Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My home office {Pictures + future plans}

Working from home has its positives and not-so-positives. My home office is just a little space borrowed from my dining area. Luckily we have an open plan home, so nobody has asked me what a computer is doing so close to the dining table! The main positive is that I am always in the company of my family members, especially when I work! Also, I am so close to the kitchen, that I can go grab a coffee in 1 minute flat.Wait, that's not a plus, is it? I can never decide, because I cannot imagine shifting to a more quiet corner of my home, or working without my coffee!

I was recently contacted by the lovely people from WeWork, a co-working company, and they wanted to see the space I blog from.

My workspace has the usual stuff really - an old-fashioned media table, a message board hung on top, and some necessities like pencil holders, a much-loved picture and a home-designed family calendar, a desktop, telephone line, etc.

I also keep a few knickknacks - a statue of a sweet Arab man with his hookah (a keepsake from my days in Kuwait), a Bethlehem bell, a t-light, and a replica of the London double-decker bus.

I love fabrics and textures. I work barefoot just to have the feel of a warm rug under my feet.  My very ordinary chair is dressed up with cushions.

I love to play around with colors but I like to change things around every few weeks - usually this coincides with the end of a project :) - so I keep changing the runner/ rugs/ cushion covers around my work space. This being the monsoons, I can't find any flowers in the garden downstairs (we live in an apartment). So I make do with tiny ferns and cut-off branches in little glass jars.I detest artificial flowers.

I "store/hide" pencils, scissors, staplers, and glue-sticks in an old coffee tin, and I store my chargers, cables, and gadgets in an old brass box.


 Much as this table/ space suits me, it will change. Not immediately, but when the kids are a bit older, and don't need too much supervision, I will
1. Move my office to the other part of the living room, right next to a large window, hopefully after kicking the caffeine habit! :)
2. Replace the table and chair: I am eying this gorgeous Mango wood Alexander table from Pepperfry. My chair needs to be more ergonomic as well, though I rather like the comfort my cushions currently provide.
3. I will eventually let go of my desktop (I just bought a new one last year, and I love the comfort of desktops, but I know there will be a time when it will just have to go!), and get myself a more compact, leaner, meaner machine.

And right away I plan to add wallpaper plus personalize the magnetic board with some craft paper.

Hope you have beautiful plans for the weekend. See you next week!!

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{Collaborative Fiction} MISSING

Our StoryThis is part five of a story that I am writing in collaboration with some very talented writers on Blogadda. Our team name is 'Tete-a-ten'.

