Lifestyle

Book Suggestions Volume 2 – What I am Reading

Social Distancing and staying at home has definitely taken me back to my old days where I made it a point to remove at least sometime to do the things I really enjoyed. Reading is one of those things for me and I cannot get enough of it. In these uncertain times I find normalcy in books and love how I switch off from everything happening around in the world for sometime.

Here is a list of books I have been reading. Would love to hear from you guys about books you have been reading and would suggest reading.

  1. Normal People – I decided to pick up reading this book only after the adapted show came up on television (Hulu). I find this book extremely well written, compelling and enthralling though I think you will either really enjoy the book or hate it. There is no in-between with this book. This book touches on so many important things and there is so much to analyze in the class differences, first loves, friendship, physical abuses and family dynamics explored here with nuanced skill.  This is a coming of age story.

2. American Dirt – This book has definitely received mixed reception. This novel is about a Mexican woman who has to leave behind her life along with her son and escape to the United States as an undocumented immigrant. This book has controversy written all over it but when read as pure fiction I found it absolutely engaging. I think it is one book you have to pick up yourself and decide if you like it or not. For me, I found the story chilling, tense and gripping.

3. Ask again yes – This book grabbed my attention from the first page and never let it go. A powerful, thought provoking beautifully crafted family drama that explores love, forgiveness and the ability to move on. This book is well written and the writing has great depth and complexity to it and the story flows effortlessly. This is the first book I read of this author and absolutely enjoyed it. A great read.

4. There There – I got this book a while ago planning to read. This is the authors debut novel and a strong and powerful one at that. Beautifully written, creatively and skillfully structured with the stories of multiple characters, each one important and affecting on their own, but when meshed the connections that unfold blew me away. This story is told from 12 widely different perspectives of Native communities from Oakland, California in a way which is both exciting as well as heartbreaking. A gripping read.

Some other books on my reading list are:

The Silent Patient

Where the Crawdads Sing

Too much and Never Enough

Check out my other post I wrote about What I have been reading – Volume 1 for more book suggestions and great reads. Happy Reading!!

Lifestyle

DIY Candle Holder – In Less than 10 Minutes

I love how candles instantly make your house look cozy and add the same time add the perfect ambiance to any room. They are a great addition to coffee tables, book shelves, mantel, in the dining room as centerpieces, or also in the bedroom.

Today, I wanted to share with you a quick and easy DIY Candle holder which can add to the decor of the house. You can easily make as many of them to use as centerpieces on the dining table or as you please.

Materials Needed:

Tumbling Tower Game (A mini one)

Black Spray Paint

Sand

Cylinder Glass

Wood Glue

Led Candle – Pick one that fits inside the cylinder glass.

Directions

The first thing I did is washed the clear bowl with warm soapy water to ensure that there are no prints on it and remove any stickers.

Next, I took 4 tumbling tower pieces and using the wood glue stuck them forming a square as per the photo below.

Later I took another 4 tumbling tower pieces and created a cross sign as per the below pictures.

Once you have created the cross sign add some wood glue to the centre of each tumbling tower piece of the cross and stick the square created above diagonally on it as per the picture below.

Once you are done with this, you will need 4 more tumbling tower pieces and stick each vertically on the edges as the below picture using wood glue.

Let it dry for sometime and spray paint the entire piece using a black spray paint in a well ventilated area. Do not miss to spray paint the sides. Let it dry completely.

Once the holder is dry, simply add some sand to the cylinder glass and place the LED candle inside it. It is ready to use.

Thank you for visiting the blog today and hope you enjoy creating this DIY Candle Holder.

Lifestyle

DIY Sunshine Vase – In less than 30 Minutes

Spring is finally here and I cannot get enough of flowers and plants. Especially in these times when we spend more time at home, color and greenery immediately uplifts me and makes me feel happier. I had some supplies at home and decided to use them to create a sunshine vase. Sharing this super easy and quick DIY with you.

