Projects · Thrift Store Challenge

DIY Jewelry Holder

For many years I’ve kept my jewelry in a cosmetic travel bag. I think a big part of my reasoning was that I was always going to be moving again, so I didn’t want to bother with jewelry holders. Eventually though, enough was enough, and I decided it was finally time to pull my jewelry out of the travel bag. Inspired by a pricey (but super nice) jewelry holder, I decided to make my own. I went to the Salvation Army and bought an old $4.00 picture frame as my base. Then I bought some cup hooks, eyelets and cork board and got to work.
In the above supplies you can see my glue gun, but I was actually low on glue sticks after my air plant holder project, so I ended up using some wood glue and a staple gun for adhering the cork board. Other items I used that aren’t pictured were black paint, a paintbrush, round nose pliers and velcro damage-free hanging strips.ย 

To start, I removed the backing from the frame and measured enough cork board to fill three spaces within the frame. I didn’t notice until after I added the cork to the frame that the cork board edges were visible when looking at the frame from certain angles. I wanted a cleaner look, so I ended up painting the edges black, something that might be easier to do beforehand if you decide to make something similar!I added cup hooks along the bottom of the frame for necklaces and bracelets, and added eyelets with some round nose pliers for hook earrings. Be careful to choose a thick frame if you make this project so the wood doesn’t split from the cup hooks. Mine split a little, but I just reinforced it with wood glue and painted it black.ย Once everything was in place, I added the velcro damage-free hanging strips to the back of my frame and put it on the wall. jewelry-holderThe last (and most exciting) step was adding my jewelry. I don’t have too many stud type earrings for the cork sections of the jewelry holder, so I might tuck a little picture of Lily in the middle cork section of the frame for now. I like the frame a solid black at the moment, but it could be fun to expand the project by changing the paint color or adding fun designs with washi tape. I love that this was an easy, inexpensive project that looks pretty nice. The best part is that I can finally see what jewelry I have and start wearing more of it again!

xx Caitlyn

Food & Cooking · Seen/Heard/Tried · Tried

Chocolate tasting

Years ago we went to the Museu de la Xocolataย in Barcelona, a small piece of heaven where your tickets are chocolate bars and your taste buds fill with delight. The chocolate museum has all kinds of activities and opportunities for tastings, and it was there that I had my first ever experience with thick, rich, decadent Spanish hot chocolate. Tasting the drink was like falling in love.

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Falling in love is what enjoying really good chocolate is supposed to feel like, according to Simran Sethi, host of my newest podcast obsession, The Slow Melt. In her podcast, she also says awesome things about being your own sexiest sweetheart, and buying the good chocolate forย you. And while I love that sentiment and am most certainly not opposed to buying myself chocolate, I did have to buy some good stuff for Chad on Valentine’s Day (I just forced him to share with me ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

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We’ve been doing a lot of chocolate tasting lately, especially since I received The Chocolate Tasting Kit for Christmas. I am already starting to see differences in chocolates as we try them, and have also learned a lot about how to taste chocolate and how it’s made. Pairing the kit with The Slow Melt, I’ve been gaining a lot of knowledge about chocolate, and I can’t wait to start working with specific coffee pairings as my palate develops! My favorite recent chocolate tasting?ย Black Salt Dulce de Leche Bonbons from Vosges Haut Chocolat. 62% dark chocolate sprinkled with black sea salt crystals = something I could melt into my chair over.

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If you can’t get your hands on some good chocolate as soon as your taste buds would like, get some eye candy by checking out The Slow Melt’s Instagram, and enjoy some sweet listening by subscribing to the podcast!

Have you tried any wonderful chocolates lately? Please do share your favorites!

xx Caitlyn

PS: can you imagine being gifted Vosges Haut Chocolat’s Travel the World through Chocolate Steam Trunk!? A most indulgent, luxurious gift if there ever was one!

