Monday, 29 October 2012

Pocket Envelope Folder DIY

Morning campers,

Today's DIY was once more inspired by the Kawaii cute explosion that is Hello Sandwich, the Japanese based blog that was also responsible for this amazing string letter idea.

I am a self confessed ink and paper junkie and before I first departed for South K almost 3 years ago I asked a few of my closest friends to keep up our correspondence through snail mail. A tradition we have most valiantly stuck to and I cherish the mornings when my mailbox yields pretty envelopes with British stamps and postmarks on them. They're personal and romantic and something I can hold in my hand rather than keep saved in an inbox.

I also think it's a fun creative challenge to make something pretty my friends can pull out of the envelope and enjoy for longer than the time it takes to read an email and click close.

So, let's begin the crafty bit.
First, gather your supplies:

You will need:

1. A roll of card stock in your choice of color, I chose the traditional Manilla envelope color
2. Cute, bright colored envelopes in various sizes
3. Decorative string or twine
4. Vintage stamp stickers
5. Washi tape stickers

First, you will need to cut your card stock and measure off and fold your card stock to create the pocket envelope template.
My card stock was around 45cm in length, so I measured a short 5 cm fold (on the left)~ this would be  the lip of the envelope.
Next I measured 4 equal folds 10 cm apart. I had pre-measured my envelopes to make sure these folds were large enough to fit them.
When your folding, you should fold in a zig-zag type formation, like a map.

Next, grab your glue stick and attach your envelopes on to the folds in the card in any arrangement you want.

Decorate your pocket envelope folder with fun decorative tape, doodles, stickers and stamps.

Pop your cards, letters, trinkets, string letters or whatever you like into your pockets.

Fold up your pocket envelope and tie up with some decorative string or twine. 
You can embellish the outside with doily paper and vintage stamp stickers too if you like.

And your done~ just put this envelope in an envelope and give your friends something more beautiful and  exciting than a bill to look forward to from their post man's next visit.


Sunday, 28 October 2012

Monday Morning Ear Candy

Mixtape Source

Newly chilly mornings have us cranking up the thermometer and reaching for our coats instead of our cardigans, the nip in the air is more like a pinch and cold fingers are itching to be cupped around steaming hot mugs.
Dallas prepared today's mix-tape as a special remedy to this chill Monday AM.
Press play and let it warm your insides, like a little nip of whiskey in your morning coffee.

                                       ear candy 2 by louloubelle on Grooveshark

This weekend I skipped Halloween completely. After working Saturday I lay down for what turned into a 12 hour "nap". These bones are getting old I tell ya and I don't like it!

Having Saturday turn into a complete non-event made me ever more determined to pack my Sunday full of good and productive activities.

I filled our tiny kitchen with the cosy, warm scent of pumpkin spice by baking these pumpkin spice chocolate chunk muffins. Aside from burning the tops a little they tasted like Fall would taste if you could roll it and fold it and bundle it up into a muffin case!

I also worked on a great little letter DIY which I will share with you later this week~ I blame this one for the burned muffin tops~ trying to do too many projects at the same time!

In the evening Dallas and I hunkered down and watched this true little gem of a movie called
 Ruby Sparks.
It stars Paul Dano who has already starred in two movies I loved; Little Miss Sunshine and There Will be Blood.
Ruby Sparks is a quirky, offbeat fantasy romance where Dano plays a novelist who writes about his dream girl...who magically becomes real.

Definitely one to check out!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Inky fingers

Untitled by rcd826
Taken from Rachel Duarte's 'Journal pages' set on Flickr
Untitled, a photo by rcd826 on Flickr.
I'm helplessly in love with these journal pages created by Rachel Duarte in San Francisco.

Click on the link to have a peek for yourself but only if you are prepared to lose the next 20 minutes falling, skirt flared like a bell, down a rabbit-hole of page after page of beautiful film photography, pressed flowers and feathers, sublime handwritten quotes from literature and lyrics, dreamy pastel paint swatches, pages torn from vintage books and lists of her friends star-signs.

It's a masterclass in scrap-booking ~ there's a romance and a mystery to keeping things treasured away on paper, locked between pages and cover. I'm getting that same old-fashioned, grab the fountain pen and get your fingers inky itch as I do when I write my handwritten letters home. What better way to preserve the keepsakes and sweet memories from this time in my life when I am collecting so many?

I think Seoul will find itself being patted down and  it's pockets rifled through this weekend for the perfect journal for starting my new project ^^

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Breathe in...Let it go

'Yoga Family' Practicing yoga on our guest house roof in Bangalore, India

Before my first journey to India 4 years ago I had dipped my toe into the yoga pool many times; on the living room floor with my yoga video after school, classes at friend's gyms and hot yoga lessons later when I moved out to East London.