Materials Needed

— Pearl Stickers

— Spray Paint of your choice (I used Yellow Gloss)

— Durable Topcoat (I used Gloss)

— Clear Glass Bowl

— Faux Flowers/Real Plants or Flowers

I got all my materials from Michaels and they are still doing delivery.

Directions

The first thing I did is washed the clear bowl with warm soapy water to ensure that there are no prints on it.

Next I took the pearl stickers and stuck them on the clear glass bowl in the design or pattern I wanted. I created a diamond shaped pattern. The pearl stickers do not need any additional adhesive to stick that what is already on them which makes it really easy for anyone to do including kids with minimal materials.

Once the pearl stickers were applied, I took the glass bowl outdoors to spray paint in a well ventilated area and spray painted the entire glass bowl yellow turning the glass bowl upside down for easier application.

You can keep adding coats of spray paint as long as you get the desired color. Just remember to keep an interval of at least 15 minutes between each coat.

Lastly, seal it with a topcoat of your choice – gloss or matte. And let your vase dry for a minimum of 24 hours.

Once the vase has dried add faux/real plants or Flowers and add them anywhere in your house. I ordered some Tulips with my groceries and added them to add a touch of spring. After all, what says Spring more than Yellow + Tulips.

Hope you enjoyed this easy DIY and have fun creating it!!

Lifestyle

Book Suggestions – What I have been reading

I have always enjoyed reading since I was a kid but to be honest with preparing for grad school and applications reading completely fell wayside. But I started reading again from February and cannot explain the joy it gives me. These days, I have made it a point of self care to read for atleast 1 hour before going to bed to unwind from the day and the news.

I mix it up sometimes reading a hardcopy of the book, sometimes reading on the Kindle app and sometimes on the iBooks app on the iPad. Libby is another great resource I use to read ebooks and audiobooks. I prefer to steer away from the phone to read personally to avoid any distractions while reading.

Here is a list of books I have been reading (re-reading). Would love to hear from you guys about books you have been reading and would suggest reading.

1) Where the Forest Meets the Stars – For long, this book had been on my list to read and I finally read this book on the kindle app where it is free. The book focusses on 3 people who try to deal with the challenges life throws at them. The story is about friendship, power of love and healing, strength, hope, miracles and is a delightful read brimming with emotions.

2) The Palace of Illusions – I re-read this book recently and would recommend it to anyone who is interested to learn about the rich literary heritage of India. Written in first person, the book provides Draupadi’s (Daughter of King Draupada and the wife of the five Pandavas) perspective on what happened during Mahabharata. This book is based with a fresh take on the Indian Epic, Mahabharata from the point of view of the brilliant and fearless Draupadi (Panchali) with her soul touching yet enduring life story.

3) A Woman is No Man – Etaf Rum, the author has powerfully contextualized in her book the lives of 3 generations of Palestinian woman and captured the complexity of generational trauma and family, the violence of occupation and diaspora, and the incomprehensible strength and resilience of women in a raw, brutal and honest manner. I felt so many emotions while reading this book.

4) When Breath Becomes Air – I read this book 1 and a half years ago but thought of including it to the list because I really appreciate the language of the book – the way it is delivered. This book is short on the outside but packs a punch. The author, Paul gracefully deals with traumatic subject matters and triggering topics, and skillfully weaves the narrative of his own life into instructions on how to make life more meaningful.

5) Little Fires Everywhere – I re-read this book again as the Tv adaptation has come on Hulu now. This book is about relationships, race, the power of motherhood and tries to show that even with the perfect planning things can get messy. The book has a slow start but picks up as you read further.

6) Homegoing – Currently reading this book and it is a powerful and engaging novel. It tells the story of two half sisters, Effia and Esi, born to different villages, who grow up in different circumstances, and have very different lives. The book tells the story of many of their descendants covering over 300 years. It goes into great detail of slavery in the 18th century and racism.

