Category Archives: crafty adventures

Petite Boutique 

Petite Boutique 2017, pleasant home, oak park, visit oak parkSorry for the radio silence around here. I’ve been typing and cutting and pasting new cards for Petite Boutique this weekend. If you’re in the area, stop by Pleasant Home in Oak Park tonight and tomorrow to shop handmade. It’s a really great show and I always love seeing friendly faces. Galaxie Safari, christmas card, vintage postage stamp, vintage typewriter, holiday greetings, greeting card

This is one of the new Christmas cards, inspired by the (wonderfully terrible!) Hallmark Christmas movies I’ve already started watching. I’ll share some more next week! Until then, have a great weekend!

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Origami Chopstick Holder

I’m the worst you guys! Thanks so much to Susan for reminding me in the comments to post the chopstick/pen holder! I took these pictures back when it was still summer, but then didn’t love the lighting so I figured I would take more, but then the busy-ness of October caught up with me. And now that I’m more free, we’re hitting a rainy spell in Forest Park, which isn’t helping with bright pictures! So, I’m posting these today with hopes of a sunny morning soon so I can update with some brighter, clearer pictures. I really love how easy this project is and I’m trying to find long, skinny objects for all of my friends so I can wrap their gifts in fancy paper holders.

You can use any kind of paper for this project, but I find handmade papers to be most forgiving. (This section at Paper Source is a great place to look for types of handmade papers that work well for origami projects. Steer clear of anything that is flocked or may be too thick to fold well. If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them!)  When I made Karen’s pencil holder, I used a lokta paper and I’ve used Japanese washi as well. Both of those fold beautifully. Wood based paper will work just fine though, so you can use wrapping paper or anything pretty you have on hand. It’s just not always as easy to manipulate and tends to show mistakes more.

You’ll need to cut your paper to an 8×8 inch square. I used a ruler and scissors for this since the paper is too large for my paper cutter. Do your best to get nice straight lines since origami is a pretty exact science. My paper had a deckled edge so I placed that at the top to add some interest to the collar of the pencil/chopstick holder. You could also cut the deckled edge off and just have clean edges all around. A bone holder (that thing on the right) is helpful to smooth your folds, but if you don’t have one, you’re fingers will work just fine.
Flip your paper over so the pattern is facing down. Fold the paper in half. Open and fold the right half to meet the center fold. Then fold the left half to meet the center fold. Unfold and now you should have four equal sections in your square. Fold your left corner down to meet the first fold (from the left.) Fold your right corner down to meet the center fold. Now fold the left side over to meet the middle. And fold again in the same direction. It’s kind of like rolling it closed. One last turn and this is what the back should look like. Flip it over and this is what the front should look like. (But turn it back over because we need to finish the back part.) On the back side, fold the bottom up about a quarter of an inch or so. This will be the bottom of the holder. Use some clear tape to hold it closed. I know washi tape would be cuter here, but most of it won’t hold securely on handmade paper. Clear tape gets the job done.
Stick in some chopsticks, pencils, pens, magic wands…and you’re done! I made a bunch for my birthday party this year and for Hasegawa Tanabata. All the different patterns make a pretty table (or picnic!)

Let me know if the instructions are confusing and I’ll try to clear them up! And please send me pics of your finished origami pencil holders!

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First-Day-Of-School Pencil Pack

pencil gift, first day of school, CW Pencil enterprises, folded chopstick holder, pencil paperKaren started a new job last week teaching a class at University of Illinois at Chicago. We wanted to give Professor Karen (I’m sure her students call her something more formal.) a little good luck gift to send her off on her first day.Frixion pens, Japanese pens, CW Pencils, editing pencil, highlighter pencil, combo pencil, pencilsLike me, Karen loves Frixion pens, so I pulled a .05 from the “Japanese vault” and added it with a couple of pencils from C.W. Pencils. The Editor looked like a perfect pencil for grading and planning. (Are papers still graded on…paper?) And the Graphite/Highlighter combo seemed perfect for planning and note taking.  I folded a little origami pencil holder for them out of my new favorite pencil paper. I’ll post a quick tutorial for the pencil holder next week. It’s so easy and they have so many uses! (They’re actually chopstick holders!)

P.S. Thinking of our friends (and family!) in Florida and the Carolinas this weekend as another hurricane heads for the US. The devastation on the islands in the Atlantic is just heartbreaking. And still thinking of our friends in Texas who are cleaning up after last month’s hurricane.