I was never the sporty or athletic type but after practicing asanas (yoga poses) my body always spoke to me and thanked me for the balance, correction and mind connection I was giving it. It enjoyed the ritual and discipline of the exercise. 

Fast forward to my airplane landing in Goa: I was a girl enchanted. It was my first solo travel, I bore my load on my back like a galapagos turtle and it appeared I had just arrived at the Arabian Sea's tropical back garden. I threw myself into the bohemian atmosphere...sunbathing next to cows on the beach without a care, drinking from coconuts bigger than my hands could hold, magical night market wanderings and technicolor sunsets proceeded for the next month...all to the soundtrack of Bob Marley and birdsong.

I met many beautiful, insanely wonderful, cuckoo bananas people during that first month in Goa who I still speak to occasionally today...and one of those people twirled me around and sent me spinning like a top down a path that left a deep fingerprint on my soul that will be there for always.

He was a Creole spiritualist from Switzerland, I was younger and quite apathetic, used to my street smart peers from London. We were worlds apart with nothing in common but when he learned of my affinity with yoga he made it his mission to see that I join a Yoga University in Bangalore that he had been to.
The course was a month long, cost a bolder-sized chunk of my travel budget and you were not allowed to leave the compound for the full month while you were there.

This was definitely not part of my 4 month travel plan... but something, an inner intuition, a whisper from the universe, told me to step on to this new and unexpected path that was opened up to me. We parted and he sent me regular emails giving me all the information that helped me apply and find my way to the Ashram....

My month at the Vivekenanda Yoga University in Bangalore shines like a glittering mosaic of splintered images in my memory....

4am wake up calls and dragging our yoga mats for the first class of the day, bare toes to the dirt, while the moon still shone like a silver marble in the indian ink sky/ the rotund and stern faced Padma Shri, our Hindi Yoga tutor, who, despite her size and age could contort herself into the most impossible looking postures for our demonstration/ hours spent on meditation and learning the power of breathe and how to inhale with love and exhale every drop of bad energy from your body/ the powerful seminars on Hinduism and Spiritualism from some of India's most revered Swamis whose words touched me in a place so deep I would sit listening with silent tears rolling down my cheeks.

It was the best experience of my life.

I continued my asana and meditation routine for months after my return home from India but, of course, life gets in the way, routines and priorities change and my focus on yoga waned as I set off on a new adventure to South korea.

Last month my lovely friend Whit joined a yoga and pilates class here in my hometown of Beomgye and invited me to join too. For the first time in 2 and a half years I am treating my body to it's favorite exercise...and it hasn't forgotten. 
Every time I get in that class I feel my muscles smile and submit completely to every stretch, letting me move deeper into each pose with every breathe. 

Most importantly, in this stressful time in my life, it's a reminder of my power to breathe in deep, and just let it all go. 

Monday, 22 October 2012

3 Little Things

Good Tuesday Morning to you all!

I kind of fell under the weather and off the map over the last week and a half but now I'm bouncing back and no longer under the weather- I'm all over the weather!
I would describe myself as a Spring/Summer kind of gal normally but I "fall" more and more in love with Fall as the years tick by.
I love that crisp, clean smell the air gets as the temperature starts to dip, crunching through leaves the trees gave up overnight on my morning walk to school.... and planning and conspiring with Dallas about Halloween costumes.

This week's 3 Little Things are dedicated to all the Fall things that have helped this little lass return back to her former self this week....

1. Leaf Art

Big thanks to this blog post for giving me this incredible idea for using all those beautiful crunchy scattered leaves outside to decorate your inside.
Remember my last 3 Little Things I was wishing I could keep the leaves I'd gathered for my Kindie art class and use them at home? This idea was my perfect opportunity to return to our park and scavenge for the perfect sized and shaped leaves for the project.
I enjoy leaf hunting far more than I should and I must have looked a sight. I could see the thought bubbles appearing from every staring Koreans head..."Why is that alien stuffing dirty ground leaves into that Hello Kitty shopping bag??"

I had such fun painting these saturday evening and I think the end result turned out just swell.
If you guys want to try this at home here is a tip for you~ microwave your leaves for 30 seconds before painting them. This will preserve them and prevent them from going moldy ^^

2. Leaves as big as your face

I swear I never saw Autumn leaves this big growing up in England.
That can't be true. I think I just never noticed before. 
The older I get the more open my eyes have become nature's transformations throughout the seasons. 
And how truly beautiful they are.

