How to Create a Hanami (Cherry Blossom Viewing) Picnic at Home

As mentioned in my previous post about hanami (complete with origami cherry blossom tutorial), I wanted to recreate a cherry blossom viewing picnic scene that’s very common in Japan right now.

Japanese washi - cherry blossom

I decided to use a variety of cute sakura kirigami/origami to create a peaceful hanami atmosphere, then I added some common hanami staples like a cute plastic ground sheet (used as a tablecloth), cherry blossom chopsticks, onigiri (rice balls), noodles, grilled fish, sweet snacks, and the last but not least, beer and wine.

Japanese bento - cherry blossom picnic

Japanese bento decorations

 

Japanese bento deocrations - takuan

 

Japanese hanami picnic spread

To stay on theme, I also used my felt cherry blossom coasters, kirigami cutout sakura placemats, sakura printed placemats, and a couple of mizuhiki sakura that I made a few years ago.

Cherry blossom coasters

 

Cherry blossom toothpick holder

 

Japanese mizuhiki cords - cherry blossom

 

Kirigami cherry blossom

Please let me know what you think!  I’d love to hear suggestions for future picnic setups!

 

Cute Japanese Bento Accessories for Hanami

Before I show you the complete hanami lunch setup, I want to show you some of the adorable bento accessories that I have straight from Japan (you can also find some through Amazon here).

This is a lovely metal cutout set that you can use one cheese, deli meats and vegetables like carrots:

Japanese metal bento accessories

This is a very sweet set that has a variety of shapes, including individual petals to decorate dishes.

Cherry blossom Japanese bento accessories

It even comes with extra decorations that you can add in your bento boxes.

Hanami Japanese bento accessories

This mini mold makes cute little shapes for tiny onigiri (rice balls).

Cute Japanese rice ball shapes

You can make bento with mini rabbit heads, star shapes, flowers and little bear heads.

Japanese rice molds

A three set of rice ball shapes. These are medium sized and some with three different shapes.

Japanese rice shapes

You can make rows of hearts stars and bear heads…. aren’t they cute?

Cute Japanese rice shapes

You can make the shapes as simple or as decorated as you like. Most people like to make the onigiri shapes and decorate them with Japanese nori (dried seaweed paper). I don’t have any special seaweed shape punches, so I’m stuck cutting everything out by hand, but you can get seaweed shape punches on Amazon.

Japanese Egg Moulds

I have a couple of cute Japanese egg moulds and just wanted to quickly show you how the eggs turn out.

Japanese Egg Moulds

The key to making the shapes in these moulds is to peel them when they are still relatively warm and immediately lock them for a few minutes. Make sure to place the eggs straight up in the mould and squish them down with the top. Don’t worry, the eggs won’t break apart.

Japanese bento

To make a nice little bento, you can fill the box with some rice, cut the eggs in half to show the cute pattern with the yolk and add a few cherry tomatoes for colour.

If you would like to get some Japanese egg moulds, you can find them on Amazon.

How to Make a Giant Felt Strawberry

I previously posted a felt project that I’m working on. It’s a special gift and I hope it works out.

I had quite a few people ask me how I made the felt strawberry shown in the post. The ones I’m currently making are more or less real strawberry sizes, but for this tutorial, I will show you how to make big strawberries!

Giant Strawberry

You will need:

Giant felt strawberry materials

  • 1 large piece of red felt
  • 1 medium piece of green felt
  • Embroidery needle
  • 2-3 skeins red and green embroidery floss (you may need more for extra large strawberries)
  • 1 skein mint or yellow embroidery floss (you can also use red, black or cream floss)
  • A generous amount of toy/pillow stuffing

How to Make the Felt Strawberries

Start off with a large piece of red felt (the bigger your piece of felt, the bigger your strawberry will be). Next, you need to cut out a shape like this:

felt strawberry 01

Now take your green felt and cut out a shape like this:

felt strawberry top

Cut out the pieces and set the green piece aside. Take your mint/yellow embroidery floss and thread it through the needle.  Sew on the achenes (these are the seed-looking things on the outer part of strawberries)  in a random pattern.

felt strawberry

Fold over the red felt, so the inside is facing out. Sew along the seam, leaving the top open.

felt strawberry

Sew a running stitch along the top edge of the strawberry, making sure to only use one thread (you’ll have to pull it taut in a moment). Do not tie it off, just leave it loose with the needle still attached.

felt strawberry

Stuff the strawberry until you get a desired plumpness and pull the thread taut. You should stuff it until you’re still able to pull the top parts shut.

felt strawberry

Place your green cutout on top and secure it with a blanket stitch.

felt strawberry

There you go!  A simple giant felt strawberry!

