Monday, February 24, 2014

Aroma in Air!!

With this extended cold weather i am kind of counting days as to when i can see my garden go alive again. I am a garden freak! Anyone who walks by my house knows that i spend majority of my Springs/Summers/Autumns in my yard than inside my house. My favorite shopping stops during these seasons are local nurseries. I survive on them, even if i am not buying anything i have to make these visits to local nurseries to rejuvenate myself. With winter, as harsh as it is in the place i live, i can't help but end up bringing a part of my yard(mostly my tropicals) inside my house. Greens in my house helps me to unwrap and relax.

Cold weather can take a toll on your garden so why not bring it inside! But Herbs are something which need no reason to bring or grow inside.

Indoor herb gardening is a great alternative to shopping for herbs at your local grocery store and of course no question that aroma it can bring into your house can cheer you up!

Key elements of a successful indoor herb garden requires each herb to be planted in their own pot, adding crushed eggshells to organic dirt and never over watering your herbs (most require much less than a typical houseplant).Top best herbs to grow indoors are Mint, Cilantro, Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary,Basil, Chives and Parsley. Keep your herbs in a well- lit area and they will be sure to flourish!

While mentioning about herbs i have to make a mention about herbs very close to my heart and they are - Curry Leaves and Tulsi(Holi Basil)!! Growing up in South India i can say that you will hardly find a house which will not carry these herb plants. I don't want to say much about Tulsi and Curry leaves here at this time because they deserve dedicated posts for themselves.
What's not to LOVE about these pretty ways of growing herbs right in your kitchen! So pretty, simple, accessible and efficient! and above all the Aroma that will linger around your kitchen and house is worth all your efforts...

What do you think about these different ways to grow herb gardens? I have always grown my herb garden in clay pots. (Ofcourse .. you know my love for clay pots). Did you pick your favorite way to grow herbs in your kitchen this season? Well.. I have picked mine. Its not clay pots this time. I really loved the way they are grown in those recyclable tin containers, doesn't it have a charm of its own! I was going to try this, so sharing this Do-It-Yourself idea from my kitchen to yours..

Jump start your growing season by starting your herb garden in recycled cans. Place the cans on a tray to catch drips and position in front of a sunny window or on a windowsill.

Here’s what you’ll need:
•Tin can
•Large nails to make holes in bottom of each tin for drainage
•Herb plants
•Small bag of potting soil
•Small stones to put into bottom of cans
•Clear plastic pot saucers or small odd saucers to catch water

To Do:
1.Turn clean and dry can upside down and make a few holes in the bottom using a nail or awl and hammer.
2.With tin right side up, place a few stones or rocks into bottom of tin can and then add some potting soil leaving enough room for plant. Add plant to tin and press gently. Add more soil around plant if needed.
3.Line tin cans up in sunny window with drainage saucers underneath and water regularly. Now, It’s time to enjoy cooking with herbs all year round! You will have a handy source of fresh herbs in your kitchen all season long!

Photo Credits: Garden Mags

Have a wonderful spring this year ... Enjoy it and share your spring pictures with me!


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentines day special - A Historic Home Renovation - "gift of love"

As a valentine day special - I want to get to you this post which will portray a real love story . You definitely have to fall in love with this ruins as it stands to be able to take up renovation of this place as these homeowners did. They reconstructed a neglected Mississippi home in an epic three-year renovation project,and the results are stunning .

When high school sweethearts Maria Teresa "Tere" and William "Mac" Thomas, married for 39 years, began searching for a getaway near their hometown of New Iberia, Louisiana. Thomas's, had a hunting camp in mind. After a broker showed them the 680-acre property with rolling, wooded hills and a three-acre lake, they loved everything ... except the broken-down shell of a house that came with the parcel. "It was nothing that a match couldn't cure," jokes Mac. And so began what Tere calls Mac's "gift of love," a three-year gut renovation.

"If we were going to do it, we wanted to do it right," says Mac. That meant hiring a crew and crane to lift the 2,770-square-foot house onto supports, where it sat for more than a year during repairs to its foundation and the installation of new insulation, plumbing, and electricity.

The Thomases knew that their 1820s home was about to be brought back to life. The couple already had big plans to transform Laurietta, as the Fayette, Mississippi, plantation is known, from a dilapidated nest into a roost where their extended family—four grown children, plus their spouses and eight kids—could come together for weekends and holidays. Hold your breath to see the stunning outcome of this renovation!!!!

WoW is the single Word that comes out after looking at the end product!
In this photo: The couple rebuilt both chimneys and added a hand-crimped aluminum roof.

