Summer Bucket List

2017 Summer Bucket List

It’s that time of year again! We’re about a week into summer and I’ve got a few things planned to try and cross off this year’s Summer Bucket List. I always end up adding to my list as the season progresses, but this year I decided something that might help with some of my creative endeavors would be to split my list into two sections: projects and experiences. I had hoped to finish Lillian’s bear cross stitch two summers ago before she was even born, so here’s hoping third summer’s a charm :’D

Summer Bucket List 2017

Have you made a bucket list for this summer? What have you got planned? If you want a free Summer Bucket List printable, be sure to check out my friend Kara’s summer bucket list where you can find a beautiful one ready just for you!

xx Caitlyn

Food & Cooking · Summer Bucket List

An experiment and a picnic

I mentioned I’ve started baking my own bread again, but did I also mention we don’t have central air in our apartment? That means it’s not always the best idea to have the oven going (even though I did make a mighty tasty coffee cake the other day in 90 degree heat!). Still wanting to make my own bread as much as possible, I decided to experiment with a recipe from The New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day that can be made in the oven OR in the crock pot. That’s right: bread in a crock pot. And here’s the resulting bread, one from the oven, and one from the crock pot. Can you guess which is which? If you guessed that the darker loaf was from the oven, and the lighter one was from the crock pot, you guessed right. I actually put the crock pot one in the oven to get more of a golden crust when it was done baking (the book suggests using the broiler to do so, but I already had the oven on for the other loaf), but it still didn’t get a golden crust as nice as the oven loaf.The bread was made from the same batch of dough, so the taste was the same. As for the texture on the inside, the two loaves seemed quite similar. I cut the loaves differently (the oven-baked loaf was for my go-to breakfast and the crock pot loaf was for a picnic sandwich), but you can still see the similarity in crumb.  For the picnic sandwich, I looked at this recipe for guidance but used whatever I already had in the fridge. Here’s how I assembled mine:

1. I Cut off the top of my loaf, pulled out the inside of the bread (I’ll tell you what I used that part of the bread for later!), and brushed olive oil along the inside.
2. Then I placed multiple layers of raw red bell pepper, spinach, mozzarella, basil, salami, ham, and cream cheese inside.
3. Lastly, I put the top of the bread loaf back on, wrapped the whole thing tightly in plastic wrap, and let it sit in the fridge weighed down with a full yogurt container for a few hours.

I sliced the sandwich before we left for our picnic and grabbed some watermelon and pretzels, and then we were off to enjoy our tasty picnic.We had a really relaxing time with a great view. Lillian enjoyed looking at the water and playing with daddy in the shade of a nice big tree, and I tried my best not to eat the entire picnic loaf!

What are your favorite picnic foods? Have you tried any kitchen experiments lately?

xx Caitlyn

P.S. Remember these gorgeous picnics?

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Summer Bucket List · Uncategorized

Summer Bucket List 2016

Lately I’ve seen a few blogs with lists of things to try to squeeze in before summer is over. I just keep thinking–but friends, we’re only about a month in! And while I am a bit late in posting this year’s Summer Bucket List, I have a great excuse: I moved countries AND I have a baby. Forgive me? 🙂Summer Bucket List 2016I like making seasonal bucket lists because they help me remember the fun things I do over the seasons. They remind me to do more and to try new things, too. This is my 4th Summer Bucket List on the blog, and each time I’ve made one I’ve tried to add some things I know I’ll do with a reminder (though it doesn’t seem like eating s’mores should need a reminder!), as well as some things I hope to try/do. This year’s list has some tried and true things to check off, like making the watermelon rind pickles enjoyed at the Pretentious Tea Party again or going to the beach and grilling. It also has new things, like lots of fun stuff with our Lily (we’ve already finished the summer reading program at our local library!) and attempting to replicate amazing choux cream pastries I had at my favorite bakery in Japan

Despite posting my list after summer already started, I have started checking things off. I’m looking forward to sharing my summer adventures with you, but in the meantime, what are some fun things you’ve got planned?

xx Caitlyn

Seen/Heard/Tried · Summer Bucket List · Travel · Tried

Summer Bucket List recap

Now that we’re several days into fall I think it’s time for an update/recap on my Summer Bucket List for this year!

