Pregnancy · Projects

Art journal pages & pregnancy in Japan

We have been having a nice, relaxing weekend here in Tokyo, and I’m really not ready for it to end! I’ve been spending a lot of my time this weekend cleaning, reading, writing letters, and catching up on my art journal for the last week. I can’t believe I’ve nearly filled out my journal for an entire year now! Almost every time I finish a week of my journal,  I look back through pages I made before. I thought it might be fun to share some of my favorites with you that I hadn’t posted because we hadn’t announced baby Dykehouse yet. AND, just to make things more exciting, I thought I would intersperse some interesting things I’ve learned while being pregnant in Japan. So…I hope you enjoy it!IMG_3433I like the page above because it includes the day I found out I was pregnant. I just had a feeling, and my feeling was right!

In Japan, before you can go to a hospital or see someone to become your regular OB doctor, you have to confirm your pregnancy and get a referral letter. So, we went to a clinic one day after work and I got an ultrasound. We confirmed the pregnancy to be about 5 weeks along, but baby was too small to see. I had to wait almost an entire month until my next appointment, but in the meantime I was off to my local ward office…IMG_3434I like the “favorite ice cream color palette” on this page, as well as my zentangle practicing.

Pregnancy is not seen as an illness in Japan, and therefore it is not covered by health insurance. On the bright side, the government does give you coupons to help pay for the costs of visits and delivery, which is why I needed to go to the ward office. When I was there, they also gave me some face masks (thanks?) and a cute little maternity key chain to carry around so people will (sometimes) give up their seat on the train for me, and just be careful around me in general. IMG_3435
This is half of a week in August, with the other half pictured below. Once a month I use washi tape to add a calendar page for the month from the cute kitty calendar Chad got me for Christmas last year. I can’t wait to see our sweet kitties again!

Speaking of things not covered by insurance, there is one big thing that I’d like to point out: epidurals are not covered by insurance, and many hospitals are very reluctant to offer them at all. I really like my hospital overall, but one thing was made clear to me from the beginning: they encourage natural birth, and only give epidurals if you’re in severe pain for a prolonged amount of time. I hadn’t really thought about how I’d like to go about giving birth yet, but it’s kind of a bummer that for some things you just don’t have a choice. Other non-optional things at my hospital: The husband can’t cut the umbilical cord, the husband must stand next to his wife during labor and birth, you cannot donate cord blood, and they sometimes kancho you.
IMG_3436Here’s the other half of that week in August, including the sad day our flight was delayed for 13 hours (but at least we were on vacation!).

Yes, you read that correctly. K-A-N-C-H-O. Which means you will get everything (*ehem* poo *ehem*) out before delivery. Some hospitals in Japan are different and allow different things, according to some of my friends who’ve had babies here. I do I wish I had more of a say about some things, but my hospital has been voted to be one of the best in the country, is an international hospital, and seems to be efficient. So, I’ll go ahead and just do my best through this crazy thing called pregnancy. IMG_3437
I really enjoyed attempting to draw food from our Thailand trip on this page.

Speaking of my pregnancy specifically, it has been going really well overall. During the first trimester I was tired, was often light-headed, and felt nauseous frequently, but overall I was just thankful and happy for every doctor visit that reassured me baby was healthy and everything was okay. And during the second trimester, a lot of crummy symptoms came along according to the week they’d be listed on any pregnancy website or book (so hello occasional leg cramps and heartburn, etc.), but we also got to feel baby kicking for the first time! These days she’s moving all the time, and at our last appointment we got to see her lovely profile.IMG_3438
This week Chad got to come with me to a doctor’s appointment, and we got our first inkling that baby is a girl. We spent a really nice afternoon together after the hospital visit.

I’ve still got about a week left before I hit my third trimester (already!), but I’ve generally been feeling like a happy momma-to-be.Time flies and any discomforts so far are quickly forgotten a midst my gratitude. That’s not to say I don’t have my moments where I’m like, “Holy cow I’m actually going to eventually have this baby and it’s going to be painful and I hope everything is healthy and that we can prepare the best we can but will the doctors speak English enough on the actual delivery day and what if there are some weird things that come up that are different in Japan that I forget to ask about and and and…” BUT! We’re talking how I feel overall. And that’s good. Comforted and encouraged by my awesome husband, and thankful for a healthy pregnancy so far.