Kitchen --- After
In this photo: Buck—one of the family's five dogs—sits in front of custom kitchen cabinets painted Benjamin Moore's Gentle Cream. The Thomas's re-purposed cypress wood from another part of the house for the island. The stove is by Wolf; the rugs from Lowe's.

Curious about the history of the home—listed on the National Register of Historic Places—Tere visited the Historic Natchez Foundation, a preservation organization located 25 miles away. Expecting to find records and renderings, at best, she was stunned to discover Laurietta's original fanlights, banister, a porch column, and a mantel in the nonprofit's basement. She also learned that a second mantel had been adorning a fireplace in a nearby house; its owners returned the piece upon hearing of the restoration.

Before: Living Room
Each wallboard was removed and numbered, then put back in place after the electrical updates. Scraping away decades of paint revealed original artistic details, including marbleized baseboards and faux bird's-eye maple panels, which a restoration painter was able to revive.
A trip to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History turned up a journal kept by the daughter of the man who built Lauriettait detailed not only daily life on the property, but also descriptions of the interiors. Inspired, Tere and her daughter, Erin, an interior designer, re-created the home's original white and wood palette, and the salvageable heart pine floors received only light sanding, so as not to erase history. "There are still scars and burn marks around the fireplaces, but I didn't want to replace all the floors," says Tere. "Those imperfections are part of the story. Besides, Laurietta's not a grand house."

After: here is the transformed lively living room...
In this photo above: Pottery Barn pillows adorn slipcovered armchairs by Lee Industries. Tere bought the set of framed prints at a flea market for only $94

Cherished Collection Old bottles unearthed on the property are displayed in the living room.

Before: Staircase
Though the rotted floor in the hall had to be replaced with reclaimed heart pine, the Thomases were able to restore the staircase using all of its original components.

After: To this ...
The couple found the spindles, newel post, and banister of their new staircase in the offices of a local preservation organization. Tere decorated the hall with a high-low mix: A custom tiger-maple table pairs with bargains like a terrarium from T.J. Maxx and artwork scored on eBay.

The Thomases converted the second story into sleeping quarters for their grandchildren, adding a bathroom to the larger of the two rooms. So what used to look like this was transformed into..

After: this.. "Girls Room"
In the girls' room, linens by Simply Shabby Chic for Target dress trundle beds by Young America; Tere also found the lamp at Target.

After: and this.. "Boys Room"
The boys' Young America beds sport Americana Collection quilts from Dillard's; the crocheted mushroom ottoman is from Anthropologie. Bright idea: For a purposefully casual display, hang artwork with clothespins clipped to the length of fishing wire.

Laundry Room:
Once a tiny bedroom, now converted to the laundry room houses a touch of Tere's own history, her grandmother's washboards. The baskets are from Kmart and World Market.

Master BedRoom:
A headboard from Pottery Barn, plus a silk quilt and shams by Eileen Fisher for Garnet Hill, brightens Master bedroom.

Though restoring Laurietta (this house) took plenty of labor, thought, and money, the Thomases have been richly rewarded for their efforts. They've won two preservation prizes. And they now have a storied, deeply personal home that respects the past, present, and future.
In this photo: The grandkids enjoy an extra-long swing made of reclaimed cypress.

The Thomases
Mac and Tere Thomas join their family on the front porch. Top row, from left: daughters-in-law Summer and Nicole, Mac (holding granddaughter Khloe), Tere, son Barrett, son-in-law Eric Haik, and son William. Bottom row, from left: grandchildren Katelyn, Londyn, Anna-Claire, Maria, and William IV; daughter Erin Haik; grandsons Bennett and Thomas; and son Grant.

Images Credit: Story inspiration and Images from Decor Mags.

Have a Wonderful Valentines Day!


Friday, February 7, 2014

Lotus Sculpture - Story that starts with sculptures ...

With my South Indian roots when I think of 'Sculptures' very first thought that comes to my mind are the amazing granite stone sculptures of Mahabalipuram, near Chennai in the state of Tamil Nadu in India. Pallava kings ruled Mahabalipuram (also called Mamallapuram), the capital of Pallava dynasty from 3rd century to 9th century CE. Pallav style of Shilp Shatra (Art and Science of Sculpture making), which prevailed during Pallav dynasty and came to life in Mahabalipuram during Pallava king Narasimhavarman I in the 7th century AD. My love towards Pallav style stone sculptures is what helped me discover the existence of this brand almost 7 years ago and since the time I have known it, this continued to be one of my favorites.
At RangKatha my motto is to share inspirations of various forms. In my very first effort to showcase a brand I have picked this brand which is very close to my heart because of how its continuing to nurture ART, ART forms and ARTISANS in its own pious ways.

This is a story of not just this brand but is also a story of its creator, a self made entrepreneur who is nurturing this brand with his immense passion and love for this amazing art form.

