My maternal grandfather and my paternal grandmother were both hobby painters, actually they were both really talented. One in Ohio, the other in Northern India and two generations later I am appreciating the artistic bloodline.

In India

While at my father's house this past spring, I was admiring the artwork of my paternal grandmother (pictured above with me in Delhi and Calcutta) that my father had brought back from India to display in his home. He said she took a painting class and these were two (pictured above of the deer and dogs) of several paintings she did during that time. I remember them hanging in various rooms and hallways in Rajo Villa when we would visit, but honestly had no idea she painted them all. He also brought back vintage photographs, restoring them and has been making copies for my sisters and I. The photos above include my paternal grandparents and my father as a young boy.

In Ohio

My late grandfather (pictured with me on my wedding day) mostly painted still life in oil, or landscapes. I actually used to paint beside him when I visited for the weekend. I wrote about that in a post on the joyababy blog a few years ago. When I think back to my childhood and my maternal grandparents, that was probably the most vivid memory of time spent with them.

I find it all so inspiring, how talented they were at an art they solely enjoyed as a hobby.



My sister was visiting this past weekend and brought the boys and I a few gifts from her recent trip to Italy & India. Aunt Amita (and cousins) brought the boys journals with embroidery stitched covers and handmade paper inside, elephant figures and a cute finger puppet/magnet trinket.

She was sweet enough to bring her sister (me) a few things like this beautiful kantha embroidered pillow form and pretty bangle. Kantha embroidery originates in West Bengal, where my father's family originates (Kolkata).


Lindsay and I met several years ago online through a mutual friend, while she was living in Brooklyn and I was living in Chicago. I immediately was drawn to her eco style, her interest in children's fashion and her love of Montessori (she is a Montessori teacher)! We would chat back and forth and at one point, she mentioned she was from Cincinnati, where we lived for 10 years prior to our move to Chicago. A small world indeed, as we both moved back to Cincinnati at different times in the last few years. So here we are, able to grab coffee in person and live 10 minutes from each other! Lindsay is expecting her first baby girl in the next few weeks. I decided to knit up a pair of gray wool booties as we also share a mutual love of the color gray and handmade. After knitting them, I used a beautiful embroidery yarn by brown paper packages in the colors curry and candlelight from Purl Soho and made up a little design. I stitched up a dot bag as a reusable gift bag and painted a card in watercolor that simply said "BABY". The card was a pretty little piece of art just by itself.  If you follow along in my journal here at Rajovilla, you may know by now I really enjoy handmade gift giving!


If you live in Cincinnati or plan to visit, check out the City Flea, that Lindsay co-founded with her husband. On Instagram, check out her architect/photographer husband's amazing iphone images, this one blew me away. I love that those images are from this Midwest city I call home. And lastly, read alongside her journey into motherhood on her blog, littleonelove.


For the amount of time the kids and I create and use art supplies, I have yet to make a travel case. We usually put supplies in a resuable zipper bag and grab our sketchbooks. Now we are in the middle of summer with everyone traveling on vacation in need of small activities to take along. I decided to give it a go and make a travel art supplies roll as a gift and specifically for painting supplies. I didn't follow any directions myself while making this for my niece's 7th birthday, but after I measured and remeasured I came up with a "map" of sorts to follow along. This is not a detailed step by step, because it really is just a lot of measuring and then some simple sewing. Think of it as a graph paper, especially great if you use gingham oil cloth like I did (found at Jo-Ann Fabric store). I chose the oil cloth because with art, especially water color, things are bound to get messy. This art roll is specific for the supplies I will list out below (in terms of size). They were all at my local craft store and all under $20. Now that I finally figured out how to make one, I am already on to making a second smaller one for colored pencils.


To make the Travel Art Roll, you will need a piece of 22x36in oil cloth, plus a small 3.5x6in scrap of oilcloth, a coordinating 7x9in fabric scrap, natural elastic cut into (2) 10in pieces and (1) 6in piece, 1yd of coordinating grosgrain ribbon, a tape measure/ruler, coordinating thread in white and navy to match ribbon, pinking shears and a basic sewing machine. Art supplies to fit this specific roll include various paint brushes, watercolor pad with 6x9in sheets (spiral bound at top), watercolor set (18 colors), round sponge and small palette.


Paint Brush Holder : To make the paint brush holder, you will want to first finish the seams of the coordinating fabric piece by folding  1/4in over, and the again another 1/4in and pressing with iron. Sew the seams on all four sides. Then measure and mark 1 inch increments across. When attaching the paint brush holder to the oil cloth you will stitch the straight lines down the fabric making separate "pockets" for the paint brushes. And you will stitch using a straight stitch the seams on the two sides only.

Sponge Pocket: Now take the small piece of oil cloth measuring 3.5x6in and trim slightly with pinking shears. Oil cloth is great in that it does not require finished sewing edges in order to not fray. Next, to make the pocket pleats, measure 2inches in on each side of the width. You just want to pinch it in at that 2in marker and fold pleat over and pin. Then sew a few stitches with your sewing machine to secure the pleats.This will make the pocket 3-D and easily hold the sponge. Once you assemble and attach the pocket to the oil cloth, you will straight stitch on both sides and the bottom seam only.

Assembling the Art Roll, (unfolded): Follow along with the "map" below to measure and pin pieces onto large oil cloth piece. You will want to carefully attach each item by pinning then sewing it in its measured place. After all items are attached with sewing machine using a straight stitch, fold over at mid-line.  This mid-line fold will be the bottom of the finished art roll. The ribbon closure will be on the back. Fold down 1in at the top and pin two top edges together. Stitch across using a zig zag stitch until point a. Do not sew shut between a and b. Continue sewing top from b across remaining width. Now it should look like the beginning of the travel art roll. To finish, you will want to again fold over the unfinished openings on either side an inch and stitch closed (I again used a zig zag stitch), careful not to stitch the ribbon end while you do so. Note: Do not iron oil cloth, just pin or clothespin the material to hold in place as you get ready to sew. I used a fold like I would use for wrapping paper to make the ends nice, neat & square. I trimmed the ribbon ends with pinking shears to prevent fraying.

Now get those art supplies and load them in. Brushes in their 1 inch vertical dividers, slip the back of the watercolor pad into the pocket formed between point a and b, place the paint set in the two elastic holders, the sponge in the small pocket and the palette in the small elastic space. Roll up, tie the ribbon and enjoy!