There are a lot of other things I’ve been learning about pregnancy (both in Japan and in general), but I hope you found the brief few I’ve mentioned interesting! Please let me know if you have any questions or comments, whether you’ve experienced or are currently experiencing pregnancy (in or out of Japan) below. I’m sure I’ll be posting more related to this topic in the future either way 😉

Well, I’m off for now! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
xx Caitlyn

Projects · Summer Bucket List · Tried

Summer Bucket List: Paper Quilling

Remember when I tried making Matryoshka at a meetup a while back? Well, a couple weeks ago, I attended another meetup for Paper Quilling. This time of year in Japan a lot of summer greeting cards are sent, so the leader of the group thought it would be a fun time to teach basic quilling techniques. I wanted to share this with you sooner, but I decided to give the card I made to my mom, so I wanted her to be the first to see it. Now that she’s gotten it, here it is!IMG_2188
Of course, it’s not perfect, but nothing handmade is! I really enjoyed making my first project. One of the coolest parts was that the group leader taught us the basic techniques using toothpicks to roll the paper! She also gave us a tip for getting strips of paper without spending much money: just use a paper shredder if you have one! I loved that we could try the craft without having to invest a ton–especially as these days paper quilling is starting to get quite popular again.IMG_2191Did you know that paper quilling is actually quite an old craft, and that even back in the Renaissance the strips of paper were trimmed from gilded edges of books? IMG_2189Here is one of the example cards the group leader made. Isn’t it fun?  IMG_2192Here is my card with some of the cards the other girls made. I loved the idea of making a cat face (top left)! IMG_2194This was my favorite card. I was so jealous of the girl who made it!

I’d like to try quilling again sometime–I think it’s something I could get quite good at and enjoy. Tomorrow I’m off to another meetup for needle felting. I’ve done some needle felting before (remember this cute onigiri?), but I think it will be fun to try it with some other girls and hopefully learn some new techniques!

What kind of projects have you been working on lately?

xx Caitlyn

Projects

How do you pin?

I pin fine thank you, and you? Actually, I’ve always pinned things on Pinterest just fine, but I realized recently that when I first started using Pinterest, I’d often pin things that weren’t really things I’d ever look at again (or at least very often). These days I try to pin more intentionally and less randomly, though I still have to pin occasional cute things on my Oh So Cute! board. (Um…can you blame me?)

In the past year, I’ve already changed a lot of my boards to be more specific. For example, I used to have just one board for food and drink, including breakfasts, desserts, you name it! It started to become a little overwhelming searching for recipes, so I ended up splitting the categories up. I recently did that for my craft board, too. Most of my Get Crafty pins are random, but I have a lot on hand lettering and art journaling, so I made a separate board for those pins. I also organized the layout of all of my boards, putting ones I frequently reference toward the top of my page, with similar categories next to each other.

Since we had a three-day weekend last weekend, I decided to go through my Books I Want to Read board and Movies I Want to Watch board. I deleted any books or movies I’d already read/watched, so that it’s easier or me to find ones I haven’t. I was thinking about doing the same thing with recipes I’ve tried (by printing the ones I liked and keeping them, and then deleting the ones I didn’t like). I haven’t decided yet how I feel about deleting movies/books if I liked them, but do I really need an extra board as a reminder of books/movies I liked? (Especially when I tend to note them in my art journal or here?)

Anyway, that’s how I’ve been approaching Pinterest as of late. I just want it to be a useful, organized tool. Here are a few things I’ve pinned lately:

Creamy Cheddar Polenta with Pesto and Oven-Roasted Tomatoes - The Simple Life | WillCookForFriends
Creamy Cheddar Polenta with Pesto and Oven-Roasted Tomatoes
(After that divine polenta at Chez Olivier, I must make some of my own!)

My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories
A book I want to read: My Paris Kitchen
(This pin is also a bit inspired by our visit to Chez Olivier…!)

quilling a maple leaf.
A Maple Leaf Quilling Tutorial (I’ve actually got a post coming soon on my first time paper quilling, checking that right off my summer bucket list for this year!)

What do you think? Do you have any special goals or organization techniques when you use Pinterest? Or do you just pin freely? What have you been pinning lately? How do YOU pin?

xx Caitlyn

Projects · Spring Bucket List

Inspiration on the Cheap!

Well looky what I found today at my local one hundred yen shop: two really cool books for artsy types! The one on the left is a book of postcards with two per page–one already colored for reference, and another that is blank for you to color. The one on the right is full of cute paper cutting templates, printed directly on patterned paper to use. IMG_1854 IMG_1855
The paper cutting “book” has an added bonus: instructions in English! Above you can see a few examples along the edges of what you can make inside. I’m thinking I might actually make a bunch of the stencils into templates so that I can choose my favorite paper to use, and also so that I can make paper cuts I like multiple times. Can you believe this was only the equivalent of roughly $1!? I’ll update you with any projects I make using the book as inspiration.IMG_1856As for the “coloring book,” it too has instructions, including some tips on using colored pencils. This book is only in Japanese, but it’s pretty easy to get the gist from the pictures.
IMG_1857
Here is an example of the setup of the book. I definitely think I will try coloring some of these in the future (there were also more books in the series with flowers!), but today I decided to use the book in a different way. Remember how one of my Spring Bucket List assignments was to decorate my kitchen? Well, I made my photo garland, but our kitchen still needed something more. I decided some of the pretty pre-colored postcards would be nice additions to my kitchen decor, so I set to work!IMG_1858
I chose my four favorite postcards from the collection and attached them to a lonely-looking wall in the kitchen.IMG_1859
After that I just added a border of craft tape (an idea similar to the washi tape frames I made for my cute living room gallery here), and viola! I’m thinking I might redo the border with actual washi tape eventually as I had to cut the thick craft tape in half and the unevenness might drive me crazy, but we’ll see.IMG_1861
So here’s how a big part of our kitchen is looking at the moment. My new artwork on the left, a rack hanging in the back for cooking utensils (since we have only one small drawer for them otherwise), a few cookbooks, a basket for oil, spices, etc., another basket for produce, our French Press, drying dishes, cards and pictures, and my little Matryoshka (don’t mind the dirty dishes in the sink *ehem*).

