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Frustrating things about renting and Tips to overcome

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Today is a special day. I told you in the beginning of the year that there are some wonderful opportunities that this blog brought my way and this one is big on the list. I have joined Ursula's creative team for Home Made by Carmona ( Home Made By Carmona -doesn't need introduction if you are reading blogs for a while - But in case you haven't heard , it is a must-follow blog, rather community) and my first post is up over there. Please do check out this DIY Candle, awaiting you there. If you are stopping by from HMC. a very warm welcome to This Design Journal. You are loved and valued here.

If you are a reader for sometime, you already know that we rent. We have been renting for past 6 years and have changed home 3 times in as many. Do I love renting? No, I would love to own a home and we are working hard towards it. Why am I not a fan? If you love decorating your home and you rent, you already know the main reason. But there are other reasons too, like not having that sense of belonging - that sense of security - that sense of -"my own" . These feelings are hard to overcome, according to me accepting the fact is the only thing actually there to do. But rest everything can be and should be fixed. and that is what I am thinking about here.


Most of the times we feel alienated at our rental home is because we treat ourselves as aliens there. Instead add all possible personal touches there. That would include your lovely memorable moments, your favorite fragrances, your pets and plants. How do they help? they remind yourself and others around you that this place is yours, as long as you live there.
  • Have personal photos and mementos displayed
  • Have living things other than people.
  • DIY some of your decor accessories
  • Have storage pieces that suits your needs

Decorate the hell out of it

Often times our landlords give us strict boundaries. While some of it could be fixed, like the boring beige only on the walls - some should not be violated like no painting the kitchen cabinets or make additions to closets. But as they say nothing is really impossible - or at the least un-attainable ( somethings are - but for the sake of keeping positive outlook , let us listen to inspirational speakers) . Decorating the place you live falls under this. We can work around - only you have to be smart about them. 

Painting the walls, at least one accent wall is the easiest way to update any space - but if that isn't for you there are a number of easy things you could and should do .
  • You must have art on the wall
  • Add a rug - it is a great investment
  • You can swap out standard light fixtures for your own
  •  Liven up the walls with colorful accessories

Open the doors to Friends

One thing that you need to do to make a house home is to share it with others - as many as possible. While it is not practical or feasible for most of us to host soirees extravagant, we could do simple, informal gatherings of people we love. I used to have trouble with this part though - because I am not a good cook and then I thought my house isn't big enough and then I thought it isn't great for people to get comfortable, at least I thought I am not good enough - but I found out to my greatest delight that it doesn't matter, none of it matters - all that our friends care is having good company, some thoughtful conversations, some gossips ( wink, wink ) and laughter. So here are my bullet points for this part.
  • Have casual get-togethers
  • Volunteer to host seasonal holidays
  • Have game / movie nights
  • Just have a friend over for tea

Fair points right! I believe, rather I know all these are do-able on any budget because I have done it. And even though I don't love renting, I do love my home. It is our home.

Inspired? What else do you do to make it at home in your rental or even your own?

Create Your Own Unique Centerpiece

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Unique Wood Candle Centerpiece

Unique Wood Candle Centerpiece

Did you happen to read my last post on how I wrapped my tea light candles with Washi tape and called it hep and classic? If not do check it out here. Anyways I didn't stop there with them . I had been thinking about making a centerpiece for the dining table that isn't visually heavy or cluttering for a while - the gold candles gave me the prefect idea to come up with something simple yet unique.

I found this piece of scrap wood in the shape of an arrow at #Michales ( well no surprise there - I find almost everything from there) and decided to make use of it for my centerpiece.  All I had to do was to paint it black with edges gold ( I would have left it wood or even stained it but spilled some paint over - so had to paint to cover up) .

Unique Wood Candle Centerpiece

Next all I did was to stick a few plain candle holders with E6000 glue on the wood piece and add some left over eucalyptus stems for decoration. Of course the tea lights inside them are my washi covered candle sweet hearts.

Unique Wood Candle Centerpiece

Isn't it unique but simple?  What I love most is the custom holder doesn't involve neither power tools nor a lot of effort. All done well under 30 minutes. A 30 minutes well spent right!

I don't know about you - but I have a small dining table and when I have guests - I have to move my centerpiece away always to make room for plates and bowls - But this one is thin enough and so out of the way that I hope not to have to do that again. And even if I have to I find consolation in that it isn't heavy at all :-) Do you do centerpieces and decorate the dining table? Do you have to move it away like me too?

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Happy New Year & A Candle DIY

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Gold Washi Tape Candle DIY

Happy Happy New Year Friends !!

Hope all of you are off to a great start this time. Do you make new year resolutions? I am a person who usually makes one or two every year only to forget a month or even a few days later. But this time - I am serious. So serious that I am daring to jot it down and share with you. Bold right! Necessary too. 