Please read Part 4 here 

Mumbai – 19:25

Jennifer banged the table in frustration. Why couldn’t she get through to the Duttas?
She looked around helplessly, running her fingers through her long wavy hair, absentmindedly fingering her tattoo. She scanned Tara Dutta’s Facebook page once again hoping to see some activity from her, but there was none. She was exhausted, having spent the better part of the two hours on this seemingly futile attempt!
Her eyes strayed on a little pink card peeking out of her folder. “Ammachi’s prayer to St. Philomena!” she exclaimed to herself. She got down on her knees and fervently prayed from the leaflet to the saint known for her purity and childlike nature, often believed to intercede in impossible situations. After a moment of silence to draw in strength and courage, she vowed that she wouldn’t still idle hoping the Duttas’ would finally call back. That picture didn’t look good…”What if…” She didn’t dare think about it.
With new-found determination, she Googled Tara Dutta and realized that she worked at Ulka Communications. She quickly dialled the office, and when she told them that it was about Tara’s daughter, she was immediately put in touch with Ritwik, the executive who worked most closely with Tara.
The Dutta residence Mumbai – 19:00
Shekar and Tara’s home  was abuzz with activity. On hearing about Roohi’s disappearance, their friends had come over hoping to help in some way – food, scouring the news, and forming search teams.Shekhar’s techie friends quickly set up a station to monitor the search operation. They would be the point of contact, and anyone with information on the street was to report to to their group immediately. About 20 of them formed small search teams and headed out to scan the various streets, with instructions to relay their locations and updates to the monitoring station at home.
Tara was on the phone, calling up Myra’s home for what seemed like the nth time that day. “Any updates? You are sure she didn’t turn up at the party? Did Myra remember anything in particular? Okay, thanks!”
Roohi’s friends hadn’t noticed anything suspicious, and none of them had seen her after school! Tara tried to stay calm. She looked around for Shekhar and saw that he was busy brainstorming with the guys who were manning the communication station.
Tara’s head ached. It was one thing getting lost in broad daylight, but with darkness approaching, Tara’s heart echoed loud drum beats of fear and desolation. She feared that Roohi would be harmed...thoughts of the big bad men approaching her little daughter made her shake with fear. She went to the window and scanned the streets as if doing so would suddenly reveal the pudgy little form of her daughter. She realized now that her work was meaningless without Roohi to come home to.“If only…,”she thought, guilt wracking her for changing plans and putting work ahead of her daughter. She peeked a glance at Shekhar. His face was grim and worry lines creased his forehead. She went over and squeezed his hand, and he looked at her urgently, thinking she had news of Roohi. 
But one look at her guilt-ridden expression, and he enclosed her in his arms, pulling her tight against him. He tugged her chin gently, forcing her to look up at him. He spoke to her gently, “Tara, snap out of the guilt! I am not blaming you. I should not have asked you to pick Roohi up today knowing how busy you get at that time.I should have rescheduled my online class – I should have checked my messages! But please, let’s not think about what could have been done, let’s find our Roohi. Remember when Roohi first came into our lives? We are going to find her sweetheart, don’t lose hope!”
Tara smiled at him gratefully, and leaned on his shoulder, trying to find the strength that was leaving her and making her sink into despair! Shekhar was always good-natured and smiling, but she never imagined that he could stay so focused, alert and level headed in a catastrophe. “He is the strong one,” she thought, “not I. He was strong to volunteer to stay at home and look after Roohi...sacrifice his dreams...and he lived up to his responsibilities of a dad so well!”
 She remembered her own selfish demands, excuses to spend time, even weekends spent in the office... ...the curtness she often showed Shekhar. She realized with a shock that she had even thought less of him for all that he did - how wrong she was! “I will make it up to you both Shekhar, I promise,” she decided fiercely.
Tara’s phone buzzed again. She saw the office number, and almost didn’t pick up. Staring at the phone, she reluctantly answered the call. “Ritwik, oh it’s you! Please tell Senthil that I just can’t manage any work now. What? A photograph? Where? Wait a minute!” Her voice rose audibly, and the others, sensing something was up quickly surrounded her.
“Could you pick the girl up and come over to our home? No, wait! Give me her number first!”  Tara frantically gestured for a pen and pad, and scribbled down a number. She told the others the gist of the conversation and with trembling hands dialed the number Ritwik had given her.
When Tara's phone beeped with Jennifer's whatsapped picture of Roohi, the room suddenly went quiet. They crowded around Tara. While their friends  tried to place the exact location where the picture was taken, Shekhar and Tara’s eyes lay transfixed on the man in the photograph with their Roohi! “Hurry Tara, Shekhar” their friends yelled, pushing them out of the house. They ran to the car and got in. But Shekhar was in a daze. Their worst fears…who was that boy?
With the car moving at  top speed, Tara could sense the clutch of fear that overcame her husband. She suddenly remembered the times Shekhar had sat down with Roohi and told her about good touch and bad touch. How she, Tara had laughed it off telling him, “Just teach her karate instead...or we will give her a can of pepper spray...”Roohi’s little voice rang in her head...“Is it like your hair spray mummy” “Does it freeze the pepper into behaving? She remembered that Shekhar and she had laughed then at the innuendo their daughter had unwittingly thrown on them...and she remembered how their laughter had delighted little Roohi.
Remembering that day too, Shekhar looked at Tara helplessly. His eyes were wet and he looked afraid. It was Tara’s turn to comfort him – “Don’t worry Shekar, I have faith. You taught Roohi about strangers, and you taught her to handle horrible situations....please don’t lose hope, Shekhar!”

[Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us]
Please read Part 6 here.

