Learning · Life with Baby · Projects

The more the water, the higher the boat (free printable!)

Sometimes you just have a string of days (or heck, weeks!) that just leave you in a funk. Maybe it’s not that things are all that bad…they’re just not great. Maybe you just don’t have energy, or time, or the weather has been crummy. Or things are just leaving you feeling low in general. Recently I had a brief bout of hyperthyroidism that left me feeling fatigued and with achy muscles. I was so tired every day and felt guilty for not being more energetic with my daughter and for not doing enough around the house. Somehow after only a couple of months, the hyperthyroidism resolved itself (yeah, what?), and though I was confused about the whole thing, I decided not to linger too much on the why and just be extra grateful!
printable for blog

I really love this quote from Alan Spence’s The Pure Land. It’s been nearly ten years since I read this romantic adventure based on a true story about the modernization of Japan, but I jotted down this quote when I read it and still really like it today. Enjoy a printable of the quote by clicking here for a PDF or by clicking directly on the image to download, and remember this quote, too: “If something is rubbing so hard against you, you can be sure it’s working on you.” -Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love

Have a good day, lovelies!

xx Caitlyn

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Bookspiration: Summer Reading

So I know I told you I was starting to read Keys to Good Cooking, but I got a little…distracted. In the meantime, I’ve managed to finish three other books since The Miniaturist, a book which I briefly reviewed back in my Summer Bucket List Post here. I thought it might be fun to tell you what I’ve been reading, and about the little inspirations I’ve gotten from each book!

1. Harriet the Spy
The first book I read after The Miniaturist was Harriet the Spy. Ever since watching the movie years ago, I wanted to read the book and disappear into the excitement of Harriet’s spy world. One of my favorite scenes from the movie was one that does not take place in the book: the wind chime garden scene. The scene always made me want to make pretty wind chimes to add a bit of whimsy and magic to a future garden. I imagine the movie scene was made to replace a less magical, rather solemn scene from the book where Harriet is taken to meet her nanny’s mother.harrietAlthough the book didn’t inspire much whimsy for me, it did have some good observations from Harriet, like these:

“I’M GLAD I’M NOT PERFECT. I’D BE BORED TO DEATH.”

“PEOPLE WHO LOVE THEIR WORK LOVE LIFE.”

“THERE ARE AS MANY WAYS TO LIVE AS THERE ARE PEOPLE ON THE EARTH AND I SHOULDN’T GO ROUND WITH BLINDERS BUT SHOULD SEE EVERY WAY I CAN. THEN I’LL KNOW WHAT WAY I WANT TO LIVE AND NOT JUST LIVE LIKE MY FAMILY.”

The book also introduced me to a beverage I’d never heard of: Egg Creams! Harriet loves getting Egg Creams at the soda fountain, so I looked up the beverage and found this article (and image) on seriouseats.

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The beverage is basically chocolate syrup, milk, and seltzer, but apparently it takes a lot to get it right. I’ve looked at a few recipes like this one, but I’m wondering if it might be better to just go try one in Brooklyn someday 🙂

2. The Secret Garden
The next book I chose was The Secret Garden. This reading choice was also inspired by a movie version I saw bits of when I was young, and though I don’t remember much about the movie, I do know I’ve always thought there was something very appealing about the idea of a secret garden. To be honest, the book didn’t blow me away, but it did inspire me to look up a few types of pretty flowers, like snowdrops (below), which are actually quite sought after. I also stumbled upon a gardening website that summarizes the book with added floral pictures throughout a blog post.

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A nice quote from the character Colin in the book: “Of course there must be lots of Magic in the world…but people don’t know what it is like or how to make it. Perhaps the beginning is just to say nice things are going to happen until you make them happen.”

3. The Lotus Eaters
The most recent book I finished is called The Lotus Eaters. Briefly stated, the novel is about three characters whose lives are changed during the Vietnam War. To be honest, this premise wouldn’t normally appeal to me, but somehow I kept seeing the title pop up over and over again, and I’m glad I chose to finally go ahead and read it. After getting only a short way through the book, I realized my knowledge about the war was extremely limited, and so I brushed up a bit on my history (one of the ways I did this was by watching Crash Course US History #37 and #38, short videos that were quite helpful for a brief understanding). This book was a good read for me for several reasons. First, and perhaps most obvious, it inspired me to learn more about important history. Second, although the setting is drastically different from anything I’ve ever experienced, I could still relate to the characters:

“This is what happened when one left one’s home–pieces of oneself scattered all over the world, no one place ever completely satisfied, always a nostalgia for the place left behind.”

