Projects

Decorating a Rental Apartment

My, my, my, am I ever feeling pleased with my little Monday night project. You see, before leaving for Japan, I had printed some photos and random prints to use for art journaling, but I never got around to using them. After arriving in Japan, I thought some of them would be fun to hang on the wall, but how could I do it in an apartment? After all, no holes are allowed in the wall, meaning we have to be careful about even using tacks. Plus tacks can be, well, tacky.

IMG_0228As I thought about my predicament, I suddenly remembered something I’d once stumbled upon on pinterest–a solution to my problem!IMG_0229So how did I hang my pictures, you ask? Washi tape.

And what about the frames for the pictures? Washi tape.

And what was the entire solution to my predicament? Washi tapeIMG_0231Look how fun the wall in our living room turned out! I absolutely love it, and plan to do a few more pictures throughout the apartment as well. (Don’t mind all the blankets–at the moment we’re sleeping in the living room, but as we acquire more furniture we will get things more and more situated!) IMG_0232 IMG_0233
Things I loved about this project:
1. It was super inexpensive! I think I probably paid about 500 yen or less for all the washi tape? (So around $5.00 USD?)
2. It isn’t permanent, meaning I could test hang my pictures and easily move them around when I was working on the project, but also that in the future I can easily switch things up!
3. I got to decorate my apartment and see pictures of people I love while I did it. (Though we have more pictures of loved ones around the house as well!)

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In the past when I lived in Japan, I had trouble with decorating our rental apartments, but I am happy to say that this time around I’m getting ideas to make our little place more homey every day. I’ve started a new pinterest board about living in smaller and/or more temporary places that is sure to start growing. Looking forward to sharing future posts about sprucing up our apartment, too!

Have you ever used washi tape for decorating? What are some fun ways you’ve decorated a temporary space?

Have a lovely week!
xxCaitlyn

Thrift Store Challenge

Thrift Store Challenge~!

Hi everyone! I just got home from work, and from time to time when I’m walking home, I’ll stop by one of the local thrift stores to see if anything catches my eye. Today I stopped and ended up coming home with several fun items that I am super excited to transform. I have a few ideas rolling around already, but I was thinking it might be fun if YOU got involved in a thrift store challenge with me!

Here’s what I suggest: 1) Choose 3-5 items from your local thrift store, 2) Transform them or update them or find a new use for them, etc., and 3) leave a comment about your project and/or a link to your blog/pinterest/etc. that showcases your approach to the challenge in the comment section below by November 1st! Once the deadline passes, I’ll post some of my favorites in another Thrift Store Challenge post. We can keep it going monthly, and change the conditions of the challenge as we go (for example, next month perhaps we could all try to make something in particular!). Let me know if you have any suggestions!

Here’s what I’ll be working with:

IMG_1253Two clocks, a dirty old spice rack, an empty Suntory Whiskey bottle, and a rectangular basket. All of these items cost less than two dollars each.

I can’t wait to see what you come up with. If you want to post about your project before November 1st, feel free to use the hashtag #littlesnailthriftchallenge on instagram, twitter, etc.!

xx Caitlyn

Projects

DIY Felt Koozie

Last weekend at Wheatland I volunteered to help with making felt purses. Although I’ve had lots of fun working with needle felt, I never tried felting with water, so I was interested to learn how it worked. Turns out, felting with water is pretty easy, though I can’t see myself making loads of things in the style.  One thing I did venture to make, however, was a beer koozie. Of course.

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So above are the necessary materials you need to begin: a bottle or can for sizing reference, a pan at least an inch or two deep, needle and thread, dish soap, and wool in the color(s) of your choice for felting.IMG_1052Begin by separating the felt into two layers in your pan. The first layer should go across the width of the pan, and the second layer should go up and down, in the opposite direction. This ensures there won’t be any thin areas in your project, and helps prevent holes in the end result.

IMG_1054Once you’re satisfied with your layers, drizzle dish soap over the prepared felt.

IMG_1057Curry Chan was very interested in this step…

IMG_1058Next, add some water, just to cover the felt, and press it down like a pancake using the flat of your hand. IMG_1059The next step is pinching the felt together like a pie crust, all over. Once you’ve pinched for about five minutes, you’ll flip the felt over and repeat the pinching on the other side. It should take around 10 minutes, if you have the patience.

IMG_1060 IMG_1061Once you (and your cat, if applicable) are satisfied, it’s time to rinse out your felt.

IMG_1062(Turns out Curry was just on a path of destruction, hoping to run off with the remaining felt and roll all over the carpet with it. I shouldn’t be surprised after the sad fate of cute Mr. Turnip…)

IMG_1065Here is my ball of felt after washing.

