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

Seen

Setsubun Fun

kodomomame_softToday is a rather fun holiday in Japan called Setsubun, in which you throw beans at ogres and eat large sushi rolls. That’s a pretty basic explanation, but more can be found in a post I did all the way back in 2011 on my former blog. Pretty amazing how different I look now from then!

mamemaki_fumira_softSadly, I haven’t been able to get the videos to work from that post. It’s really a bummer, because I remember them being quite clever (at least in my opinion), and now they may be lost for all time.IMG_0112At the very least, I’ve got an Asahi to drown my sorrows, and I had a pretty delicious dinner. Also, I had fun watching my students at school. We made several fun crafts for the day: Chad made cute ogre hats for the kids to wear, one of our teaching partners helped students make little ogre cups to hold the beans, and our other partner helped the kids make Eho-Maki, the special Setstubun sushi.
IMG_0107                                                                     We had Eho-Maki for dinner

I hope we were able to drive out the oni, or ogres, today with our bean throwing, and that good fortune is on its way! Have a happy day!
xx Caitlyn

P.S. Isn’t the clipart in this post freaking ADORABLE!? It also happens to be free, which is amazing. Find the pictures in this post and more on fumira.jp (it’s in Japanese, but if all else fails, I think the google translate version should be able to help you if necessary)!

Projects

January Peek Cards

Happy February, everyone! Welcome to the month of love ❤ Today I thought I’d share my January Peek Cards with you. What are those, you might ask? Well, remember when I was telling you about the fun style of art journaling I started this year? Peek Cards are a weekly art journaling task in which you do a watercolor around the size of a playing card (I traced around a bank card for mine). I really enjoyed making my peek cards throughout January, especially because the entire time I focused on just having fun, not perfection.IMG_0101Upper Left: New Year’s Decorations in Japan
Upper Right: The Moon Bridge from Koishikawa Kourakuen Gardens
Lower Left: A sweet kitty cat made to look like kamon
Lower Right: A snowflake

Looking forward to the adventures February brings!
xx Caitlyn

Seen/Heard/Tried

My Week in Pictures

Yippee! One week after moving into our new apartment, we finally have internet. It took some patience on our part in trying our best to do things in Japanese, and also some patience on the parts of the kind people assisting us, but the important thing is: we did it! 🙂 Now that I’ve got access to internet on my laptop, I’ve got all sorts of posts planned for you. In the meantime, I’ll catch you up on a few fun parts of my week in pictures.IMG_0032Sunday we made omurice, which is basically an omelet filled with tomato-ey rice and chicken. There are all sorts of variations, but we chose an easy (delicious) basic one that provided lots of leftovers for lunch. Yum! IMG_0042Tuesday was a bento night, and I was super excited to find a place that had an EbiKara bento set! The “ebi” part is shrimp tempura, and the “kara” part is karaage (fried chicken). Not necessarily the healthiest, and in this case it was a little burnt, but good nevertheless!

IMG_0048We’ve been drinking a ton of this Kagome fruit and veggie juice. I like it better than V-8 juice, and I think that’s because the base leans more on carrots than tomatoes. It’s always fun to make things fancy by using a little glass to drink from!IMG_0047Speaking of lovely drink-ware, I’ve been drinking peppermint tea out of this pretty mug one of my besties made for me ❤ IMG_0087And speaking of besties, I set up a picture of some of my girls and I in the kitchen (a place all of us love!), along with the first pretty plant of our apartment. I think I’ll be adding more plants soon!IMG_0045Next up: cake heaven. We were spoiled at work, and decided to janken (or rock, paper, scissors) for our choice of cake. Chad got the one above.IMG_0044                        My partner chose this one, which had coffee and chocolate notes.IMG_0046I got the one pictured above: a light, dreamy strawberry cake. My goal is to be able to make pretty cakes like these by the end of this year!IMG_0052Some of you may have seen this picture on instagram, but we were really excited to see snow in Tokyo. I know everyone in Michigan is rolling their eyes at me, but our experience with snow in Japan is pretty rare, so we had fun with it!IMG_0054Chad was king of the castle on Friday, feeling extremely happy to have a beer at the end of the week 😉IMG_0078I was feeling pretty happy on Friday too, because I have a really fun teaching partner! Love her! 🙂 IMG_0086Last but not least, Saturday night’s snack. Yuki no Yado Senbei (sweet rice crackers) and milk tea ❤

What are some fun things you enjoyed over the last week?
xxCaitlyn