side up and screw from under the table because you can't fix the clamp if it's on the floor like here.

Once it was all steady and strong on it's four feet, I filed the edges to make sure everything was aligned and sanded the entire table. Now this is what I call serious arm workout, I felt it for days !

I then stained it for a darker finish using Danish oil black walnut. This protects the wood as well and nourishes it deeply. Once it had sinked in for about an hour, I wiped off the excess oil with a dry cloth and let it dry overnight.

After a few hours spread throughout the week, and a total of about INR 3500 spent, the table was ready for guests :D 

Bon appétit à tous !

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Fresh armpits, healthy brains

Hi everyone,
First of all , sincerest apologies for the long gap since my previous post ! It so happened that my home laptop crashed, or rather, my cat broke the screen by sleeping on it! (Cats and laptops, its a long love story...).

Don't worry though, I haven't stopped jugaading, quite the contrary. I've also been testing it for you!

In my recent interest in homemade cosmetics I've read quite a lot about the disastrous effects of some of our deodorants' ingredients. Check it out, its pretty scary ! Among these risks, to name only one, the presence of aluminum in most deodorants and antiperspirants is alarming. Studies suggest frequent exposure to aluminium is a causal factor for Alzheimer's and other neurological diseases.

If, like me, you don't want to take chances, here's a quick and easy recipe to keep your armpits happy and brain healthy !

Grab some coconut oil, corn starch and your favorite essential oil ! I had some Nycil lying around at home, so I used that. It serves the purpose of an absorbent and has 51% starch...

Take your empty deodorant recipient (I had a roll-on, its super easy to reuse, otherwise any container will do), fill it halfway up with starch, fill the rest with coconut oil, then add as much essential oil as you find necessary, basically until it overpowers the coconut smell - trust me, you don't want to smell like coconut oil in office... Unless you're in a hippy groove, in which case rock on!

As you can see it leaves a faint white trace, so you might want to apply it a couple minutes before wearing a black shirt.

I know it takes some guts to let go of commercial deodorant; it just doesn't feel "safe" (how ironic) but to me its totally worth it. In fact, I've been testing it in the Bangalore heat, just before the mango showers, and yes, it passed the test :)

Hope you enjoyed it! Do let me know how you fare! 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Desi vintage soap dispensers from old glass jars

With just a little bit of jugaad you can upcycle your glass jars to give a vintage chic touch to your bathroom. 

Make these...
with this!
Here's how: first make a hole in the jar lid(the pump of your plastic soap dispenser will fit in there). To do this, make a mark with a nail in the center before drilling. This also prevents the drill from slipping. 

Don't worry if you don't have a drill - either try asking the neighbors or keep poking holes with that nail to make a circle on the cap, then pull out the center piece with a wire cutter. Don't cut yourself !

First drill with a small bit, then choose your drill bit according to the size of the pump you'll need to fit in. I had to modify it by pushing on the edges of the hole a little bit to extend it further. So it doesn't really matter if you don't have the exact drill bit size. The hole is hidden in the final product.

Note that the pipe is too short for the jar here, so I used this pump on another jar. If the pipe is too long just cut off the end !
Once it fits, you can glue the pump to the cap to secure it if you want, then spray paint them together so it looks like they were meant to be from the start :P The best means to achieve this, without risking any paint on the pipe, is to cover the jar with a plastic bag or sheet then screw it right back on so that only the parts the need to be sprayed are visible:

Do this outside if possible, you don't want to breathe all that junk in the fumes...
There, now you have soap dispensers ready to use :)

I wanted to decorate them further so I used decoupage technique to add some nice Indian designs I found on paper napkins. Just cut out the designs you like (the smaller the easier) then with a mix of glue and water - I used fevicol - and a paint brush, apply it gently on the glass surface.

 Be careful with this part, once it's soaked in the glue/water mix, the napkin will rip easily !! Let it dry, then fill them up, and use :) 
Here's a before and after sneak peak at my bathroom sink...

I know, I know, those tiles and sink color hurt my eyes too... *Sigh* it's a rented house, kya karoon...

So?? What say?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Pendant yarn lamps make it cozy

Do you also live in a rented apartment? Are you surprised with the owners' choice of light fittings? So am I !!
Personally, the tube lights in every room make me uncomfortable, like I'm in a Hospital. Sure, they brighten up the room, but I miss the warmth and coziness that lights are supposed to bring.

Like most people renting a house, I didn't want to invest too much in decorating it, so I made a yarn lamp. I love the design of it, and everything you need is readily available at your local stores in India.

All it takes is some yarn, which is available at dirt cheap rates in a fancy store. I got mine at 350 rupees/kg but I'm a firang, so you can surely bargain for a better deal ;) Take around 300g for one lamp, although it depends on how tight you want it and the size of the ball.
You also need liquid glue, fevicol works fine, and a beach ball or balloon. I opted for the beach ball, which I procured from a toy store, so I could deflate it and reuse it to make more.