I have to admit that there was a plant where the Matryoshka are, but I sort of killed it by over watering it. I also have to admit that even though this part of our kitchen looks a little cluttered, I still think overall it’s pretty cute. (Especially with my easy, cheap DIY art (just 200 yen! *woot*)!)

I have a feeling more fun is to come from these two little hundred yen shop books. Have you found any inexpensive inspiration lately? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

xx Caitlyn

Projects · Seen/Heard/Tried · Tried

Crafty Meetup

I am proud of myself for two reasons today: 1) I went outside my comfort zone a bit, and 2) I did something I never used to have the patience for! Here are the details of reason number 1: I decided to join a crafting get-together with a bunch of people I’d never met before. I know I appear to be quite the social gal, but honestly going to a place where I didn’t know anyone seemed so uncomfortable that I almost canceled my reservation to join. For 1200 yen, I spent about three hours chatting with them making a cute little Matryoshka, and I think I’d like to go to future gatherings. IMG_1820 All materials were provided, and we also got a cup of tea/coffee afterwards.

Next comes the thing I never used to have patience for: SEWING. My mother used to cross-stitch so beautifully you could turn her work over and see a mirror image. I would attempt to cross-stitch and then feel like I should chuck needles across the room. I had thought cross-stitch could be a potential bonding time for us, but that thought was obviously short-lived. Today, however, I had to stay calm and collected (without throwing ANYTHING!), and I actually really enjoyed the embroidery part of the craft. I enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I’m thinking about ordering one of these cute cross-stitch patterns from Etsy! On the flip side, I was terrible at (and therefore disliked) sewing the felt pieces together. But you know, you win some, you lose some. IMG_1821 IMG_1822 Overall, I enjoyed my crafting experience. The teacher was Russian, and she talked about the debate over whether Matryoshka originated in Japan or Russia (you can read a bit about the history here!). She also told a lot of nice stories. For example, at the end of the meetup, I had a piece of red thread on my pants, and she told me that in Russia they say if a string is sticking to you, it means there is a man who will be seeking you out in your near future. You should wrap the string around your finger and say a letter of the alphabet each time it goes around. When your thread runs out, you’ve reached the letter the man’s name starts with. The color of the string will be the color of his hair. (In my case, there is apparently a red-haired man whose name will start with a K who I’ve warned Chad to be on the lookout for haha). IMG_1827 Yes, I know my stitching is terrible pretty much everywhere outside of the cross-stitching. And I am also aware that the red one looks like she should probably go on a diet or wear better-fitting clothes. But aren’t they still adorable!? IMG_1828 I was looking on pinterest and I found a couple cute, similar tutorials that don’t involve cross-stitch here and here. I also found these fun matryoshka coloring sheets, and this Matryoshka Doll Frame from Urban Outfitters that might just turn into a future wood burning project for me! I hope you enjoyed seeing my imperfect, perfect little Matryoshkas. Have you ever made anything Matryoshka-related? Have you ever joined a crafting meetup? xxCaitlyn

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Projects · Spring Bucket List

DIY Photo Garland

I am so excited to share my most recent project with you: a super easy and fun photo garland! On my Spring Bucket List, one of my goals was to decorate my kitchen in my rental apartment, so making a photo garland was one of my first steps. Here’s how I did it!IMG_1411Step One: I printed a bunch of pictures, and then prepared washi tape, die cut stickers, photo envelopes and colorful clothespins. I chose to use FLAKY STICKERS for my die cut stickers, and pre-made photo envelopes from moodsnviews, both of which I got from a local craft store. You could use pretty much anything you like, and if you can’t find pre-made photo envelopes or colorful clothespins (though I’m sure you can because I remember seeing them even back home!), they would be easy enough the make yourself!IMG_1412Step Two: I chose my pictures and started playing around with where I wanted to put my die cuts and washi tape.IMG_1413 IMG_1416Step Three: I hung up my beautiful work!

IMG_1417 IMG_1418 IMG_1419 IMG_1434I am in love with this project! I can’t decide whether I like this project or my washi tape photo wall better, but both are certainly sprucing up our place! This project cost me less than $10 USD (less than 1000 yen), and took less than 45 minutes, but I am ready to enjoy it for a long time ahead!

Talk to you soon, lovelies!
xx Caitlyn

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