Monday, December 12, 2011

A Super Shutterbug


Tracy Clark. I’ve been stumbling across her name every now and then since last year. Since I signed up at Bigpicturescrapbooking.com. And in these past few months, after poring over her blog, sifting through her beautifully-crafted images, I can safely say that I’m totally inspired. To craft pictures, to capture the everyday minute …with gossamer threads of light, smoky panes of shadow. There’s more than a touch of vintage in her pictures. They definitely remind me of a time that’s uncomplicated and slow.

Founder of Shutter Sisters, an ace photographer and a writer with some interesting titles to her credit, Tracy is a creator and crafter, who merges snapshots and words with equal ease. So people, don’t let me keep you from hopping over to her blog.

Doggy Boo


Ladybird love


Sweet nothings...

Image Credit: Tracy Clark

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Nourishing tales

Hellooo everyone!

Hold those tomatoes...pleaseee....

I know...I know...I've been a runaway blogger for the past couple of months....and neglected Cookie Jar like no blogger should! But hey, a gal's gotta study when she has to study.

Yup, you heard right. I've gone back to school. To a Health, Nutrition and Nourishment school to upgrade my knowledge and delve deeper into a field that I've always enjoyed. So, guys, here's the whole scoop. I'm studying at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York City, and will soon be a Certified Holistic Health Coach or a Health Coach, to put it more simply.

So, in a few short months, if any of you would like a lifestyle and health makeover, a generous dollop of happiness or some wholesome mind-body-spirit nourishment, then be my guest at Luscious Health, my brand new health coaching business.

More later. And this time, I won't disappear down the rabbit's burrow ;).


Friday, July 15, 2011

Be your own boss

I love it when people can stop working for others and become their own boss. When they can slip off the heavy chain called ‘corporate job’ or for that matter any job, and slip into the role of an entrepreneur, running a business doing what they are passionate about. It could be a craft business, a writing venture, a food biz….anything that makes that person tick.

I ‘met’ Meytal Ron at the Etsy hub and was happy to see another person doing what she loves. A designer and artist, she worked in the high-tech 3D design arena before giving up her day job to start Jolinne and Honeyboo, two quirky Etsy stores where she retails lovely prints. Having always loved painting and art, it was not a surprise that this hobby was turned into a viable business and art that all of you are sure to love.

I love books



The sound of music



Puppy love



See more of her work at Jolinne.

Read her interview at the Etsy Blog.

Image credit: Meytal Ron

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Feast of Colors

Every now and then, while researching for information or when I get tired of working, I hop onto my magic carpet and cruise over to interesting blogs. One fab blog leads me to another, one artist/entrepreneur introduces me to another. And in this way, I get to see a wide range of quirky, creative, whimsical, pretty, breathtaking blogs and ‘meet’ a bunch of interesting people.

In fact, these blogs led me to start my own web diary, a place where I decided to interview these bloggers. But as the days go by, I realise that interviewing all of them will take time and while I continue to send out interview requests, I need to post good stuff out here for you to dig into. So from now on, you’ll see a lot more snazzy snippets in this online scrapbook. Snippets about cute blogs, artists, entrepreneurs and interesting people. You’ll see more art and craft. More eye candy. And of course, the interviews too.

Talking about creativity and eye candy, you just have to-have to go over to A Creative Mint. Started by LA-based Leslie Shewring, an architect and interior designer by degree, a product designer by profession and stay-at-home mother by passion. This blog is her treasure trove of projects and photographs that she has put together with lots of TLC. I personally love the luminescent colours, the simple yet beautiful photos and the exuberant mood boards.

Pretty pink


Cool blues and greens

Pages from Leslie's journal


Sherbet

More roses

See more of her lovely images at A Creative Mint.

Image credit: A Creative Mint/Leslie

Monday, July 11, 2011

Time to...

Gosh! It’s been two long months…or rather, if you look at it from my perspective, two short months. The months just whizzed by. Projects jostled for my attention, lined up on my To-do List cheek-by-jowl. Yes, the past month or more was busy, and now I have some breathing space to hang around the Net, flip through blogs and maybe sometimes, just switch off the computer and read a book by my bamboo grove.

Having enough work as a freelance journalist and entrepreneur is great. But at the same time, chunks of free time are equally amazing. I know….I know…these days it’s almost a sin to admit that one has time, that there are days when one is not Busy. Clocking 10-12 hour days is the norm. Working weekends is a done thing. Being perpetually stressed is expected. A sack-full of extra weight, a hurriedly grabbed lunch, zero time for exercise…well, that’s kind of mandatory, isn’t it?But let’s talk about the Busy buzzword on another day.

