Everyday Card Making Workshop at FPPL

I taught another card-making workshop at the Forest Park Public Library in August. We used paper folding, rubber stamping, and watercolors to make four cards that could be used for all occasions. It was so much fun!

Have I ever told you the story about the time my manager at Paper Source kept insisting that I teach the origami class until I finally asked her, “Why me? Because I have a Japanese husband and I learn by marital osmosis?” (She dropped the subject.) Well, the joke’s on me because now, every class I teach has some sort of paper folding incorporated into it!

This time, we folded an origami watermelon and this dahlia. The watermelon was my favorite because it’s so easy, and who doesn’t love a pun? The dahlia is also pretty simple, but it looks so elegant, especially if you make it with pretty patterned papers.

Then we used watercolors and a black marker to make a simple cake card. I bought these cheap pearlescent watercolors from Michaels and I love them. They have a lovely little shimmer and nice coverage. (There is a fancier Japanese version, too!)

And finally, we used rubber stamp masking to make the last card. Have you ever done masking? It’s such a fun way to layer your stamps! (Should I do a little tutorial?)

Naoto was one of my “students” so he took some pictures of the class in action. It was a great group, with everyone helping and supporting each other! I know I’ve said it a hundred times, but I love our library and I love teaching workshops there.

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Garage Galleries 2022

Garage Galleries 2022 is in the books and I’m finally recovered from a week of mad-prepping and a day of meeting new people and chatting with familiar friends about stamps, typewriters, letter writing, mail and more. I made a bunch of new cards (using the stamps pictured above) and I sold out of every one (except one design, which I am now convinced is a dud!) so I have to replenish my stock so I can add them to my website.

Here was our set-up, similar to last year (which I just realized I never blogged about!) I have so many styles of cards now that my two racks are full, and even my mini rack couldn’t handle the holiday overflow. I’ve come a long way since my very first craft show in 2016!

We did not host in our own garage this time like we did last year. Instead we moved into our friend’s garage with two other artists and Smokey Joel’s Red Hots. That’s right! We had a hot dog stand right behind us! This could explain why I have only a few pictures from the day–my assistant was too busy eating multiple hot dogs (and helping out!) to take pictures of the crowds!

Speaking of crowds, it was our most successful Garage Galleries ever–it was such a gorgeous day and we were in the center of town, so the foot traffic was incredible. Garage Galleries has become such an event–I mean how cute is this crowd of families and pups out enjoying art among the neighborhoods?!

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Cyanotype for the Tiny Art Show

I really did try making these cyanotype prints for fun. But then I remembered I signed up for our library’s Tiny Art Show. I decided to incorporate the vintage music and negatives print into my piece. I’ve been thinking about nostalgia a lot lately–a mix of watching Stranger Things and visiting my hometown and just existing in today’s cruel world…

Anywayyyyyyy…I have had this quote by George W. Ball in my journal for a long time, “Nostalgia is a seductive liar, evoking bowdlerized pictures of times past with all the shadows painted out.” So I distilled the point down to a few words and typed them out and added a shiny vintage Dennison star.

Last Sunday, I met some friends and we went to check out the Tiny Art Show together. (We found Naoto there!) It was such a great variety of styles! Most people painted, but there were a couple who (like me) chose to go another route. I’m sharing some of my favorites:

Now my piece is back home on its little easel and I think I am going to display it with my other library art which just happens to match!

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A New Hobonichi Cover

For my birthday earlier this year, Naoto gave me a new leather cover for my Hobonichi. It’s a deep, dark blue with a natural interior and a brass zipper. When I say this is the nicest thing I own, I am not lying.

He got it from Baum Kuchen, one of my favorite shops for just quality, gorgeous “artifacts,” which is what they call the items in their collection. The planner cover is made by Superior Labor, a Japanese lifestyle brand. I have a couple of other things made by them that I got at the Travelers Notebook store in Japan, and their handmade attention to detail just cannot be topped. They are true artisans.

In the front pocket, I keep a little variety of pictures and cards that I just like to have around—good memories, quotes to remember, a letterpress postcard of a typewriter.

This is the first cover that I’ve had for a Hobonichi where you don’t tuck the front page of the planner into the cover. I kind of like that there’s more of the Hobonichi exposed and more surface area for my sticker collection! I’ve been adding some of my favorite stickers to the front that just feel very 2022 to me.

Here are the other stickers that I started the year with when I was using my plain Hobonichi cover. I’ve always been someone who gets anxious about using stickers, but for some reason, sticking them in my planner is so easy for me! (If you are curious about any of the stickers, let me know and I’ll share a source if I have one!)

I’m still decorating my monthly and weekly pages with stickers and washi tape. Every Sunday, I work on my upcoming weekly pages and towards the end of the month, I work on the upcoming month. It’s just a nice, relaxing, (somewhat) mindless activity. Since the pandemic, I’ve found myself really needing to make sure I have downtime/alone time carved out in my schedule. (I guess you could say that my re-introduction back to regular life has been slow!) Spending some time each week with my calendar and looking ahead to commitments helps me to schedule for my introvert needs.

