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

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 & 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!

Food & Cooking · Seen

I Spy…

Spring!

It may still be cold, but I’ve been finding bits of springtime (or creating bits of it!) all around me 🙂 Firstly, I’ve been spying it outdoors…

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Is that water? Oh my gosh, that’s water! THE ICE IS MELTING in Grand Haven! HURRAH!

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This ice was melting from the inside out, creating a little cave!

20140408-191233.jpgBright skies = happy days

Secondly, I’ve been creating a springtime atmosphere to “spy” indoors…!

20140408-191325.jpgNothing like whipping up some Lemon Poppy Seed Scones for a nice spring day. I made my first-ever batch with a nice (cute!) mug of coffee nearby.

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The recipe said to cut the scones into twelve triangles, but I chose to cut the twelve in half again because they were so big. The scones were fantastic!

20140408-191341.jpgI may not be able to start a garden just yet, but I was able to make a cute radish needle felting craft with one of my Whimsey Box kits. I had never heard of needle felting before, but now I’m in love with it. I can’t wait to show you a tutorial featuring the other needle felt cutie I made!

20140408-191348.jpgThere was invigorating spring lemon scent in another of my Whimsey Box kits: homemade lotion and hand scrub.

20140408-191356.jpgI also decided to make some Vanilla Pistachio Cream Puffs because I thought the bright, pastel green color created a nice, light spring feel.

20140408-191403.jpgThe cream puffs were yummy, too, so I decided it would be best to get them out of the house and bring them to work 🙂

Where have you spied spring?

Food & Cooking · Projects

Spreading a little love

I’ve been enjoying doing a few little crafty things here and there: making cute little robot cards using a pattern from the book Craft-a-Day: 365 Simple Handmade Projects, writing Valentines and a few other letters that I’m looking forward to sending, and getting crafty in the kitchen with special Valentine treats as well 🙂

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I just love having sealed envelopes filled with hand-written messages ready to be sent! They’re even better when surrounded by lots of fun craft supplies!

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Here are the two robot cards I made. In Craft-a-Day, the author suggests using paper for the entire craft, but since I didn’t have any grey paper I just used foam. I thought the cards turned out pretty cute–one of robots is saying konnichiwa!, and the other one is saying hello.

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I also had a lot of fun making heart-shaped rice crispy treats today to bring into work tomorrow. I just made them like usual, spread them in a cookie sheet, let them cool, cut out hearts with a cookie cutter, and then frosted half of each one with a Strawberry Shortcake frosting.

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So easy and cute!

What I love most about the crafty things I’ve been up to this week is that they are all things I get to give to other people that spread a little love. I really enjoy that sort of thing anyway, but I realized after reading a couple of blogs this week that it just so happens to be “Random Acts of Kindness” week, too. Have you done anything kind for others this week, or received any kind surprises? Have you been up to anything crafty this week?

Projects · Tried

Random Enjoyment this Week

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Random things about my week:

1. I tried a new recipe called Black Bean Smothered Sweet Potatoes from the cookbook I mentioned in my last post, and it was FABULOUS. Yum, yum, yum, yum…

2. I got a new Gratitude Journal that I’ve been filling out daily. I loved looking through the one I did throughout 2013–I have so much to appreciate! I also bought a Q&A book that asks a different question every day. You can see how your answers change over five years.

3. Chad and I have been trying to have creative time together every day, even if we’re super tired! He started working on carving some nice soapstone he got for a Christmas present.

4. While he worked on his carving, I did my first WhimseyBox craft! To be honest, in high school I hated working with clay, despite loving pretty much every other art medium. But working with dry clay to make this pretty little dish was easy and fun. Plus, I have lots of leftover clay and am inspired to make other pretty things!

5. I made banana bread and it turned out super yummy! I took the first picture mainly to show my amazingly adorable Rilakkuma oven mitt.

6. I took the second banana bread picture to show you the lovely moist texture of the bread. Served warm with butter? Delish!

7. Last but not least, one of my friends in Japan sent me a care package that included cute socks! I am wearing the ones pictured above right now and they’re super comfy. Ahhhhh 🙂

What are some random things you’ve been enjoying this week?

Food & Cooking

Fruit Cuties & Blueberry Pie (recipe!)

I was really missing summer today because the weather in Michigan was hideous. As I longed for the warmer season, I decided to look for some pretty pictures I took back in August when I went blueberry picking with my mom and nephew, and to share them with you here!

….Then I remembered I lost nearly all of my pictures from the summer *cries*

Here is the bright side to horrid weather and losing pictures: I had an amazing conversation with a friend who I am very lucky to know today, as well as a day filled with shopping fun. Also, although I don’t have my pretty blueberry picking pictures, I discovered Fruity Cuties!

167-cartoon-blueberries-jokesI started off looking for images of blueberries and summertime on google, and then I wandered off into a land of cuteness. I found Fruity Cuties, a website with cute games, wallpapers, a shop and even a blog!

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radish-santa-xmas-wallpaper-previewAren’t these two wallpaper examples above adorable?

Cute things always make me feel a little better, but sweet things do, too. With all of this talk about blueberries, I thought I’d share our family’s blueberry pie recipe (with permission from my mom, of course!). I’ve always been told that this pie recipe is “the best” because it isn’t runny like many blueberry pie recipes. We luckily had frozen blueberries left from picking back in August, so I felt like I was bringing a little summer out in the midst of the snowy winter when I used the recipe on Thanksgiving 🙂

Too-Too’s Blueberry Pie Filling

1-1/2 cups blueberries
1-1/4 cups water

Boil 1 minute.  Add:

1-1/2 cups sugar
3/8 cup cornstarch stirred into 1/4 cup water until smooth
3/8 tsp salt

Boil until thick.  Add:

1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
1-1/2 cups blueberries

Pour into crust.  Bake at 375° for 35 minutes.  (For two pies, it’s an exact double of all ingredients.)

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Although I didn’t take any pictures of the filling, I did manage to take a picture of a completed pie I made using this recipe on Thanksgiving. What sorts of things cheer you up on gloomy, bad-weather days? Hope this delicious pie filling brings a little cheer, at the very least! 🙂