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Chalk-Full of School Supplies

Chalk pencils, Chalkboard tape, Japanese office supplies, Hester & CookI think my husband’s punning is rubbing off on me…

I have a little chalk theme going on today. I am old enough to remember chalkboards. Our school transitioned to white boards during my high school years. Mrs. Petersen kept her blackboard though. I always appreciated that about her. I always found the marker to be so slippery on the white board. It didn’t have the same feeling as writing with chalk. And the sound! Normally, chalk sounds so pleasing scraping across the board. But then there’s always that one moment when the chalk makes that horrid high-pitched squeak that catches everyone in the room off-guard. I wonder if that sound is why white boards were invented. I ordered this Hester & Cook “Midtown” white pencil because I’m always looking for a new way to write on dark papers, especially this time of year as I gear up for Halloween mail. I was pretty skeptical about it because colored pencils usually don’t show up well on dark papers (in my experience.) But the pencil was really good! I thought it looked very chalk-like and it writes sort of like a cross between a crayon and a colored pencil. It was a little waxy, but it wrote smoothly, and like I said, covered the dark green paper well. (I smeared it a little bit…) Hester and Cook chalk pencilI plan to use the pencil to decorate the table and black place cards for our next Phantom Flight Night. Though I really like the classic green chalkboard look, too. Nihon Rikagaku chalkboard tape and chalk set, bunbougu cafe, chalkboard tape, Japanese office suppliesI picked up this Nihon Rikagaku black chalkboard tape set at bunbougu cafe last year. (The green tape in the top picture is also Nihon Rikagaku. I found that at the Paper Source Warehouse Sale, though it is not carried at Paper Source.) Nihon Rikagaku is another old Japanese company. They’ve been making chalk since 1937 and since 1960 they’ve hired adults with cognitive disabilities to work in their factories. (I didn’t know this at the time of my purchase, but it makes me want to look for more Nihon Rikagaku products on our next trip. You can find their basic chalk on Amazon!) Nihon Rikagaku chalkboard tape and chalk set, bunbougu cafe, chalkboard tape, Japanese office suppliesThe tape is made from Japanese washi paper and it’s coated so chalk can be erased easily. I’ve only used this on gifts (like it shows on the tiny package label) so far, but I think it would be a fun way to label things in our pantry.

 

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Red/Blue Pencils

caran d'ache and mitsubishi red and blue pencilsOk back to school supplies!

I’ve been using these red and blue editing pencils in my planner this summer. I got the Caran d’Ache from CW pencils last year and I just uncovered the Mitsubishi (similar) in my Japan drawer. (The Japan hoard is vast, guys!) caran d'ache and mitsubishi red and blue pencils, planner checklist, So…I know this is groundbreaking…I use my red/blue pencils to mark my to-do list. (As you can see above, last Thursday was a very productive day.) When I complete a task, I check it off in blue. When I don’t get to something, I draw a red arrow next to the task so I can move it to the next day. I know I could do all of this with a plain lead pencil, but where’s the fun in only having one pencil in your pencil cup?caran d'ache and mitsubishi red and blue pencils, RSVP listI hosted book club this month and I used the red/blue pencil to keep track of RSVPs. Blue checks for yes, red X’s for no. 
caran d'ache and mitsubishi red and blue pencils, color test, Hobonichi techoSo, which pencil is better? Honestly, I just reach into my pencil cup and grab the closest pencil. I’m not using them long enough to truly have a favorite. (Though I do tend to be biased towards all things from Japan!)

The Caran d’Ache is a bit softer, and apparently the lead is water soluble, though I’m not drawing or coloring in my planner, so it doesn’t really matter for my uses. The pencil is a hexagon, which can sometimes be more comfortable than the round Mitsubishi, but again, I’m just checking off to-do lists, so I’m not holding it for very long.

The Mitsubishi is a firmer lead and a round barrel. But the writing feel is similar to the Caran d’Ache. I love the way they both write in my Hobonichi planner, very smooth and easy. Even though the pencils look like the colored lead would be very different, the colors look pretty much the same to me. The Mitsubishi red is a bit more orange and the blue is a tiny bit darker (it says Vermillion and Prussian Blue on the barrel,) but the two pencils are very close in color.

I’d love to hear how you color code your checklists.

