Saturday, January 26

Web Wanderings # 1 - Biscornu

This must be something everybody does - you read about something on a blog which catches your attention because its new unusual or just plain intriguing and then you meander through the web from one blog to the next, you google it and before you know it you've spent all day looking for visuals, techniques etc. I find it an enriching experience so I've decided to call such explorations Web Wanderings and post them on my blog.

The first Web Wandering is devoted to BISCORNU.

I discovered Biscornu mentioned in Mylene's blog who's participating in the Take it Further Challenge.
Then it was on to Google to check out what a Biscornu was. This was what I found
" the adjective "biscornu" originates in XVI century, composed by the prefix bis- which gives idea of plural, and "cornu" = "with horns"(literally it would be, "several horns") and means: having an irregular shape, bizarre, unnecessarily complicated."
Another more elaborate description was found at Pretty Impressive Stuff
"Biscornus are interesting little eight-sided pincushions that have become very popular in recent months. The word biscornu (sometimes written biscournu) is derived from a French adjective, meaning skewed, quirky, or irregular. My husband, ever the linguist, tells me that it literally means "two horned." Many English speakers, especially those from the Southern United States, think that biscornu is a cognate of the word biscuit. Well, it is similar in shape and size to a hand-pressed biscuit! Regardless, biscornu are basically made from two embroidered squares sewn together on point; the corner of one square meets the middle of the other as the two pieces are whip-stitched together and stuffed, creating the a quirky, skewed pillow. Additionally, many are finished off with a button in the center of the design top and bottom.
Most biscornu are worked in cross-stitch or Blackwork, because the even weave linen or AIDA (pronounced like the opera) fabric lends itself to counted techniques. While they can be made using traditional fabric, it is hard to get them the exact same size without the help of the counted fabric...

The tutorial for making a biscornu at Own Two Hands is the one I'm going to be following to make a biscornu.
Finally for some biscornu eye candy check out Anita's Stitching.

Monday, January 21

January TIF is now Complete!

The January TIF is done.
For evidence view the pix below.

A couples of stitches before the finish.

Ta-dah! The January TIF complete.

The little bit of paper with my mother's handwriting - I tore it out from a recipe for Cauliflower and Cheese. Along with being very creative with sewing and needlework, my mother is a wonderful and resourceful cook.

Details of the embroidery in the little spaces which tie the two pages together and make a connection between the two. I think the crazy quilting is an image of my mother's garden - full of interesting forms , colours & spontaneity.

I really enjoyed creating these pages. Now I'm waiting for 1st Feb. I'll begin compiling and creating the book once I have the "pages" for February and March done.

Saturday, January 19

Chillies - Red and Green

This week I've had to replenish the Molaga Podi also known as Gun Powder ( for very obvious reasons). R loves to eat Adai with Molaga Podi mixed with curd ( yogurt) or oil. Molaga podi is made with dried red chillies and lentils and since I had a large supply of fresh green chillies ( I always have a Tupperware container of green chillies in the fridge) I decided I would make a bottle of Raisin Stuffed Chili Pepper Pickles which I came across at Zlamushka's Spicy Kitchen. I regularly visit this blog which is devoted to Chillies and all things spicy - how wonderful is that!

So without further ado here's the recipe for Molaga Podi


Urad dal - 1 cup
Channa dal - 1 cup
Dry red chillies - 4 cups
Asofoetida - 1 tsp.
Salt to taste

Roast the dals with the asofoetida in a teaspoon or two of oil until the dals are golden brown in colour. Similarly roast the dry red chillies.
Grind the roasted dals and chillies until a powder and add salt to taste.
I like simple recipes that require local ingredients and the method is quick and straight forward.

I plan to translate simple recipes into embroidered pieces which I can frame and put up on a wall. I've made 4 and I think the Raisin Stuffed Chilli Pepper Pickles will lend itself to embroidery very well.


