Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Book Review: The Chic Author by Fiona Ferris

‘Cinnamon Reads - warm books to curl up with’: The Chic Author by Fiona Ferris

Create your dream career and lifestyle, writing and self-publishing non-fiction books

Cinnamon Reads is our bookish series, where I review books that I've enjoyed and would recommend curling up with, and interview self-published authorpreneurs.

Here is a book that’s been like salve to my authorepreneur’s soul. The kind of book that I often flip through to assure myself that even though the hike up this hill is steep, it is worth every minute and every bit of hard work. 

A book on indie author lifestyle and self publishing ebooks
The Chic Author by Fiona Ferris

For the past few weeks I’ve been immersed in the self-publishing world. My second Kindle book, “Queen Of The At-Home Lifestyle: A gal’s guide to working-from-home, homemaking and homeschooling” is just out on the virtual shelves of Amazon; but before it could be officially released, there were lots of itty-bitty things to look into. As an authorpreneur, you’re in-charge of end-to-end production of your book. From ideating and researching to the actual writing and re-writing to getting the cover designed and the book formatted, there’s tonnes to do before you birth your book and send it out to the world and in the hands of readers. And then, there’s all the posting and sharing to create a bit of buzz around the book.

A lot of this work is satisfying; while some of it is a tad exhausting. But every time I’d been coming up for air, I would grab my Kindle and flip open “The Chic Author” for the prose, gentle advise and the firm reassurance that being a self-published non-fiction author is definitely a “dream career and lifestyle” to eke out and aspire to. 

The 21 chapters and the bonus one with 100 tips at the end have a lilting quality to them, taking the aspiring or new indie author by the hand and guiding them through the many phases of an authropreneur lifestyle. From Fiona’s own story of how she became a successful indie author to how to make time for writing your book to structuring a book, this book is packed with lots of goodness. 

The chapters where Fiona writes about how to visualise yourself as a successful author, self-edit a book and get a cover designed are some of my favourite ones. Though I’m not entirely brand new to self-publishing, with two books out on Amazon, I still enjoyed her tips on structuring one’s writing, writing fast (no writer can have enough of these tips), developing a flow and getting past your fears. Every nugget that she has shared in The Chic Author is precious and it is so heartening to follow her author journey. 

When I finished this book, it gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling, like a hand-knitted blanket around my shoulders. I carry Fiona’s reassurances and advice with me, as I begin work on my next non-fiction book, and visualise what my successful authorpreneur journey will look like, as I write and publish one book after another.

Call to action: If you’re an aspiring author or a newbie writer, and have been wondering how to take the plunge into creating a writing career, check out The Chic Author by Fiona Ferris. 

If you’re wondering how to craft a work-from-home career while homeschooling the kids and tending to the home & hearth, take a peek at my brand new Kindle book “Queen Of The at-Home Lifestyle”.

My new Amazon bestselling Kindle book
My new Kindle book

Note: If you’re an author and would like your book reviewed on my blog and Instagram, please write to me at chandanabanerjeewrites@gmail.com.



#indipublishing #selfpublished #selfpublishebooks #fionaferris 

Friday, July 3, 2020

The Brigade that Builds Brands: Fashion designer & Navy wife Tanvee Chaudhary on creating a self-employed & self-taught career on the move

Hello Friends! I'm so excited to share that my new Kindle book "Queen Of The At-Home Lifestyle - A gal's guide to working-from-home, homemaking and homeschooling"" is AVAILABLE on Amazon for all of you who're craving for a slice of purposeful home life!!! And the icing on the cake: it made it to the Amazon Best Seller List :)! Packed with tips on setting up a self-employed, work-from-home career and using homemaking rituals to boost your work-life balance, and also adding homeschooling to the mix - this book's for you if you're looking to carve out a happy, purposeful work + stay-at-home lifestyle, during the pandemic and beyond. Download your copy here (and let me know how you liked it).

Keeping with the rhythm of the book, in the Brigade that Builds Brands series, I'd like to introduce you to Tanvee Chaudhary, a sassy, work-from-home, military spouse Solopreneur. This young Navy wife has set up her own fashion label from home, and works her sewing/designing magic as she moves from one base to another. Yes, agreed that most of the time the Indian Navy has better posting places than our Air Force and Army ones, but this gal has the zeal to make her work work wherever she is on the map (hint hint: let's lose the emphasis on our geographical location and focus on what we can do, from wherever we are ;-)).

