Visit the Post Office

Santoshi and I had visited the post office as one of the activities during Summer.

Since most of our mails are paperless, the number of physical mail that we receive is abysmally low. Neither do we send snail mail out. So, a trip to the post office became more of a fun activity, rather than a necessity. Not to mention that my grandfather worked as a post master in a tiny village and the post office was a small room in his house. So, there was also a telephone at home (I am talking about 1970’s to 1980’s when telephone connections were a rarity in villages). As a child, I had spent most of my summer holidays at my grandparents’ house and it used to be so much fun to see people come home to buy stamps, my grandfather keeping a record, neighbours getting phone calls from their relatives using this phone, etc.

Now, swinging back to 2017, we live quite close to the post office which is also the head post office for the area. As Santoshi and I walked in, we saw a few of the mail vans driving out of the post office. I told her that these vans were full of letters and parcels which need to be delivered to different places – some within the city, some outside the city but within India and some outside India. We also noticed a few big parcels being packed in water-proof material. Post boxes located near the gate fascinated Santoshi and she tried to read the label on each of them – “any post anywhere”, “within Chennai”, “Tamil Nadu”, etc. I explained to her that normal mails (letters or documents inside an envelope) could be put in the appropriate boxes (depending on their destination) after paying the postage (in the form of stamps).

Santoshi had written two letters – one for each cousin who live in San Jose, CA. Along with each letter was a drawing that she had made. We bought an envelope (A4 size) and placed the letters and drawings inside and showed it to the officer at the counter to ensure that we were sending only ‘documents’.



She weighed the envelope and told us to pay INR 44 as postage (roughly USD 0.70). We got 3 stamps – 2 of value INR 20 each and the other of value INR 4. We added the postage to the top, right corner, wrote the address in the centre of the envelope and took it to another counter.


This counter was part of the sorting facility. They had racks with codes labelled for each of them and the officer manning this counter was putting the mails in the respective racks, depending on destination and priority (business mail, speed post, etc.). He told us that it would take about a week to ten days for the letter to reach Santoshi’s cousins. We waited until he placed the envelope in one of the racks (hoping that it was the right rack).

This being the head post office, the building also offered services like savings accounts, time deposits, pension disbursements, etc. After telling Santoshi about these auxillary functions of a post office, we went home.

The mail reached her cousins in about ten days and both of them were delighted to see a mail from Santoshi, all the way from India.



Labelling a basket for kindergarten


My younger daughter Anjana is about to start kindergarten and I am very excited (she? not so much! I see a lot of crying in her near future and a lot of anxiety in mine). The school is particular that we send these things in a basket (not in a bag or backpack – for ease of access; most children in this class would be 2.5 to 3 years old):

  1. Water bottle
  2. Snack box with plastic fork or spoon (no metal ones) IMG_20170602_080253
  3. A small cloth towel IMG_20170602_080221
  4. School diary in a ziploc bagDiary
  5. A spare set of clothes (including bloomers) in a ziploc bag IMG_20170602_080431

The basket also needs to be neatly labelled with the child’s name. I have a light-weight basket for her and I wanted to add such a label that it would withstand wear and tear for the next ten months. I had to keep labelling my elder daughter’s basket multiple times in the first  ten months of her kindergarten.

The label should also help the child in identifying his/her own basket. A picture that they can recognise will help since they can’t read yet. That’s the reason I chose Hello Kitty. So, here is how the labelling was done:

Things used:

  • Hello Kitty label – printed on vinyl (roughly 7 inches by 4 inches) – 2 copies
  • Old place mat for firm backing
  • Glue
  • Sewing machine
  • A pair of scissors
  • Punching machine
  • Polyester yarn
  • Tapestry needle
  • Permanent marker

How I did it:

Step 1: Using the permanent marker, I wrote her name, class and section on the top right corner of the label.


Step 2: Paste the labels on the place mat and allow it to dry.

Step 3: Sew on all four sides. Cut the label with a margin of about 1/2 inch on all four sides.



Step 4: Using the permanent marker, add borders to hide the stitches.

Step 5: Punch holes on all four sides.


Step 6: Using the polyester yarn and tapestry needle, attach the labels to the basket.


It’s done! You now have a waterproof, hard to tear apart label on both sides of the basket. The image will help your child identify his/her basket during snack break and pick-up times.

Here is the fully-loaded basket – Basket

Please feel free to you provide your comments/ feedback. For Hello Kitty Digital Paper and other exciting digital downloads, please visit my Etsy shop CrazyCookup! Thank you!!


Spruce up a lunch bag!


My elder daughter Santoshi will be starting with Grade 1 in a few days from now and she is very excited.   She has been waiting for almost a year to make use of her Tinkerbell backpack similar to this one.

She also got a water bottle with a fairy and a castle printed on it, so I thought why not get her a matching lunch bag too?

This would have been perfect but we do not live in the USA and we already had a simple (but boring) lunch bag at home. IMG_20170530_204356

So, as usual, another DIY project was born! I admit, until it turned out finished, I was not sure if it would really work or just ruin an otherwise good lunch bag. But I am quite happy with what I ended up with (I am not a perfectionist – you will see).