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

{Recipe} Eggless Chocolate Cake +Coffee Cream filling & Ganache Topping

recipe eggless chocolate cake, coffeecream filling, ganache
Two events last weekend led to this delicious, melt-in-your-mouth, moist and dark-as-sin chocolate cake. One, I got a new oven - bigger than my old one and two,  my neighbor who is leaving for the US decided to give me all her unused caking ingredients.So I decided to bake a cake and share it with her as a part-farewell, part-thankyou gesture.

recipe eggless chocolate cake, coffeecream filling, ganache

Since she is vegetarian, it had to be an eggless cake. Also Shashi (the co-founder of this blog), who is always my 'bakexpert' said, "Your first bake should be sweet as you are inaugurating the new oven'". I agreed, and she recommended Hyderabad-based Poonam Maria's (Zoe's Bakehouse) Eggless Chocolate Cake. I decided to try it, and made a few changes.

The tweaked recipe is shared below.

a bite of moist eggless chocolate cake filled and topped

 {Recipe} Eggless Chocolate Cake +Coffee Cream filling & Ganache Topping

                                        Get the Printable Recipe here

This recipe is for two 8" layers. You will need to divide the batter between two 8" cake pans. If you want to make one big cake without a filling, then go ahead and bake in a big-sized pan. Whatever pan you use, remember that your batter should never fill the pan to the top. Three-fourth full is ideal.

Ingredients - cake:
  1. 3  cups FLOUR
  2. 2 cup sugar minus 2 tbsp SUGAR
  4. 2 teaspoons BAKING SODA
  5. 1 teaspoon SALT
  6. 2 and a 1/2 cups HOT WATER in which you have mixed in 2 sachets (1g) of INSTANT COFFEE
  7. 2/3 cup VEGETABLE OIL
  8. 2 tbsp VINEGAR
  1. Preheat your oven at 170 deg C. 
  2. Line both your 8" pans and grease.
  3. Keep your ingredients measured and ready.
Method - cake:
Cling-wrapping the finished cake
  1. Sift all the dry ingredients together.
  2. Gently mix the wet ingredients together.
  3. Go back to your bowl containing your dry ingredients. Make a small well in the middle of the mix, and pour in the wet ingredients gently in batches. Use a spatula* or a whisk to incorporate the wet ingredients until just combined. *Please do not use an electric beater, as over-beating can spoil this cake.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Once done, let  the cakes cool down completely.
  6. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for a few hours.
Ingredients - Coffee cream:
The coffee cream adds a nice contrast to the dark color of chocolate
  1. 3/4 cup WHIPPING CREAM (I used non-dairy)
  2. 1 tbsp SUGAR
  3. 1 g sachet INSTANT COFFEE 
  4. 2 drops RUM ESSENCE
  5. 2 drops VANILLA ESSENCE

Method - coffee cream:
  1. Dissolve the instant coffee in the 2 essences and keep aside
  2. Combine sugar and whipping cream and beat well until you get soft peaks ( I used my regular mixer jar with whip attachment to whip the cream, with excellent results)
  3. Gently fold in the coffee mixture into the whipped cream.
  4. This mixture needs to be used immediately.
  5. Unwrap your cakes, and take one 8" cake. Place it on your cake board and generously slather the coffee cream. Place the second 8" cake on top of it.
  6. Then carefully cover the top and the sides of the sandwiched cake with a thin layer of the remaining coffee cream. Try and make it as smooth as possible.
  7. Keep it in the refrigerator to set a bit (at least 1/2 hour).  When 10 minutes are up, prepare your ganache.
Ingredients - Ganache
  1. 300 g or about 2 and 1/2 cups BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE, cut into small pieces
  2. 1 cup WHIPPED CREAM
  3. 2 tbsp BUTTER (pref. unsalted)
  4. 1 tbsp RUM ESSENCE (or the real thing)
Method - Ganache:

  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a heat-resistant bowl.
  2. Gently bring the cream+butter to a simmer.
  3. The pour over the cut chocolate, and allow to stand for 2 minutes.
  4. Then stir it very gently so as not to incorporate air into the ganache. You however need to make sure that there are no pieces of chocolate left at the bottom. Stir until smooth.
  5. Then add the rum essence and stir again to incorporate. Cool slightly, then keep in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to thicken slightly
  6. Bring out your cake and ganache from the refrigerator.
  7. Concentrating on the middle top of the cake, pour the ganache slowly until it spreads all over the cake and dribbles down the sides. If required, use a knife to smooth it down.
  8. Keep your cake in the refrigerator for another 1/2 hour until the ganache sets. My kids couldn't wait to eat it, so we skipped this last step! The pics will show you an eggless choco cake with ganache that hasn't set! :)
  9. While I am not a big fan of eggless cakes, this one was different. Moist and spongy at the same time, you just couldn't believe it was eggless!
kilncraft, eggless chocolate cake with coffee cream filling, ganache on top