Fashion designer and Navy wife Tanvee Chaudhary
Tanvee Chaudhary in a Little Black Dress she has designed

What I Super Like about Tanvee Chaudhary and her Label Tanvee is her passion for her craft (she designs, sews, markets, ships out orders, models her dresses & connects with customers ALL on her own), her earthy designs executed on Indian handloom fabric, and her determination to carve out her own niche with joy. And of course, not to forget, her solo brand is just what earth-friendly, Slow Fashion is all about.

Let's dive into this interview and be ready to be inspired! And hey, check out the SPECIAL DISCOUNT that Tanvee is offering the first 3 readers of this story (offer at the end of the interview).

CB. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji/military wife.
TC. Hello, I am Tanvee Chaudhary. I am an engineer and marketer by education. However, my heart lies in designing and fashion. So, I founded LabelTanvee, a clothing brand where you can find eclectic mix of handmade clothing with a pinch of tadka. 
Since the last three years I have been married to a Naval Officer and we are currently based out of Goa. Yay!!

Monday, June 29, 2020

5 Ways to Savour this Lockdown Summer - What’s your favourite way + My new book cover

Summer is not the easiest of seasons for me to bear. The days are thick with heat and humidity, as thick as molten cheese and  often it feels futile to move or cook or do all the things that bring me joy.

If I could have my way, I’d build a small castle in a turquoise pool and spend my days like a mermaid soaking in the cool water. But with the lockdown and Coronavirus whirling around the world, I (and all of you) have had to find smart ways to cool down, stay grateful and savour this scorching season. 


My ebook "Queen Of The At-Home Lifestyle" and watermelon
Cool Treats :)

With oodles of determination ;-), I’ve come up with simple and small ways to bring my mojo back. 

  1. Start the day with a small pinch of slow and a dollop of gratitude. I try to wake up early, when the sun is still saffron and languidly rolling up the sky, still an inch away from its fiery sunniness. After I get ready, I sit down on a fat cushion for a few minutes of meditation and gratitude prayer. I play some meditation music and use this time to centre myself and start the day with a positive intention.
  2. Load up some good books on my Kindle. Now that we’re corralled in a single room with the air conditioner and trees around cutting out the heat (where we live, the temperatures are touching 50 degrees Celsius!), I love having a stack of books on my Kindle. A simple comfort that I can fall back on (literally), when I want to catch my breath and sink into a story. (I’ve been indulging in tonnes of wholesome Amish fiction by Amy Clipston and Tricia Goyer.)
  3. Create art with my son. As the summer started notching up its heat factor, we decided that sticking to the same old’ homeschooling routine was going to be tedious. So now we begin with a small bang - an art project to kindle joy and add colour to the otherwise fiery yellow day. (If you’d like to know more about these projects, do stay tuned for our arty homeschooling posts soon).

Friday, June 26, 2020

The Brigade that Builds Brands: Anita Kolhatkar, an Air Force wife & Yoga Therapist + Teacher, on creating online and in-person Yoga classes on the move

Hello friends! Today, we have Yoga teacher and therapist, and Air Force wife Anita Kolhatkar with us at The Brigade that Builds Brands. She teaches yoga through in-person classes at every military base she is posted to and also offers online classes through 'Yoga With Anita'. Having been one of Anita's students/patients last year, when my back gave out and I was struggling with a few other health issues, I know firsthand about the positive impact of her healing workouts.

Announcement: Anita has a special offer for the readers of this story. Check out the 'yogalicious' offer at the end of the interview :).


Anita Kolhatkar doing different Yoga postures
Anita Kolhatkar doing what she does best: YOGA :)

CB. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji/military wife.


AK. My name is Anita Bhide Kolhatkar,  and I am a certified Yoga therapist and Yoga instructor. I have been a military wife for 14 years now.  

