Diwali is coming which means time for renewal and celebrations. Other than cleaning the house, washing the windows, rolling cotton wicks for oil lamps and preparing sweets, I thought I would make some fresh pillows to spruce up the place. I got these linens just for this purpose when we were in New York City last year. They have been impatiently waiting ever since. I wrote about the linen shop here.

Selvages on linen fabrics are irresistibly beautiful. I wanted to ornament the pillows with their rustic charm where ever possible.

One of the linens had this peachy fuzz on the selvage which was too cute to ignore. So I made up this easiest of pillows. This is how I did it roughly…
Finished size is 18” x 18”.

- Cut two pieces 19” x 18 ½” with selvage on the longer side of each piece. ( Front and Back of pillow)
- Cut 2 strips 3” x 19” for the straps on the top edge. You can adjust the width to any size you like it to be.
  Fold the raw edges towards the center of the strap as shown in the picture
- Cut 8 strips 1 ¼” x 9” or any size you like your ties to be.

To make the ties, pin two pieces, right sides together and sew on 3 sides with a 1/8” seam. Turn them out and press. Make 4 of these.

-Take one of the 19” x 18 ½” piece. Mark a dot, measuring 5.5” from the edge on either side. This is where we will pin the ties.
-Place the inner edge of the tie aligning with this mark. Also align the half-inch mark on the tie to the top edge of the pillow piece.

 - Now place the folded strap on top of the pillow piece and the tie, aligning with the top edge.
- Pin and top-stitch along the top and bottom of the strap.

-Repeat above steps for the Back pillow piece.

-Pin Front piece and Back piece, right-sides together and stitch on 3 sides with ½” seam allowance, leaving the top side open. Trim the corners close to the stitching line at a diagonal and turn right side out.

-Press and insert a pillow form. Knot the ties.
I hope I didn't confuse you with my tutorial of sorts ( ' u ' )

How are your festival preparations coming along? Be it lighting rows of oil lamps on window sills or decorating the front porch with pumpkin lanterns, the wind seem to be blowing festival magic and everything is glowing that autumnal orange and smelling of pinecones and sweetmeats! Yum!  Enjoy the season!
Wish you all a very Happy Diwali and a Hauntingly Happy Halloween! ( * V * )


for Amy

I love reading Amy’s blog and admire her beautiful quilts and learn so much from her wonderful lessons in quilting. I’m deeply sorry to hear of her Husband’s passing few days ago. Sarah is planning to make quilts for Amy and her daughter Annabel and wrap them in our love and warmth in this difficult time.

for Amy

Amy likes to work with Kaffe Fasset fabrics which is the outline in planning of these quilts. I put the center strip with birds and their little ones to express the sentiment that loved ones who passed on watch over us.

for Annabel
Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Amy.


Hiking in Greylock State Reservation

Usually we go hiking in Vermont or New Hampshire but this time we wanted to hike in Berkshires and stay local in the home state of Massachusetts. So naturally I picked Mt. Greylock State Reservation which offers numerous hiking possibilities. Mt. Greylock is also the highest point in Massachusetts.

Mt. Greylock is a state reservation that is also a home to 93 ft tall Massachusetts Veterans War Memorial Tower that was dedicated in 1933. “Erected by Massachusetts in grateful recognition of the loyalty and sacrifice of her sons and daughters in war”. Absolutely perfect place in memory of brave people who fought in the First World War. The views from the top of the tower stretch into the neighboring states of Vermont (Green Mountains), New York (Catskills) Connecticut and a distant New Hampshire (White Mountains).

There is also a Bascom Lodge at the summit with a kitchen serving food and provides accommodations to the visitors. We decided to stay there for the night after a 3 hour drive and a short hike on day one. We opted for a room with bunk beds. I had no idea what it would be like rooming with a bunch of people. Luckily we had the whole room for ourselves for that night except for the guests in other two family rooms. The views from the room were spectacular.

We picked a short trail on the day we arrived called Robinson's Point trail. Though the trail is of short distance, it was quite steep and slippery. Lost the trail couple of times but we got back on track quickly. The view of the valley below when we reached Robinson's Point was just amazing. We sat there and enjoyed our quickly assembled pbj sandwiches while watching the stillness in the valley below. The trail story is here if you are curious.

We had dinner at the lodge that night and I should say it is the best we have had in a long long time. All of the vegetables and meat is sourced from local farms in the surrounding valleys. Roasted vegetables, mushrooms, with capers were served for salad. For entree, we had eggplant meatballs, with pickled beets, poached tomatoes, braised beans, broccoli and mushrooms. Dessert was a chocolate crepe filled with slices of banana and chocolate mousse which couldn't have been more perfect with the sunset views .

We ended the evening with a wide grin on our faces and happy tummies. But the best was yet to come…I realized being on top of mountain and no light pollution, it provides a nice opportunity for star gazing. We walked out, saw this deep dark sky lit with countless stars, and a blob of milky way cutting across the sky….it was like powdered sugar on a velvet cake. Unfortunately words are all I have to describe because the rechargeable batteries I had gave up on me and iPhone is useless to take a picture of the night sky.

We woke up in the morning to a spectacular sunrise that was captured ineffectively by my iPhone. We started our day hike from the summit to the March Cataract waterfalls and to the Stony Ledge. I guess the storm prior day made the waterfalls to gush even more. Hope you like these pictures. The trail story is here.

Fall is here, hope you are all making the most of the sunny days we are having.

