Monday, October 05, 2015

My Kitchen Fantasy Wish List

Last week was one of the craziest and most hectic week this season, possibly the craziest ever after any of the relocating stints I did over the year. I mean seriously how can you beat a mayhem of gymnasticspracticeplaydateandmorepracticeparentteacherdaygymnasicscompetitionaccrosstownandadministrativebusiness? Say that big chunk of words without catching your breath and you will just know how my week felt (don't try making sense of it, it'll give you a headache). There wasn't a single day between Monday and Saturday that wasn't booked with special events.

By Thursday, facing a whole day of no school after attending my parent teacher interaction slot at 9am I decided to take Ishita on a breakfast date (because this is the only thing sane to do, trust me on that). That breakfast date saw two marking events : Ishita is traumatized by minty watermelon juice because mint (and that stuff should not float in red liquid apparently) and I discovered a new way to eat my eggs. This last bit prompted me to spend the evening on Amazon to purchase ramekins cup followed by more times drooling over all kind of crazy or awesome kitchen items.

I do that a lot, I mean spending my evenings doing some e-window shopping and building a Fantasy Wish List. Fess up! you've done the same, come on! I know you did!
So, since I spent a quiet evening just drooling over Le Creuset dishes and funky cookie jars, I might as well share this fantasy list with you guys (you know just to get you started on yours).

This list is really just a fun fantasy,  one that would only be possible to fulfill if I suddenly came upon an unlimited amount of money. So, please, don't take it too seriously and go crib a storm in the comments about how ludicrous this all is (if you do, you are a party pooper with a rod stuck in your butt...just saying).

Oh and before I start, this post contains affiliate links, read my disclosure page to know more.

I could have started this list with a super conventional, traditional item. But, I am a quirky lady with a geeky side so my first fantasy item is this one :

It doesn't get any better than that right? I mean come on! It is a TARDIS Cookie jar!!!!! Complete with sound and light effect. If you are going to go for a cookie jar instead of a plain old plastic or tin box, this is the one to splurge on. Though I confess a R2 D2 one would have been neat too, but it wasn't anywhere to be found on Amazon India for me to drool upon (I googled it though, it exists).

If you aren't a geek, or a Dr Who fan, or for that matter a person who think their cookie box or any of their kitchen doo-dahs should look like a time traveling machine or a droid, fear not. I did add a few conventional drool worthy items to my fantasy list. Like this one :

A Kitchen Aid stand mixer! If you are a heavy duty baker, this bad boy is the tool you should aspire to own one day. There is even the possibility to buy special attachments separately to turn it into a fresh pasta making machine, and a heavy duty electric grater. Trust me, if the price wasn't so high, this one would already be in my day, one day maybe. And yes, because my name is Cyn and I love colours, it will be one in such a funky shade. If you are conventional, don't worry they have more demure looking models too.

One of the ultimate kitchen fantasy I have is having a whole set of "Le Creuset" cookware. But that would also mean having a personal small fortune at my disposal. I can't tell you how many times I have looked at the brand's entire selection online. Every single one of their items are stinking cute and bring back memories of my grand ma's kitchen full of retro pots, pans and mixing bowls.

If I had to choose only one (and this is a really hard thing to do) it would be this awesome enameled cast iron griddle pan. The brand is famous for its cast iron pans and pots, the kind that will last you a lifetime and possibly the lifetime of your children as well (if not grand children). I could not find it in the colour I wanted though, because I would pick their Caribbean range (sky blue...what else!).

I have dreams of a big stoneware pie dish, and because I didn't want to sound like a "Le Creuset" fanatic (which I probably am), I found another equally adorable one that made it to my list :

Deep pies are often served to the dinning table still in their baking dish, so these must look the part. This Staub dish caught my attention because of the cute handles. This the kind of dish I can see myself carrying to the dinning table with a pipping hot quiche in it. One day, I probably will (this would make for an awesome Christmas or Birthday gift).

Ok, I hear some of you fuming and complaining that my fantasy list has only ridiculously and outrageously pricey items (didn't I mention it was a FANTASY list?). Anyway, what about these :

These are less of a "If I ever win the lottery" fantasy than they are to become a likely purchase in my future. These old fashioned rubber seal jars are just the perfect thing to store your flavoured butters, home made pickles and chutneys in style. Again, they bring back memories from my childhood.

I might not be always for geeky, quirky items, but that doesn't mean I am not most of the time. if I can find a quirky alternative to something otherwise blah, I will go for it. You know something like this :

Why go for a boring loose tea infuser when you can get an awesome looking whale one? That is provided nobody runs after you holding a straight jacket for thinking spending over 2k on a tea strainer is normal. It's a fantasy list you people!!!!! Don't send me back to the weird room with padded walls!