CB. What has been your business or creative journey been like: how & when did you start your venture?
AK. I was always very interested in Yoga and had been teaching it before marriage also. But after marriage, due to the various places we got posted to, my chances to teach and expand my horizons in this field were limited. I would start teaching, would get a group of people who were regulars for my classes, and all would change as soon as the posting signal came. So there was not much continuity in my classes or yoga therapy that I was imparting to those learning from me. The feedback from them was encouraging, but not being able to take classes at a steady location meant I had to again start from scratch at each new place to build up a good tempo. 
Finally with the increased internet bandwidth available at even remote locations, I started thinking about conducting classes online. There are various means to do so: Whatsapp calls, Skype, Zoom and other apps permitting video calling on phone or laptop. So I got into teaching online as well as offline. I’ve also taught yoga to cadets at the National Defence Academy, when we were posted there for a tenure.
However, the challenge with online teaching is that each person learning has their own free time and hence preferred slots to be online. Initially, when I launched my online classes, some of the sessions took more time than I intended, leaving me with very little spare time for normal chores.  
But with experience I've now got the knack of seeing what is possible and convincing most about the time slots to adhere to. I work almost 5-6 hrs a day, morning and evening, with short breaks in between to manage kids, meals and other chores.  

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Brigade that Builds Brands: Teesta Galway, an Air Force wife & singer-songwriter and guitarist on carving out a successful career as an independent musician

Hello friends! 'The Brigade that Builds Brands' #thebrigadethatbuildsbrands has another fabulous guest today. Meet Teesta Galway, an Air Force wife Rockstar (literally). She is a professional musician - a singer, songwriter and guitarist, and is here with some solid inspiration for any military wife, who aspires to follow an out-of-the-box career independently. Let's dive into this interview and get ready to be Inspired!

Teesta Galway performing at a fund raising music show
Teesta Galway - Musician & Air Force wife
Note: So, after more thought, we've decided to keep The Brigade that Builds Brands exclusive to Fauji wives. Military wives, who carve out interesting careers on the solo need + deserve to have a special niche of their own. But because, we're just as passionate about Women Entrepreneurs, especially mompreneurs who launch micro brands from home or bring about a change with their venture, we're launching a "sister series" called 'Ladies Who Launch'. We'll be publishing the first interview in this series soon. Stay tuned :).

CB. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji/military wife. 

TG. I 'm Teesta Galway, born and brought up in Shillong. I belong to the Assamese community and am currently based in Delhi. I got married in the summer of 1994, while I was in Jorhat for my higher studies and my husband happened to be posted there. So that makes it 26 years of marriage almost. 

CB. What has been your business or creative journey been like: how & when did you start your venture? 

TG. I 'm a professional singer- songwriter and a guitarist, with around 15 years of experience in the industry. With an early start, I played my first stage show with a live band aged merely 8 years old. It’s been a rough and tremulous road for me as a woman in music and I’ve had to nurture my talent and reinvent myself on my own accord. And unfortunately, I can’t say that I had been able to benefit off of the exposure that social media could have given me back in the day. Networking and finding work had proven to be a formidable challenge. I had no other option but to conjure up an iron will and venture out in a solitary state as music has always been my calling. 

Teesta Galway at a music show
Teesta Galway - singer, songwriter & guitarist

My journey as a musician has been great so far. I 've been a resident musician in some of the biggest five stars in Delhi, been on the drive time radio shows in two of Delhi's biggest FM channels Hit 95 FM and radio one 94.3 FM, been featured by the Hindustan Times and played in major events like the Wills Lifestyle Fashion Week ,the Lakmé Fashion Week and The Torque Festival (to name a few). I’ve also played at the most happening music venues like the Hard Rock Cafe and The Blue Frog.

Being a musician performing solo and with a band has given me the option to play in varied setups and venues. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

FREE Booklet: 60 Online Homeschooling Resources For Your Homeschool

Hey friends!  Have you been homeschooling during the lockdown and wondering how to add some chutzpah to those daily lessons, without stepping out? Wether you are homeschooling for the long run or for this temporary phase, this list has 60 super interesting websites that you can use to supplement those textbooks and lesson plans for children in different grade levels. Even when, the schools re-open and most of the kids are back in school, this resource can help add some fairy dust to daily learning. Whether it’s mathematics, languages, art, science or social science, there’s something to dip into in this list of “60 Online Homeschooling Resources For Your Homeschool”, that I've curated and put together in PDF format.