Yet again I have failed to use all of the pages Hobonichi offers to me, but I do keep track of the books I’ve read in the blank pages at the back of the planner. (I’m so behind on my reading this year! I was doing so well in the beginning and then I fell off the wagon!) Someday, I’ll document all of the TV I watch during the year—just to see exactly how many times I watch The Office if nothing else!

In the back pocket, I keep this hilarious vintage Instagram of me and Pres, along with my Historical Society of Forest Park business cards, some little inspirational cards, a pen, some stickers, and some postage stamps.

I am so thankful that Naoto pays attention to what’s important to me! I love that something I use every day is encased in such a special cover. It just feels like a treat to use my calendar every day!

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Stationery Store Day

Did you know Saturday was the very first Stationery Store Day? (Is Stationery Store Day a totally made up holiday? Yes. But so was Book Store Day and Record Store Day, so, why can’t paper sellers and fans have a day, too?)

When I saw that A. Favorite Design was a participating shop, I decided this was my chance to finally get up to the north side to see the shop. I’ve purchased things from them each year at Show of Hands, but I’ve never been to their shop.

In a total blogging fail, I didn’t take any pictures inside the shop. I haven’t been stationery shopping in so long–since we went to Japan in 2020! I was relishing every moment! Most of their offerings are their own letterpress designs, but they have a fun selection of vintage postcards, stationery, and wrapping paper, and they have other paper and desk offerings as well.

As you can see, I found plenty of treasures! I picked out some vintage advertising stationery (which I can’t wait to feed into my typewriter for a letter soon), some letterpress “Dennison label” cards, “Dennison Label” paper tape, vintage Chicago postcards, mail stickers, my new favorite pens, some greeting cards, a vintage ephemera and office supply letter set, a “Down the hatch” sticker, and (underneath it all) a sheet of vintage vegetable wrapping paper.

And, the picture at the top shows the Stationery Store Day freebies–a letterpress print I pulled myself, a Stationery Store Day bag and postcard, and a A. Favorite Design birthday card. (How great is that Etch A Sketch?!)

Before we went shopping, we stopped at Spinning J’s for brunch and pie.

I had a BLT, a strawberry rhubarb phosphate, and the key lime hibiscus pie with blueberry compote. (This is the meal I would recommend to anyone trying Spinning J’s for the first time, though their tuna melt is also excellent. Really…you just can’t go wrong with their menu!)

I brought out my letter purse that Naoto gave me last winter. It was the perfect accessory for the occasion! And, you can pencil in the next Stationery Store Day–August 5, 2023!

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Another Garden Update

We have cucumbers!

It almost makes up for the rabbit-eaten edamame buffet. (Almost!) These are Japanese cucumbers and they’re very tasty. So far we have eaten them in salads and hiyachuka.

We also have several tiny melons. I’m not a huge melon fan, but I’m hoping these will change my mind.

And at this point, we have a steady stream of cherry tomatoes coming in, with a few big tomatoes ripening now and then too. The tomato plants are full, so…it’s just a matter of time before it’s all caprese, BLTs, and tomato sandwiches allll the time!

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Speaking of Sunscreen

Do you remember this song from the late 1990s?

It was an essay written by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich in 1997 that was turned into the spoken word song. And, fun fact, Mary Schmich spoke at my college graduation, where she read her essay, I think, for the first time to a graduating class.

I do have one more (non-Japanese) sunscreen I’ve been using this summer! It’s the Trader Joe’s Daily Facial Sunscreen that came out this summer. It’s $8.99 and is supposed to be a dupe for the Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen, which is $36. This one is less watery than the Japanese sunscreens I love, but it is an oil-free gel and leaves behind a velvety primer that is a good base for makeup. It is water resistant up to forty minutes and is SPF 40. I probably pull this one out of the cabinet once a week or so. Definitely not as much as my Japanese ones, but it’s good for work days where I’m outside less and I’m wearing more makeup. (The sunscreen blew up on TikTok, so I think it’s currently out of stock at most stores, but hopefully it comes back soon!)

My next hunt is for a good body sunscreen. We’re using some store brand stuff right now and it’s fine, but I’d be grateful to hear about any you love!

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Japan Does It Better 27

For the past few years, I’ve been trying to take my facial sunscreen more seriously. Usually, I would just slather on whatever body sunscreen we had on hand, along with a hat and called it a day. I was miserable the whole time because it was always thick and heavy and sticky. Finally, this is the first year I really started exploring Japanese sunscreens. Most really nice facial sunscreens at Ulta and Sephora are so expensive, like $30+ a tube, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that two out of three of my Japanese favorites are under $15!