~ Kalyan


mint juice

In the cool of a whirring fan, I settled down with a pile of paper cuttings going through old forgotten recipes, hoping to find a page among these oddments for summer drinks which are popularly sold on sidewalks.

These drinks are usually made from fresh seasonal fruits or herbs and spices quenching the thirst of passersby and protecting a weary traveler from heat stroke. May be this is how our ancestors kept themselves cool in the scorching Indian heat before the days of colas and sodas with added benefits of much needed nutrients minus the negative effects of frizzy drinks.

pressing sugarcane into juice

But there is also a lingering thought of hygiene when going for drinks on sidewalks. For that reason we were only allowed a slurp of coconut water or freshly squeezed sugarcane juice when we tagged along on market trips as kids. And also, making a pitcher of limeade or buttermilk - again with a hint of fragrant lime is a regular affair on balmy summer evenings in every home.

As all our attempts to try that alluring drink on the road side stand remain foiled, we became even more desperate for a taste. So you can imagine my excitement to see this set of recipes and secrets generously shared by the stall keepers in the newspaper.

The recipe I’m sharing today is made from mint leaves, which apart from cooling the body also aids in digestion and helps in preventing infections of any kind. With the addition of spices, this juice falls into the spectrum of savory drinks and is instantly refreshing.

A word of caution though; since we generally tend to favor drinks that are on the sweeter side, this could be an acquired taste. Please adjust the seasoning according to your taste.

serves 4.

For mint stock (will keep fresh for 2 days in the refrigerator)

Mint - 2 bunches (pick leaves and leave out stems)
Black salt - 2 tsp
Salt - a pinch (adjust to taste)
Fennel seeds - 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 2 tbsp
Peppercorns - 2 tsp

cumin seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns, black salt

Fennel seeds (sauf) have a mild anise flavor and are normally taken as after-dinner mint; chewing on these seeds helps in digestion and also serves as breathe freshener.

Black salt is a mineral salt in pinkish tone. It is considered cooling spice and is commonly used as condiment in a variety of street foods or sprinkled on cut fruit or savory snacks. It has a sulfurous odor, so better to use it sparingly.

Preparing mint stock

-Heat a skillet and lightly toast cumin seeds and peppercorns for 2 to 3 min. or until you get a whiff of their aroma.
-Grind rest of dry ingredients along with toasted cumin seeds, peppercorns into a fine powder and keep it aside.
-Now grind mint leaves adding a cup of water or as much as you need to make not too runny mint stock.
-Sieve this juice into a bowl and add the spice powder you just prepared.

To make the juice you need,

Lime juice – from half a lime
Jaljeera powder – to taste (optional)

Jal jeera powder, lime juice , mint stock

Jal jeera is an appetizer drink and is more popular in North India. Jal is water and Jeera means cumin. Jal Jeera powder is made with cumin and various other spices and stored in a Jar to be used on a whim.
I followed this awesome recipe by chef Harpal Singh to make the powder.

Preparing mint juice

-Fill 3/4th of a glass with cool water.
-Add 4 tbsp. of mint stock.
-Squeeze lime juice.
-Sprinkle a pinch of Jaljeera powder on top.

In my first attempt of making this mint juice, I didn't have JalJeera powder. So I left it out and the juice is just as delicious without it. Feel free to omit this powder if you are not in a mood for all the extra work.

 Locally, these drinks are chilled in mud pots wrapped in a soaking wet cloth, but you could refrigerate the mint stock and use it when needed. It keeps fresh for 2 days.

I hope you are delighting in fruity sorbets and creamy gelatos while this heat wave passes on.
Have a relaxing weekend! ( ' u ' )



On a windswept day

Leela and her friend roly-poly frog sat in the warm sun watching flowers floating in the pond.

A twittering swallow flew her way and dropped a flower, very fresh and very blue.

When roly-poly frog went for a dip in the pond, Leela walked home happily with lovely blue flower in hand.

I made this quilt block for Partnership quilts for 2012 Tokyo quilt festival.

After drafting a 9” x 9” block on graph paper, I used paper-piecing technique to do the squares which are focus of the block. Then added rest of the pieces to complete the story. I stitched these blue flowers by hand and added ripples around them with silver thread.

Sun being a significant part of Japanese culture I put it in the block as a symbol of hope.

Focus fabric is 'Trefle' by Kokka which is one of my favorites. There are also various linen and double guaze fabrics in here.

(picture from Ayumi's blog)

The theme this year for Partnership quilts is triangles and squares. Blocks sent by the quilters around the world are made into quilts and at the end of last day, these will be auctioned to help those suffered from earthquake. If you are interested in making a block, there is still lot of time. Deadline for the blocks to reach Japan is August 31.

Please visit Ayumi’s blog Pink penguin for all the details.
Thank you so much for this opportunity to be a tiny part of Tokyo Quilt festival, Ayumi! ( ' u ' )

Have a beautiful evening! ( * u * )


Roses at Minot Garden

Ever since we stumbled on this garden in 2008, we have been visiting every year and find ourselves eagerly looking forward to visiting again next year. Recently, Minot Rose Garden has undergone a renovation with more benches to sit and enjoy these little beauties. These are the pictures from our second visit this season and few from the past. Hope you like them.

On the trellis

There is something very English about these

Very delicate and aromatic

Bright and beautiful

Have a nice week ahead. Hope these pictures cure your Monday morning blues.

~ Kalyan