So, while you think about the “I’m Busy” banner that most of us like to flaunt most of the time, take a short break to enjoy these lovely drawings by Penelope Neal. She does absolutely amazing pencil drawings and watercolours. Here are some of her sketches that will remind you of time, of what’s it like to have time.

Time to chat with the fish...


Time to enjoy...


Time to sleep, snooze, relax, rejuvenate...


Time to love, to catch up with pals...

Image credit: Penelope Neal

To see more of Penelope's work, cruise over to her website and blog

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

q & a with Anisha Ghosh of Saffron Marigold


Hello everyone! Thanks for stopping by, for leaving little notes that makes a blogger's day, for signing up in the Followers section. All this makes working on Cookie Jar so special. So please come in, settle down on large squishy cushions and woven rugs, sip from cups of coffee and tea, and let's talk about handmade love.

I love everything handmade. I’ve decorated my own home with handicrafts bought at exhibitions and craft bazaars, with paintings that my father, husband and I have done, and embroidery projects that my mother and I have worked on. The colours are warm, and there is so much handmade love. While each person has his or her own ideas about decorating, I personally believe that handmade things can make a house into a magical and beautiful home. There’s a story or memory behind each little trinket, and you know that like our fingerprints, no two pieces of handmade craft are the same.

If after this little paragraph, you’re in the mood for something handmade, then read on about Saffron Marigold and how its founder Anisha Ghosh started this unique and beautiful online boutique. And better still, get hold of the May issue of The Ideal Home and Garden that has an entire article about her business – written by me J. But before you step out to buy the magazine, why don’t you meet her first and chat a bit.

Hi Anisha and welcome to the Cookie Jar...

Anisha at the artisan studio

q. Please tell us about your professional background – companies and jobs that you’ve worked at before starting your business.

a. I have a Masters Degree in Human Resources from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. After completing my Masters degree I worked in Human Resources for approximately 5 years in companies both in India and the US.


q. How did you start your business? 

a. The idea to build a small business first came to me when as a young bride, having just arrived  in the US, I longed to decorate my home with beautiful Indian textiles; wishing their vibrancy would help lift the feelings of homesickness that frequently washed over me.

After working in corporate America for four years, a period that afforded me a fleeting ten days of vacation time in India a feeling of disconnect took seat within me. Although not a designer by education, I surrendered to my need to create a meaningful connection with the land of my birth and figure out a way in which I could somehow weave together my love for Indian textiles, my desire to do creative work and my growing fascination with the Internet and the immense possibilities it presented.

I also wanted to offer discerning customers a choice to own bedding and linens that have a story to tell, that have been created by human hands, and that somehow have imprinted upon its fibres, generations of skill, culture, and tradition.

After several months that consisted of taking a few classes, travelling, research, a lot of thinking, conceptualizing, ideating and work Saffron Marigold.com was launched in January 2005.



q. Tell us about the artisan you work with.

a. He comes from a line of ancestral hand block printers in Rajasthan. A commerce graduate by education, after cycling through a few accounting jobs he was quickly disillusioned with the unstable world of work. Therefore, he decided early on to take ownership in his destiny by starting his own block printing studio.

He employs 20 artisans now. These days he primarily plays the role of the colour master in the studio and along with two of his brothers manages all aspects of production.



q. What are the different products you offer under your brand?

Ans. We currently retail a range of cotton bedspreads, duvet covers, shower curtains, curtain panels, valances, tablecloths, table runners, napkins, pillow covers and cushion covers.


q. Where do you get your inspiration from?

a. I draw inspiration for my designs from memories, impressions from travel, or from India’s rich and diverse arts, culture and tradition. I also glean a lot of imagery from history, art, music, poetry, literature, architecture, fragrance, apparel and nature.



q. Please tell us about your business approach.

a. We have taken the slow and steady approach towards building our business. We were clear from the start that we weren’t in this to turn a quick profit. We wanted to build a business that was solid, sustainable and founded on values that were not only thought through but meticulously and intentionally woven into the various systems that the company runs on. At the risk of sounding clich├ęd, our entire journey has been blessed and memorable.



To hop over to Saffron Marigold, just click here.

Image Credit: Saffron Marigold

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dreams in my pocket - Anaka Narayanan



I learnt to sew recently. Signed up for a 2-month crash course and stitched a whole lot of clothes – skirts, tops, kurtas, lil’ girl frocks, kaftans, totes, and cushion covers. I never imagined that working the sewing machine would be so much fun, especially because I was always terrified of this strange machine, which I associated with women of another generation.

