Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cochin Files

I am back after my short vacation.... the holiday blues continues but excited to be with you all... My each visit to Kerala always offer something different to experience...The recent vacation to Cochin, was something to remember. It had a bit of everything... a traditional Kottayam Christian wedding, an unexpected funeral of a great man who left a legacy to remember, a baptism...  quality time with family, catching up with some crazy cousins, a getaway to a resort on the backwaters, hogging on yummy food like appams & stew, beef fry, karemeen fry (pearl spot fish fry), ethakka fry (banana fritters) and to top it all ... Hot chai and rains.... it was just perfect!

Here are some pictures that summarizes my vacation

beautiful aerial view of Cochin


Wedding house in Kottayam


Cherpunkal Church

Kumarakom Lake Resort

Beautiful Table Décor for Jayden's Baptism

Miss the rains!!

Beautiful paintings from a Delhi based artist

a walk in the clouds.... back to Muscat

Images are clicked by me


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Artist of the Month: Deepshikha Mammen

I have always wondered why abstract and minimalist art is so appealing. I believe it’s because the creativity within the artist is just flung on to the canvas which illicit new imaginations within the viewer. It’s filled with exciting monochromatic palettes of bold colours, textures and basic shapes, breaking away from the traditional form of painting. And these elements attract an emotional response and imagination from the viewer. It’s my pleasure today to introduce Deepshikha Mammen, an abstract and minimalistic artist, whose work reflects a distinctive style with emotive use of colour.

Have a look at her beautiful work and scroll down to know more about Deepshikha and her art journey.

Tell us a bit about yourself
I am from Haryana but born and brought up in New Delhi. The earlier years of my schooling were from modern school Vasant Vihar New Delhi but later I shifted to Welham girls’ school in Dehra Dun. I completed my Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Stephens College and that's where I met my husband who is from Kerala. We lived in Melbourne for 8 years and now we are back in India with our 2 Sons.

How did your journey as an artist begin?
My journey as an artist began from the time I saw my mother paint. At age 2 I was introduced to paints by her and loved the idea of filling a crisp white sheet with colours. I always thought she was brilliant. I painted away right through my school years but stopped in 1996. After 1996 it was only in 2010 that I had the courage again to paint. It was in Melbourne after my kids were born that I felt like painting again. My husband’s encouragement made me walk down to the art store down the road from our house and from there I began my journey as an artist once again. Since then my mother, my husband and his family have been a great source of encouragement and support.
How do you define art?
For me art is an expression of a moment or time. It's a feeling and a though which I put on the canvas. Art is beautiful. It is the frame of your mind. You can get to know a bit about a person by walking into their homes and learning about them through their choice of art and deco. Art defines people. It defines you.

What medium do you work on? And what's your inspiration for your work?
The medium I work with is acrylic on canvas. It's a fun medium and basically very easy to work with. My work is inspired by 2 people as of now 1 being the late artist Mark Rothko and the 2nd being my mother Renu D Singh. I have learnt a bit from both their styles.

What is the most challenging aspect about your work?
Selling my work is the most challenging aspect for me. This is mainly because I am not a very social person any more as I was a decade ago and art is something which needs to go places. This may sound strange, but sometime I find it hard to part with some of my own art work! But reality is that you cannot keep it all for yourself even if they are your favourite pieces.

 What is your creative process like? And what keeps you motivated?
 "Colours" are what keeps my creative process going and they are the main motivation behind my art. They are beautiful even in a jar.

Have you had any exhibitions? What have you found to be the best way of getting your art noticed by buyers?
I have never exhibited my art at fairs and studios. It's sold primarily through word of mouth. People buy my art and hang it in their homes and their friends and relatives contact me after viewing my work. My husband and father in law forced me to put up my work on the web and initially I was reluctant but am glad now since it reached others who I have never known.
Any tips or words of wisdom for inspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?

I am too small an artist to give wisdom to inspiring artists ...but as a person who is having fun with colours the only tip I can give them is this - "paint when you are happy and paint when you want to relax. Don't let criticism of your art ever stop you from painting".
Thanks Deepshikha for sharing your art journey with us and inspiring us to unleash our imagination!!

