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

Projects

Pineapple: the best new (old!) way to give a warm welcome

Some say you should avoid pineapple when you’re pregnant unless you want to try and induce labor, though it’s definitely up for debate. (I did try and put pineapple to the test to get our daughter to come on time, but to no avail–Lillian was waiting for National Croissant Day to make her debut!). Now that it’s definitively safe for me to eat pineapple, I’ve been enjoying it frequently. I was snacking on it the other day, in fact, when I coincidentally learned that pineapple is a near-universal sign of welcome and hospitality. Also, pineapple used to be so exotic that it would cost the modern equivalent of $8000! Phew! You could even rent a pineapple so you could pretend to afford it while showing it off at parties. Today, it’s still a sign of hospitality, so why not grace your home with pineapple in one form or another? To get you started, here are five fun pineapple links:

  1. Pineapple Salsa
    pineapple salsa
    Years ago at Wheatland Music Festival I tried some unforgettable pineapple salsa, and I’ve been wanting to try making it ever since. Perhaps this recipe is a winner!
  2. Pineapple Baby Outfit
    pineapple outfit

    Is this outfit not adorable!? I can’t find a link to this exact outfit anymore on gymboree, but here is a fun romper alternative for sale on etsy, as well as some super cute pineapple headbands!

3. Pineapple Easter Eggs
pineapple Easter eggs
With Easter just around the corner, why not try a pineapple-themed approach to Easter egg decorating to show off when family and friends come around for a meal?

4. Pineapple Carrot Cake
IG1001_Carrot_and_Pineapple_Cake.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscape

Now I can’t lie: my mom makes the best carrot cake in the world. It is pretty similar to this Pineapple Carrot Cake recipe though–minus the walnuts & raisins in the cake batter, and plus chopped walnuts in the frosting. She also uses crushed pineapple rather than fresh, but I think the added pineapple garnish on top of the cake is quite pretty!

5. 25 Pineapple DIY Projects
pineapple projects
Last but not least, check out these 25 DIY Pineapple Projects! I especially like the free vintage-inspired printable.

I hope you’ve found something to try out in the links above, and would love to hear about your favorite pineapple projects and recipes! Nothing like this sweet, bright-colored fruit to make you feel welcome, or to at least brighten your day while we wait for warmer weather!

xx Caitlyn

Projects

How I art journaled my way through 2015

Happy New Year! With the arrival of 2016, it’s time for me to start a fresh art journal! It’s amazing to look through my 2015 journal now–not only did I manage to fill in the entire journal for every day over the past year, but by doing so I was able to record a lot of really neat things and improve my art journaling skills in the process! IMG_4180After I finished adding in a few cards and things yesterday, my journal was even thicker than it is above!

As with my last journal, I’ve chosen to use a planner as my 2016 journal, but this time I chose one that has a little more space for each day so I can write a little more if I like. There are a few other things I like about the layout of my new planner a little better than my 2015 one, and a few ways my approach to journaling has changed. When I started my 2015 art journal using the planner method (as mentioned here), I would always write the weather, a color of the day, a word of the day, and an image of the day. As the year progressed, I found that for me, the weather and a chosen “color of the day” didn’t really reflect much that would be memorable or important about my day. Over time I started filling my daily entries with more specific things about my days instead.
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In the above right page, I answered an art prompt asking about a childhood object I made. I remembered painting little wooden horses for a carousel.

Sometimes entries about my day would just end up being a short sentence or two, like in the pages pictured above. Then I would add other things like quotes that were relevant to me recently, ticket stubs, business cards and other collected things from the week, washi tape, images or drawings, and writing prompts. If I had more that I wanted to do with a writing prompt or journaling, I would do it on the lined pages at the end of my planner or attach more paper with washi tape. At the end of the year, I also chose a few writing prompts from Susannah Conway’s Unravelling the Year Ahead free downloadable workbook to fill up some of the extra lined pages in the back and reflect on my year.
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This week was the last week of 2015, but I hadn’t finished New Year’s Eve day yet at the time I took the picture. In case you’re wondering, we celebrated by having a yakitori dinner, playing old-school Mario while Chad drank copious amounts of champagne, watching a movie (The Big Short), and going to a local temple just after midnight. Check instagram for a couple pictures 🙂