3. Giant pumpkins
I found these monsters hanging out on the pavement around the corner from our apartment.
How bad did I want to pinch one and harvest a month's supply of pumpkin bread/muffins/ spiced lattes?
Really bad.
But I sufficed with a quick snap and a backwards glance as I continued my strolling.

What are your favorite things about Fall?
Do tell!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

walk with me...

I was alone this weekend as Dallas voyaged to one of the islands with his man-friends for camp-fires, cook-outs and beer. I didn't hear anything about the fish spiking or bear trailing but I have my suspicions ^^

This was my opportunity to take a wander around one of my favorite neighborhoods in Seoul; Samcheong-dong. Won't you link my arm and join me in a slow walk around one of my treasured haunts?

See to your left the narrow cobbled road of treasure-box boutiques my friend and I spent a lovely afternoon rummaging through a few months past. To your right the beautifully ornate National Folk Museum Dallas and I had a date in this Summer. Over in that direction is the beloved clay oven pizza restaurant where I ate a solo lunch on Saturday.  The only evidence I'd been there at all was a plate of delicate empty clam shells.

Every time I visit this wonderful area I feel like I've stepped into the pages of a picture book. 
If you look past the abundant and adorable cafes, galleries, museums and boutiques, the neighborhood itself is rife with so many pleasing little details that slow walking is an absolute must as to ensure you  relax, enjoy and absorb it all... tiny seashell wall murals, vintage oriental paintings hung up in painted shop windows, whimsical wall art and the most beautifully ornate doorways. 
Oh, the doorways! 
Ivy coated, Japanese sliding door-style or mysterious with heavy oak and ornate detailing. 
I feel like if I step through any one of them I'll be transported Alice-style to anther world.

See, this is what happens when a dreamer like me walks around these parts!

One of the things that make Samcheong-dong a truly special area to visit is the visible echoes of Korea's past Dynasty and the perfume of history that scents the air there. 
It's hilly layout affords breathtaking views of lush mountains and charming rooftop views of the many traditional 600-year old hanok houses that linger in the area and lend a quaint, 'step-back-in-time' feel to the place.

I hope you enjoyed walking with me. 
I always come away from visiting here feeling enchanted, I hope you don't mind me sharing!

Happy mid-week folks x

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Matryoshka Doll Eraser Stamp D.I.Y

This craft was inspired by my love/obsession with the purdiest of the doll family~ the Russian Matryoshka doll.
A lifetime ago an ex boyfriend of mine visited Russia and brought me home one of these dolls as a gift and I was smitten.
 You can see her in this post
I love the beautiful design and artistry that goes into the painting of these lovely mamas and their symbolism of family and motherhood.

Now, I've never tried my hand at stamp making before but I really fancied a Russian doll stamp to customize my stationary with but I didn't want to go ordering one from Etsy.
Solution: Make my own!

If you're still with me, let's begin....

1. Materials needed: a printout of some simple doll designs I downloaded from the interent, an extra large rubber eraser, an exacto knife, linoleum cutter and black ink pen.

2. First, I chose the doll image I wanted to transfer on to my stamp and traced it with a very firm hand with a black ink pen so that when i removed the paper the image was transferred onto the eraser. Add details to your outline with black pen by hand.

3. Take your exacto knife and carefully carve all around the edge of your doll design. Then cut around the edge of your eraser and cut in as deep as the doll edge, removing all excess rubber.

4. The HARD part! Now it's time to carve the detail of your dolls face and dress. This was time consuming and difficult and involved a lot of cutting and gouging to get the details that I wanted. 

5. The end result! I wasn't 100% happy with my dolls face but carving such tiny details is extremely hard and maybe I didn't have the right tools. however, for my first try I don't think she's too crumby. She's quirky and off-kilter and flawed. Much like a lot of my favorite people! 
She's doing a fine job of prettying up my tags and envelopes ^^

Try this DIY? I'd love to see your results! Link with love below~ x

3 Little Things

The current  mish-mash of "can't make my mind up if I wanna give up Spring warmth or give into Fall chilliness" weather has this gal sick a dog.
 I usually get run down during the changing of the seasons but this one I just can't seem to shake ... and I'm just itching to snap back into my old form.
Until then it's tissues in my handbag, hot oats in the morning, plenty of vitamin C powders and three little things...

1. Put a pin on it

I hung this wall map in our apartment last week and stuck a bunch of pins in the countries Dallas and I have collectively travelled to over the years.
I want to buy a better map eventually for this practise but I do find it inspiring to look up at our wall and be reminded of all the adventures, memories and possibilities past, present and future..