  1. Read at least three books [√] — Check out this Bookspiration post to learn more!
  2. Do yoga at least 4 times a week [X] —  I thought I was going to be one of those glowing, energetic pregnant women–HA! But I have been walking every day, and I try and squeeze in yoga and other exercise when I’m not dead from work.
  3.  Celebrate our 7th anniversary [√] — We went to Hakone and really enjoyed the Open Air Museum (read more here).
  4. Try paper quilling [√] — I made a pretty sunflower card and really enjoyed the craft (see my card here)!
  5. Eat s’mores [X] — You know, I didn’t get around to s’mores this summer. I did, however, enjoy a lot of early-released fall treats, so I think I made up for it!
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    Left: sweet potato Kit Kats and chestnut flavored taiyaki; Right: chestnut flavored soft oreos, pumpkin flavored Kit Kats, and sweet potato chips. You can heat up both the types of kit kats. I didn’t try them warm, but they were yummy as is!
  6. Go swimming [√] — I was lucky to go swimming in a hotel pool during our Thailand trip, and then again at Shirahama Beach with Chad and his brother Quint.
    IMG_2974Chad and Quint running into the gorgeous water.
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    Beautiful mermen!
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    Baby bump at 22 weeks (about two weeks ago, and already looking small to me!)
  7. Make a hot air balloon craft [X] — I had all the best intentions, really. But I’ll be working on an easy one this week.
  8. Try kirigami [X] — Once again, good intentions on this one. It’s been moved to my Fall Bucket List, though!
  9. Go to Studio Ghibli [X] — Oh my goodness you guys. It is impossible to get tickets on weekends or on any other days we have off. I will keep trying again and again until we leave Tokyo!
  10. Enjoy kakigori (Japanese shaved ice) [√] — I had some lovely strawberry milk kakigori after visiting Sandanbeki Caves with Chad and Quint.
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                                           Above: One view from the caves.
    The “milk” was actually sweetened condensed milk. Mmmmmmm….!
    IMG_3067
    I also tried a totally different version of shaved ice in Thailand called “Ruam-mit.” My Thai friend says that means “mixing everything together.” Below you can see the stand with choices you can make for your own bowl, and then the four different bowls we sampled with our friends. We liked the ones with coconut milk the best!IMG_2769
  11. Go on a picnic [√] — we went on several 🙂
  12. Have a fancy night dressed up around town [√] — Um, do you remember when we went to Chez Olivier? We actually went back again when Quint was here, too. Still drooling at the thought of both visits….
  13. Do at least 3 Writing Prompts [X] — I did one writing prompt, and really didn’t like it. Time got in the way of trying for another two.
  14. See fireworks [√/X] — So I didn’t actually see live fireworks, but I did do a really cool craft with my students. Here’s the link on pinterest!
  15. Do pirikura [√] — As you know from my last post, I totally got down with this one and used it as a baby announcement!

All in all I’d say I gave this year’s bucket list a pretty good go, especially considering I was primarily in my first trimester for a good chunk of it! My fall bucket list is ready now, too, so I’ll be sharing that soon!

What are some fun things you did this summer?
xxCaitlyn

Pregnancy · Summer Bucket List

A big secret, a little secret, and… where’d September go?

It’s been awhile, but I can explain my absence. I promise. I haven’t been on Little Snail lately because of a big secret we were keeping for several months. Ready for it? You may have heard by now or seen on instagram or Facebook, but…we’re having a baby!babydykehouse1We announced the pregnancy officially a few weeks ago by taking some pirikura shots (Japanese photo booth), which has to do with another little secret: when I put pirikura on my summer bucket list for this year, I already knew that’s how we were going to announce the baby 😉 Checking things off left and right out here in Tokyo!
babydykehouse2And speaking of checking things off different lists, figuring out pregnancy in Japan has been pretty interesting (okay…downright stressful at times). A lot of things work differently here than back home. I’ll be sure to fill you in on some of the differences in future posts. For now, I just wanted to let you know things are healthy and happy so far, despite this mommy-to-be being so exhausted that September flew by and I didn’t have the energy even once to muster up a quick hello here on the blog. I was reading a book that said pregnant women should never, ever feel guilty about being FREAKING TIRED, so I’m working on letting go of the guilt and just trying to rest when I’m tired. (Easier said than done!)
babydykehouse3I must mention that in the weeks that have passed since these were taken, my belly has gotten huge, and our little girl (!) is kicking away like it’s nobody’s business.
babydykehouse4
Due January 25th, 2016. I love how this picture turned out!

I can’t wait to update you more on how things have been going with both baby and with life as of late (like more bucket list updates, etc.!). Hope you’ve been taking care of yourself and that you had a lovely end to summer!

xx Caitlyn

Uncategorized

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.

https://i0.wp.com/i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02138/snowdrop_2138469b.jpg
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 · 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