So presenting to you story of Lotus Sculpture
and the mind & soul behind it - Kyle Tortora.

Kyle is not just the master mind behind Lotus Sculpture but is a living force who has driven it to where it is today. Lotus sculpture based in USA, travels around the world gathering different types of Hindu and Buddhist statues from artists in India, Thailand , Bangladesh , Bali and Kambodia. Mostly these are stone, wood, brass and bronze statues.

When I contacted Kyle little hesitantly(because RangKatha is fairly new) asking permission to cover this story, he was not only kind enough to allow me to do so but also provided willing perspectives on all my questions related to birth of Lotus Sculpture.

From Bali and Kambodia lava stone statues of Lord Ganesh and Buddha, Bronze Hindu statues from Bangladesh, Brass and Stone Buddha from Thailand and Hindu statues made of Granite stone, Marble, Brass, Bronze and Wood are obtained from India. Lotus Sculpture has successfully shown a different market space for these amazing art forms.

When asked about how he feels about working for and towards Lotus Sculpture, Religion major from college says that there is nothing else he wants to do and there is no place else he wanted to be than where he is now with Lotus Sculpture.
Look at this beautiful Lord Nataraja's Statue (Carved in wood). Who would not want this amazing piece of art in their classical dance studio.

Lotus Sculpture is almost single man army, who find artists, travels to meet artists, hand picks each and every statue and markets them.

These artists have become his family and so is Kyle part of their family to these artisans.
Kyle says - "Sometimes I feel like I have a double life. I have my life in the USA consisting of my family and friends. Then I have my life in Asia filled with a different group of family and friends. Most of the artists I work with are similar in age to me and thus I have grown as they have grown. As each has married and had children I have been there to see them as babies and watch them grow up. This connection to my artists and their families only grows with each trip I take. I am so thankful for having these special relationships half way around the world. They are my 2nd family and I wouldn’t have it any other way."

Bronze Statues are made using "Lost Wax Method" Lost wax casting emerged in China, Egypt and Greece, but was significant during the Chola Dynasty, which ruled southern India from the 9th to 13th Century. The Cholas adhered to Hinduism and created massive temples and bronze statues to worship their gods. The techniques of this delicate and time-consuming casting process have been passed down from family artisans for generations. The Indian and Bengali lost-wax artisans of today are direct descendants from the Chola and Pala Empires.

A lost-wax sculpture is appreciated, not only for its beauty, but for the many hours of labor and craftsmanship that is put into each masterpiece. Each statue is distinct and holds a story of creation and history that is unparalleled. As art forms continue to evolve with technology, the “lost wax method” carries on an unrivaled and divine tradition.
This divine Statue of Goddess Saraswati not only shows breathtaking beauty of this art form but also the unmatched craftsmanship of these artisans.
Now, do you have any doubt in your minds as to why Lotus Sculpture is close to my heart. It is because of the Model Lotus sculpture has adopted, working directly with these artists - unsung heroes of Shilp Shatra, by eliminating middle men, travelling to their home, working with them in their studios and giving this amazing art form a never before seen, completely new and different market space.

Its a win-win situation for all - As Lotus sculpture is growing with the amount of goodwill it earns in terms of smiles it brings to the faces of happy customers who are able to get these statues of rich heritage, unmatched history and culture into their homes but also smiles to these little know rural artisans. They get the credit they deserve in the form of accolade and monetary recognition and artists who barely were able to have their ends meet - now have better lives with their own studios, craftsmen working for them, able to afford new homes, their kids going to better schools.

In our busy self centered lives, how many time do we take a break , look back and see if we have made someone smile, how many times you know for sure that someone will remember us for making their days brighter. I bet Kyle does...making someone smile... making someone's day brighter.. not just to us with his brand, but also to those rural artisans whose labor and art we adorn in our houses and gardens, cherish, embrace and enjoy and not just that, in this whole process Lotus Sculpture is keeping precious heritage of art and science of sculpture making alive by giving this art form an global market.

The brand value and goodwill Lotus sculpture is earning as a result of these smiles is absolutely PRICELESS!

By now, You all are probably interested to knowing more about the man behind this brand , see what inspired Kyle to start Lotus sculpture and what drives him forward everyday. In our part II of this feature, RangKatha comes BACK, with Kyle's exclusive interview, his HOME TOUR!!!! and corners of homes of happy customers whose houses and gardens are basking with these beautiful art pieces. So do come BACK!!!

Lotus Sculpture is an online gallery, with a showroom, located at 1834 Ord Way in Oceanside, CA.

Lotus Sculpture can also be followed on facebook

Images Credit: Lotus Sculpture

Namaste & GoodBye until I meet you next time..