Please click here if you wish to get in touch with her and click here to hop on to her website to view her work.
Images via Deepshikha Mammen


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Joy in Doing It Yourself

Have you experienced the joy of “doing it yourself”? I never considered myself a DIY person until lately when I co-hosted a baby shower for someone dear to me!! The feeling of self-sufficiency, choosing your own colours and textures and using it to your heart’s content was awesome and fulfilling… I finally managed to overcome my fears of trying out DIY projects…. I would love to know if any of my readers are DIY fans or never experienced the joy of DIY!!

Here are some pictures of some décor that I managed to create... click on the caption of each picture for tutorial

Paper Fans, Click here to view the tutorial

Tissue paper pom poms, Click here for the tutorial

Diaper Cake, Click here for the tutorial

Cut outs from free printables available online and stuck it on felt pieces

created a gift hamper for the mom to be, with lot of goodies in it

Notes, jokes and advice for the mom & dad to be

Images are clicked by me


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Chocolate & Coffee Mousse

One can never go wrong with chocolate and coffee. This dessert is airy, fluffy, light texture and gave me a guilt free feeling when devouring it. And of course super easy to make with simple ingredients! This recipe is adapted from a beautiful food blog called Playful Cooking that is filled with beautiful pictures and great recipes. You need just 15 minutes to prepare and half an hour to chill. If you have a chocolate craving that’s hit you unexpectedly then what are you waiting for!!

And remember chocolate is good for your soul…

Serves 4


·         2 teaspoon gelatin powder

·         5 tablespoons hot water

·         1/2 cup sugar

·         1/2 cup dark cocoa powder

·         2 tsp instant coffee powder

·         pinch of salt

·         1 cup heavy whipping cream

·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract


·         In a bowl, mix gelatin with hot water and let it cool to room temperature.

·         In a mixing bowl, add sugar, salt and sift cocoa powder plus coffee powder to it. Add whipping cream to the bowl and whisk at medium high until its stiff. Once everything is mixed well pour the gelatin mixture, vanilla extract and whisk to mix everything together. Spoon it to individual containers, cover it and refrigerate till its set.

·         Serve it plain or add a dollop of whipped cream on top.

     You can add another teaspoon of coffee powder if you like strong coffee flavor.

Images are clicked by me


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

French Toast: a quaint little patisserie in Cochin

If you are in Cochin and looking out for a nice place where you are served with good patisserie, assorted bread and savory, then French Toast is the place to be. It’s a nice little quaint place with good ambience, pleasing service, good music, a great place to hang out and serves a varied menu. Their signature desserts are divine and innovative. The ingredients used are handpicked, fresh and imported. I would highly recommend this place if you are looking freshness and quality.

Let’s get to know more from Ayaz Salim, the owner of French Toast

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What made you want to open up French Toast? Did you have any formal training in setting up your café?

I was working in advertising for close to 12 years in the Middle East, my father who is also in the food industry in Dubai was the one who planted the seed in my head, so salman (my younger brother) and I started French toast back in 2011. We were clear back then that we wanted to give people good food (whatever the cost). I have not had any formal training in baking or culinary arts, but have a lot of on work training. However the people we employ are all well trained chefs from all over the world. 

What inspired the name French Toast?

Both Salman and I used to eat a lot of French toast growing up, and the concept of French toast appealed to us (the fact that stale bread is dipped in egg and reinvented in the form of a beautiful dish essentially avoiding any wastage and being sustainable.) hence the name. ​

What sets you apart from the others?

Here are a few pointers that sets us apart

We are amongst a handful of cafes / restaurants who use ingredients like belgian couverture chocolate (to give you an idea about how rare it is, in a city like Bombay there are only two places who use pure chocolate like us, the hyatt and another award winning patisserie called la foilie) - after we launched more people in cochin have started using and talking about Belgian chocolate etc, however they still only use it for one or two of their cakes instead of the entire menu. 

Our processes are totally different from regular commercial kitchens, for instance everyone in Kerala uses cake gels and sponge mixes to create their sponge, these mixes are pre made and sent from Europe/ India etc, however these contain a high amount of chemical preservatives to survive our climate and conserve nutrition but are harmful to our bodies over the long term.

 We on the other hand, create everything from scratch, that means if we make a jaconde sponge then we buy almonds, crush and grind them, extract the powder and use that as the base to make a cake, this is why for instance the MONT BLANC takes about 18 hours to make (including setting time) 

We are the most copied bakery in Kerala (there are already atlas 8 to 9 bakeries that copy our products and there is one that blatantly copied our Mont blanc by picking up one of our pastry chefs, what this means is that other people also believe in our products as much as we do. 