I have three resolutions rather goals for this year. At the outset they seem fairly easy - but that is when you actually know what to do to reach those goals. I am starting only with a certain clarity which I need to refine and turn in to actionable objectives. So what are they?
  • Be mindful and Simplify
  • Read/Re-Read classic books - by myself and with Akshara
  • Spend more time with the Blog ( Plan the posts ahead/improve photography)
As I said they seem fairly easy when you just read it or hear it. But I have to figure out how -to reach them on the go.

If you are following me on Instagram, you already know that we are off to a great start with with reading , reading Little Princess By, Frances Burnett with Akshara. We are enjoying the curious Sara's adventures and quirky thoughts to the fullest. 

Now regarding the first goal, being mindful and simplifying - I have to work much harder for this. I have picked up a real gem to help me start off. I am not really that person to pick up books to help me organize and do household chores. Until now I thought we all know how to do it - kind of like inherited the knowledge somehow - until I came across Marie Kondo's  Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up. I picked it from library for sheer curiosity to find out what the buzz about this book really is - but after reading through say ten pages, I knew I have to have it. The book, the ideas and the concepts resonates with you and your thoughts completely and I am sure any homemaker would feel the very same way. More on that later.

Gold Washi Tape Candle DIY

I do have a very mindful DIY today to share with you, that resonates with the goals for the year - that is simple and mindful and adds to those moments when you take time for what matters. 


Teal Light Candles
Washi Tape

Gold Washi Tape Candle DIY

Gold Washi Tape Candle DIY

It is a simple process - the idea is to cover the regular plane Jane tealight candles with pretty tape and you are done and ready for next dinner party or a beautiful yet very regular supper with family.

Gold Washi Tape Candle DIY

Gold Washi Tape Candle DIY

You can also place them in a regular candle holder for added safety.

Gold Washi Tape Candle DIY

Simple job with least amount of effort but adds a ton of charm to your evenings, right! Let simple be new pretty! So have you started working on your resolutions? what are your goals this brand new year? Share with this community, let us have some fun.

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Wrapping Up

Thursday, December 24, 2015

We are at the fag end of a very eventful year. It has been a good year for this small blogging adventure too. It has been a little more than an year I have been blogging (If you would kindly forget and forgive me for those 5 odd months I went AWOL) But anyways, I learned so much, came across wonderful opportunities and am sure beautiful things are yet to happen, including a surprise early next year - Thank you all - all those who read me, leave comments above all encourage me to move forward.

Before I wrap up - here is a little wrapping inspiration for you all. I have used most generic wrapping paper and twine here, but I did spruce up with clay gift tags.

I have used the regular Air Dry Clay - which I rolled out and cut out in the shape ( in my case a tree) and painted it - then decorated with things I already had in hand. I believe any generic wrapping paper can be notched up with a thoughtful handmade tag - and these are proof.


Air dry Clay
Mod Podge
Glitter Dust
Colored Fennel Seeds

Take a handful of clay and using a roller pin roll it out to medium thin sheet. I used a tree template cut out on card board as stencil and cut out the shape from sheet with a knife. Do not forget to make a small hole on the top to tie up.

How- To

It takes a day for air dry clay to dry (polymer clay could be baked and ready in half an hour. Once dry you can paint it and decorate. I used mod podge to glue my decor stuff on to the tag. They stay as long as you handle gently.

Now wrap your gifts and tie up using twine how ever you want.

So that is a wrap from This Design Journal for now. See you all after the holidays. Wish you all a merry Xmas and happy happy Holidays.

Personalized Polka Dot Ornaments

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

What is happier than making your own ornamnets and watching them thinking of the moments you made them? I say gifting your creations to dear friends and share those moments with them. That is what I did with this set of ornaments - Made them, decorated them and even personalized them with their initials. Happy right!

Decofoil Personalized Polka Dot Ornament

I wanted a classy look because this particular friend loves things classic - be it a story, be it accessories - so I went for white and gold and red. But other than the color choices ( for which I though long and hard) everything else about this DIY is simple and is done under an hour.


Ceramic Ornaments
The zot transfer dots
Gold foil Paper
E6000 Glue
Foil Transfer Letters (Michaels )

It all started with the white ceramic ornaments I spotted at Michaels. I had the Gold Foil transfer sheets. I knew the combination would be classic. Besides I haven't known a girl who didn't love polka dots yet -  What was tricky in my plan? Finding a way to make perfect dots. I tried with hole punches and sticking them to the ornament - but that was messy and fussy and glue all over. I searched for an alternative - that was also the time I came across Therm O Web products ( remember the posts here and here) and I found the Zots adhesive Dots perfect for my project. I ordered them through Amazon though ( free shipping is hard to pass up!).