Other Books on my list to Read

Ikigai – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

Dear Girls – Ali Wong

Olive Again

Open Book

Happy Reading !

Lifestyle

Free Activities to do at Home during Coronavirus Social Distancing

As we are moving to a more homebound lifestyle atleast for the time being, I hope that this blog post can be a lighthearted space for some of you! Some of us have the liberty to work from home while others are still out there continuing their day to day lives in these uncertain times. I hope and pray for their safety and appeal to others who can to practice Social Distancing. The Government is doing everything to keep us all safe, lets do our bit.

I know staying indoors can get boring and annoying and make you feel restless. I am sharing some free activities that can be done from the comfort of your homes. Feel free to share your favorite apps or your go to activities during these times with me.

Activities to do at home

This may be a great time to pick up some DIY projects for your home. Some fun project ideas that I have worked on myself and shared previously are DIY Jewelry Dish, DIY Plant Pots, create your own gallery wall. A few upcoming projects on my blog are TIE- DYE project, organizing your home by better storage ideas, create a cozy nook in your home, wine cork bulletin board (for a wine lover who collects corks), etc.

Home Wellness Apps

Planet Fitness – As a measure to encourage people to stay indoors, Planet Fitness is streaming Live workouts on Facebook everyday at 4.00 pm PT (7.00 PM ET) for both members and non members. Also, if you miss the live streaming you can always go back and watch it later. Over and above this, when you download their app they have several free workouts for everyone.

Peloton App – Usually Peloton offers a free 30 day trial period however during this coronavirus outbreak they are providing a 90 day free trial for home workouts which include Yoga, HIIT and many other activities which do not need the machine as well.

Corepower Yoga – They have added few online classes and will be adding more too.

Carrot Fit App – This app is free at the moment too and offers 7 minute workouts.

Down Dog App- The Down Dog App is free until April 1, 2020 and offers various at home workouts – Yoga, HIIT, Barre as well as 7 minute workouts

Strong by Zumba (You Tube) – They offer various workouts ranging from 7 minutes, 20 minutes and 30 minutes free on You Tube. The best part is you do not need any equipments for the same. They combine cardio, muscle conditioning, bodyweight training synced to music.

Studio Tone it Up App – Currently they are offering a free trial of 1 month as against 1 week and offer a huge variety of classes like yoga, dance, kickboxing. HIIT, Barre, strength training, etc. They mention if you need any weights or any other tools at the start of the class but many just require a mat.

Note – Remember to cancel paid apps once the trial period is over to avoid being charged.

Entertainment

Over and above the steaming services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Amazon Prime which you can watch from the comfort of your home many cultural institutions have opened their doors and are allowing people across the globe to enjoy art and music virtually.

The New England Aquarium will post content every day at 11.00 am ET on the aquariums social media platforms. They offer live videos with educators and various activities for children.

Many world renowned museums have partnered with Google Arts and Culture and are doing virtual tours online currently such as The Louvre, Metropolitan Museum, Van Gogh Museum, and many more. While it may not give you the best experience that an in person visit offers, it is a great way to explore some of your favorite museums or something you have been meaning to go for a long time from your homes.

If you are a nature lover don’t be disappointed. National Parks like Yellow Stone and Yosemite have got you covered. They offer virtual tours to explore and feel connected with nature.

If you have a library card, you can check out the libraries collection of ebooks, audiobooks and other subscriptions it offers. In case you do not already have a library card you can always sign up for an e- library card.

Learn Something new

Have some spare time on hand ? How about learning a new language ? A fun way to use this time could be to pick up learning a new language. Duolingo is a great place to start learning any language.

With Coronavirus changing our daily lives and with most of us having some time on hand it may be a good time to take up classes from prestigious universities from the haven of our homes. Sharing a link of the same here

At the very end please remember that we are all in to together and it is a great time to extend your support to those in need at this time. Help your staff with basic essentials like food, sanitizers and whatever you can. Help elderly people with groceries and medications as they are the most vulnerable to this pandemic. Ask your non profits if they need anything and try and help in any way you can. Support your favorite local businesses by buying gift cards to use later. Please do not hoard necessitities more than your household requires so that others are not left in a bind. Donate to your local food banks.