IMG_1066Roll out your felt and place a bottle or can on it to measure your Koozie. I measured the width first, and then measured out a circle for the bottom.

IMG_1068 IMG_1069 IMG_1070Next, sew the edges together. I did a bit of a hodge-podge job on part of it, but I didn’t worry too much as I knew I’d be turning the koozie inside out when finished. A big part of this project was not worrying about perfection.

IMG_1071Next up, you can sew on the bottom of your koozie and inspect your work!

IMG_1072Here is my completed koozie before turning it inside out.

IMG_1073And that’s it! You can now put your beverage of choice in your koozie and enjoy. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can also add strings of beads of other decorations onto your koozie, but I decided to run on the side of simplicity. (Or was it laziness? One can’t be sure.)

Do you like the wet-felt method? What kinds of felt projects have you made or would you like to make in the future?

Projects

Easy Bottle Cap Craft

Hi everyone! We’ve been saving up bottle caps for a DIY my brother and Ariel want to work on together, and having so many saved up has led me to having bottle caps on the brain! It was only a matter of time before I stumbled upon this neat little frame at the craft store and an idea came to fruition.IMG_20140720_200426_223I started my project by laying out bottle caps in my frame to make a picture that I liked. I also decided at this time that I was not going to feel guilty about stealing from the bottle cap stash that was meant for other things. After all, I did contribute to a lot of the drinking that provided the caps. (…Right?)IMG_20140720_201504_660I decided to use bottle caps from my favorite beer, Ranger IPA from New Belgium Brewing Co., to make a heart in the middle of the frame. I surrounded the heart with black caps, but still thought the heart needed a boost. It was at this point my camera crapped out on me, but I ended up lightly tracing the bottle cap-heart before removing all the bottle caps. Then I stained the wood and filled in my traced heart with red paint. Once everything was dry, I modge podged the bottle caps onto the frame. IMG_20140721_104300_269

And voila! That was it. I put an extra layer of caps on the heart to fill it in and make it stand out a bit more, and used an orange cap from a different New Belgium beer as the cap in the center. I think I might do a few things differently with future bottle cap designs, but overall, I was happy with this easy little DIY. What would you like to try making with bottle caps?

xx Caitlyn

Projects · Seen/Heard/Tried · Tried

Summer Bucket List: Make/Decorate Pottery

I’ve been telling Chad forever now that I really want to paint some pottery at Your Plate or Mine in Muskegon,. Leave it to beer to be the answer to my plea: when we finally joined the Mug Club at Odd Side Ales in Grand Haven we got to paint our own mugs! (Yay for crossing off an item on my bucket list!)IMG_0688We arrived at Your Plate or Mine feeling a bit nervous about making our mugs, but full of inspiration. I decided to go with my favorite character in the whole world, Rilakkuma, and Chad went with the creepy Kobito Dukan (pronounced “dzoo-kahn”).IMG_0691The staff member at Your Plate or Mine was extremely helpful; she explained everything very clearly and was available the entire time we were there to answer all of our littlest questions. She even provided us with carbon paper so we could trace our designs if we wished (and as this mug would be getting a lot of use, we did wish to trace our designs–just in case!).   IMG_0692I was really impressed with Chad’s artwork, as there was a lot of shading involved. I think there are two things that are really difficult about painting ceramics: ensuring your colors are the actual colors you want (since they look totally different once fired), and getting smooth lines.IMG_0693It was super relaxing, and time just flew by. At the same time, after a particularly tricky section, you could hear both of us let out an audible sigh. Phew!  IMG_0695Above you can see my mug before firing. At first I was a bit frustrated with the difficulty of getting my lines exactly the way I wanted, but I realized that this is an art in which you have to just “give it up,” so to speak. You have to go into it knowing you’ll make mistakes, and decide you don’t care. And, when it comes down to it, it’s pretty impossible for Rilakkuma to turn out as anything except kawaii. IMG_0696I painted a little suitcase on the inside of my cup, and on the bottom I wrote out “Nomichatta!,” which means, “I accidentally drank all of it!” (Story of my life.) **Edit: Apparently I need to start studying Japanese again! It should say “Nonjyatta,” but hey, perhaps by the time I drink it all I won’t remember my mistake… 😉 IMG_0694On the bottom I wrote “Kanpai,” which means “Cheers,” though that Japanese has a translation right next to it on the cup 😉 In this picture you can also see the yellow birdy before firing. IMG_20140628_125951_907 (2)We could hardly wait to see how our cups turned out, but we had to wait a week for them to be fired. I am so in love with them! Chad’s turned out as creepy as we imagined, and I just want to squeal at the cuteness of my Rilakkuma.

