Projects

May luck come knocking…

Happy Lunar New Year, everyone! The year of the sheep is supposed to be a peaceful one–is it feeling that way so far for you? Things have been settling down a bit for us now that we’re getting used to our new place and to our neighborhood. We’re getting pretty excited for our first pay check so that we can start venturing further out, but in the meantime, I seem to always find something to do!

For example, today I decided to try some more hand-lettering with a phrase often used for the Lunar New Year: “May luck coming knocking at your door.”  I read an article recently that listed the phrase as one of many auspicious phrases some Chinese families hang around their houses for the Lunar New Year. I thought it might be perfect to hang in our entryway!
luck 1I am still working on this little project (I want to make everything look more intentional and solid), but I thought I’d share what I’ve got with you so far. I used a photo editing program to make my sketch look like an old fortune-telling card–isn’t that cool?

By the way, you can see what we did last year for the Lunar New Year here, and read about why mandarin oranges relate to wealth and fortune here. (Side note: I LOVE fresh mandarin oranges! They are sweet and juicy and almost like candy!)

Hope 2015 is going lovely!
xx Caitlyn

Projects · Uncategorized

Little hand-lettering project (and printable!)

 I have had a quote by Roald Dahl pinned to my inspiration board for some time, and I finally decided I should try and do something with it. I started sketching out the quote, channeling a bit of my zentangle practice to fill in empty space, and before I knew it I had lost track of time and was really liking what I was coming up with.
IMG_0288After I finished the sketch, I traced over it with a fine-tipped Sharpie.IMG_0289Then, when I finished with my Sharpie, I thought my artwork might look even nicer with color. Just in case, I retraced my design on a separate sheet of paper before I got started. IMG_0291Here are the two different versions I completed below. I am not sure which one I like better, but I was thinking of seeing how they look printed and then choosing one to put up with washi tape in another room in our apartment. If you like, feel free to click on the pictures to download your own copy!

Roald Dahl quote(1)
                            Click here to download the color version
Roald Dahl quote                     Click here to download the black and white version

Which version do you like better? Have you ever tried working with a favorite quote this way?

xxCaitlyn

Reviews

Review: Basil seed drink with honey

I recently came across an interesting drink in the supermarket called Basil Seed Drink with honey. There were a few other varieties of the drink aside from the honey-flavored one I chose, but honey seemed most likely to be tasty, so that’s what I went with.IMG_0303This drink actually originated in Thailand, and I have read online that it is available in some stores in the states, too.

IMG_0306The texture of the drink is sort of a thin, syrupy consistency that leaves legs on a glass but still has a light mouth-feel. The flavor reminds me vaguely of lemon iced tea with honey and jojoba. The basil seeds (lending the jojoba feel to the drink) will crunch slightly if you happen to catch them between your teeth, and though the sensation isn’t altogether unpleasant, I’d rather just swallow them. IMG_0307Apparently basil seeds are supposed to be quite healthy for you, and when used in a drink, they even promote weight loss because they expand to make the drink seem more filling. You can even find articles comparing and contrasting them with chia seeds. I totally didn’t buy the drink with any of that business in mind, but the flavor did seem healthy in a way. I think it could be refreshing in the summer time if I’m just a little hungry but not yet ready for a meal.

Have you, or would you, try a Basil Seed drink? There are tons of DIY recipes to make your own!

xxCaitlyn

Uncategorized

Who needs motivation?

Oh. I guess I need motivation. I mean, yeah, I’ve set tasks for myself that are totally doable. But you know what? Sometimes I just don’t feeeeeeeeel like doing that whole exercise thing. I mean, I love going for walks and doing yoga, but Chad has decided I need to run a half marathon or something. Yeah, you read that correctly. CHAD. DECIDED. I’M GOING TO RUN A HALF MARATHON. And he’s going to be my hard-ass trainer.

But I’ll tell you what: he’s really fricking good at motivating me. Not to mention inspiring me. For example, today we had a lovely lunch with old friends from Mie, and I drank enough beer to be on the tipsy side by 2:30 in the afternoon. I was silly and had beer with the knowledge that I was supposed to run 5K today in order to stick with the training plan Chad found for me. By the time we got home from running errands after lunch, the last thing I wanted to do was go for a run. The biggest thing on my mind was avoiding running today. I felt heavy and tired, and like there was no way I could get myself out the door. I struggled against Chad’s encouragement like a HUGE baby, playing up my puppy dog eyes as much as I could for sympathy, but to no avail.stones-608373_1280Chad got me out the door for my 5K, and I must say, albeit sheepishly, I had a really nice time. The first few minutes, I told myself, “You are being good to your body. Your body is thanking you.” And after that, I was able to enjoy the rest of the run.

Chad is an awesome Valentine (not to mention an awesome husband!) because he encourages me to be the best version of me, no matter how stubborn I get (and just ask him, I can get really stubborn!). He helps me set goals for myself, even if I don’t want to at first, and helps me achieve them. I’m not really sure why I try to fight against things that are good for me, but I am sure that I am super lucky to have someone like Chad in my life. He encourages me to follow-through with things and to work to make my goals reality. I’ve witnessed him work for his dreams time and time again, like back when he ran the Kobe marathon, got his black belt in judo, or ran the Detroit marathon. And I’m not just talking about fitness goals. This guy can seriously do anything he puts his mind to. And who doesn’t want to be like that?

I think it’s important to surround yourself with people who help motivate you, inspire you and lift you up. Chad is one example in my life. Who are some examples in yours?

Happy Valentines Day loves!
xxCaitlyn

P.S. Have you ever given or received a locket as a symbol of affection? Read some interesting locket history here!