Please be cautious but do not panic. And needless to say, wash your hands regularly.

Lifestyle

How to Create your own Gallery Wall

A gallery wall lets you tell your story and is a fun way to add to the decor of the house. I have always wanted to add a personal touch to my home with pieces we collected over time but renting does not always make it easy. I have always liked the place to be more inviting and cozy and not be an eyesore. I couldn’t think of a better way than a gallery wall to do all that. Sharing a few tips with you for getting the gallery wall look.

Firstly, I would suggest to get some craft paper from any local arts and crafts store and trace any frame you wish to use on the craft paper and cut it to size. This really comes in handy so that your gallery wall looks like you envisioned, you have even gaps between your pieces and your pieces are not crooked or crammed.

I cannot stress this more but do not be in a hurry to create a gallery wall. Carefully curate pieces of art that matter and appeal to you or tell your story to give it a personal touch. They can be a mix of photos, art prints, mirrors, postcards from your favorite vacations, gifts you have received which matter to you, drawings, wall planters, love letters, license plates, antiques, medallions, writing pads, dates or numbers that have a special meaning, baskets or platters and plates, your first house keys, etc. The opportunities to get creative are endless.

Now lets get started:

  1. Move any furniture to the side for the wall you plan to use to put up the gallery wall so that you have enough space to hang your pieces freely.
  2. If you are moving any furniture make sure that you mark the area using the painters tape so that you are aware about the space you have to work with.
  3. Lay your art work on the floor and play around with the colors and layout till you are happy with it. A tip would be to anchor your favorite or biggest art in the centre and then slowly work the other artwork around it. Do not be afraid to try out different layouts as there are no real guidelines or rules to create a fun gallery wall.
  4. Remember that is it not necessary to have all your artwork in the same color palette however a tip would be to tie it in with the color scheme of your house or room you are doing it in so that they compliment each other.
  5. Once you have the art work you like, using the painters tape apply the craft paper on the wall and step back and view it from various areas in your room. Check that the sizes of the pieces balance each other out well and make any small adjustments that are needed.
  6. Hang your pieces and remove the tape once you are done. If you are living in a rented space like me you can use Command strips to stick your artwork to the wall without damaging the wall. Move your furniture back into its place, and you are done!

Things I Used for My Gallery Wall

1) Writing Paper Clip . I got it from Staples and it cost me around $5 for the A4 size.

2) Our First car and State’s License Plate

3) Our First Anniversary Dinner Menu – I got it framed from a local framer here (Frugal Framers) and it cost me $30.

4) A fun Caricature from our trip – I got it framed from a local framer here (Frugal Framers) and it cost me $45.

5) Life is a Beautiful Ride with LED Lights frame.I purchased this frame from A.C.Moore for less than $20.

6) A Poem my husband wrote and gave me on my first birthday with him – I printed the poem on the special paper of my liking and clipped it on the writing paper clip I purchased from Staples.

7) Love Frame. I purchased this frame from A.C.Moore for less than $20.

8) A Vintage looking mirror with the quote – Every Love Story is beautiful, But ours is my favorite. I purchased this frame from Cost Plus World Market for $30. Here is a link of the same.

9) Pictures of our Personal memories – Pre Wedding Celebrations in Mumbai, India (Where our Journey began), of our Honeymoon in New Zealand and of Snowy Chicago, our first home.

I used bayphoto.com to get these pictures printed and loved the quality and the final pictures. I printed the 3 pictures for around $100 as I got a 25% discount on my first order.

The best part about Gallery walls is you can add pieces or take away pieces as you go on to make them relevant to your life. So get creative and have fun creating your own gallery wall.

Here is a picture of another Gallery Wall I recently created!

TV Unit Gallery Wall