IMG_20140628_130017_676IMG_20140628_130134_746Chad’s (left) says “Nonde,” the command for “Drink.”

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IMG_20140628_130413_421Yay for fun mugs! We spent a few hours on them, and I had so much fun that I went back with my mom yesterday to paint some more. We spent over five hours working on our creations, and I am going CRAZY wanting to see how they look once they’re fired!!

IMG_20140628_201021_048In the meantime, I’ve got this precious mug to drink delicious beer in! 🙂

Have a good day darlings!
xx

Projects

Fun with Lyddy: Flower Footprint Craft

I saw a super cute flower craft on pinterest the other day that I decided I absolutely had to make with my niece (who I’m sure you remember from a recent post as the most adorable little girl on the planet). I grabbed some finger paint and some construction paper, and we set to work. The first step was to make little flowers with the balls of her feet and her toes. I used my fingers to apply paint to her feet (which of course led to her sweet laugh), and then–at Lydia’s request–we pressed her feet down to make a blue, red, blue pattern.IMG_0707After that, we rinsed her feet off in the tub, and I asked her to use the green to draw half-circles under each “flower.” She did as instructed, filled in the half-circles with more paint, and then added stems and leaves. IMG_0710Next I had her write her name on a little flower pot that I cut out. (You could always add an extra step for fine motor skill practice and have the child cut out the pot if you wanted instead.) I also asked her to write her name on the pot. When I did similar crafts with my preschool kids in the past, I would often have them trace their names, but I thought it would be really cute to preserve the way Lydia writes her name independently for this craft. IMG_0711Once Lydia added her name, she was excited to finger paint freely on the flower pot.IMG_0712She finished decorating the flower pot, so we washed her hands and waited for the paint to dry a bit so we could glue it onto the bottom of her flower stems. IMG_0744 IMG_0745Didn’t it turn out cute?

xx

Bookspiration · Projects

Bookspiration: The Song of Hiawatha

Several years ago I received the book The Song of Hiawatha as a Christmas gift, and though I had read bits and pieces of the epic poem , a few weeks ago I finally got the chance to read the entire thing. It was difficult for me to decide what to make after finishing the book, but after much deliberation, I decided to put some of the text from The Song of Hiawatha over a picture from a recent walk at one of my favorite places in Michigan, Rosy Mound.

First, I chose my picture:

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Then, I spent what felt like three years trying to put text over it the way I wanted. I still didn’t quite achieve the look I was looking to create, but I decided the text was going to have to be good enough.

Live Together

It says:

“All your strength is in your union,

All your danger is in discord;

Therefore be at peace henceforward,

And as brothers live together.”

I printed an enlarged copy of the image at Walmart for about $6, and then modge podged it to an art board purchased for around $5 before a 40% off coupon at one of my local craft stores. Below you can sort of see how it turned out, though the lighting isn’t the best:

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I am not necessarily in love with how the project turned out, but I do love where the photo was taken, and I really like the passage from The Song of Hiawatha. I often think about the power of human connection when I go on walks through nature, and about how to I can be kinder and more loving to others. A message about unity totally seems fitting for a picture taken at Rosy Mound.

Here are some other pictures I took on the lovely spring day last week: IMG_0583

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Hope you got to enjoy some beautiful weather like we had in Michigan over the weekend 🙂

xx

Learning · Projects

Calligraphy and Surprising Snails

Well, it’s been a rough week around here, but things are getting better day by day. I’ll spare you the details about that, and instead give you some fun details–about snails!

My most recent whimseybox kit was a calligraphy how-to, and I spent hours working on my stroke. When it came to my final project, I didn’t care for the suggested phrases (one of which was “Ain’t nobody got time for that”). I decided to use part of a Langston Hughes poem instead, and then I added a pretty watercolor snail in the corner.

IMG_0546I hung up my new artwork in place of the Easter Egg I had made before 🙂

Here’s the full poem:

Little Snail

                                               Langston Hughes

Little snail,

                Dreaming as you go.

            Weather and rose

         Is all you know.

             Weather and rose

     Is all you see,

Drinking

        The dewdrop’s

Mystery.