I got two images printed – one for the top portion (9 inches by 6 inches) and the other for the front (7 inches by 8 inches approx)

Things that I used:

  • A plain lunch bag
  • Disney Fairies/Tinkerbell poster (printed on vinyl) – one for the top portion of the lunch bag and the other for the front
  • Nylon webbing tape (salvaged from a small bag thrown away earlier)
  • Sewing machine
  • Seam ripper

How I did it?

Step 1: Rip the seams of the nylon webbing tape on the top portion of the lunch bag.

Step 2: Align the image (9 inches by 6 inches) to ensure that the ends will be inside the nylon webbing tape once we sew it back.

Step 3: Sew the nylon webbing tape back in place keeping all the ends of the image are tucked within the webbing.


Step 4: Rip the seams on the webbing tape from the front portion of the bag. Align and place the second image (7 inches by 8 inches) on the front portion.


Step 5: Sew the webbing tape back in place ensuring the the bottom end of the image is tucked in.

Step 6: Add the webbing tape on the other three sides of the image and sew.


That’s it! Now you have turned IMG_20170530_204356

into IMG_20170531_104340

Thanks for reading my post!!

Here are other back-to-school ensemble options, check them out!

Hello Kitty Rainbow


Purple Hello Kitty

My Little Pony
, and

Paw Patrol Blue

Paw Patrol Pink

Wonder Woman

Batman versus Superman


Spin Drums – Craft Activity


During one of the lazy monday mornings in the summer vacation, Santoshi announced that she wanted to do a craft activity. It has been a long time since we made the dragon eggs, so I looked in to the pins in my craft board. I found this to be perfect for the day. As usual, I have improvised it to suit the materials that I had.

We became hunter-gatherers and collected these for the activity:

  • Cardboard
  • Sticks
  • Beads
  • Thread
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Box cutter
  • Tape
  • CD and Pen for the circle shape
  • Crayons and markers for decoration


How to do:

Step 1: Using the CD and pen or pencil, mark the outline of a circle and cut it out. You will need three circles for each spin drum. I used the box that came with Lapcare Multi Function Stand.

Step 2: Get the handle ready – I used some thin twigs from our garden which were not very strong, so I added a thin metal wire and taped them together.


Step 3: Decorate one side each of two of the circles. The third one would be sandwiched between the other two circles.

Step 4: Punch two holes in the third circle and make a thin slit for the stick to sit in – like this:


Step 5: Add beads to the thread and tie them to the circle at the holes punched. Insert the stick in the slit and secure using tape. Add glue to the wrong side of the outer circles.


Step 6: Stick the outer circles on either side of the middle one and add some weight on top so that they stick well together.


After an hour, ta-da, your spin drum is ready!!

Santoshi made one for herself and I made one for my younger daughter Anjana.


The activity was a lot of fun and so were the spin drums!

Thanks for reading the post and do let us know your comments.



Homemade ice cream and popsicle


Whoa, it’s been a month since my last post. So, let me post something tasty and cool to beat the summer heat in Chennai.

At the start of summer vacation for my kids, I tried making two kinds of ice-creams. One was kulfi, which I had done once before and the other was chocolate ice-cream for the first time.

Kulfi recipe:


  1. 500 ml of milk (full cream or standardised)
  2. 400 gm of Amul Mithai Mate
  3. 100 gm of mixed nuts (pistachios, almonds and cashews)
  4. 100 gm of evaporated milk
  5. 1 tbsp of rice flour or corn flour
  • Grind the nuts coarsely and keep aside.
  • Bring 500 ml of milk to boil in a heavy pan.
  • Add evaporated milk and mix well to ensure that there are no lumps.
  • Add 400 gm of Amul Mithai Mate and mix well.
  • Mix rice flour (or corn flour) with water and add to the mixture. Mix well.
  • Add the coarsely ground nuts and turn the stove off

Let it cool. Before pouring into moulds, give it a twirl to ensure that the nuts are evenly distributed. Freeze for 4 hours before serving.

The kulfi turned out real nummy. I did not have any kulfi/popsicle moulds when I did this, so I used one of my tupperware lunch boxes to freeze. Sorry, the pics are not great.


Chocolate ice-cream


  1. 500 ml of milk (full cream or standardised)
  2. 100 gm Chocolate syrup
  3. 100 gm Sugar
  4. 1 tbsp of rice flour or corn flour
  • Bring 500 ml of milk to boil in a heavy pan.
  • Add chocolate syrup and sugar and mix well.
  • Mix rice flour (or corn flour) with water and add to the mixture. Mix well.

Let it cool and pour into moulds. Freeze for 6 hours before serving.

The chocolate ice-cream tasted more like dark chocolate and was not creamy enough, but not bad for a first try. Anyhow, it was a big hit with both my kids. Sorry for the awful quality pic.


Orange Popsicle using Tang


  1. 60 gm of Tang Orange
  2. 600 ml of water
  3. 50 gm of sugar
  • In a pitcher or a bottle, add Tang, water and sugar.
  • Mix well. I used a bottle, so I closed it with the lid and shook it vigourously.
  • Pour into moulds and freeze overnight.