Ah! Our moms’ generation and the skills they had. Almost vintage now. I wonder how many young women in urban India stitch, embroider and knit? While, the crafting movement is quite hot in other countries, I guess here, it’s still associated with mothers and grandmothers. Most women today would rather post messages on Facebook in their free time…

Anyway, since I was craving for the above-mentioned vintage and traditional skills, I decided to go the whole mile, and learnt to embroider and knit from my mother. In fact, we’re planning to launch a small business with our own line of hand embroidered home furnishings. We’re still working at it like busy little Santa’s elves.

And while we’re talking about businesses built around something one loves to do, I must mention Anaka Narayanan, a self-taught fashion designer and store owner.  She runs Brass Tacks, an amazing boutique in Chennai and creates fantabulous clothes – all in handloom and with the smartest cuts and designs that I’ve ever seen.

Today she joins us in the Dreams in my pocket section. Hope you enjoy this interview.



I am….  

the owner and designer of a clothing brand, Brass Tacks. I grew up surrounded by beautiful handwoven textiles, but never thought I’d end up making a career for myself working with fabric. I studied economics, thinking I’d work on development projects, but while working for an economic analysis firm in New  York I started appreciating fashion (it was all around me). What stood out for me was the simplicity of the tailored silhouettes. Brass Tacks was conceived when I was in New York, and goal was to translate natural and handwoven fabrics into well-cut, tailored silhouettes.



My bread-butter-n-jam… 

I put together 4 collections a year and they are retailed at my store. I design each collection, working closely with my production team. I get to decide what fabrics to use and I have complete creative control over the theme and styling of each collection. It’s an amazing feeling to have that kind of ownership over your work, and to see your own creations generate business.



What inspires and invigorates me…

Unfortunately I don’t find enough time to go for my kalaripayattu classes, but it’s something that always leaves me feeling strong and high on positive energy. I love the movements in the class, but also being in a class where other people are pushing themselves to get better is really motivating (as opposed to jogging or swimming by myself).

I’m also very inspired by people who run their own businesses but who have such a great sense of humour that they never let challenges get the better of themselves.


I enjoy…

My morning cup of tea- and making it is as much a part of the enjoyment as the drinking! Unless I’m working on something that requires total concentration or reading, I always have music playing at home and in my office.



The clothes I design….

The clothes I design are very simple to look at, but there are a lot of unexpected surprises and hidden details that go into making it special and unique. A lot of time is spent on getting the right fit/shape, and we offer a wide range of sizes in the hope that most women will find something that works for them.

The designs are feminine, but not overly girly. They are not fussy and they are meant for strong-willed women who are confident and have an eye for detail. I supposed because my personal aesthetic is very simple, I never design clothes that could possibly be overbearing on the wearer’s personality.  



What counts…
Being happy. Although that’s easier said than done, because different things all add up to making one happy or unhappy. Still, it’s the only thing worth striving for.


The important lessons of my life…

Being compassionate. I know I’ve learned this but I don’t always practice it (what can I say, I’m work in progress).



Let me share…

I don’t know if I’m in a position to be giving advice to other entrepreneurs, but a friend of mine recently said something to me that made a lot of sense. You always read about how important it is for an entrepreneur to be hardworking, passionate and persistent. I’d like to add one more thing to that list: enjoy the everyday process.

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To view Anaka's website and collections, cruise over.. 

 Image Credit: Anaka Narayanan




Monday, May 2, 2011

Dreams in my pocket - Nidhi Chanani

I’ve recently shifted to another house – a sprawling old 'fauji' bungalow with a lawn and lots of trees. There’s a cluster of bamboo trees, a mango tree laden with green fruit, a rustling pine, a tall ramrod straight Ashoka and a nut tree. I love our new abode with large windows, lots of sunshine and fresh air, and spacious rooms. But what I love best is my little studio – a square room with gauzy block-printed Kota sheers, a table for my laptop where I do my journalistic work and another table for my sewing machine and art work. I’ve parked my easel in a corner, set up a sumptuous diwan in another with a large silk cushion and dotted the window sill with plants. I’ve used Craft Maps of India for the walls and a bright orange Ikkat durrie for the floor.

This work-and-craft studio opens up to the garden and porch, and the view from here is wonderful. When I work here I feel blessed – blessed for being able to do things that I love and in a place that can be best described as a “sunny little garden room”.

Speaking about blessings and the luxury of carving out a living doing what we like to do, let me introduce you to Nidhi Chanani. She creates gorgeously cute illustrations from her home studio. Here she chats with us about what she does and what she loves.

  

I am….

a freelance artist and designer based out of San Francisco. I was born in India but I grew up in Southern California. I always wanted to express myself creatively, either through words or art... In my mid-twenties I decided to change careers and try out art school. I haven’t looked back since.