Why Online resources? We live in a remote area with no good libraries, workshops and museums around. When I homeschool my son, we often rely on online resources - tools, ideas and games that we can access at the click of a mouse, to add that extra dollop of fun to our learning experience. But now with the lockdown and social distancing, a lot of you, irrespective of your location, are in the same boat as us i.e. cannot access a variety of hands-on learning opportunities. So, I thought of adding to my list of resources and sharing it with anyone, who wishes to use the Internet to gather knowledge and learning.

What’s in this short ebooklet? From websites that you can use to supplement your daily lessons to online resources to add that extra sparkle to your homeschool days, this list has weblinks to fun educational treasure troves. I’ve also added a few blogs by homeschooling moms that you can refer to whenever you have a question, a doubt or just want to soak in some sane homeschooling advice. Towards the end, I’ve shared links to a few Youtube channels by homeschooling moms. 

How can you download it? It’s FREE and you can download it by signing-up for my blog. Pop in your email id in the form and then click on the confirm button when the confirmation email lands up in your inbox:

Get the EBooklet: https://chandanabanerjee.us17.list-manage.com/subscribe/post?u=0ac0d3bbbf0aeede48719364f&id=4ba793319a


#homeschooling #homeschool #homeschoolduringloackdown #homeschoollife #homeschoolinginindia #homeschoolresources #homeschoolfun #homeschoolwebsites 



Monday, June 15, 2020

5 Ways Our Homemaking Can Enhance Our Work-at-Home Lifestyle

In my experience, if we have our homemaking systems down to a pat (okay, maybe not down to a pat, but more or less sorted out), we can create a happy place for our family and ourselves as well as work on our assignments and deadlines at peace. 

Personally, I began valuing the art of homemaking and how it adds a sparkle to our other facets of home life, including, working-from-home, after many years of homemaking by the seat of my pants. But now that I'm kinda figuring it out, here's why I feel homemaking can help me (and many of us) stay grounded and happy as we putter around home, working, teaching and being.

A group of women baking a cake around the kitchen counter
Happy Homemaking to help the Work-At-Home Lifestyle / Pic credit: Pixabay

Here are 5 ways that homemaking can have a positive impact our work-from-home life:

1. When we spend time and happy energy on “making a home”, it percolates into our work-from-home life too. And in the same way, if we pour in frazzled energy into how we manage our home, it makes our work-from-home experience hassled too. While homemaking is at the core of any home, when you work from home you’re always surrounded by the energy that you filled up your home with.

2. A simple homemaking system and routine can help us focus better on our work. Systems, routines and rhythms streamline the household chores and keep offering the regular TLC that our homes and our lives need. 

3. Purposeful homemaking means that we also factor in time for ourselves and the little treats that brighten up a day. As the saying goes “all work and no play” is a surefire recipe for a dull day. I’m learning to inject more treats into my days, instead of rushing from one homeschooling or homemaking chore to a work-from-home deadline.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The Brigade that Builds Brands: How Manasi's Pink Legal project is changing the way Indian women access their rights

Hello everyone! Today, I have Manasi Chaudhari, a spunky young legal eagle, helping bring change in this country, here at the "The Brigade that Builds Brands". She's got an empowering passion project to share with the world; but before we dive into her interview, I wanted to make a 'semi-announcement'.

For the past few years "The Brigade that Builds Brands" was an exclusive platform for military wife entrepreneurs. But now, we're welcoming All women entrepreneurs on this forum, especially those working towards bringing a change. Women who juggle a change-making social biz with their day job, moms who carve out a work-from-home micro biz while caring for their babies & toddlers, young ladies who're striving to create a home-based brand. Any gal, who strives to create a niche and a career for herself from Home, while juggling the many responsibilities of life and family, is welcome to share her journey and work with us here (however, I will retain the discretion to decide on the stories to bring to fore on this blog).