Once you have the adhesive dots - it is fairly simple. You have to ensure you don't touch the dots with your hands - instead use the ornament itself to adhere it directly. Once you have the dots on the ornaments - cut down small strips of the foil sheets and press it on the glue dot, metallic side up.

I used the same technique with the transfer letters - Only i had to use E6000 glue to stick it to the ornament. Simple and easy diy project for a quiet afternoon - right!

Decofoil Personalized Polka Dot Ornament

Have you finalized your gift giving plans for the year? do you think DIY ornaments make a cool gift for a dear one?

Buddha Board - Modern day Etch A Sketch

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

This post is about a new product I came across very recently. Enso's Buddha Board is completely new to me thing but it immediately reminded me of my younger days. I was born and brought up in a small town in rural Kerala ( southern part of India) where we learn alphabets by writing in the sand. Yes, in the sand - on our front courtyard - a small area - a foot long or something - was built with bricks for border and we would sit and trace alphabets with our fingers - repeat it until we learn - I think the idea was to build the flesh memory that will be etched in our brain for ever . The world had moved forward so much by that time with notebooks and black boards but my parents were insistent that we learn and live the traditions and never forget our roots.

Then came the magic world of Etch A Sketch boards - I think I saw it first when one of my classmates brought it to school - apparently some one from abroad gifted it to her and we were amazed by it. These are things I have not thought about for a very long time but these snippets of my life were the first things I thought of when I received my Buddha Board. How the world has moved forward and how the time has changed us.

Anyways, Buddha Board is inspired by the Zen idea of living in the moment. You simply paint on the surface with water and your creation will come to life in bold design. Then as the water slowly evaporates, your art will magically disappear leaving you with a clean slate and a clear mind, ready to create a whole new masterpiece. Buddha Board is environmentally friendly as it only uses water - no ink, no paint, no chemicals - and it will last for years. Great idea, right!

Remember the magic the first time you used Etch A Sketch?  - I mean an ink that is erased just by a stroke of hand! Imagine my thrill when I realized this thing could erase ink by doing nothing. It was me who tried it out first, but it was my little daughter who found it amazing- as amazed as me with Etch A Sketch. The board as such comes with a pen brush which you can fill with water. You can dip the tip in water and use too - I believe any soft clean brush will work, but I haven't tried that.

She played around it but then I remembered I could teach her how to draw with it. She was especially thrilled by the angel we drew. I would draw first and when the ink slowly starts to disappear she would keep repeating - a fun game we found together.

The important part was how it kept her engaged to create one angel complete and perfect - like a race against disappearing ink.I found the focus and perseverance we need to finish our design- that is what it makes this fun tool special - that gives it the zen effect.

A simple way to engage the kids and ourselves and have some fun along the way , right! How do you guys relax ? Coffee and candy or Wine and a movie or making art or weaving ?

I partnered with Buddha Board makers to bring this post to you.While the team kindly sent me the product to try out, the concept, effort and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help me bring my ideas to life.

DIY : Glitter Dipped Snowflake Ornaments

Thursday, December 3, 2015

DIY Snow Flake Glitter Ornament

Christmas trees are definitely festive and fun. I agree completely. But you have to also agree with me that they don't come cheap. You get a real tree or fake it does drain your wallet. Do you know what drains your wallet more? The decorations and ornaments. They are a dollar or two a piece - but think how quickly they add up!

What drains me more is the fact that kids demand different things every year - putting up the very same set every year is not something they are not crazy about. I do have a set of special ornaments that I repeat everyyears - but then, they are special because they were made by us or gifted.

Now since I have been doing it for past three years, I know better and do better. I make them at home as much as possible. They are not super fancy or take up a ton of time and effort. On the other hand I am going for simple - that I can customize a different way come next year. So here I am sharing some of my favorite ones over the next few days. They are super simple and you can easily replicate or even take it to much fancier level.

First up is glittered snow flake ornaments.


Snowflake Gift Tags ( you can even cut out papers)
Acrylic Paint
Mod Podge
Glitter Dust

DIY Snow Flake Glitter Ornament

To start off I painted them white, since I have a white and gold theme going on. Once the paint is dry, which takes about 10 minutes - tape off some part of the snow flake and apply a thin layer of mod podge. Generously spread a layer of glitter dust and let it sit for a few minutes.

DIY Snow Flake Glitter Ornament

DIY Snow Flake Glitter Ornament

 Shake off the excess dust and let dry for thirty minutes. Apply another thin layer of mod podge to seal off the glitter. and you are good to go.

DIY Snow Flake Glitter Ornament

Simple right! I bought 2 bags of the tags from target for a dollar each, I had rest of the supply in hand. that means 12 glittery home made ornaments for 2 dollars - I am not counting the precious time I spend with my daughter to make those here.

Hope that was easy peasy to inspire you to splatter some glitter dust fun around. Do let me know.

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