P.P.S. Did you know there’s a downside to Love Locks? Learn about it here, and enjoy the alternative ideas for showing your eternal love 😉

Uncategorized

On setting daily, doable goals

Have you ever heard of the Pomodoro Technique? It is a pretty simple idea, really. Basically, you just choose a task to focus on, and then set your timer for 25 minutes. After the timer goes off, you take a brief break before starting on your next task. Generally, you complete 4 tasks in a set, so your tasks take about 2 hours including breaks. You can add more as you like.

I only read a few articles online about the method, but it seems simple enough that I’ve got the gist. After reading a blog post talking about dealing with procrastination, I decided to make my own little Pomodoro schedule for some things I’d like to complete daily. Floral Folk

1. Exercise – Every day I want to get at least 25 minutes of exercise, in addition to what I normally get walking to and from work. This is good for body and soul 🙂  Lately I’ve been doing yoga, as I mentioned here, but I’ve also started running again.

2. Study Japanese – It has been a little frustrating to realize how much Japanese I have forgotten. I really want to become fluent, and to pass the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) in the future, so it’s time to put in a little more effort!

3. Art Journal/Zentangle/Be Creative – This could technically take up an entire 4-task set, because once I get going, I often don’t want to stop! You know I’ve been art journaling every day, and that I had been spending time zentangling as well, but I’ve really got to expand on what I make time for creatively.

4. Blog –  This one is pretty obvious, but I really want to be on here regularly because I just love interacting with all of you wonderful readers!

5. Read a book – I often get lost reading zillions of articles online, and that tends to lead me away from one of my favorite pastimes: reading books! Setting it as a task will ensure that I fit at least a little reading in each day.

Here’s what I like about these goals: They are doable, if I finish any of them before the timer goes off, there is always more within the tasks that I can learn or explore, and once I’ve finished with them, I will still have time for things I have to do (like clean, etc.). Additionally, following a schedule for these tasks will not only help me complete them daily and have a sense of achievement, but also, it will help push away distractions and procrastination. On nights we go out, there will obviously be some adjustments to the task-list, but overall, I think it’s going to be something really good for me.

What do you think? Do you have certain things you want to do every day? Or certain goals you’re working toward? Do you have any tips that work for you when it comes to avoiding distraction and procrastination?

Projects

Decorating a Rental Apartment

My, my, my, am I ever feeling pleased with my little Monday night project. You see, before leaving for Japan, I had printed some photos and random prints to use for art journaling, but I never got around to using them. After arriving in Japan, I thought some of them would be fun to hang on the wall, but how could I do it in an apartment? After all, no holes are allowed in the wall, meaning we have to be careful about even using tacks. Plus tacks can be, well, tacky.

IMG_0228As I thought about my predicament, I suddenly remembered something I’d once stumbled upon on pinterest–a solution to my problem!IMG_0229So how did I hang my pictures, you ask? Washi tape.

And what about the frames for the pictures? Washi tape.

And what was the entire solution to my predicament? Washi tapeIMG_0231Look how fun the wall in our living room turned out! I absolutely love it, and plan to do a few more pictures throughout the apartment as well. (Don’t mind all the blankets–at the moment we’re sleeping in the living room, but as we acquire more furniture we will get things more and more situated!) IMG_0232 IMG_0233
Things I loved about this project:
1. It was super inexpensive! I think I probably paid about 500 yen or less for all the washi tape? (So around $5.00 USD?)
2. It isn’t permanent, meaning I could test hang my pictures and easily move them around when I was working on the project, but also that in the future I can easily switch things up!
3. I got to decorate my apartment and see pictures of people I love while I did it. (Though we have more pictures of loved ones around the house as well!)

IMG_0230
In the past when I lived in Japan, I had trouble with decorating our rental apartments, but I am happy to say that this time around I’m getting ideas to make our little place more homey every day. I’ve started a new pinterest board about living in smaller and/or more temporary places that is sure to start growing. Looking forward to sharing future posts about sprucing up our apartment, too!

Have you ever used washi tape for decorating? What are some fun ways you’ve decorated a temporary space?

Have a lovely week!
xxCaitlyn

Around Town

Around Town: Ciffon Bakery

We stumbled across this cute little bakery in Bunkyo, Tokyo, and–after several days of dreaming about trying some of their baked goods–we decided to visit the friendly shop to try their Nama Cream Anpan.IMG_0036Apparently the shop’s primary specialty is Chiffon Cake, which I suppose most people would guess from the name of the bakery: Ciffon Plus. My coworkers and I, on the other hand, were much too focused on the enticing pictures posted on the windows to even look at the name of the shop when passing by. We just knew we had to try the Nama Cream Anpan!IMG_0037                                                      Our little treat came in a cute paper bag.IMG_0038
Pan” means bread, “An” means sweet red bean paste, and “Nama” means fresh.IMG_0039
Look how pretty the bread looks with the single little red bean on top!IMG_0040
Here’s a view of the inside. Check out the layers: fluffy, subtly sweet, golden bread, light, fresh whipped cream, and smooth, sweet red bean paste. The three layers together make up just the right combination of texture and flavor.IMG_0041
We certainly enjoyed our Nama Cream Anpan, and have already been back for more. Sometime I’d really like to give one of the Ciffon Plus chiffon cakes a try, though that would mean I’d have to choose between several kinds: Earl Grey Tea, Cocoa Marble, and Cranberry, to name a few! Perhaps for our next Wine and Cheese Party?

Have you tried any new bakeries or baked goods lately?
xxCaitlyn