Manasi Chaudhari
Manasi Chaudhari - CEO & Founder of Pink Legal

So, back to Manasi, a full-time lawyer with a passion project that's helping women identify and learn about their rights. In a culture, where many of us have been taught the 'virtue' of grinning and bearing it, of letting our communities push us to the brink, of giving in and giving up, Manasi's PinkLegal.in is empowering women to stand up for themselves and take their rights seriously. Let's find out how Manasi is growing this change-making project while also juggling her full-time legal job.


 CB. Please tell us about yourself and your work.

MC: I am a lawyer who is passionate about gender equality and women’s rights.
I completed my law from Jindal Global Law School, Delhi and graduated with a medal as a topper of the batch. In 2018, I worked under Justice DY Chandrachud in the Supreme Court and assisted him on three landmark judgments in India- Section 377 (decriminalising homosexuality), permitting women’s entry into the Sabrimala temple, and decriminalising adultery. 

I have founded Pink Legal- which is India’s first ever platform dedicated exclusively to women’s rights and women’s laws, with the aim that every woman in India should know her legal rights.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Work-from-home Tips for Professionals & Entrepreneurs

I’ve been working from home for over 14 years now. And honestly, I’ve loved it way more than I ever enjoyed working in a cubicle at any office. I like the flexibility, the ability to meet my deadlines at a self-created pace, working solo and being in my favourite place – my home, while I craft a career I enjoy.


Laptop and coffee in the work-from-home scenario
Photo credit: Unsplash

As much as I’m a die-hard fan of working-from-home, I understand that it’s not the first choice for everyone. So, with the Corona pandemic forcing everyone to huddle at home and work, it might be challenging and confusing for many of you, who prefer the structure, social aspect and discipline of walking into an office every day.

I’m sharing some tips that have worked for me in my work-from-home life and I hope these can help you ease into this too:

1. Create a rhythm or a schedule that factors in work, chores and family time. There are far too many distractions when you’re working from home, and if you don’t have a plan for the day, you may find it slipping from you quicker than you expected.

2. Ditch the pajamas and dress for work. Wear your “outside” clothes. Put on some make-up. Reach out for your favorite pair of earrings. I’ve found that dressing for work helps me focus better and feel sharper as I tackle the day’s to-do’s.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Brigade That Builds Brands: Textile artist & Army wife Meenakshi Sharma on building a brand around your passions

Hello friends! I'd like to introduce you to a fabulous Army wife artist & my online friend, Meenakshi Sharma, in today's edition of The Brigade That Builds Brands. I often reach out to her to know where to source certain art supplies (for my small art brand "Jugnoo Story Art") or how to start on a new medium, and every time, she shares with generosity. Mrs. Sharma is known for her beautiful hand-painted soft furnishings and she puts in her heart & soul into every piece she creates for her clients. Let's find out how she built a successful art business post-50, while juggling her many personal commitments.

Artist Meenakshi Sharma in her living room
Meenakshi Sharma

CB. Where are you based and how long have you been a fauji/military wife (and which service are/have been part of i.e Army/Air Force/Navy)?


MS. I’m Meenakshi born and brought up in Delhi and married to an AMC officer, now retired and settled in Mohali. I'm mom to two children aged 26 and 22 . I'm basically  a self taught artist . I'm passionate about all kinds of folk art like Madhubani, Pichwai Gond and tribal art. I started doing it on paper and later brought it to functional home decor items like decorative wall plates and on fabric like cushion covers dupattas and dresses I have also started doing small projects in watercolour. I sell these under the brand name Tulika. 

Three dragonflies watercolour painting
Meenakshi's watercolour dragonflies

CB. What has been your business or creative journey been like: how & when 
did you start your brand/business/creative career?

MS. I had always been a creative person but all my creative pursuits had taken a back seat when my son was diagnosed with autism and most of my time was spent either running around for therapies or trying to cope up with the emotional turmoil the whole family was going through. Acceptance brought in lot of stability. But I started with my creative venture after my husband hung up his boots. At the behest of my daughter and few good friends, Tulika was born about 2years back.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Opinions & Questions Every Homeschooling Parent Needs To Be Prepared For

All of a sudden, everyone is talking about how difficult it is to homeschool and seeking out long-term homeschoolers for tips and tricks to crack the teach-at-home code! 