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Isn’t that a lovely poem? It reminded me of the name of my blog, for one! 😉 Here are some other cool snail-related things:

1. There is a type of snail in Japan that can survive being eaten by birds!

2. Click here to look at some neat snail pictures on National Geographic’s website.

3. Watch the link below to see an odd “Green Porno” that explains the interesting mating habits of snails (if you dare!)

Well, that’s all for now! See you soon with some coffee-related fun 🙂
xx

Projects

Lovely Easter Ideas

In anticipation of Easter, I decided to give an easy DIY a try:

Easter Egg Strip ArtSource

This Easter egg made from paper strips on minted.com is apparently a craft for children, but I thought it looked cute so I made it anyway! 🙂 Here’s how mine turned out:

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And here are some other Easter-themed ideas I’d like to try:

bunny rollsMaking cute little bunny rolls… (Source)

DIY love eggs…making pretty DIY love eggs… (via thesweetestoccasion.com)

   pastel deviled eggs

…and making pastel-colored deviled eggs! (Source)

Are you going to make anything fun for Easter this week? Please share your ideas!

Bookspiration · Projects

Bookspiration & Onigiri Needle Felt DIY

I recently read a book recommended by one of my sisters-in-law called A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. I really enjoyed the writing style in the novel, which goes back and forth between a woman living in Canada, and the found diary of a Japanese girl. I think what I appreciated most about A Tale for the Time Being was the way the novel reflected not only the cutesy parts of Japan or the importance of tradition and ritual, but also the darker sides, like suicide and severe bullying. As you could probably guess from the title, the novel touches a lot on the idea of time, and on several levels. For example, in one part of the Japanese girl, Nao’s, diary, she writes about temples:

The temple was a special place. There was the smell of moss and incense, and sounds, too–you could actually hear the insects and birds and even some frogs–and you could almost feel the plants and other things growing. We were right in the middle of Tokyo, but it was like stepping into a pocket of ancient humid air…that’s the way the temple felt to me, like a core sample from another time…” (46).

And later Nao writes about the past:

The past is weird. I mean, does it really exist? It feels like it exists, but where is it?And if it did exist but doesn’t now, where did it go?” (97).

She also writes about the present:

Life is fleeting! Don’t waste a minute of your precious life!

Wake up now!

And now!

And now!” (63).

As I read the novel, I felt like I could relate to so much of what was written–I’ve felt what Nao describes whenever visiting temples in Japan, I’ve wondered about how the past sometimes feels like a dream, and I often try to “wake up” and be a positive part of the world.

I decided to use A Tale for the Time Being as inspiration for a needle felt project after making my first one over the weekend There is a scene in the book in which Nao goes on a picnic with her grandmother at the beach, and they talk about the nature of existence:

A wave is born from deep conditions in the ocean,’ [Nao’s grandmother] said. ‘A person is born from deep conditions of the world. A person pokes up from the world and rolls around like a wave, until it is time to sink down again. Up, down. Person, wave” (194).

On their picnic, one of the things they bring along to eat is onigiri, or rice balls. So, I made an onigiri needle felt!

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Let’s Make a Needle Felted Rice Ball!

IMG_0317Gather your supplies: a foam block, 36 and 38 gauge triangle needles, and felt in white, dark green, black and pink. Then set some white felt flat onto your foam block before rolling it into a triangle shape and poking it with your 36 needle in every direction as you go.

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When you reach a thickness you like, spread out the felt so it can be blended in with your needle so that no lines are showing. Keep poking all around to make the triangle an even shape.

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Once you’ve gotten a seamless shape that you like, you can adjust as necessary with your needle to round the edges more to make them cuter. Then go over the triangle with your 38 needle to smooth it out.

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Next you’re going to add nori, or seaweed. Pull off a piece of green foam about half the width of one length of the white triangle, and long enough the wrap around the triangle with room at the top on either side. Then use a toothpick to wrap the edges of the green foam so they are clean and not fraying, poking the felt with your needle as you go to keep the felt in place (and pulling out the toothpick each time). After “cleaning up” all four sides of the nori, it’s time to attach the seaweed to the rice ball!

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Position the seaweed so that there is enough room at the top of the triangle to add the face, and then poke with your needle all around to secure.

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Next, cut off two small bits of black felt and roll each one into a tiny ball. Secure the little balls to the rice ball to create eyes.

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To make the mouth, cut off another piece of black felt, and roll it into a thin line. I rolled it tightly and secured one end of the felt with my 38 needle while poking the felt all around (twisting as I did so) with my 36.

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Secure the mouth to the rice ball, adjusting over several minutes to form it into a smile. Lastly, roll two small balls of pink felt and added them for cheeks.

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After going over my rice ball and tucking in flyaways with my 38 needle, I put him next to the radish I made for company!

IMG_0341And voila! A cute onigiri needle felt friend! Who wouldn’t like poking something repeatedly until it became something cute? 😉 xx

*I’ve decided to start a bookspiration series sporadically throughout some new posts that use books as inspirations for crafts and recipes. I hope you enjoy the posts!