If you would like me to show off your felt creations, please send me a message here.

 

 

Origami Sakura to Celebrate Spring

If you are living in Canada like me, chances are you feel like Spring will never ever arrive, but I still have hope for Mother Nature!

In Japan, hanami (cheery blossom viewing) season  will soon begin and I still miss it very much. In an attempt to make our home feel a little more like hanami, I decided to make a bunch of mini origami sakura from small origami paper and my stash of Japanese washi/chiyogami.

If you would like to make these adorable origami sakura for a fun Spring craft, check out the diagram below, or check out the Origami Club animated instructions here: http://en.origami-club.com/flowers/sakura2/anime-sakura/index.html

sakura-origami-how-to

Courtesy of origami-club.com

You can arrange these sakura blossoms on cards, canvases, hang them up, dress up mirrors/windows, create jewelry -anything you can think of!

Check back soon to see what I did with my mini sakura origami.  I hope you love it!

Toronto National Home Show 2014

I recently went out to the National Home Show & Canada Blooms. There were 700+ exhibitors showing off environmentally friendly products and services for everything your home would need indoors and out (including tons of landscaping ideas).

We spent about 4 hours walking around to see as much as we could, but we still didn’t manage to see everything.

To give you an idea of what they had, check out these photos:

air plant

Lovely air plant in a shell

 

azalea

Beautiful azalea in a planter box.

 

Hanging tulip display

I love this hanging tulip display.

 

Ikebana

Typical example of an Ikebana arrangement.

 

Yellow Ikebana

Yellow Ikebana arrangement.

 

3D art

Interesting painting with a 3D metal wire tree.

 

Modern wooden outdoor decor.

Artistic outdoor decor. Find out what the cream wall really is in one of the photos below.

 

Rock wall with moss

A rock wave feature with moss.

 

Potted plants

Large potted plant arrangement.

 

Mini orchids

Mini orchid arrangement.

 

Paintings

A collection of paintings.

 

Wheelbarrow flower arrangement

A wheelbarrow flower arrangement.

 

Decorative wooden wall

I would love to try a wall decoration like this.

 

rock table

I absolutely love this rock table!

 

Indoor flower field

A field of flowers.

 

String vases

Here’s a great idea for decorating plain vases with colourful string.

 

Succulents

Great succulent arrangement.

 

Rock arch

This rock arch display must have taken a lot of work.

 

Outdoor rock feature wall

Simple rock wall feature to double as shelves outdoors.

 

wooden outdoor room

Love this hidden room.

 

Pink flower

Interesting pink flower. Anyone know what it’s called?

 

Moose cutout

Also love this moose cutout.

 

Mini flower arrangement

Smaller flower arrangement I’ve ever seen.

 

Colourful Japanese maple leaves

Japanese maple leaves.

 

Tropical ikebana

Tropical Ikebana arrangement.

 

Simple Ikebana

I love the simplicity of this arrangement.

 

Black Ikebana

I love the striking colour combinations for this arrangement.

 

Hanging flower chains

This would be a pretty flower display for parties.

 

flower bikini

Nartural flower bikini.

 

Elephant outdoor fountain

Outdoor fountain… not sure about the elephant though.

 

flower dresses

Creative dresses.

 

Purple flower dress train

I love this purple flower dress train.

 

Flower carousel

This is the cutest flower carousel ever!

 

Smoothie Recipes for Digestive Problems

Over the last few years, I have developed many digestive problems, especially when it comes to digesting greens like spinach and kale. This has created many problems getting adequate vitamins and minerals from the foods that I can normally eat.

I have tried to eat small amounts of different foods to get proper nutrients, but nothing worked (and it was painful for me too).  My best friend was kind enough to give me a healthy smoothie book full of recipes that are easy to digest and provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants.

I tried some of the smoothies from the book and they were delicious. The only problem is that hardly any of them had kale (which I love). This book also made me want to experiment with my own smoothie creations using kale.

I’ve tried different combinations and this is the one that has been the easiest on my stomach. Try it out and see if you like it!

