Medha's best friend, Rachel, from New Lenox visited us in the last week of July. The two girls have been best buddies since they were 4. Rachel stayed with us while her mother and her mother's boyfriend rented a Harley and drove into the mountains to experience Colorado. It was a week that was hot, hot, hot during the day and most evenings were blessed by a thunderstorm. The girls were able to camp in the backyard only once. (Yes, it is a frequently occuring phenomenon, despite the snakes , the mountain lions and the howling coyotes!)
By late-afternoon, the girls would be exhausted from playing in the heat and I had to come up with all sorts of ideas to entertain them. One idea that drew other little girls to my living room like the Pied Piper's flute was henna.
Oh! Oh! Oh! Henna tattoos! Can I get one? And then can I come back tomorrow to get my other hand done?
I wasn't so sure. My hands have always been drawn on. I've never returned the favor!
We had a couple of false starts. Yes, the henna powder needs to be soaked for at least 3-4 hours before it can be used. It helps to read the instructions on the packet! Whoops! Out came the popcorn and in went the DVD, watch a movie instead, girls!
The next day I was better prepared, or so I thought. As it turned out, my cone making skills are worse than my planning-ahead skills and I came up with a rather floppy cone made from a ziploc baggie. I didn't have most of the stuff that could be used to make homemade henna cones and it was just too hot and too bright to step out and buy some. So, here are the results of my first attempts.
I printed two free henna patterns and made a poopy mess on their hands. As you can see, I do not possess creative skills like Archana or Sree do, but the girls didn't seem to mind because a fourth hand was proferred without much deliberation.
I remembered vaguely that henna should be dabbed with lemon juice and sugar. I don't think that was a very good idea as the henna started to smudge. But again, the girls didn't care. I sent them out into the yard so that the henna did not become yet another exercise in clean-up for me as it dried and fell off.
By the next day, the henna had colored very well on the hands of all 4 girls. I had also improvised and made a better and firmer cone by then; so, Rachel made me do her other hand before she took off on her journey back home. Medha spent some time reading up about henna and also made sure that I was not using black henna, as it contains chemicals and can be harmful. She and her friends found some more henna patterns online and then decided to come up with their own.
My skills did not improve dramatically but I did a slightly better job than the previous day.
I bought the henna powder from my local Indian grocery store and it can also be purchased online.
All in all this was a wonderful activity that kept the girls' spirits up in the near 100F temperatures yet helped them get some much-required downtime. They were also really thrilled with their temporary henna tattoos! And, despite my poor drawing skills, I became the talk of the neighborhood! Or maybe, that was what they were talking about!!