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Gnome-Body Paints Like We Do

naoto and his gnome, creativita forest park, ceramics painting, forest park community gardenLast weekend, Naoto and I went to a local Forest Park spot, Creativita, to paint garden gnomes with our Forest Park Community Garden friends. When I was little, I would often go to a little shop in my hometown to paint ceramics. I painted flocks of geese and ducks, spoon rests and teabag holders for my mom. I painted a cow for myself…I still have him on my dresser. So I knew I was excited to paint a garden gnome, but I didn’t think Naoto would be. To my surprise, on Saturday afternoon he told me he was really looking forward to painting. As you can tell from the picture above, he was verrrry serious about his gnome. He was also full of gnome puns. “I don’t gnome-ally do this, but it’s fun.” “Gnome one told me it would be this difficult.”

Our group sat at a table together and we all brought wine and snacks to share. It was so much fun choosing colors, deciding on designs, and laughing at our own painting skills (or -ahem- lack thereof.)
norm the gnome 1, creativita forest park, ceramics painting, forest park community gardenNaoto painted “Norm the Gnome” and I painted “Norma the Gnome.” We decided to make them kind of coordinate so they could live in the big pot on our balcony together. norma the gnome 2, creativita forest park, ceramics painting, forest park community gardenI went the traditional route, mostly because I love blue and red. I didn’t paint her face because I was afraid to screw it up with too much detail. norm the gnome 2, creativita forest park, ceramics painting, forest park community gardenNaoto gave Norm a blueish green outfit and painted his eyes black. finished gnomes, creativita forest park, ceramics painting, forest park community gardenWe went back yesterday to pick up our gnomes. I think they turned out pretty well! I just love Norm’s white beard! And I admit Norm’s black eyes look better than my faceless Norma. In spite of her lack of lips and eyelashes, I think they make a cute pair for our balcony garden.

There are tons of things to paint at Creativita and I’m looking forward to going back and painting again. They have a really cute cat dish that would be perfect for Presley. And maybe I can add to my mom’s ceramic collection. (Just kidding, Mom!)

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Craft & Vintage Market at Friendly Tap

Friendly Tap, Berwyn, Craft and Vintage Market, Galaxie Safari set-upA couple weekends ago, I did another craft show, this time in Berwyn at the Friendly Tap & Coffee Lounge. It’s a tiny bar/coffee shop/music venue in a nearby area. The group of sellers is small and eclectic and rotates throughout the year. I’ve shopped there a couple of times and came away with some great pottery. Friendly Tap, Berwyn, Craft and Vintage Market, Galaxie Safari set-up 2Naoto got to wear his Galaxie Safari “uniform” for the first time. And it was the first time bringing my own table to a show, so I had to work with a little bit of a smaller space than usual. I need to figure out a better display for my unframed quotes, or just sell them framed at shows because they were a challenge to keep in order throughout the day. So many things to keep figuring out! It’s so much fun though! Merchandising is my favorite thing.Galaxie Safari, father's day card, dad you're out of this world, vintage postage, mercury project stamp Galaxie Safari, father's day card, looking sharp dad, vintage postage, desert flowers stampIn the shop, I added two new cards for dad…just in time for Father’s Day. Both did well at the show and I’m especially excited to add a few more space-themed cards to my shop!

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Cinco de Karen

Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusA few weeks ago, we threw a surprise fiesta-themed retirement party for our friend Karen. Her last day at her job was May 5th so we deemed it “Cinco de Karen.” We told her that Naoto and I were going to take her out to dinner, but instead, all of the guests were waiting for her in the lobby. (Because she lives across the hall from us, I thought it would be too risky for guests to come in, for fear she would leave her apartment for something and run into a random friend.) Karen was really surprised.  Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusThe apartment was decorated with papel picado everywhere. (Sadly, it was plastic and not the paper one I ordered…womp womp!) I bought a colorful table runner and added a few succulents to tin cans for the table. taco piñata Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactus taco piñata Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactus taco piñata Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusOur friend Jackie made a taco piñata which was AMAZING! Seriously…is it not the cutest taco you’ve ever seen? (Plus it was filled with grown-up candies!) Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusI made a taco garland (Naoto is holding a piece of it above.) but we hung it in the living room where it didn’t get much air time. I didn’t want to compete with the big taco!
Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusAnd I made giant cacti out of cardboard, tissue paper, and spray paint. Of course I waited until the last minute so the morning of the party, I was outside on the balcony spray painting in the wind. Thank goodness for giant boxes to catch the overspray. (Idea from here.) Now I’m addicted to oversized party decorations–think of the possibilities! Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusWe drank (too many) margaritas and ate chips and salsa and homemade guacamole, beef and chicken tacos, Mexican corn salad, fruit, and a Mexican chocolate mousse pie. Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactus Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusCinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusJackie made a little door in the piñata so we didn’t have to beat it up to break into it. Genius! Now the taco can live on! Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactus Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactus Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactus Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactus, Pleasant Home Book Club ladiesIt was such a fun night and I’m so relieved we were able to pull off the surprise. Congratulations to Karen as she starts a new career chapter!