Last but not least, what about this awesome way to have your half boiled eggs:

A R2 D2 Egg cup!!!! I couldn't find the cookie jar to put on my list, but this one satisfies the Star Wars fan in me. If you'd like to know I also found a R2 D2 kitchen timer, and light saber BBQ thongs (with sound effect). I won't post the links there, because now it is your turn to go wild and go on a e-window shopping spree and have fun.

Meanwhile, I'll go back to waiting for my very demure and elegant looking ramekins cups to arrive. Once it does I'll be in egg cocotte mode (with a recipe to share to the key).

Now, tell those guys in white coats to just back off already!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The complete guide to artists paints

Do you want to paint, but don't know where to start? Do you get confused about the different type of paints on the market and wonder which one to try?
This little guide is for you then.

The world of artists paints can be a very confusing one, and different type of paint serve very different purposes. I have done artsy stuff from as far as I can remember and have pretty much tried all paint mediums out there at one point or another. There are some I prefer more than others, but I did experiment at least a little with each of the most common paint types out there.

I'll give you a list of all type of paints you are likely to come across in a stationary shop and art supplies shop below, along with that they are used for and how to use them.

Acrylic Paint
This is by far the most versatile paint on the market and one of my favourite for many reasons. The paint is water soluble as long as it is wet and can be thinned with water to a translucent level. It also dries VERY quickly which means you don't have to wait long to apply a second coat (but it requires you to work fast as well).
The ultimate advantage of acrylic paint is that once it has dried it is waterproof and quite durable. It can be used on almost any surface, but does best on slightly porous surface. If you plan on using it on glass or plastic, you might need to prime your surface with a primer first. I've used it on most of the projects featured on this blog.
It comes available in tube or pots, and a wide range of vibrant colors.

Fabric Paint
This one is technically nothing but Acrylic paint. The only difference being that it comes in pots and has a slightly more liquid consistency that let you use it "as it is" on fabric in order to prevent bleeding into the textile fiber. I have used fabric paint on other surfaces, and used tubed acrylic paint on fabric. But if you are a beginner and do not understand acrylic paint well enough to dilute it properly in water to use on fabric, I recommend you stick to the specially formulated fabric type. Like regular acrylic, it dries quickly and becomes totally waterproof once completely dry. To make the paint last longer on fabrics, it is recommended to iron the design on the reverse after 24 hours of drying.

WatercolourThis type is probably the type you used as a kid and in school. It comes in dry cake form or tubes. The big advantage this pain has is that even once it has dried, it can be dissolved again once you add water. Which is a big plus if you keep your colour blending palettes and have shades you will need again later on it. It is also washable in most cases, which is why it is a popular choice with schools and small kids.
The end result will be matte and a bit powdery to the touch, contrary to acrylic and oil which give you a glossy finish. It is also a bit less UV resistant and will fade with time if you fail to protect your work with a varnish coat.
I prefer using watercolours whenever I am working on a project where I need watered down colours and for its ability to blend directly on paper to create interesting gradients. This type of paint does best being used on paper. But be aware that regular printer paper will not give you the best result, you need a thicker and slightly grainy type of paper. Ask at the shop you buy the paint from, they usually have the paper too.
In India, this type of paint is also called "Poster paint" and comes in small jars.

Oil PaintI am going to be frank here, this is personally the type of paint I dislike the most (oil paint artists please don't kill me). If you are a total beginner at painting, I would highly recommend you stay away from it. It is a very slow drying paint, and a painting could take months to fully dry (and you will have to wait that long to frame it and varnish it). It is also a paint that demands a high level of technique to come out right. Do it improperly and you could end up with cracks and chipping. The paint need to be thinned with either oil, or turpentine, water will not work. The big advantage of this paint is that due to its very slow drying time you can blend and add layers to a painting over the course of a few weeks. The Renaissance masters all worked with that type of paint and often spent years working on one single painting because the oil based allowed them to do touch ups easily.

Glass Paint
This type of paint is translucent and will give you a stained glass effect. There are two variants in the market : water based and solvent based. The water based one will be a bit less durable and a bit more liquid than the solvent based type. The water based one works well on flat surfaces you can paint while its in a horizontal position. The solvent based paint is a bit more viscous and definitely more toxic, and does best on curved glass surfaces and windows (where you need things to dry quickly before gravity does its thing). Very often glass paints are used along with a 3D liner (more on that later).
Once dry, this type of paint is fairly resistant to light and water. The solvent based one will only really come off with turpentine or an acetone based solvent and a lot of scrubbing (speaking from experience).
One of the project I did using this paint were these cute water glasses. They are still good 2 years later despite my maid scrubbing them vigorously (one or two have lost a bit of 3D liner, but the paint is still in good shape).