Other days I would write more details about my day, and have less space for extra things like quotes and prompts. Basically, I just went with how I was feeling. I also would go back and forth between setting up pages in advance with colors, add-ins (like pictures or ephemera, etc.), and washi tape, etc., and writing everything over the week first and then adding all the art.
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Each month, I added a calendar page from the amazing 2015 calendar Chad gifted me the previous Christmas with pictures of our kitties. I also added month tabs cut out from my Rilakkuma planner (that I used like a traditional planner over the year) to mark each month so I could flip through months at a glance.
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On the back of each calendar page I would either paint/draw/create images relevant to the month (as seen here), or add pictures from the month. I also sometimes added extra brochures or memorabilia that I wasn’t able to squeeze into the daily pages.
IMG_4182My 2015 planner has monthly overview pages in the front of the book, followed by the weekly pages for daily entries. I filled the overview pages with extra memorabilia and pictures as well.
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Above I taped in a birthday card my coworkers made me in November, along with some pictures of my birthday dinner and cake.

One thing I like about my new planner/journal is that the monthly overview pages are distributed between the start of each month instead of being altogether in the front of the book. It’s a small layout difference that makes a big difference to me 🙂
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If I had even more memorabilia that I couldn’t fit on the calendar pages, I once again took advantage of the lined pages in the back of my journal. As pictured above, I sometimes used brochures or parts of greeting cards given to me to make pockets for things like ticket stubs.

It is really fun to look back at all of my memories from 2015, and I am looking forward to being able to do the same for this year. I love that I could spend as little or as much time as I wanted to fill out my journal, and my plan is to continue with the approach I fell into over the course of 2015 this year. I also hope to continue learning and trying new ideas (like pairing my daily journaling with The 52 Lists Project!).

I hope that sharing my approach to art journaling has given you some ideas and inspiration, and would love to hear what kinds of things you do in your art journaling!

xx Caitlyn

P.S. Here is another post with some of my favorite pages from 2015. In the post I also mention some interesting things about pregnancy in Japan!

Autumn Bucket List · Projects

Fall Bucket List: Halloween Needle Felts

Happy Monday! After a weekend of being sick, I managed to get my haircut and attend an hour workshop and not a whole lot else. I was really worried today was going to be a terrible start to the week after a very restless night (runny/stuffy nose, sore throat, being uncomfortable from my changing body, having to pee all the time…), but it was a surprisingly good day at work. At the moment I’m waiting for some rice to finish in our rice cooker so we can enjoy some takoraisu for dinner, so I thought I’d show you the needle felts I finished over the last week or so while I wait!

The last needle felting I did was a while ago: a little bee, and a bit before that a cute little onigiri. Both of those were not kits, but the ones I chose for Halloween this year were! I think there are some pros and cons to choosing kits rather than making things on your own, so I’ll tell you about the kits I got!
Photo 10-26-15, 6 38 55 PMFirst of all, these were both purchased at a 100 yen shop. That’s right: for 200 yen total (less than $2), I got several hours of stabbing fun. Included in each kit was a needle, assorted felt for the project, eye parts, a round jump ring and a ball chain . Things I needed to prepare were glue, scissors, and a mat to work with (the kit also suggested an awl for poking holes for the eyes, pliers to insert them, and a ruler, but I just poked holes with my needle and inserted the eyes by hand. I also didn’t measure anything, but in retrospect probably should have!).
Photo 10-26-15, 6 39 47 PMI was a little disappointed my bear and ghost didn’t turn out as cute as the ones in the pictures, but I think part of that can be chalked up to lack of experience, part to not having the natural Japanese talent for making everything ridiculously cute, and part to not measuring *ehem, ehem* I was also a bit frustrated at having a limited amount of felt–I wanted to make my bear fatter (and thus cuter), but ran out of brown felt, and I wanted to cover the ghost with more of the black so less white showed through, but ran out of the black felt.
Photo 10-26-15, 6 40 39 PMSomething cool I forgot to mention is that each kit came with a “recipe” written in both Japanese and English. This would be awesome if you were trying to study Japanese, and in my case (since I have been really naughty and haven’t studied at all lately) if you just want the English.

I think if you just want to try needle felting, a nice cheap kit like the cuties I got are a good way to go. Plus, once you’ve got a needle, all you really need is felt, a styrofoam mat and your imagination and you can do quite a lot!

Well, dinner is calling! Hope you have a nice start to your week, too!
xx Caitlyn