Green chillies
Pickling solution (1:1:1) Water, Vinegar, Honey

Wash the green chillies and cut off the tops of the chillies. I used the tine of a fork to loosen the seeds in the chillies, then I rolled the chilly between my thumb and fore finger to get the seeds out. The chillies I used were terribly spicy because at the end of the exercise my fingers were tingling and burning like crazy! So if you have sensitive skin please wear gloves for the de-seeding process.
Next stuff the chillies with raisins, as Zlamushka suggested I used a chopstick to aid the process.Pack the stuffed chillies tightly into a steralised glass bottle which has a lid which screws on tight.
In the mean time combine the ingredients for the picking solution in a vessel and bring to the boil, take off the fire and allow to cool. Pour the solution into the jar with chillies.
Now the next bit was something new for me. Place the pickle jars in a big pot, cover with water and bring to the boil. Allow to cool, take the bottles out of the water and store in a cool dark place for about 3 weeks.
I think they will be great in a sandwich but that's going to take 3 weeks.

The bottle of Raisin Stuffed Chili Pepper Pickles.
I have a bottle of the pickling solution so I'm going to put in some raisin stuffed chillies and some sambar onions (shallots), that should be an interesting variation.

Wednesday, January 16

What Kind of Cheesecake Are You?

I simply couldn't resist.This is so much fun. I hope you think so too.
Someone make me a Chocolate Mocha and Orange Cheesecake. Priya get that oven out from under your desk.
You Are a Chocolate Mocha and Orange Cheesecake
Enthusiastic and intense, there's so much you love in the world... it's hard to do it all.You are good at getting things to mix - friends, flavors, hobbies. You're the master of fusion!

Take it Further Challenge - Week 2

I've progressed! here's what happened on the pages for January.

Detail of the sea glass.

The saying when complete will read As the garden grows , so does the gardener.I'm putting this Old Saying in because my mother loves to work in the garden which is constantly changing- new plants and fruit trees or potted plants are rearranged, its a spontaneous garden ( if you can catergorise a garden like that) and she always says "It's a work in progress"

Detail of the crazy quilting.

I really enjoyed doing the crazy quilting, I wish I had some little bits of lace to add ,preferably taken off an article of clothing my mum used and was ready to discard - a handkerchief or something similar. I've enlarged the colour palette a wee bit to include a pinkish purple ( beads & thread) because my mum's favourite colour is pink.
I'm wondering what to do in the little space beside the sea glass& above the J. I thought I'd put a bit of paper with my mum's handwriting on it. maybe a border too, to hold all the elements of the page together.

Tuesday, January 15

Pongal O Pongal

Top row: little bowl of coconut chutney, vada and a bowl of sambar
Bottom row: Chakra pongal and Ven pongal

14th January is Pongal each year, this year its on the 15th, I think its because 2008 is a leap year. According to the Tamil calender its the first day of the month of Thai maasam.
Its the beginning of the harvest season and typical crops harvested during this period are rice and sugarcane. Celebrations go on for a week.
This year we had some family and a friend over and we had a Pongal brunch.
I made chakra pongal (sweet) and ven pongal (savoury) and Ochie bought the vadas,sambar and chutney from Shanti Sagar. It was good to get together and share a meal. Everyone got to take home pongal too, there was enough to feed a little army.
Here's the recipe for Ven Pongal and Chakra Pongal. ( Sapudu enjoy!)
Chakra Pongal
Ingredients: Raw Rice - 1 measure, Moong dal - 3/4 measure, Jaggery (3/4 ball), Ghee( lots of it, not less than 200gm), Cardamom -5 powdered, generous quantity of raisins and chashew nuts.
Method: Roast moong dal lightly to get rid of the raw smell. Pressure cook the rice and moong dal with plenty of water so that the rice and dal are mashed up easily.
To Jaggery add a small quantity of water and heat and dissolve. Strain the resultant liquid.
In a large vessel heat the ghee and fry the raisins and chashew nuts until cashew is golden, add in the strained liquid jaggery, mix well then add in the mashed rice and dal. Finally put in powdered cardamom, mix well and allow to cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring and mixing constantly.
It must be served and eaten hot.
Ven Pongal
Ingredients: Raw Rice - 1 measure, Moong dal - 3/4 measure, Ghee( lots of it, not less than 200gm), chashew nuts, Mustard seeds- 1 1/2 tsps, Jeera - 1 1/2 tsps, Ginger paste or cut into fine pieces - 2 tsps, Curry leaves, Green chillies - 1 or 2, Black Pepper corns crushed - 5, Asafoetida and Salt.
Method: Roast moong dal lightly to get rid of the raw smell. Pressure cook the rice and moong dal with plenty of water so that the rice and dal are mashed up easily.
Heat the ghee in a large vessel, when hot put in the mustard seeds and allow to splutter and burst. Once that's done, put in the cashewnuts and fry for a bit, then add the crushed pepper, jeera, ginger, curry leaves, green chillies and salt.
Lower the heat and add in rice and moong dal mixture and mix well, sprinkle some asafoetida and mix it into the mixture. Serve hot.