Also featured in this post is beautiful Pakistani crochet work  - I recently acquired meters and meters of this :) ) and part of a gorgeous KilnCraft tea service.
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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Trend Alert -Lace and Crochet {charming old-world decor embellishments}

My grandmother and her contemporaries used to make beautiful crochet and lace table cloths, cushion covers and shawls. They looked great on her dark-wood furniture.

The good news is lace and crochet still look fashionable in modern homes! Here are pics and tips to inspire you to bring these old beauties back!

You could replicate this look with a made-to-order chikan work piece

Pic Doily stencils were used to paint these gorgeous patterns on the wall!

Adramatic headboard/accent wall in the bedroom

 Here are some tips to get you started.

  1.  Don't go overboard. Limit your lace-love to just one or two things per room. For instance, a table, or an accent piece, or a wall. Too much lace is hard to maintain, plus the men in your home will start spending a lot of time away! :)
  2. Try something different - half a doily fading away from a frame/ a lace wall behind your dresser/  an oval mirror with lace trimmings instead of a frame/ hot colors such as a purple wall with a huge doily-design painted in bright orange (this is a combination that really stands out - view the combination on Pinterest).
  3. If you wore a gown for your wedding, and still have it, this is  a wonderful way to preserve that memory - sew it on to a pillow cover in a contrasting color.
  4. If you don't already own these beauties, try buying long lengths of Pakistani lace and sewing them together to achieve your look - this looks great as a runner or a table cloth.I am working on one of these and I shall post a pic soon!
Edited: Here's a pic of a tablecloth made with the crochet...
If you are looking for a recipe of that delicious chocolate cake, click here.
Pic: The Keybunch
Pics that don't have credits were sourced via Google and Pinterest
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Furnicheer, Mumbai {Furniture Brand/Store}

colorful furniture with silk inlay

Imagine walking into a room and being pleasantly assaulted with color where you least expect it - not on the walls, or the accessories, not on the curtains or on the upholstery, but on the furniture itself! While most hardwood furniture comes in varying shades of brown, one particular company decided that 'Color in our life should be as omnipresent as our emotions'. 

And that led to a beautiful color-inspired range of furniture, quite aptly called Furnicheer!
 colorful furniture with silk inlay

colorful furniture with silk inlayThough just about a year old as a brand, the brain behind Furnicheer, Subhangi Vaidyanathan, has been in the business of decor and interiors for more than two decades.

"My passion for handicrafts, the need for modular furniture in urban spaces and love for solid wood are the inspiration behind Furnicheer".

 -Subhangi Vaidyanathan

colorful furniture with silk inlayCrafted out of good Mango or Sheesham wood this range of furniture is exquisitely designed, pleasing to the eyes, can be assembled with ease, and is quite compact, making it very suitable for urban homes facing space constraints. But the main reason you should buy it is, its looks of course.

I am in wonder at the way the PU finished stains have added vibrancy to furniture yet managed to retain the natural grains of wood. Folk paintings, handmade tiles, etc are some of the infusions in the furniture adding an Indian-ness to the furniture. It is upholstered using a medley of silk fabrics in bright playful hues.

colorful furniture with silk inlay

Furnicheer is located at:
127, Bhoomi Mall, Sector 15,
Palm Beach Road, Belapur,
 Navi Mumbai – 400 614. India.