Lastly, the book made me want to learn more about Vietnamese culture and food. When looking up traditional Vietnamese crafts, I came across carved wooden cookie molds, like this “Lotus in the Lake” mold, so I started researching them and how they’re made and used. You can find some baking molds sort of like this in Japan, too, so I’m going to keep my eyes peeled!

As for Vietnamese food, recently Chad and I tried an amazing dish called bún thịt nướng, which is Vietnamese grilled pork and rice noodles. It was so light yet flavorful, and has become a frequent craving for me! I found this recipe I might have to try making sometime, but in the meantime I think we’ll have to keep frequenting a nearby Vietnamese restaurant!

I hope you enjoyed seeing the inspiration I got from my recent reading, and look forward to sharing more with you after I finish my next book. Hopefully whatever I chose next will get me crafting or cooking something delightful!

What have you been reading lately?
xxCaitlyn

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

Learning

It’s been a good day…

Today I went out to lunch with my mom and grandma (we went to Olga’s–yum!), got groceries and hung out doing laundry at my mom’s (and ate some of the amazing chocolate chip cookies she made!), leafed through a Taste of Home magazine my mom is lending me with way too many delicious looking recipes to try, and bought a new bike!

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I am really excited to have a bike to get around town with, and already rode about ten miles on it today alone! I was especially happy about the color. Chad suggested I get a brighter, bolder color, but the maroon color of this bike was the same as the first bike I ever had when I was in Japan. I feel so lucky to live in an area in which I can bike to the grocery store, the library, and the beach–the latter two of which I biked to today with Chad!

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When we stopped by the library, I dropped off two books and got them marked off on my Book Bingo card. I primarily started the bingo because if I finish it I have a chance at winning a gift certificate to Grimaldi’s Chocolates in Grand Haven, and we all know how obsessed I am with chocolate! Additionally, the Book Bingo sort of goes in line with another of my Summer Bucket List points: join a book club. I know it’s a little different, but it’s a step in the right direction!

So far for the bingo I’ve read Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, Seriously, I’m KiddingYoga Bitchand Other People We MarriedI really enjoyed Yoga Bitch. Do you have a suggestion for a good mystery? I usually don’t like mysteries very much, so I am totally up for suggestions. As for now, I’m starting one of the “groundbreaking” reads about archaeological adventures, and putting a close to a very nice day.

What are some good things that happened to you today?

 

P.S. I have been enjoying playing around with the BeautifulMess app, which I used to decorate my pretty bicycle picture above! Have you tried it out yet?

 

Seen/Heard/Tried

Magic every day

Every once in a while I stumble upon an audio book that ends up whisking me away into a story unexpectedly. For example, about 5 years ago I started listening to The Secret Life of Bees on audio, and it was so well done that I would take the long way driving home from work or errands just so I could listen more. I would also often sit in parking lots to listen a little more before getting out of the car, not wanting to be pulled out of the story just yet. Only a month or so after listening to the audio of The Secret Life of Bees, I bought the text version, happily marking page after page of writing I found particularly beautiful or descriptive with little sticky notes. And then it seemed everything around me was conspiring to bring the story alive in my life–my sister-in-law’s father let us watch him spin honey from the bees he was keeping, Chad and I began reading articles and books about bees, and we started to dream of keeping our own someday. With that book, the ordinary became magical to me, and the book has been my favorite ever since listening to it that summer.20130321-134033.jpg

A page from my journal in 2008 after seeing Thom’s bees

Similarly, about a year ago I listened to the audio of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Once again, I was enthralled by a fantastic audio version of a book, this time read by Jim Dale (you can hear a sample on amazon here). After listening on the train and walking to work, I would stand outside the gates of school without being able to pause the story, often risking being late for our morning meetings! I really enjoyed the book, and so I was happily surprised to receive it as a Christmas gift from my mom this year!

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My mom also sent this pretty little bookmark she made. Isn’t it lovely?

I read the book over the last week, and enjoyed being able to really appreciate the lovely description she uses in the novel. I found myself dreaming of circuses, remembering a Cirque du Soleil performance we went to last year and thinking of the “magic” in the show. And, just like when I read The Secret Life of Bees, everything around me seems to get me thinking about the book and about the circus! I’ll write more about my growing obsession later, but for now I just wanted to recommend both of these books on audio, and then–of course!–in paper once you’ve finished (The Secret Life of Bees especially!) They both really gave me a sense of “magic” amidst the “every day,” and though the books did so in different ways, they both pulled me into daydreams and wondering…

Do you like audio books? (I bet you would if you listened to these! 😉 ) What are some of your favorite ways to bring magic into the ordinary?