Wednesday, January 9

Death by Blue Screen

The laptop has developed a problem. Yesterday in the afternoon when I decided to log in and check mail, what I ended up viewing was a blue screen with two lines of information in white at the top of the screen (made no sense to me). R was informed by Rej ( who knows all ,even though he is no techie) that it was DEATH BY BLUE SCREEN.
I thought it was the end of all the fun I was having - surfing, the TIF challenge, setting up and posting stuff on my blog, learning new things - my current favourite is Widget. I love the sound of it. Now I know of Death By Blue Screen. Wish I didn't have to learn about it this way though.
So I won't have a chance to post pictures etc for a couple of days, I hope to be back with all the progress I've made on the TIF challenge early next week. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Monday, January 7

Take It Further Challenge - January

We got back from our New Year party at 3am and I just couldn't resist logging on and checking out the Take it Further Challenge for January. With the time difference between Australia and
India I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. I wasn't and what a fantastic way to start 2008!
I was initially drawn to the colour scheme but mulling over the concept I've finally decided to incorporate both into my piece for January.
The person I admire is my mother and the colour scheme works well because she's a Picean.
I plan to work in a 4"x 6' format.The idea is to create two pages ( like a double spread in a magazine) for each month. I'll make the twelve pages into a little book by the end of the year.
I have set myself some personal constraints - to first use what I already have - fabric scraps, beads, embroidery thread etc, incorporate found objects and recycle things, try out new techniques so that I create a collage like effect.

So here's what I've been upto.

Ok, the base for my work is cotton greige fabric, it used to be a laundry bag.I'm hoping to use it as the base for all the "pages"of my Take It Further Book.R's trips to Mumbai every alternate week will keep me well supplied with laundry bags.
The two pages I've outlined with running stitch on the right and the page on the left has a pale violet cross stitched border.

The J ( my mother's name) has been embroidered on a piece of fabric which I dyed with tea. Tea is and has been an intergral part of our lives forever and certainly an important part of my mother's life.

The bits of green are sea glass which I picked up on the beach in Goa. It symbolises my mother's love for gems & jewellery and her fantastic sense of style.
The Better Homes & Gardens Big Book of Alphabets and Borders was a lucky find at Blossom Bookshop and the floral initial is from it, I suspect its going to be used a great deal all through this challenge.Beside the book are some tussar silk pieces which I was given by a friend who makes beautiful clothes. I haven't done much crazy quilting so the tussar silk will be used to explore the technique on the left hand page for january.
So take a look and let me know what you think. Hope to show incredible progress next week!!!

Sunday, January 6

Studio Sattva

Studio Sattva is a delightful little shop in Lakeview Farm, Whitefield. Great place for unusual gifts,fashion accessories,contemporary jewellery,soft furnishings and accessories for the home.Devika has her ceramic studio adjoining the shop where she will be holding classes and doing her own personal brand of magic with clay.

One can spend a morning or afternoon browsing and buying, then at Tranquilitea which is a tea lounge one can choose from a menu of exotic sounding teas, I tried the Winter Frost.There's a little block printing unit and the community is growing a boutique is opening soon as well as a patisserie by which time a whole day of indulgence will be required.

I have been selling my hand embroidered scarves and chrocheted bikini bras embellished with sequins at Studio Sattvaa since November and now I have hats crocheted as a spiral, embellished with large roses and ruffled scarves ideal for the winter season. The caps are reversible and the roses can be pinned on your jacket or bag if you wish instead of the cap for that Retro look. The ruffled scarves add a touch of whimsy to your outfits.