Projects

Air plant holder DIY

We have a really great picture window in our living room that lets sunlight pour in across the entire room. Despite the window looking directly out onto the highway, I love it, but I felt like I needed to add something to it. As I’ve already been adding lots of greenery around the house, I decided it was time to get my very first air plants.
As you may know, air plants can be pretty pricey, and if you add a container of any sort like drift wood or a ladle, etc., the price goes up even higher. Of course you can find your own drift wood or cool trinket to hold an air plant in, but I wanted something I already had access to without having to do a lot of searching. And then it came to me: baby food jars. I basically used scissors, a hot glue gun and glue, baby food jars and twine to make a pretty, gradated air plant display. You could follow the same steps with other small jars, too.
Start by measuring out a long piece of twine to hang your jar. I made three jars, so I measured three pieces at arms length to adjust and cut again later. Hot glue the end of one piece of the twine onto your jar. (I didn’t remove the icky sticky stuff on the base beforehand, but you’re welcome to if you have any residue on your jars!)
Next, wrap another piece of twine around the rim of the jar, hot gluing as you go. I did two layers of twine.
Clean up any stray hot glue strands and hang your pretty planter! I used slipknots on mine so that I could adjust the length, but you could also measure and cut. Rather than cut right at the slipknot, I left enough twine to curl down along side the other half. Then, I just added my air plants and–viola!ย 

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I loved this project because, aside from the air plants, I had everything I needed to make it right around the house. Plus, I think the jars turned out super cute and I am loving the extra greenery–especially on gloomy winter days!

xx Caitlyn

Life with Baby · Reviews

Lillian’s cake smash photo session

Can we please talk for just a minute about Kara Hanes Photography? (Oh, and would you also like to take a look at my beautiful daughter?) Just two days before Lillian’s first birthday (and the day before her party), we had a Cake Smash Photo Session with Kara. As always, we were welcomed into Kara’s studio feeling comfortable and ready to have fun. We took guesses: would Lillian destroy the lovely pink cake and become painted in frosting? Or would she ignore the cake completely and try to race off–tutu bobbing as she crawled to whatever else she could get her hands on? Before finding out for sure, Kara took some really darling shots of Lillian on a couple of Kara’s beautiful studio backdrops.
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Are you not just squealing at the cuteness here!? After shots like these we almost felt like we didn’t need to even mess around with the cake, but we knew it was important to settle the debate once and for all: what would this cute baby do when presented with cake?
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And the answer issssssss: she took a lot of coaxing to get messy!ย ย She just sort of touched the cake gently at first, and then–after it didn’t peak her interest further–was ready to go explore elsewhere!ย Did Kara care? Of course not! She just kept up her playful attitude, chatting with Lillian and guiding Chad and I with ways to move Lily around the set. We even tried to tell Lily “NO!” to see if she would suddenly feel more inspired to touch something she shouldn’t!
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Eventually, as you can see above, Lily did get into the cake, and it was pretty darned cute. The photo shoot was full of so much laughter (and frosting!). Kara was able to capture Lillian’s happy spirit, but also the pure sweetness of her, too, as pictured below.lillian1year35
I can’t say I’ve ever looked that beautiful after stuffing my face with cake…

As with our family photos, these pictures of Lillian are true treasures. We feel so lucky to have a family photographer who is genuine, playful, and who makes everyone feel relaxed. Though Kara has a lot of experience, she still approaches each photo session in a way that makes you know she cares about capturingย yourย story–a story that is uniquely yours. I truly cannot recommend her enough, and hope that even if you’re not currently in need of a photographer that you go look at her gorgeous website and blog! (Oh, and side note: if youย are in need of a photographer, Kara is currently offering a deal on studio sessions through February 29th!)

