Projects

Simple butterfly wall decoration

My daughter loves butterflies, so today I decided to make a simple butterfly wall hanging for her based on this pin I found on Pinterest. I can’t find the origin of the pin as the link no longer works, so I just decided to create my own version and share it with you here.For the base of the wall hanging, I saved a cool stick Lillian found on one of our walks, which I think adds an extra personal touch. From there I cut out a few different butterfly shapes in three shades of pink to create a bit of an ombre look (I used my cricut to cut my butterflies, but you could do them by hand if you have more patience than me!). Other supplies I grabbed to use were string, little eyelets I had leftover from my DIY Jewelry Holder craft, double-sided tape, and scissors.I started by arranging my butterflies in a way I thought looked nice, and then I added little bitty pieces of the double-sided tape to the middle of the backs. Then I added different lengths of string to each set of butterflies before putting the eyelets in place on the stick.From there I just knotted the strings of butterflies to the respective eyelets, added two more eyelets on top of the stick, and tied a string on each of the top two eyelets for hanging the decoration up!For months we’ve been singing songs about butterflies, searching for them outdoors (or at Frederik Meijer Gardens when they were “in bloom”), and looking at them in pictures and books. We even did a cute butterfly hand print craft a few months ago, and I added some pretty butterfly stickers from our local craft store to the wall in her room, which I think actually look really nice (pictures below)! Now we have one more sweet little butterfly decoration for her room, and it was made completely with supplies I had on hand in less than an hour. I call that a win!Have you made any fun and easy decorations lately?
xx Caitlyn

Projects

Floral Letter DIY

So last summer I decided I wanted to make a pretty floral letter “L” for Lillian’s room, and this spring I finally got around to making it! (Oh gosh, I guess that’s how projects go sometimes when you’re a new parent!) I decided I would try to approach this project in a similar fashion to the beautiful autumn wreath I made a few years ago (oh, and the pretty little wreath my niece and I made together!).

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First I gathered my supplies: a foam letter “L” from the craft store, flowers from the dollar store, a glue gun and hot glue, scissors, floral wire cutters, craft paper and ribbon. Then I removed the flowers and some of the leaves from the stems using my wire cutters and scissors.File_001
Originally I started wrapping the ribbon around my letter in the same way I did with the wreaths I made, but I became kind of impatient fast because it was harder to do on a letter than on a round wreath. It occurred to me that the front of the “L” would be covered in flowers, and you wouldn’t ever see ribbon on the back of the letter, anyway. Then I thought, why not just trace the letter onto paper and glue the paper on the back? And that’s what I did. File_002
After getting the paper glued to the back of my letter, I made a general arrangement of where I wanted certain colors in bunches before I began to glue them on with my hot glue gun. File_003
Then I added leaves to a few places in the arrangement, adding additional leaves all around the edges of the letter in case any foam was showing. File_004
The back isn’t perfect, but who is going to see the back? I mean, you’re obviously seeing it now, but you get my point 😉  I used a picture hanging strip to on the back to attach the letter to the wall when I was finished (just like with my DIY jewelry holder.) File_005And voila! A beautiful floral letter “L” for my sweet daughter’s room. This project only took me a little over an hour, and was so inexpensive and easy (especially when I decided not to mess with the ribbon!). Let me know if you try this project, and if you’ve made any other cool letter projects!

xx Caitlyn

Life with Baby · Pregnancy

Lillian’s Prenatal Baby Book


A couple of weeks ago I was super excited to finally finish Lillian’s prenatal baby book. I did a pretty good job keeping up with updating the book throughout my pregnancy, but the last few months before Lillian was born I sort of dropped the ball. Fortunately, I took lots of notes in my art journal that year, so I was able to remember a lot of what happened and how I was feeling! It also helped that I used a small photo album about 5X7 size. I got to choose what to put in Lily’s book, and wasn’t overwhelmed by having to fill a big space! Here are a few of my favorite pages:

We took pictures in a Japanese photo booth for our pregnancy announcement, so it was fun to add some to the book (you can see more by clicking here 🙂 ).

I loved the quote I found to add to the Studio Ghibli pages from The Secret World of Arrietty: “It’s funny how you wake up each day and never know if it’ll be the one that will change your life forever.” Lillian has sure changed our world!In Japan they give you an ultrasound at every appointment, so we were really able to watch Lillian grow over the months. It was such an amazing gift before she was born, that I don’t know we’ll have with future babies. I recorded my birth experience in Japan (read that, here), and printed that off to end Lillian’s book. I feel so happy with it, and think it will be really cool for Lily to look at when she’s older! Now to start on her baby book for her first year–phew!!

Have you ever made a prenatal baby book? What kinds of things did you record to remember?

xxCaitlyn

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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

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