​We are the only bakery in Kerala that is preservative free; this means that our products are best for diabetic patients, heart patients etc.

If I walk into your café, what is the one thing I should order and eat?

I always struggle to suggest, when you say the one thing you should order and eat all I can recommend is what most people like, say the Mont blanc or our gouda cheese frenchtoast or strawberry frenchtoast or even the banoffee pie. However my personal favorite is the almond pear tart or the salted caramel tart (which most people would find hideous because of chocolate / salt combination)

Describe your space in 3 words


What advice would you give to someone who is dreaming of opening their own café?

Chances of you becoming a doctor are more than say succeeding in running your own cafe, that’s because the amount of personal discipline and domain knowledge required to open a cafe is much more than what people think, but everyone seems to take it lightly because our country does not have a culinary culture like say France or even Australia.

Any future plans of opening up another café?

​We are opening two in Kakanad by close of March, and looking for franchisees in Calicut. ​
Here are some pictures of what they offer and get ready to drool...


Thanks Ayaz for giving us an insight to French Toast.
Looking forward to my next visit to Cochin. Please click here to access updates from their Facebook page.
Images via French Toast

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A New Journey Begins...

Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.”
Pablo Picasso

I embarked on a quest to find my creative side… and slowly ventured into acrylic painting. I recently finished my first art piece and it gave me a sense of accomplishment in creating something beautiful and to see the happiness it brings to someone else and love the painting, is the most fulfilling compliment I can ever ask.

So here goes my first art piece... definitely not perfect but happy with what I have created


I always believe that we all have some hidden talents that we need to tap. God has gifted us in many ways and it’s up to us to cultivate our talent. And I hope you all get to do the same.  Discover your passion and do more of what makes you happy. And if you have already done so, then just enjoy every minute of it.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

House of the month: Supriya from Aalayam Inspiration

Today I am visually drawn towards Supriya Murthy’s aesthetic home, because there is inspiration everywhere. She is the talented co-author of Aalayam Inspiration, a blog that I adore. Her home is predominantly ethnic with memories and stories attached to it. I love the way she created a symphony of colours, fabrics and décor pieces.

Please scroll down to enjoy the home tour and hear from Supriya herself as she shares with us on where she got her inspiration to decorate her home.

Our home incorporates global design elements that are not necessarily conformist! The palettes range from ornate Indian furniture with vibrant textural softscaping to irreverent Bohemian chotchkies combined with quirky antique chic! This decor scheme blends form and function, and works like a charm for moving stuff around based on mood and occasion. The featured snapshots of my living space epitomize my style philosophy "let the room speak for you!"


 Color is synonymous with inspiration to me. I derive my joie de vivre everyday looking at a palette of vibrant colors in my living space - whether on the walls, on the bookshelf or on kitschy cushions thrown around all my rooms! When I moved to the USA, I was very keen on bringing back a piece of Indian flavor - fabrics and decor pieces, with me to infuse color into my first apartment! These pieces have traveled with me through two apartments, a Masters degree and two babies, into our current home. The cushion covers (the colorful patch work ones you see in the pictures) are dog eared and worse for wear! But I love them! Because those are the first things ever that I bought for MY own living space! 


 I have always been attracted to traditional accessories, masks and sculptures and antique, generational serve ware. In today's modern homes, I feel it’s vital to use every opportunity there is to bringing that antiquity in! I have tried to infuse ethnic color via the russet tones of bronze and gold, conveniently providing both design and function throughout the house.

Finally, a story to finish off my color splash! I pepper our home with my favorite accessories bought from street vendors back home in India. One particularly charming fellow was trying to put his kid through school, and I have brought many a thing from him, sometimes needlessly.

I have bought wind chimes and dancing puppets that you see in our home, for their gorgeous workmanship, the beautiful colors and to commemorate his heartwarming entrepreneurial spirit!  These gorgeous things, and the memories hang proudly in many sunny corners in our home, reminding me of my real roots...far far away!


Thanks Supriya for sharing your beautiful space with us. It definitely quenched my thirst for a beautiful home tour!!

Click here to hop on to her beautiful blog called Aalayam Inspiration, a blog that is filled with inspirations to take away.
Images via Supriya from Aalayam Inspiration