I found a set of popsicle moulds at a local store. It was priced at INR 109 (roughly USD 1.50). When I billed it, I realised that there was a discount on it and I got it for INR 69 (a little over USD 1), yay!


I was delighted to see that the popsicle coming out clean!!


My elder daughter Santoshi just tried the popsicle, she loved it!! Made my day, ha!

Thanks for reading!


New shower caps from old raincoat


This is a post on how I made two shower caps from my elder daughter’s old raincoat. By default, I went to the all-knowing pinterest to get ideas on DIY shower cap and I was impressed by two pins – one by Rochelle and the other by One Thimble.

I did not have any vinyl and most definitely did not want to spend more money on buying vinyl than get a shower cap for INR 28 (roughly 40 cents in USD). I looked into my scrap clutter and came up with this:


My mother had bought this for my elder daughter Santoshi in 2014. This is Santoshi wearing it on a rainy day in November 2014:


Needless to say, Santoshi had outgrown the raincoat a long time back and the raincoat was beginning to tear at all possible joints. But, I was keeping it because it has cute baby looney tunes characters printed and yes, I am a packrat.

Given the usual hot summer in Chennai (a heat wave advisory has been issued for today – 18 April 2017), bath time in the morning with a lot of toys, bubbles and hand shower has become the norm for both my kids. And that, more often than not, ends in tears, “She splashed water on my head, my hair is wet, but I don’t want shampoo”. So, I thought that a shower cap would be a good idea to end this. But, of course, they will find other ways to fight!

Ok, let’s get back to making the shower cap before you close this tab.

Things used:

  • old raincoat (any waterproof material will do)
  • elastic cord
  • scissors
  • polyester thread
  • sewing machine
  • Pan lid for drawing a circle, LOL

Step 1: Measuring and cutting the raincoat:

Most pins suggested a radius of about 9 inches. But, having to work with a raincoat which makes the front part (open, button-down front) unusable for this project. I needed two shower caps (parents with two kids would understand – one for each kid, whether the little one needed a shower cap or no) and the back portion was not enough to get two circles. Which means that, as usual, I did not strictly follow either of the tutorials but improvised once again.

With the help of the pan lid, I made a circle of about 7 inches in radius and another one 6 inches in radius. Only one circle could be centered around the prints of Bugs Bunny and Taz. The other one has a part of Sylvester’s face, a heart balloon and a part of Bugs Bunny’s face.


Step 2: Cut long rectangular strips of roughly 5 inches in width from the remaining part of the raincoat.


Step 3: Align right sides facing each other, sew the strips to the perimeter of the circle. This gave it more of a hat-like construction, than just a circle. Sorry, I don’t have a picture for this step.

Step 4: Fold and sew the casing wide enough to accommodate the elastic band/cord, leaving a gap of about 2 inches to insert the elastic.


Step 5: With the help of a safety pin, slide the elastic band or cord through the casing and sew (band) or knot (in case of cord).


Step 6: Push the elastic band/ cord inside the casing and finish sewing the casing. Turn the cap right side out and it would look like these:


The big one fits Santoshi, yay! 

Looks cute, doesn’t it? Please let me know what you think. Thank you!


Dragon Egg Craft Activity


It is summer time in Chennai and my elder daughter Santoshi’s summer vacation has begun already! She decided not to go for a summer camp since I am not working anymore. So, apart from a little writing and maths worksheets, I started looking into craft activity pins in Pinterest and have saved many ideas in here.

The first activity for this summer was making a Dragon Egg based on this pin! I liked this idea because the pictures were impressive, it was easy to do and not a very expensive project.

Things used:

  • Modelling clay (purple – my daughter’s favourite colour)
  • Gems and beads for decoration
  • Old newspaper as filling (instead of foil; I didn’t have foil)

How we did it:

  1. Crush a sheet of newspaper into a ball.IMG_20170413_131558
  2. Use clay to wrap it and gently bring it to the shape of an egg. IMG_20170413_131747
  3. Decorate with gems and beads. IMG_20170413_132711

I did a small one to serve as a demo. Then, she did hers.


The best part was not even the eggs. She wrote in her notebook about the activity. I helped her only with the spellings.


The dragon egg activity took just about ten minutes. The write-up took another ten minutes. Not enough to keep her occupied throughout the day, but it did give a lot for her to think and talk about. She told everyone about the egg and we also had to rescue the egg from my younger daughter Anjana.

How much did this activity cost us?

  1.  The clay was INR 27 and we had used only about a fourth of what came in the box. So cost of clay is only INR 7
  2. Gems and beads – INR 10 for the little pink beads and INR 20 for a flat gems. Again, we still have lots of both items left. So, INR 10 together for gems and beads.
  3. Newspaper – a local newspaper delivered free at out doorstep.

All these total to INR 17, which is roughly 25 cents (converted to USD). Not bad, right?

Thanks Adventure-in-a-box for this fun activity!!