Cat Tree Construction

Chad was looking at cat trees at several pet stores and was astounded by the prices. At that point, the only options I would’ve considered would have been either a) just give in and buy one, or b) don’t get a cat tree. The thought that popped into Chad’s mind, however, was, “I guess I’ll make one!”


Chad got busy drawing out ideas for his cat tree, and then kept his “blueprints” in mind as he headed to a local Re-Store for parts to make the cat tree. Using wood, PVC pipe, buckets, a rope spool, carpet and rope, he was able to construct a very professional-looking cat tree.20140106-184157.jpgAbove, Chad is wrapping rope and carpet around a pipe.


Curry was enjoying the cat tree before it was even finished!


It only took Chad about four or five hours to construct this lovely cat tree, and the cats started enjoying it immediately!


Curry and Comet enjoying their new cat tree.

Chad enjoyed making the cat tree so much, that he made another one for my mom as a Christmas present. The usual cost of a cat tree? Prices usually start at $80 for small ones. The cost of ours? About $30. It just goes to show that with a little creativity and time, just about anything is possible!


Easy Bicycle Gear Clock DIY

A couple months ago I came across a DIY project for a clock made out of a bicycle break disc that I decided would make a great Christmas present for Chad. A month and a half later, I totally forgot what part of the bicycle I was supposed to use, so I asked my brother-in-law if he could get a hold of “that one part of a bicycle that you wrap the chain around.” He was like, “You mean the gear?” And I was like, “Uh…yeah?” He got me a bicycle gear like I requested, and I was surprised to find there was nothing in the center to attach clock pieces to! I had requested the wrong part for the DIY with no time for mistakes.


I tried to think of something good to attach behind the gear so that I could add a clock face and/or numbers and clock hands. I thought about getting a metal sheet, but that would involve also buying metal cutting scissors and the price of the project was starting to grow quickly. Instead, I opted for plexiglass, which the craft store employee said could be easily cut with an Xacto knife. (She was kind of lying. It was not easy, and the edges turned out kind of rough. Lucky for me, the edges can’t be seen because I measured the circle of plexi glass to be slightly smaller than the diameter of the gear). After cutting the plexiglass to size, I tested out the clock face so I could cut out a circle in the middle for the hands and battery.


Once again, I didn’t have to make the hole super pretty, because the clock face would be covering the edges of the hole. I tried using a hot glue gun to glue the gear to the plexiglass, but to no avail. This project seemed to be getting more and more difficult! Finally, I got some crazy glue, and that did the trick.


I glued the gear to the plexiglass base, added the clock face, and placed the easy-to-install clock parts.


Then, I mounted it on the wall! I was pretty happy with how it turned out, especially because despite the minor setbacks, it was a pretty easy DIY gift overall. The best part is that Chad likes it, too! Did you make any gifts or receive any handmade gifts over the holiday season?


Let My Love Adorn You (or this awesome black belt!)

I worked late tonight and am (as usual these days!) exhausted. But, I’ve got two quick pictures for you. The first picture is a page from my journal that I made after hearing the song “Let My Love Adorn You” by R&B singer Miguel.


    Second is a picture of Chad’s black belt, which he got to take home for the first time today. His name is in Japanese in red on the belt. How cool is that?


    That’s all for now! Time for bed–Ta ta!

Food & Cooking · Tried

You could eat this soup forever…

(Unless you are lactose intolerant.)

I haven’t had much time to make lovely things lately in the artsy realm, but a girl’s gotta eat, right? So, in lieu of an artsy post, I give you a post about soup.


Every week I make a meal plan, and that helps us stay organized with our dinners and lunches. (So glad I started doing that years ago!) On today’s menu: Cream Cheese Chicken and Vegetable Soup, aka Glorious Goodness.


As you can see, I had to stop mid-bite to snap a photo. You might also notice a little piece of buttered bread to the left–a perfect vehicle for scooping every last lick of soup from the bowl. Onion, garlic, carrots, potatoes, chicken… *sighs* I first discovered the recipe a couple years ago, and loved it so much that when we came home to visit the Christmas before last, I insisted on making a pot to bring over to my grandparents’ house for a late lunch. Now when I eat it I remember snowy days in Michigan, with the warmth of family and good soup filling me up, no matter the cold outside. I imagine my grandparents’ house “up north,” and so many memories come back. I guess that’s what happens when you can’t go somewhere often, but when you do there is a memorable meal.


My older brother and Chad eating up at Grandma & Grandpa’s house

If you’d like to give the recipe a go–which you should, you can find it here.

Have you made any stand-out meals this week?


Spring and Supplies

Recently there’s been a trend on Facebook in which people write about themselves years ago, and then compare what they’ve written about that time with how things are now. I often think about the ways I’ve changed anyway, but I really liked the exercise and its specificity. Since it seems fitting to recognize that things have changed–and will inevitably continue to do so–in accordance with spring, I created the following page in one of my art journals over the weekend.


    Age I was given: 19 (2005)

    I lived in: Allendale, MI
    What I did: I worked at a pizza place, a gas station, and as a Japanese language tutor at GVSU. All to help pay for going to university as a history major with a minor in psychology.
    I drove: A 1995 maroon Ford Taurus, which hated me as much as my next car.
    Relationship Status: Dating Chad.
    I feared: Not having a purpose, never finishing school, not being happy with my schooling choices, not being accepted by others

    Age now: 27 (2013)
    I live in: Kobe, Japan
    What I do: Work as an Executive Head Teacher & Curriculum Coordinator for an international school. Try to be fit and healthy while having a serious love for food. Be creative as often as possible. Be grateful as much as possible. Try to be as kind as possible. (By the way, I graduated with a degree in English Lit & Language with a minor in East Asian Studies…a bit different than I started out!)
    I drive: Nothing! I take the subway and train, and walk everywhere else.
    Relationship Status: With the best husband I could ask for. Married to Chad Dykehouse for nearly five years and together for about 9. Thankful everyday for someone who does so much for me –even when I don’t deserve it– who makes me laugh even when he’s being super naughty, and who drives me to remain curious, creative, confident and healthy.
    I fear: Losing my competence in teaching when we go back to the states. Living a life without travel and adventure. Losing my Japan “family” over time and distance.

When I made this page I was really excited to try out these new “photo” stamps I found for about ¥200:


And when I thought about showing you those, I thought you might like to see my other supplies:


    Pens, pencils, washi tape (which you can buy at ¥100 stores in Japan!), stamps, stickers, glue, tape, scissors, push pins, little charms, envelopes, rulers, postcards/other found objects…


    Two different art journals (one with blank pages and one called SMASH with pre-made backgrounds), acrylic and water colors, crayons & pastels, gesso, colored paper/patterned paper, cutting board, tape…

All of these things need to be compacted, as you might imagine if you know anything about the amount of space (or lack thereof) in Japanese apartments:



    The pink basket in the back is stacked on top of old magazines

So that’s what I’ve got going for supplies, how about you? If you do art journaling or scrapbooking, what’s your favorite thing to do with your pages/to use on them? Or, separately, have you noticed any big changes in your life over the years, or are you expecting any with the coming spring?

*Side story: The reason I have a cutting board and no exacto knife has to do with a certain trip to Europe we made last year in which I forgot the knife was in my carry-on after using it at school, and proceeded to go through security with it! I guess we all feel safer knowing I was caught? Then again, we accidentally made it to Amsterdam with a beer in our carry-on, so one can never be too sure.