More ways to get in touch
 Ph.: 022-27570736

All images in this post are the copyright of Furnicheer
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Monday, August 25, 2014

{Recipe} Quick Flaky Pastry Dough + Sausage Rolls

breakfast - personalized plates, sausage rolls, weekend baking

It's always a pleasure to eat something hot and fresh from the oven. Weekends are just perfect for some morning baking. The smell of freshly brewed coffee and a baked goodie is irresistible. These sausage rolls are a long-time family favorite. In fact, I grew up enjoying my aunt's version of these. Over time I have tweaked the recipe a bit. I thought it apt to share the recipe on The Keybunch. This will be a first in a series of 'keeper recipes' from my home to yours!
Here's the recipe!                                 Printable Recipe

Quick Flaky Pastry Dough + Sausage Rolls Recipe
    breakfast - personalized plates, sausage rolls, weekend baking
  1. 1 -2 cups APF
  2. 1/2 tsp SALT
  3. 5 Tablespoons of GHEE hardened in the refrigerator
    5 Tablespoons of Margarine
  4. 1/2 cup ICED WATER 
  5. 2 tsp LEMON JUICE
  6. 100 gram BUTTER
  7. 1/2 cup CHOPPED PARSLEY (you could use any other herb of your choice)
  8. 1 tsp GARAM MASALA (or more if you like it spicier)
  9. 2 tsp BAKING POWDER
  10. 1 beaten EGG
  11. 6 or more longish FLAVORED SAUSAGES

Method - Dough STEP 1
We will use ingredients numbered 1 to 8 from the list above.
  1. Make sure you are working with hardened ghee (if using) and iced water.
  2. Sieve together the flour+salt+baking powder+garam masala
  3. Mix in the chopped parsley/ the herb of your choice.
  4. Now mix in the ghee quickly with a cold knife (try not to work it into the flour too much - you should still see little bits of ghee & the same goes for the margarine)
  5. Make a well in the center and add in the cold water.
  6. Lightly mix it all up till it forms a shaggy lump. Knead lightly (no elbow grease at all) and bring it together.
  7. Chill for 1/2 hour in the refrigerator.
Method - Prepping the butter
  1. Place your pack of butter in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
  2. Then take it out, and lightly whack it with a rolling pin so that it is elongated and flattened slightly.
  3. Chill in a refrigerator until ready to use.                         
      Method - Dough STEP 2
      1. Bring the dough back to your work table. Dust lightly with flour.
      2. Place the beaten butter into the hollow of the dough, and fold the dough back on it, covering the butter completely.
      3. Sprinkle a bit of flour on the it and gently roll it out to an even 1 inch thickness.
      4. Now fold the dough in thirds, then into thirds again - you should get a layered square shape.
      5. Wrap pastry in butter paper in a closed container and keep in the fridge for 30 minutes.
      6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 a couple more times, careful to work quickly and lightly. Return once more to the refrigerator. It is now ready to use.

      Method - Prepping the rolls for baking.
        breakfast -sausage rolls, weekend baking
      1. Make sure the sausages are thawed and ready to use.
      2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.
      3. Bring the dough back to your work table. Dust lightly with flour.
      4. Roll the dough out as detailed in steps 4 and 5 above, two more times, lightly dusting it with flour as you work.
      5. Now place the sausages carefully on the dough, leaving enough space in between.
      6. Carefully cut out strips around each sausage.
      7. Brush the sides of each strip with the egg wash, and fold over to encase sausage completely.
                      breakfast -  sausage rolls, weekend baking
      8. Arrange the rolls on a lined and greased baking tray, brush the tops with egg wash, and bake for 25-minutes, or until done.

        breakfast - personalized plates, sausage rolls, weekend baking, coffee
        Your sumptuous sausage rolls are ready! I served them with some basil tomato pesto.
      Note: If you have dough leftover, you could either make more rolls, or freeze the leftoverss. This is a versatile pastry dough, you could use it for other savory baked goodies!

      PS - While there is nothing 'quick' about this pastry dough, it is actually the quicker version of flaky pastry. The actual one is quite elaborate with several 'turns' and resting periods in the refrigerator. :)
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      Who writes this blog?

      Hi ! I'm Sharon.

      I am so glad you are here visiting. The Keybunch is primarily a decor blog, but it's lovingly peppered with lifestyle and food posts.

      I am most inspired by simple spaces that have evolved, or speak of their owner's creativity. I also adore old homes and antiques, possibly because I am from Mangalore, and my decor sensibilities are highly influenced by the colonial style of architecture that I was exposed to, growing up.

      Do spend some time reading my posts. I have a search feature right at the top, that lets you search within this blog. I have also made separate drop down lists of my home tours, book reviews and the carnivals that we have hosted here.

      I would love to hear from you. Email me your home pics, or DIY ideas to thekeybunch@gmail.com

      Want to know me better? Click here

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