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. 

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. 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

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! 

photo-feb-13-11-00-59-am
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

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 you 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. 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. 
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

 

Projects

Art Journal Idea: Things I Like

Despite having very little time for art journaling these days, I’ve still been keeping up with a little something for each day–even if my entries aren’t as detailed as the ones in my daily art journal from last year. Sometimes on less eventful days if I don’t have a whole lot to say about my day I will add a list of things I especially like around that time. Below is a list I made about a month ago, and while most of the things I jotted down still continue to bring me a lot of joy, I think I’m ready to make another list with some seasonal things, like drinking hot tea and enjoying the fall colors! things-i-likeWhat have you been especially liking lately?

xx Caitlyn

Projects · Travel

Home in Michigan

We’ve been back in Michigan a little over two months now and we’re getting settled more and more. Some things are easy to get used to (doctors speaking fluent English! more affordable food!), and other things a little harder (no trains! where are the vending machines and convenient stores? where is the RAMEN!?).

It’s been super fun introducing Lillian to family and friends, and in between time spent taking care of her I’ve been able to start making my own bread again (this book is great if you want to start making your own, too!), prepare freezer meals for those really busy days (the BBQ Beef & Carrots and the Honey Dijon Chicken & Potatoes from this set of meals were fabulous so far!), and work on some crafty projects here and there–like this hedgehog cross stitch I started when I was pregnant last fall!
I never thought I had the patience for cross stitch, but I decided to give it a try again after making these little matryoshka. I usually worked on the hedgehog and mushroom project while listening to a podcast when Lillian was napping (my current favorites are Invisibilia and Gastropod, you?), or while rocking her to sleep. If I was rocking her I often just had classical nap time music playing, and found I’d get lost in The Flow of sewing–very meditative! I guess I found a patience I didn’t know I had!

This cross stitch was a kit I purchased from sewingseed, and I was really happy with it. All of the thread was pre-cut and organized, and there were clear instructions for a beginner. Sometimes I got sick of having to re-thread my needle so frequently, but at least I didn’t end up waving anyone up for dinner**. Fortunately, I remembered my mom always used magnets and a magnetic board to help keep her place when doing cross stitch and was able to purchase a cheap set. I think I would have experienced a lot more frustration trying to keep my place with the pattern had I not gotten place-keepers! I definitely appreciate all of the lovely cross stitching my mother has done even more after making one myself.

I’ve got one more cross stitch project to go, and after that I’m not sure if I’ll continue with cross stitching or not. Somehow it feels like I should be making my own design rather than doing someone else’s, sort of like when doing adult coloring. I enjoy both, but I feel like I want to take things a step farther and create more from my own imagination! What do you think?

xx Caitlyn

**Once in a crafting meetup in Tokyo our lovely Russian teacher told us a short sewing-related folktale: In old times, people felt they should give soldiers passing by a meal. One day a woman was sewing with such long thread that she was waving her arm in and out of the window and a soldier–thinking it was an invitation for a meal–came up to ask what was for dinner! You can read another little tale she told us here.

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Projects · Seen

5 inspiring, creative Instagram accounts 

For the longest time I thought people just posted general photos of people, places and things on Instagram, with “things” being food pictures or interesting products, buildings, and so on. Then several months ago, I began stumbling across accounts with really great artwork–one after another! I thought I would share five creative Instagram accounts that I’ve been following and loving in case you’d like to share in the fun.

1. hellohappystudio – I love this artist’s sweet illustrations. Everything she posts feels so uplifting! She also has a lovely website and a “Happy Mail” newsletter with a free printable each month!

  2. think.make.share.– This account features artists who work for Hallmark. Some creative projects are featured, as well as a lot of hand lettering.


3. oilikki– Like hellohappystudio, oilikki’s instagram has lots of really fun illustrations. She has some simple illustrations, but does more detailed work with really nice color as well. I think I first came across her art through theydrawandtravel.4. miyyahatkertas– I absolutely love this instagram account! Not only does she have amazing paper quilling, but she posts some of her art journaling/planner art and watercolor hand lettering as well.

5. martinalenhardt– This account shows gorgeous nature art–mostly watercolor. I just love how peaceful and pretty each picture is.

Which Instagram accounts have you been inspired by lately? I’d love to discover more to follow!

xx Caitlyn