Spray Paint
This type of paint comes in a pressurized can and is mostly used to paint metallic surfaces. Street artists use it to paint grafitis too. This is a 100% durable, wash proof, UV proof paint that gives you a very uniform finish. That said, it is a solvent based paint that emit toxic fumes, so you MUST take precautions while working with it. Always do it in a well ventilated area (preferably outdoors) and if you are going to work on a large project that will take you a couple of hours, wear an adequate breathing mask (available in hardware stores). make sure you cover your work surface well too, this pain is volatile and you will find deposits within a 30-50cm radius from the surface. If working outdoor, avoid doing it on a day of high wind, and definitely wear clothing that you don't mind getting permanently stained.

Paint Markers
These are metallic body markers filled with acrylic paint. They need to be shaken before use and the the pressure on the tip is what will released the paint. These are solvent based, like the spray paint, and you need to make sure you are working in a well ventilated room.
They are used for any work where you need a precise application. be it writing on glass, plastic, or ceramic, or doing a touch up on a car. The paint is permanent on most surfaces. These pens need to be stored horizontally when not in use, so resist the urge to have them stand in your pencil pots on your desk.

3D liners and glitter glues
Those following this blog regularly will know that they are a particular addiction of mine. I LOVE working with them. Technically, they aren't as much of a paint as they are a colored fabric / white glue. They can be used on a wide variety of surface, and again, if you have been following this blog long enough, you know that I did just that. Cardboard, fabric, glass, wood, canvas, paper...they really work well on everything. They are non toxic as well. Remember though that they aren't super permanent and will peel off certain surface after a while. You will increase the chance of them sticking on glass longer if you clean the surface with some nail polish remover or some rubbing alcohol before applying the glue though.

I hope this little guide has helped you understand paints and their uses a bit better. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments (I will answer them as good as I can).
If you are already familiar with paints, what is your favourite type?

For your shopping convenience in India (affiliate links) :

Acrylic and Fabric paints
Watercolour & Paper
 Oil paint
Glass paint
Paint markers

Monday, September 28, 2015

Investing your time in blogs

How much time a day/week do you dedicate to blogging?    This very question is one that bloggers get asked often, along with how profitable a business it is. This is also a question that has no real clear cut answer.

How much time a day/week do you dedicate to blogging?

This very question is one that bloggers get asked often, along with how profitable a business it is. This is also a question that has no real clear cut answer. Because, you see, the answer depends what type of blog you have.

If you are blogging to chronicle your life mainly for the benefit of family and friends and have no plans of growing your audience, 2-3 hours a week will be more than enough.
If you are a professional blogger, or aspire to be, it will require much more of your time. Certain niches are also far more demanding and fast paced than others on average, count about 2-3 hours a day of pure blogging (often much more).

I myself spend about 4-5 hours in front of my computer doing something that is directly related to my blog. Be it drafting posts, editing pictures, publishing and promoting on social media (that last bit is MUST promote).
However, this doesn't stop there. I spend a lot of time thinking about DIY projects and recipes, and whenever I am directly engaged in one particular project I will clock a couple of hours. That groovy wall border took me a total 6 hours (prepping, painting and picture taking). I take about 99% of the pictures that end up on my blog, so you can imagine that I spend a significant amount of time snapping pictures as well (and again, more time editing them).

When I am not busy with my own blog, I read other people's blog or articles for both inspiration and as a learning tool. Blogging has a huge learning curve and the skills you will gain from it are unbeatable.
I am not afraid to say it out loud : Blogging is the most women friendly venture you can get yourself into.

It offers you the option of flexible timing during which you get to learn and hone skill that are custom made for your need, at no cost (other than your computer and Internet plan) and without the pressure of a deadline or exam. There isn't even the pressure to be perfect from the start, because having a blog is free, and you can learn as you go, and yes, your first few entries will be awful. A thing you'll only realise after a few years of gaining steady experience.
I myself learned a gold mine of skills in the past 11 years of blogging. Skills that I would have in all likelihood never learned otherwise such as : basic HTML coding, learning how to use a photo editing software, learning how to take better pictures, perfecting my writing style, or even self promotion and networking.

And guess what? I am still learning. I am still dreaming bigger, wanting more and have big ideas. In just the past year on my new name and niche I have learned quite a few lessons already. 
Now that my daughter is in school full time, I have the time to get deeper into blogging than ever before. So, these days, I spend a total of about 8-9 hours a day wither working on my blog or doing something that could benefit my blog in the long run. On weekends I usually cut it down to 2-3 hours, mostly early in the morning.
This very blog post for example, was first drafted on a Saturday morning in Starbucks while my daughter was in her Gymnastics class. If that tells you anything about how I work.

Do you have a blog? How much time do you dedicate to it?

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