It's a super simple process but don't make the same mistakes I made: before anything, roll your yarn around any stick or skewer to be sure it isn't tangled anywhere !! I learned this the hard way, imagine trying to untangle yarn that is full of glue.
Then, mix the glue and water (one part glue for one part water) in a bowl and soak the yarn right in there.
At this point there's another detail you might not want to learn from experience: when you start rolling your yarn full of glue around the ball, drops of glue will be flying all over the place, so protect your work bench and yourself accordingly.
Check out my sexy garbage bag attire !!

This is me trying to untangle soaked yarn by the way, FML!!
Once the yarn is completely soaked just start rolling it all around your ball in no particular pattern, cover it up completely except the bottom part. You decide how big you want the bottom part left open, this will be gap through which you place the light bulb inside. I also left a small opening at the top for the cord to pass through.

Leave it to dry under the fan for a day or two until it hardens. I simply placed the ball on top of the bowl to let dry, and all of that on a garbage bag to protect the surface from any drop of glue. You will know it's ready if you can press on the ball with your finger and it detaches from the yarn (the hardened yarn stays in place). You can now deflate the ball or poke the balloon and take it out through the bottom gap.
Place your light bulb holder at the center, pass the cord through the top hole and plug it in !! Enjoy the warmth and the cool designs it makes on the walls and ceiling :)

Monday, March 16, 2015

The easiest, most effective face wash ever is already in your kitchen !

All you need is lemon and honey... yes, really !

My husband's job is 40km from home and whoever lives in India can just imagine the state of his skin when he gets home after such a long bike ride in the bangalore traffic :/ 
The regular facewash we bought would leave his skin fresh but with a dried out, pulling sensation. This isn't normal considering that his skin isn't dry like mine, so I decided to do a little research to figure out what would work best for him.
As it turns out, face wash is not only super easy to make yourself, it's also surely already sitting in your kitchen... Chances are though, you're probably buying some expensive branded face wash like we used to, so here's a tip: save that money !

Just press a lemon or two in a container and add a few spoonfuls of honey, such that there's roughly one part lemon for two parts honey. 

I'm not a chemist but .. long story short: the honey acts as a natural humectant, in other words it keeps your skin moist while the impurities get washed out. The lemon brings vitamin C and the citric acid kills acne-causing bacteria and exfoliates. That's all there is to it! This is why these two ingredients kept coming back in every recipe I found, they're really all that's needed to make a good facewash.

You can also add a few drops of lavender essential oil, both for fragrance (I didn't think my husband would really appreciate rubbing honey all over his face), and for its anti-bacterial properties. So its a plus, but not compulsory, honey already has anti-bacterial properties...

Notice the lemon settles at the top, just close the lid and give it a good shake, voila !!

I know what you may ask at this point: where's the soap in all this? Well apparently soap isn't great in a face wash, it scrapes out the beneficial oils naturally present in your skin. On the other hand honey nourishes and protects the skin from outside disturbances.
I should also tell you that if, like mine, your skin is highly sensitive, avoid applying this face wash in the morning in India, as the lemon makes your skin a little more sensitive to the sun.
Last but not least, raw honey is even better, richer in valuable enzymes that are partly lost in processed honey, but since I'm not a big fan of buying what I already have, I'll just wait til this one gets over...

For the rest, just enjoy! My husband loves it, says it makes his skin glow while leaving it feeling super fresh and nourished... Mission accomplished :)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Heineken terrace lamp

I want to show you another simple way of reusing glass bottles: just turn them into a lamp ! This is a lampshade to be precise, but your imagination can take it anywhere from there...

I initially had a single wall lamp outside but that didn't bring enough light, especially when I needed to water the plants after nightfall or light the BBQ. I used to take a light that I'd plug inside the house and pull out when needed.

When my father-in-law saw me do that he just fixed a cable right out of the wall lamp with a provision for a light bulb at the other end, such that both lights would turn on at the same time :) Clearly makes my life a lot easier ! (I don't know the magic behind that yet but I'll have to get some electrical tutoring from him!) See below:

From there all I had to do was unscrew the bulb holder, as you see here, to free the cables, then slide everything off much like the beads from a necklace.

I took a beer bottle left over from a party, cleaned it and cut it at the bottom (see Beer bottle cum flower vase blog post for glass cutting explanation), threaded the hanging wire through the neck of the bottle and fixed everything back just like it was before. Add the light bulb, turn it on and Eureka !!

It doesn't show much on the pics but gives a nice green, groovy light to our terrace in the evening, we love it!! 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Billi ka jhula

From an old bathroom rug to this:

Cats are incredibly imaginative when it comes to finding a comfortable spot. Here's what mine does when we're trying to dry clean bed sheets or covers on the stand... A hammock, of course !!

So I took our old bathroom rug which is no longer in use since we got this new one (couldn't resist - it totally reflects our family values :P)... 

... I reinforced the longer borders with some cotton rope I got at the hardware store, so he doesn't fall out while sleeping, and tied it right on the cat tree.
Needless to say it doesn't necessarily have to be fixed to a cat tree: any chair, table, shelf, whatever can take the weight of your animal would work just fine !

At first he was like "What on Earth has she done now??!"

But then, "Billu baadshah", as my husband likes to call him, started twisting and turning himself around in it a couple times to try it out :) 

Eventually it was more like "Hummm, yeah, ok, this is good..."

 Hopefully his majesty will no longer use our *clean* bed sheets !!!