From being “THAT LADY WHO DOESN’T SEND HER SON TO SCHOOL”, I seem to have transformed overnight to that mom who knows a few things about homeschooling! Ha! 

Boy making science toys in his homeschool
N in his homegrown "workshop" making sci toys

I wonder if more parents will continue homeschooling their children, even after the Corona scare dies down. I wonder if this new understanding and empathy for the homeschooling life will continue or once the kids are back in school, homeschooling will just be another “dicey choice” that only some parents, like me, make. 

Here are the general (wrong) impressions folks have had about us homeschooling our son (and I bet all homeschooling parents face some versions of this):

Is homeschooling even an option?” And “So, when does he get back to school?”
While homeschooling is not so uncommon in bigger cities in India, in the military community, I’m yet to meet another homeschooling family. In the defence services, homeschooling is unheard of and most people fall from the sky when we mention that the kiddo does school at home. 

You must try enrolling him in the local school - I mean how long can you homeschool!”
Umm…maybe till he goes off to college? Sounds good? 
Often when families choose to homeschool, they would have explored the go-to-school option first and found a reason not to pursue it. But just because our method of education is non-traditional, we’re asked all these weird questions by well-meaning people. So when folks nudge and cajole me to send my son to school, it kind of annoying because hey, am I telling anyone to keep their kid at home?

Monday, May 4, 2020

How To Work-from-home When You Have Small Children At Home

Hello mommies! Today, I’m answering a work-from-home question sent in by a reader. 
How do you work when you have a small child at home? My daughter shuts off my laptop every time I sit down to write.” This question was sent in by Bhakti, a technical writer, military wife and mom to a 4 year-old, who would like to get back into copy writing and a work-from-home career.

Bhakti and all moms out there struggling with the same problem - I hear you. And I’ve been in your shoes; in fact, I’m often in this kind of situation even now.

Work-from-home mom working on her laptop with toddler in her lap
Pic credit: Pexels

As a homeschooling mom to a rambunctious little boy and a military wife, it is a constant juggling act to work on my projects and dreams, while fielding questions from this very curious 6.5 year old, having said boy trailing me throughout the day and singing at the top of his voice whenever I get on a client call :D. 

I started this blog, when my son was a few months old and got back to freelance journalistic assignments when he was a toddler and my husband, often deployed frequently. 

(Do check out my Youtube Video on this - link mentioned at the end of the post.)

Here are some of the things I did to get some work done, while tending to and often sole parenting my son.

Find pockets of time to work in. The early morning hours are my jam; for you, it could be late nights and afternoons, when your child naps or is more amenable to some quiet time. 

Have a rhythm instead of a tight schedule. If the latter works better for you, then go ahead with that. But for me, chunking my day into routines and staying flexible has worked much better. When the day has a more organic quality to it, then I don’t get hassled too much if something comes up (which is very probable when the kids are small) or if something changes.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Brigade that Builds Brands: Author, Recycling Artist & Army wife Reshma Kadvath on how she has created a home, lifestyle & creative career around her passion for upcycling

Hello friends! Today I'd like to welcome Reshma Kadvath to The Brigade that Builds Brands. An avid recycler + up cycler, author of two coffee table books on sustainability, and a creative blogger, this Army wife champions a cause very dear to my heart. A cause that many of us can weave into our lives now too, to not only nourish our creativity but to nurture the Earth. I "met" her on Instagram, and was instantly fascinated with how she creates jewellery, furniture and decor items out of old, broken objects that anybody else would probably discard without a backward glance. With the magic wand of her creativity, a broken doorknob turns into a candle stand, a woven hand fan into a coffee tray, hooks into a necklace, and much more. 


Army wife and recycling artist Reshma Kadvath wearing an up cycled necklace
Reshma Kadvath - Author, Upcycling Artist, Blogger & Army Wife

Let's dive into this chat and find out how she does what she does while moving from one small military base to another with her Army officer husband. (You are welcome to read about all our featured milpreneurs here.)