I illustrate…

everything, really! My blog is my personal work... I generally draw from my life, my love and my wonderful friends and family. I am incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by supportive and sincere people... and San Francisco! I feel as though every time I turn a corner, go to meet a friend or catch a train I am living inside a dream. This city has so much beauty... And I travel a fair amount so I draw from those experiences as well.

I also create from my imagination, the wonderful thing about drawing is that there are no limits. I can take my feelings and thoughts and translate them into a world that’s my own creation.



My bread-butter-n-jam…

I make most of my living from my personal work. I sell prints and other products with my daily sketches... Every day I think about how lucky I am to be able to earn my living through art.

What inspires and invigorates me…

I get this question a lot, so I think this time I will tell you what is currently inspiring me. My friends and my moms. I really have some of the best friends, people you can count on, lean on or simply just enjoy a few glasses of wine with!

I also have the incredibly good fortune of having an amazing mother and mother-in-law!  The time we spend together is always full of laughter and wisdom.

Often I feel like my life is bubbling over with love.... that’s the best kind of inspiration.



I enjoy…

I am a pop music lover! I love Katy Perry, Michael Jackson, and so many others. I can’t draw without music on... I also love my cats, cuddling in bed with my hubbahubba, walking around my neighborhood in the evening, checking out too many books from the library and I won’t lie: I’m a total chocoholic. Currently I’m on a chocolate croissant kick.



Instant perk-me-ups…

I’ve been feeling blue recently and calls from my hubbahubba and my best friend always make me feel better. Taking time to snuggle with my kitty always makes me happy, too.



What counts…

My hubbahubba, friends and family... and my work.

The important lessons of my life…

Go with your gut. Take risks. Love widely, but protect your heart. Be kind.



Let me share…

I think my best advice is to go for it. Don’t just dream it, do it.


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See more of Nidhi's work here. And, visit her Etsy store here.

Image Credit: Nidhi Chanani







Monday, March 14, 2011

Archana Srinivas and the Colours of her Life





Daily life, everyday chores, regular things-to-do lists, these seem mundane. The everyday business of living can be boring to many, with only special occasions spicing up things. But for some, every little detail of life holds joy. Archana Srinivas of Rang –  The Colours of Life, is one such person. Based in Bangalore, this homemaker, mother and freelance photographer, and of course, avid blogger, lives her life with joie de vivre and captures the beauty of simple moments in her many blogs, through luminous snapshots and haiku-like lists.

Says Archana, “After working in advertising and web designing I decided to take a break when my daughter was born. It was an enjoyable break but nevertheless, the creative me needed an outlet and blogging provided me the perfect platform to express myself.

Rang- The Colours of Life, is my personal blog where I started sharing my everyday musings, my passion for food, travel, art and design, mostly in the form of photographs with my readers.

As I went about my daily life, I slowly started capturing these moments that were so mundane but nevertheless moments to be cherished and be grateful for.  These captures gradually made me look at even the most mundane things in a new light, new perspective. Yes I started seeing beauty in mundaneness!”

She also shares her mantra - “Life becomes precious and more special to us when we look for the little everyday miracles and get excited about the privileges of simply being human” ~Tim Hansel









Image credit: Archana Srinivas

Error while uploading pix

Hello everyone!

I've been trying to publish my posts for the whole of last week, but there seems to be a problem while uploading photos. And what's a post sans pictures?

If anyone has had similar problems, please do let me know. Also, suggestions to rectify the glitch are welcome.

Friday, March 4, 2011

q & a with Lisa Salamida of Savor




I'm a regular browser at Etsy. An online community of crafters and a marketplace for all things handmade, the website is buzzing with interesting products and inspiring interviews. It was while rifling through a sheaf of interviews on the site that I came across a post titled 'Quit your Day Job', where Lisa of Savor Soaps told readers about her delicious soap business. 'Savor' sounded fascinating, and so did she. Here at Cookie Jar, she chats with us about the business of soap making and life as an entrepreneur.

q. Please tell us about yourself – where you live, your family, and professional and craft background.

a. I live just outside of San Francisco with my husband, daughter, and four cats. I went to school in NY and have a degree in English, and came to SF to be an editor. After working as an editor in a newsroom for a few years (where I met my husband) I transferred to the  tech department and did tech support until I left to run Savor full time.

q. I read that you started your company in 2007. How did you choose this unique art, did you learn to make soaps from somewhere and what made you start Savor?

a. I just fell into soapmaking as a hobby. I didn’t learn it from any particular place, did a lot of reading online and a lot of it I just learned as I went.