 

P.S. Picture of “surprised Karen” by Peggy. Pictures of taco by Jackie.

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A Hanami Party

Kimberly's hanami picnic, the guests, sakura, cherry blossomLast weekend, Naoto and I threw a hanami theme party. Hanami is Japanese word for “flower viewing” and it refers to the picnics under the sakura (cherry blossom) trees in Japan every spring. I’ve never experienced one in real life. Sadly it was raining on the best day to see the sakura on our last spring trip to Japan. But I love looking at pictures of them and dreaming of breathing in the fresh air while eating and drinking Japanese fare. So a hanami party has been on my wishlist* for awhile, so Naoto and I decided to throw one for my birthday which just happens to be during cherry blossom season! We couldn’t have a sakura viewing without the tree, so I made one. Well, a branch of one. Conveniently, there was a tornado in my hometown last month. (It ran two blocks north of my parents’ house and they watched it from their porch! Please leave your scoldings for them in the comments section.) Thankfully everyone was okay. My dad brought me a selection of branches and I picked the best one and turned it into a flowering cherry branch. I used this tutorial and spent a couple nights folding and tying blossoms. It was a pretty easy craft. I added some lights and suspended the branch from the ceiling, kind of low so it would add to the ambiance of the picnic, and I hung some colorful paper lanterns behind it. Amazingly, Presley looked but didn’t touch the branch. And yes, I did make my friends sit on the floor for the picnic. I wanted it to be as picnic as we could get! Kimberly's hanami picnic, paper cup toast, sakura, cherry blossomKimberly's hanami picnic, sake toast, sakura, cherry blossomI didn’t want to have to shake up cocktails all night, so we drank lots of sparkling wine and sake out of cute paper cups. (I brought a tube of 100 paper cups home from Japan last year. They were sort of the inspiration for the picnic.) Kimberly's hanami picnic in progress, sakura, cherry blossomNaoto has been wanting to order a sushi tray from the Japanese market forever so we figured this was the perfect occasion! Isn’t it gorgeous? And we made two kinds of Japanese picnic sandwiches, egg salad with bacon & coleslaw and crab & cucumber. He also made a watercress salad with fresh tuna and wasabi dressing. (I want to share those recipes soon!) And we rounded out the menu with some cheese and crackers and fresh fruit. Oh, and birthday cake!! birthday cake, kay's bakery, forest parkKimberly's hanami picnic, sake toast, sakura, cherry blossomI recently added a couple of haori to my wardrobe. Haori are short kimono-like jackets. They’ve become the kaftan of my 2017.  I haven’t been brave enough to venture in public wearing one, but I’ve worn them to a couple of parties now. My spring one, with pink and blue and grey blossoms, was very on theme for the party. Kimberly's hanami picnic, Presley in hiding, sakura, cherry blossomKimberly's hanami picnic, Naoto and Presley, sakura, cherry blossomIt was such a fun night–as it always is with my friends  and Naoto. I’m sad to miss sakura season in real life this year, but hopeful for a trip in the fall to experience a whole new season in Japan!

 

 

*I have a running list of theme parties I want to host…I wish I was a millionaire with a huge yard so I could throw each and every one!

I Failed Letter Month…

Whale Valentines, Paper Source, Valentine kitYou guys, I failed at Letter Month this year. I didn’t even send my usual stack of Valentines! (Sorry grammas!) I assembled a few whales (from a Paper Source kit) and then just didn’t feel like making more. And instead of just writing letters, I did nothing. (Well, I visited my parents and I got sick, but that’s only an excuse for a few of the days!) dessert postcards, letter monthSo, this is all the mail I sent in the month of February. (#worstpenpalever) Thirteen pieces. I’m going to try to be better in March, while also looking forward to Write_On in April for National Card and Letter Writing Month. I ordered a party pack, so I’ll be planning a letter writing party and it would be just shameful if I wasn’t writing letters! analog bag, Mt Nasty sticker, Raygun, Obama Biden love buttonIn happier news, my friend Tremaine sent me this fantastic Valentine: a bag that she screenprinted herself, a Raygun sticker, and an Obama/Biden button that I wore almost every day last month. I need to work hard this month and next to put my mail karma back into balance!

 

How did you do during Letter Month this year?

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