CB. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji/military wife (and which service are/have been part of i.e Army/Air Force/Navy).
RK. Hi… I am Reshma Kadvath. Basically I am a Keralite, but after 22 years of marriage to an Army Officer, I can safely say that I have a bit of ‘all states of India’ in me. I am a self-proclaimed lover of everything Indian, and it reflects in my fashion sense and décor sensibilities. I am a nature lover and try to surround myself with plants and greenery wherever I go. Apart from this, I am also a writer. I have authored two coffee table books, primarily dealing with creativity and upcycling.

CB. What has been your business or creative journey been like: how & when did you start your brand/business/creative career?
RK. The journey has been very fulfilling and satisfying. The creative roots can be traced back to my childhood, but the journey truly took flight, once I became an Army wife. My first born was diagnosed with clinical ADHD, so it became difficult for me to venture out much. That is when the décor bug bit me real hard. I started transforming my Fauji homes into the ultimate creative and inspirational sanctuaries. However, soon the pinch of a single earning member started curbing my creative instincts. That is when I started my creative journey, into the world of UPCYCLING (creative reuse of old and discarded objects). Although it initially started as a means to save money, once I became aware of its ‘POSITIVE IMPACT ON OUR ENVIRONMENT’, it has become my one true calling… my IKIGAI. Now my main aim is to spread awareness about this beautiful creative process and its many benefits on the environment, to one and all.

Reshma Kadvath with her coffee table book on recycled crafts
Reshma with one of her coffee table books

Reshma Kadvath's Fuji home with up cycled decor items and recycled furniture
Reshma's beautiful home decor - most of it created through up cycling and recycling
CB. Fauji wives make their home in an assortment of obscure places across the country. Our lives are about living in the moment and doing what we can, when we can. Can you share how you stayed creative or found work that satisfied you while moving across the country?
RK. I believe travel expands one’s creative horizons. You get inspired by the various cultures, traditions and rich art forms. Every state I get posted to gives me new raw materials (mostly from junkyards and flea markets) to work on and introduces me to local artisans, trained in different skills, who help give life to my ideas. It is a two way affair. I get to see my ideas fructify, and I with my creative imagination in turn help open their minds to infinite new possibilities of their craft/talent. Taking inspiration from all over the country, in addition to décor accents, I create upcycled jewelry, fashion accessories, utility items, furniture… you name it I upcycle it. 

Monday, April 20, 2020

How to Homeschool Regularly - 6 tried-and-tested tips from this homeschooling mom

Whether you’re #homeschooling for the long run or during the time that schools are closed during the lockdown, there are few things to keep an eye on if we’re setting up school at home on a regular basis.

homeschooling in India
Find your homeschooling "HAPPY"

While I’m no expert in this, I have been homeschooling my son for the last two years, and there are a few things I’ve learnt on this journey.

1. Make up your mind about homeschooling regularly. Embrace the fact and be very sure that your daily routine will include sitting down and teaching the kids. When you know that this is on your plate, you not only learn to make time for it, but also get in the mood for teaching. 

2. Use methods that feel good to your child and you. Experiment. Try new things. Don’t feel compelled to stick to one method. There are so many teaching tools and methods out there, and as homeschooling parents you might wonder which one to go with. So let’s say, you are using the Charlotte Mason method but after while, feel like borrowing some techniques from Montessori or the Classical or the Waldorf way of education. Give yourself permission to feast on this buffet of methods or stick to just one, depending on what works for you and your child. Just because you may have spent money on buying a teaching tools or books that adhere to a single method, doesn’t mean that you can’t still explore other methods.

3. Be open to changing things up. If you feel that something - a routine or way of learning, isn’t working for you and your children, then make some changes to bring back the fun. It could mean changing the syllabus or bringing in more story books or using online games or documentaries to supplement your lessons. It could mean changing the schedule or taking more breaks. There is no use in sticking tight to one way of doing things when it is not serving you.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Brigade that Builds Brands: Artist & Army wife Shahataaj on how she has created an art venture around her passion

Hello friends! The Brigade that Builds Brands is back with another inspiring military wife entrepreneur story. Meet Shahataaj Afzal, a Sculpture Painting Artist, Army wife and mom to two small kids. I like the tenacity with which she can crafted a handmade micro business, one steady step at a time.

Let's dive into this interview and get inspired by how Shahataaj has built a artist venture around something loves to do.