Kale Smoothies

Ingredients

  • 1 large kale leaf (you can slowly add more as you get used to it).
  • Banana
  • Chia
  • Silken Tofu or Natural /Vanilla Yogurt ( I use lactose free vanilla yogurt)
  • Almond Milk
  • Optional: honey, stevia or agave nectar

Toss everything into a blender and blend for a couple of minutes until it has a smooth, uniform look.

Be aware that silken tofu will thicken the smoothie quite a bit and fill you up pretty well. I normally drink this with a snack in place of a full meal.

Benefits of the Ingredients:

Kale -  vitamin A,  vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, calcium, manganese, copper, fiber, potassium, iron, magnesium, omega-3, and  phosphorus.

Banana – vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, manganese, fiber, copper

Chia – fibre, omega 3,  calcium, manganese, phosphorus, and protein

Silken Tofu – calcium, manganese, iron, copper, protein, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B1, omega-3, magnesium, and zinc

Yogurt – iodine, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, phosphorus, calcium, protein, zinc

Almond Milk – calcium, potassium, riboflavin, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin E, zinc, and fibre

Honey – protein, calcium, iron, natural sugars, carbohydrates, Vitamin C, folate, and potassium

Agave Nectar – fructose, glucose, carbohydrates, fibre

Stevia (natural stevia leaf) – protein, fiber, vitamins A, vitamin C, carbohydrates, iron, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, and zinc

If you have any digestive problems, I would love to hear what you do to help get nutrients each day.

How to Make Envelopes from Heart Shapes

Heart Envelope

I love all kinds of crafts. Normally, I love to try intricate and difficult craft projects, but most days, I just feel like making something quick and easy.

For those of you wanting to recycle magazines or scraps of paper, here’s a sweet and easy envelope that you can make out of a heart shape.

You will need:

  • Scrap paper (magazines, newspapers, gift wrapping…)
  • Scissors
  • Pen
  • Double-sided tape or glue stick

 

How to Make It

Start with your piece of paper. Any size will work, but just remember that the bigger your piece, the bigger the envelope.

Heart Envelope 01

Fold the paper in half lengthwise.

Heart Envelope 02

Draw half a heart shape from the folded edge (the folded edge should be the middle of the heart). Cut it out.

Heart Envelope 03

Open it up.

Heart Envelope 04

Flip it upside down and fold in the sides (about one quarter in).

Heart Envelope 05

Fold the bottom end up (about one third). Secure the sides with double-sided tape or glue.

Heart Envelope 06

Fold the top third down.

Heart Envelope 07

There you are, quick and easy envelopes with a cute sweetheart design when the envelope is opened up.

Make them from excess wrapping paper to match gifts, use up interesting pamphlets, flyers and magazines or decorate some plain scrap paper for a more personal touch.

A New Project Using Felt

I’m excited about a project that I started working on. I have a special little girl who will have her first Birthday this summer and I would love to give her something special. I’ll post photos from start to finish, but just to give you a sneak peek, here’s a photo of one finished piece:

 

Handmade Felt Strawberry

Handmade Felt Strawberry

I know it has a couple of unpolished edges, but it was my first one and I’m pretty happy with it so far. If you have any suggestions to make it better, please let me know!

The Game is On! The Renewed Love of Sherlock Holmes

sherlocksI am a big Sherlock Holmes fan, even though I have not read all of the novels and short stories yet. The renewed popularity of Sherlock Holmes was sparked by the 2009 movie Sherlock Holmes, starring the charismatic Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. Since the movie came out, there has been a second movie (a third is in talks) and two TV series, Elementary (US) and Sherlock (UK). I’ve seen them all and I’m now curious to watch some of the older shows from the 80′s just to see what they were like.

sherlock homes movie

I love the Guy Ritchie movies and both TV series because they each have their own take on the stories and characters from the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories. The Sherlock movies are both set in the 1880′s like the books, the British TV series Sherlock is a mix of 1800′s and 2000′s fashion styles and sets, and the US series Elementary is set in the 2000′s, though there are many character traits, fashion designs and set pieces that go back to the 1800′s.

Sherlock UK

I would love to read the whole collection to see which adaptation has elements closest to the original. Of course, I believe Elementary is the farthest from it, especially since there are some strong female characters playing male roles, I think there might be a few things placed as an homage to the original. Personally, I like this modern twist to the story, but there are many people who are appalled by the fact that Dr. Watson in the show is played by a woman.

Elementary

I’d like to hear your opinions about the movies or shows!  Comment below to let me know what you think.

Do you like the modern styles or prefer to keep to the original stories?