Have you ever witnessed a baby’s cake smash? What kind of cake would you smash into, if given the choice?

xx Caitlyn

Projects

Piggy bank project (and when to call it good)

I was super spoiled on my most recent birthday with a Cricut Explore Air 2, the most amazing machine ever. I’ve been having a lot of fun learning how to use it, but I’ll be honest–there is so much you can do that I’ve also felt very overwhelmed at times! Additionally, I’ve had several projects where I thought the execution of my plans would be quick, easy and beautiful, only to find I needed to invest a lot more time than planned and learn a lot more, too. On the bright side, I *have* learned a lot, and any setbacks in creating my projects have definitely not deterred me from still jotting down loads of ideas for future creations!
Today I thought I’d share about the piggy bank I made for Lillian. On the Cricut Design Space, my design for the sides of the piggy bank looked amazing. However, when I actually cut the vinyl, things went south. At first I couldn’t get the smaller letters free from the rest of the vinyl after it was cut, and when I finally did, all the letters were uneven and not very clean looking. Then, even after painstakingly arranging the letters again by hand, my transfer tape wasn’t picking them up properly so the design was totally uneven when applied. I also realized the pink vinyl I’d used didn’t show up on the white pig very well, so I had to get another shade of vinyl. I had already spent hours on the project only to have to basically start completely over. I wanted to throw that piggy bank. out. the. window.

But…! I didn’t. Instead I tried to calm my frustration and take a break from the project. After a little over a week, I finally tackled it again. I had similar issues with removing the smaller pieces I’d cut from the vinyl sheets, but with patience things were already looking better. I used packing tape to transfer the vinyl, so that went a little more smoothly, too. And while I still have a few criticisms (I wanted one cherry blossom by her name placed differently and I wanted the birth information to be slightly lower down on the other side), I love the colors and the design (especially the origami crane and the cutout of Japan!).

Part of me wanted to redo the whole thing again in attempts to make it perfect, but after hours and hours working on it, I finally decided to call it good. Sometimes it’s so hard with any kind of creative endeavor to let go and appreciate the good aspects of what you’ve made, isn’t it? At what point do youย call it good?

Anyway, thanks for letting me share! I’d love to hear about any projects you’ve been working on (and any frustrations you’ve had!), too!

xx Caitlyn

Life with Baby · Party · Projects

Lily chan’s first birthday party

Last year on January 29th I had resigned to thinking I’d have to be induced because I was already four days overdue with Lillian. We went out for some okonomiyaki in Tokyo and I planned on visiting the cute little old Japanese lady’s bakery around the corner for a croissant the next morning for National Croissant Day. But then the contractions started, and you know the story from there.
This year on the 29th, on the other side of the globe I was busy with our Lillian’s first birthday party in Michigan (though her actual birthday was Monday, the 30th). After lots of prep and planning, I was super excited to celebrate our daughter’s first year with some friends and family.
These flower decorations were really easy to make once I got the hang of it. You can find the tutorial here!Chocolate and (pink) white chocolate dipped madeleines, white chocolate frosted animal cookie bark (you can just see the bark peeking at the top of this photo, but the recipe can be found at Sugar and Cloth, here) and white chocolate raspberry cupcakes rounded out the desserts after a taco bar lunch.ย My sister in law made the delicious cupcakes!
I loved how the photo booth props I made turned out, and they only took about an hour to make!
I also really loved these guestbook pages I made to go in Lillian’s scrapbook. Everyone could write a special birthday message for Lily on the cherry blossoms.
I made a poster all about Lillian inspired by this one, and although we found out we were a little off on her height and weight at her one year checkup on Tuesday (she’s actually 30 in long and about 23 lbs!), I thought it turned out pretty cute, even if it wasn’t perfect.We of course had to do a little cake smash, even though Lillian *did* have a super adorable cake smash photo shoot with Kara Hanes Photography the day before (more on that in a future post, soon!). Lily seemed to get right into her cupcake, which we think had something to do with the frosted circus animal cookie on top.ย 
My other sister-in-law made Lily’s pink and gold tutu. Isn’t it super adorable!?
I still cannot believe our little girl is already one! She was such a champ at her birthday party despite the business of the day. We were sure to relax a lot with her the rest of the night and the next day on her actual birthday (though we sang Happy Birthday many times, of course!). We are so grateful to all who came to celebrate with us.

Thanks for letting me share!
xx Caitlyn