Army wife and artist
Artist & Army wife Shahataaj with her clay sculpture art

CB. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji/military wife (and which service are/have been part of i.e Army/Air Force/Navy).

SA: I'm Shahataaj, a proud Army wife, wedded to the OG for 14yrs, a proud mommy to two adorable kids aged 7.5 & 5, a budding  Artepreneur, a certified Sculpture Painting Artist. After a 3 yrs separation due to my Army man's professional commitments, I've just shifted to our service station in North India from Hyderabad.

CB. What has been your business or creative journey been like: how & when did you start your brand/business/creative career?

SA : I'm a huge art lover, everyone says that for sure. My tryst with art started when I was in grade 6 with Mehndi cones. My mum brought home a mehndi design book from an exhibition, and I caught hold of every hand in my family to try them. I love to draw & sketch a lot, my schoolies still remember me for my mehndi stalls in our school fetes. These days it's called DIY, back then it was holiday timepass. I started doing abstract painting on earthen pots & old paint buckets. Then, Glass paintings, Fabric Painting, etc.

 Being married to an OG Soldier, we need that talent to fill up the walls, right ? That's when I started Relief Art, I garnered quite some attention for a Tree of Life mural I made. Whatever I did, was just confined within my walls. My thirst to learn new art techniques flourished with the internet and Russian Sculpture Paintings intrigued me a lot. It's a unique art technique created by Evgenia Ermilova from Russia. I followed every Sculptural Painting page on instagram. And, in May 2019,when I was on a holiday to the US, I came across a workshop by Laurel Pulvers,the 1st certified instructor for Sculpture Paintings in the US. I enrolled for it and started my journey in this beautiful art.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Brigade that Builds Brands: Author & Army wife Tanushree Podder on creating a successful writing career on the move

Hello friends! Hope you're well and making the most of this slow-down + stay-at-home phase. Today, I have a special guest at The Brigade that Builds Brands - a series that turns the spotlight on fauji wife entrepreneurs/authors/ladies who launch. Meet Tanushree Podder - a well-known author and veteran Army wife, whose articles and books we've enjoyed reading for years. It is an honor to have her over at the blog and I'm really looking forward to knowing more about how she has carved out a prolific writing career over the years.

author taunushree podder
Author & Army Wife Tanushree Podder

CB. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji wife (and are you an Air Force or Army wife).

TP. I am an author based at Pune. To tell you the truth, I have wandered through several professions before opting to write. After finishing my management degree, I worked as a HR professional with Larsen & Toubro Limited for about seven years before opting out of the corporate scene.  As an army wife, there were two options before me – to pack my bags and travel with hubby or to stay put in a big city and continue with my career. I chose the former and followed my soldierly-half to the remotest locations of the country. Not for a day have I regretted my decision.

At one point in life, I did Montessori teacher’s course and took up a job in a renowned convent school, so my daughter could get admission in it. I did a beautician’s course, and several other things before realizing those were not my calling.

It was at this point that I decided to change my hobby into profession. I had been freelancing for many magazines and newspapers even when I was working, but now I began to take writing seriously. I ventured into the world of books. My first book was published while we were posted at Bikaner. It’s been twenty years since that day.

CB. What kind of books and articles do you write & what is your writing routine/schedule/process like?

TP. I call myself a maverick writer. I am a free spirited person with a curious mind and that doesn’t allow me to stick to a specific genre in writing.

As a freelance journalist, I wrote on several subjects and interviewed several prominent personalities for various newspapers and magazines before deciding to specialize in a genre. Since I loved travelling, I chose to write on travels and that took me to about sixty odd countries around the world.

Army Novels by Tanushree Podder
Books by Tanushree Podder


My journey in the world of books began with non-fiction and soon I ventured into the fiction territory. I write whatever comes to my mind. Right from the Death of a Dictator, which was about Saddam Hussein to several books on health, fitness and nutrition, I wrote about 13 books in non-fiction, before moving to fiction. Here again, I didn’t restrict myself to any genre. As a result, I wrote Nurjahan’s Daughter and Escape from Harem, both of which are historical fiction, to Boots Belts Berets, On the Double and No Margin for Error, which are military fiction, I have been writing in various genres.
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