Princess Bride Olive Oil Soap



q. What were the initial years as ‘soap artist and entrepreneur’ like?

a. The business took off very quickly, so I was working 40 hr weeks (on top of my full time job, so 80 hrs and commute time). My husband helped out a lot -- we were constantly busy and didn’t have a kitchen any longer, it was just used to make soap.

Ruby 8 Creme Fraiche Whipped Soap



q. What kind of products did you start with and how has the product line grown?

a. I made only bar soap. Now I make whipped soap, lotions, scrubs, body mist, and I used to carry lip butter. I’ll be making bubble bars and bath truffles in the future.

q. I’m sure you experiment a lot, while expanding your product line. What inspires you to create these absolutely delicious soaps and body butters?

a. I like to look at cookbooks or websites that collect photos of beautiful food.

 Indian Clementine Olive Oil Soap



q. Tell us about some of your favourite Savor products.

a.  My current favorite scent is Pacifics -- coconut milk and papaya. It is so creamy and warm -- love to use it on my daughter in the bath!

q. How do you promote your business?

a. Right now I’m not doing much promotion at all. I maintain my facebook page http://www.facebook.com/savorsoap and send out a semi-monthly newsletter with a coupon or sale inside. I buy advertising space online but only a few times per year.

 q. What is it like running a full time business from home and being a hands on crafter and creator?

a. It’s perfect. My success is tied directly to how hard I work. It’s an incredible motivator. However, my daughter is at an age where it’s very tough to get work done when she’s being playful. She goes to a neighbor’s house for two hours in the morning while I work.

Soft Parade Shea Butter Soap


 q. What is your day like?

a. We’re usually up at 6:30, breakfast at 7 and she’s off to the neighbor’s at 8:30. I work in the studio making items, and when she’s back she nurses and takes her morning nap, and I try to get my shipping done. She’s up again at noon and we have lunch, then pick up the house and we play for a while or go out and run errands, go to the park, etc. I do some more work during her afternoon nap, and then start dinner around 5. After we all eat at 6, she gets playtime, a bath, and I do more shipping while my husband and daughter play. She’s in bed by 9 and I’m usually asleep by 11.

Badedas Creme Fraiche Whipped Soap



q. What do you enjoy doing in your leisure?

a. I don’t have much leisure time. I like to read and Rowan and I go to swimming class on Saturdays.

q. Do you have any advice for people out there, who love to create things and would like be their own boss?

a. Being a crafter is not enough -- you really need a good head for business. I think it’s essential.

Monday, February 28, 2011

One of my fav blogs...


The first of March. The first of any month holds so many possibilities. A chance to have another go at that list of resolutions. Make more resolutions. Try a new things. Cook and craft more. Work..umm…more or less, depending upon what you want right now from your life. Exercise a LOT more. Loose a few pounds and maybe, fit into that pair of corduroys that’s still new.

I hope this month, I’ll blog more. Paint, sew and craft. Read. And study more.

Well, since I mentioned posting more on Cookie Jar, let me tell you about a blog I enjoy reading. It’s called Cotton Strudel, and it’s written by, umm, Cotton Strudel  – a crafter, web developer, English teacher, wife and new mum. Its one interesting blog for all those out there who like to cook, craft and know how to savour every moment of this life. I like to cruise over to her online sketchbook and scrapbook, to see what she’s up to these days. Reading her posts is like catching up with a friend who shares the same interests. Mine being crafting, cooking and sewing. 

Cotton Strudel's creation - a little girl giraffe names Aurora



Image: Cotton Strudel

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dithi's Art




The first time I stumbled upon Deez Den, I was totally hooked. Dithi’s art, vibrancy and passion for what she created were as much reason to read her blog as were the paintings she worked on and posted regularly. It’s been a couple of years now. I still visit her blog regularly, and her paintings continue to mesmerize me.

Beautiful, wholesome Indian women with burnished skin and doe eyes peek out from her canvases. From richly-adorned goddesses to the cotton sari-clad woman-next-door, her art portrays the essence of India and the spirit of the Indian woman.

I interviewed and wrote an article about her last year, in Femina.in and described what she does as “She paints like a dream, and with joy in her heart. Rich earthy colours, spicy flavours and memories of India fuse together into pictures that are anything but ordinary. Bronze-skinned and doe-eyed Indian women waltz through her canvases, whispering secrets for the onlooker to interpret.”

Here, in my blogzine today, I’d like her art to do the talking. So go on, meet the goddesses and girls that Dithi brings to life.

One of her latest paintings...

Saraswati - the Goddess of Learning
A Bengali lady with her batua (string purse)

Maa Durga