The first one I tried was the Biore Aqua Rich. It was a game changer for me! I have oily skin, especially in the summer and all of the American sunscreens I have tried always left me feeling sticky and greasy. This one literally feels like water on the skin and it plays under makeup well. It contains royal jelly extract and hyaluronic acid to maintain the moisture in the skin without weighing it down. It is waterproof for eighty minutes and has no white cast.*

Next I tried the Nivea Super Water Gel because it seemed very similar to the Biore. I figured it would be nice to have a back-up option in case the Biore was ever out of stock. The Nivea is also SPF 50 and absorbs really nicely without any weight. It also has hyaluronic acid. The big difference between the two is that the Nivea is not waterproof.*

The Shiseido sunscreen stick is more of a splurge at $29, but I mostly use it for reapplication on days I’m outside a lot, so to me, it’s worth it. I am not going to claim the stick is perfect over makeup. If you press too hard or wipe too much, some of your makeup may rub off, especially if you don’t use a setting spray to set your makeup. But I feel like a little makeup lost is better than using an SPF spray or powder (the other two popular versions of sunscreen for reapplying throughout the day) and not having complete coverage. The Shiseido stick is definitely a little heavier than the Biore or Nivea, but it doesn’t feel greasy or leave a lot of shine. It’s waterproof for eighty minutes and reef-friendly (which the other two don’t mention.) The stick is so convenient–I carry it in my pencil case so I always have sunscreen with me.

I recently read this article in The Atlantic that explains why American sunscreens lag so far behind their Asian and European counterparts. (Spoiler alert–the FDA is holding things up!) I definitely suggest testing Korean and Japanese brands if you’re having trouble finding a good sunscreen for your face, because like many things…Japan Does It Better!

*Thanks to Naoto for translating the Japanese packaging.

P.S. To see more JDIB posts, click here.

P.P.S. The links are not affiliate links–I’m just sharing where I initially made the purchases of the three sunscreens.

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Cyanotype Trials

This week I’ve been experimenting with cyanotype printing JUST FOR FUN! I bought this set on Amazon because I wanted to experiment with paper and fabric. (You can also buy the pre-made sheets of paper if you want to keep things super simple.) I thought it would be more complicated to mix the components myself, but it’s pretty easy! You just add water to each bottle and let it sit for 24 hours. When you’re ready to make your prints, you blend the 2 components together in equal parts. It’s best to start out with a small amount to work with. (Separately the formulas last a long time. Once they’re mixed, the solution only lasts a few hours.) I’ve only used a few tablespoons for my experiments and I have plenty left to work with this summer.

This was my first day of experimenting. The bottom left sheet of cotton paper was my first try. I used postage stamps, Dennison labels, trading stamps, and my Japanese fern. I got some nice, clear prints but I knew I could do better. Next I tried some negatives and I got a nice outline (but no images.)

I tried a negative and a label on fabric, which was fun. And the square of fabric with the circle is a crystal old fashioned glass imprint.

The blue sheet with the random dots was my tomato test. It was around 5pm at the time so I think I need to try the tomatoes when the sun is straight up to see if I can get a better image.

After some reading online, I learned that the suggested exposure times on the package are not long enough. To get lots of detail, you need to leave your cyanotype out for much longer. So I left this one out for about two hours. It’s the Japanese fern, a feather from my yard, and a feather from Danielle.

I tried out vintage paper too. I put some negatives on a sheet of old music paper and left those out for over two hours and it was a success! You can see faint details of the Chicago architecture from these 2005 negatives in my personal collection.

You can see the details even better on this sheet that I left out from noon to 2:30pm. I even got the trading stamp details to come through!

I have a few more paper sheets and squares of fabric ready to go so I can keep trying new techniques on my sunny days off. My ultimate goal is to print a skirt or a t-shirt, but I want to have a better handle on what works best before I move onto high-risk clothing! (Also do you know how hard it is to find 100% cotton or linen clothes these days?!)

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Tomato Season is Here

On July 5th, I plucked my first Black Cherry tomato harvest! Only a small handful of tomatoes were ready but there are tons more ripening on the vine. Tomato season is finally trickling in!

Our Japanese melon and Japanese cucumbers are vining nicely and have tons of flowers on them…no fruit yet. Sadly, the rabbits made a buffet of Naoto’s edamame again, so we replaced them with three new tomato plants, a Mortgage Lifter, a Purple Cherokee, and a Pink Brandywine. They were late-season plants so we’re not sure how they’re going to do, but we figured it’s worth a try. We also added four poblano pepper plants, and a tri-color sage.

The rabbits made a feast of my ranunculus, but all of the other cutting and edible flowers are thriving. I’ve already used tons of borage blooms in cocktails and ice cubes. Other than nasturtium, the rest of the flowers have yet to bloom. And now that I know how big the dahlias will get and that the borage will take over, I have a better idea of how I’d like to plant this bed next year. Gardening is such a learning process!

This bed has–as it always does–turned into a tomato jungle.

Will this bed be big enough for these giant tomatoes and these wild vines? I guess we’ll find out!

In other garden-related news, the old owners left us an egg chair stand in the garage and this year we bought an egg chair to fill it. Zero regrets. It’s so fun hanging out in that thing reading and enjoying the yard, which is what I did last Sunday. Our weather has been pretty summer-perfect this week–not too hot and little humidity. Just dreamy.

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