Category Archives: crafty adventures

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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HoneyCraft Recap

HoneyCraft Market, Woodstock IL, KimberlyAH, GalaxieSafari, handmade ValentinesMy third craft show is in the books and I still feel like a rookie. Everything went really smoothly and all. My table is simple so my trusty assistant and I have set-up down pat, but the week before the craft show was a bit crazy. Since I’m a huge procrastinator, I stressed over getting everything done and also making time for card and quote ideas that popped into my head at the very last minute. I had plenty of cards, and even enough quotes. And the Valentine puns were a hit. Someone called them “dad jokes” which I take as the highest compliment. HoneyCraft Market, Woodstock IL, KimberlyAH, GalaxieSafari, handmade Valentines, Displays2Go card displayI used a new card display so customers don’t have to rifle through a box to see all of the designs. It takes up quite a big section of the table, but cards are my thing, so…I think it’s real estate well spent. Before my next show, I need to play around with the display and my pricing signs. Simply Anderson laser cut wood origami cat necklace, HoneyCraft marketWhen Naoto wasn’t helping in the booth, he was shopping. He bought this sweet laser cut origami cat necklace for me from Simply Anderson. Isn’t it cute? img_7330And we got a set of these alpaca dryer balls to give to my parents. They are made of hand-felted alpaca fur (I don’t think fur is the right term?) and you toss them in the dryer with your clothes and they take away the static and reduce drying time by 25%. We got some at the December show and they really do work. The alpacas are raised in Harvard, Illinois on Argyll Farm.

HoneyCraft market, groundhog days, woodstock, ILThe best part for Naoto (besides the ramen dinner reward at the end of the day) was meeting the official groundhog of Woodstock’s Groundhog Days. He came to visit and check out the booths.

Thanks for having us again, HoneyCraft!

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HoneyCraft Market 

HoneyCraft Market at Mixin Mingle, Groundhog Days, Woodstock, ILIn December I did my second craft show, the HoneyCraft Market in Woodstock, Illinois. It was a last-minute decision but I’m so glad I took the risk. I still had all of my stuff boxed up from the Petite Boutique and I just had to fill out some things that sold well there. It ended up being a really good show for me. The HoneyCraft veterans thought the crowd was thinner than usual but it all worked out in the end and the long drive out west was worth it for us.

Woodstock is a sweet little community with an adorable downtown and lots of small town charm. It’s actually where Groundhog Day was filmed! So every February they have a town wide celebration based around the movie. HoneyCraft Market is open during Groundhog Days and Naoto and I are heading west again tomorrow to sell Valentines and more. I have a new fixture to display my cards and it’s all stocked and (almost!) ready to go. (As always, there is a lot of last minute stuff to do…thanks Dad for the procrastinator genes!)

I’ll report back next week and hopefully be ready to post about some non craft show stuff again too! Thanks for your patience!

 

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