Black Nightshade (Manathakkali /Kamanchi/Kaachi Soppu)

Last summer, when my MIL visited us, she found the black nightshade plant growing around the trees in the pavement. This is a common plant in India. (Manathakkali/ Kamanchi/Kaachi soppu). The leaves and berries of the plant are used in cooking.

I’ve never noticed them before. These plants were also growing in the garden maintained by our apartment. When the gardener was weeding them out, MIL took a well grown plant and brought it home. It was peak of summer and the plant didn’t look healthy. There were lot of berries which were falling into the other pots nearby. Then it was fall and winter. The plant died.

This spring we noticed lot of plants growing fast in the pots in which I had planted garlic & dill.  Initially, we thought it was a weed but later recognised it. The berries that fell last summer had started growing now.

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Harvested leaves – 21 May 2017

I had enough leaves to cook this recipe from Padhu’s Kitchen  🙂

Keerai Kootu Recipe-Manathakkali Keerai Kootu

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Black night shade plant with berries – 26 May 2017

Now there are white spots/ discolouration on the leaves. I’ll update this post if I find the reason for discolouration.

Indoor Herb Garden

I’ve always wanted to have an indoor herb garden. I also mentioned it in my last post. I had bought seeds for coriander, dill and spearmint. I bought these colorful planters from the dollar shop and planted it around early March.

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Coriander, Spearmint & Dill – March, 2017

I’ve got spearmint plants growing outside but just wanted to try growing them from seeds. It’s taking a lot of time to grow. The coriander and dill plants grew faster.

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Spearmint growing from seeds

 

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Dill, Spearmint & Coriander – April 20, 2017

Although it’s not sufficient for Indian cooking, I’m happy that I’ll always have some in my garden! 😀

Growing Garlic & Dill

Another ~40 days for the Sakura (cherry) to bloom and we are really anxious to see some fresh green colour in the garden. Last spring we were too busy with cousins visiting us and then a month’s trip to India. This year we are all set for our early spring vegetable gardening!

Bitter gourd was the only success last year. We lost many other plants to pests. The spearmint plants just dried up. I hope it does not repeat this year.

For growing coriander I had used the Dhaniya seeds used for cooking. But they didn’t grow into healthy plants. And Dill, I’ve always wanted to grow them but didn’t know how. I recently knew they sell seeds and I started to plan for the indoor herb garden.

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Coriander plants – Fall of 2015

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Spearmint harvest – 2014

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Spearmint harvest – 2015

We went to the Home depot to look for a good stand for the herb planters. We didn’t find a right one 😦 We just bought some Coriander, Dill and Spearmint seeds. We also bought a rose plant.

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Coriander, Dill and Spearmint Seeds

This morning, Ganesh was repotting the new rose plant. Just then the idea of planting garlic struck me. Few garlic bulbs in the kitchen were already sprouting.  I checked some gardening websites and decided to plant them. I also found that Dill was a good companion plant to grow with garlic. We planted both garlic and Dill. It was a nice start to the day!!

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Garlic & Dill  – 11 Feb 2017

I will update this post with the pictures when it starts growing 🙂

Thanks for reading! Have a nice day!

Update:

April 20

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Felt Peacock

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Felt Peacock Wall Hanging

It was 20 years back, when SV & I made a peacock rangoli for a Rangoli competition at school. It was 1996 and we were in the 6th grade.

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Peacock Rangoli at School

I learnt to draw this peacock from one of my mom’s embroidery sketches. I drew this everywhere. Mostly in the last page of all my class notebooks. SV, RK and I were the last benchers in 8th grade. RK had added a tree near the peacock neatly sketching the bark. Since then, I started adding the tree to the ‘last page drawing’.

Two years back I found a black velvet fabric board at the dollar shop. That was the time I was too interested in felt crafts. I immediately got the idea of peacock patchwork on the board using felt. I bought the board and it was lying idle for 6 months. Then I started to work on the paper cutting. Another 6 months passed. I started doing it from last week.

I used embroidery thread for the tree bark. I tried to cut the leaves from felt but it didn’t look attractive. I tried the leaf sequins and thought it looked better. I bought few coloured rhinestones during my last India trip. The colours were perfect for the peacock. The little stars are the ones used in nail art. Nail art stars suited better than the regular star sequins.

Hope you all liked it!

Growing Bitter gourd – Unexpected Success!

It was my husband’s idea to grow Bitter gourd this year. I thought our balcony might not be the right place for the plant. I wasn’t confident and left it to him. But it turned out to be a great success. We harvested 3 bitter gourds in the first round. Expecting 5 more in the second. 😀

 

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First round of harvest

 

Handicrafts from around the world – Otomi

Handicrafts from around the world – These are the ones that I love and wish to do some day. I know it’s not going to happen very soon. 🙂 For now, I’m just sharing all the info I collected. I hope you enjoy it. Please share your views and ideas too! Thank you!

I’m going to start with Otomi handicraft from Mexico. The thought of writing about different handicrafts struck me when I was reading about Otomi. So started with it.

Otomi Embroidery

Otomi people are an indigenous ethnic group from Mexico. Otomi people were hit by drought in 1960’s and the farming community found a new form of revenue through their embroidery.

Otomi embroidery mostly depict birds and animals. Otomi people draw it free hand and don’t use stencils. These embroideries are colourful and take a very long time to finish.

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Otomi embroidered pillow cover Source: http://www.tlallidesigns.com/

Otomi Dress -Image Source: ArteOtomi

Otomi Handbags- Image Source: http://casaotomi.myshopify.com/

Otomi pattern printed fabric is also available. They are used for curtains, table runners, pillow covers and many more. Unlike the colourful embroidery, this comes in single colour.

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Printed Otomi fabric   Source: http://www.hyggeandwest.com

The below picture shows a upholstered headboard using printed Otomi fabric . For DIY instructions, click here DIY Upholstered Otomi headboard

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Otomi headboard  Source: http://www.designsponge.com

Otomi patterns can also be painted on walls, furniture and fabrics using stencils.

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Table top stencilled with Otomi pattern  Source:http://www.royaldesignstudio.com

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Wall stencilled with Otomi pattern Source: http://m.cuttingedgestencils.com

Papier-mâché 

These are the baskets my grandma and mom made using Papier-mâché. Mom was a little girl then. She painted them. These are more than 40 years old!! Grandma still uses them. 🙂

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40 year old paper basket

Materials required:

  • Bits of paper
  • Fenugreek seeds
  • Water to soak
  • Blender
  • Paint

Soak bits of paper in water with fenugreek seeds. Let it soak for more than 24 hours. Then remove excess water and blend it into a paste. Mould it into a shape or apply it on a bowl or basket. Let it dry for one or two days. Once its completely dry, paint it.

I haven’t tried it yet. I will try it very soon and post the step-by-step pictures.