2. Autumn's Candy

I took myself over to the park across the street from us last night, bag in hand, with the intention of gathering a few fallen leaves for a leaf rubbing art class I will do with my 4 year olds today. 

I got rather carried away with myself and bustled home later with a bag bursting with loot- treasures surrendered from the Fall trees- rough and crisp, burnt auburn, vivid yellow and saucy purple. Some brazenly splayed open like Japanese fans, others curled and brown like Indian feathers. 
I even swiped a few pine cones and fallen gingko fruits.
I feel like hoarding these little Autumn candies and prettying up the apartment with them somehow...but I guess the kids will get their leaf rubbing lesson today after all
 *sigh* ^^

3. Midnight snacking

One of the perks of feeling down and out is the perfect excuse it gives you to treat yourself good.
I included a few guilty pleasures in my iHerb order and the combination of dark sea salt squares and hot vanilla tea has been the absolute perfect comfort food the past few evenings.

Fingers crossed for better health for the impending weekend! 
I don't have much planned so I can just be still and get better... lots of resting, reading, crafting and baking.

Not too shabby...maybe this sickness isn't so bad after all!

Stay tuned later for a cute little DIY I made in the way too late hours of last night when i should have been sleeping my way back to health ^^

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

the Highs. the Lows. the Kiddos

Like most, I've had a million and one dreams of what I want to be when I "grow up".

Children's writer, nutritionist, farm owner, bohemian body-tattooed circus contortionist.

Full-time Kindergarten teacher in a Korean English Academy was, I'm sure of it, never consciously added by me to that list.

Perhaps I have a chuckling spirit guide who came and wrote it in there in invisible ink or something because here I am, 29 years of age, at my third year of teaching in Korea.

My first two years here were breezy~ I was stationed at a Public Middle School in a beautiful coastal city, I met and started dating Dallas and we had an amazing set of friends, my work hours were short and the pay was so good I easily saved up for 3 months of adventuring with Dallas before returning back.

This time round Dallas and I decided to try our hand at teaching Kindergarten- not for government schools this time but privately owned English Academies or hagwons as they are known here. Cast your eye back to this starry-eyed post I wrote while I was preparing for my journey back to the Land of the Morning Calm....

there was definitely a death-grip on optimism going on in that post because life as a children's teacher has been everything but the candy-colored fantasy I'd envisioned. There my mind's eye was...dressing me up in cute peter-pan collared outfits, singing songs for the kids and painting rainbows like fricking Julie Andrews!

What I wasn't prepared for were the long, long hours, the large classes of under-7's all needing your attention at the same time. The constant fighting over who gets the longer pencil, the bigger eraser, who carries the teacher's book to to the next class or who sits in what chair.  The lunches they just wont eat. The snot,  the tears, the vomiting. The language barrier that is just as much frustrating for them as it is for you.

Lawd. I've had to give myself time-out more times than I care to mention where I just slowly count to ten and breathe for a minute during some cuckoo classroom scrimmages.
For all my fantasising and good intentions I'd willingly blinkered myself to a pretty glaring matter: KIDS ARE HARD WORK!! 

BUT, but.....

For every day Ive wanted to forget there's been another that I've loved and locked in my memory forever,  for every class that ended in tears and frustration there's been a class full of pure learning and creativity, for every ornery student there's scores more whose smiles and positive energy lift me up and inspire me. 
These kids and this year's experiences have forced me to grow  up more and learn more about myself and my potential than any other job I have put my hand to.
A happy teacher= happy students, folks

  There's a lesson in here champs. A lesson I've learned the hard way but the only way I could learn it. Testing myself, pushing myself to my very limit and not running away from a situation just because I didn't like it has been one of the most stimulating, rewarding and satisfying experiences for my heart and my soul. 

I recommend it....

...just go in with your eyes wide open, not crossed with stars like mine were, that's all!

Monday, 8 October 2012

iHerb haul & a discount for you!!

One of my favorite days are days when big brown boxes arrive with my name on them ^^

I've been wanting to order from iHerb for the longest time since I learned they ship quickly (and cheaply) to Korea~ literally hundreds of healthy, organic and plant based products simply not easily available out here.

So less than a week after I ordered here are my spoils from my first (definately not to be the last) order from iHerb~

Lots of tea (Rooibos and Vanilla Caramel)
Coconut butter
Cacao Butter
Almond Butter
Dark Chocolate with sea Salt
Sun Dried Tomatos
Vanilla Almond Milk
Chia Seeds
Witch hazel Facial Toner
Coconut Skin Cream
Mint Julep Face Mask

The best part of ordering from iHerb is they give all their customers a discount code to pass on to their friends.
So if you would like a brown box full of yummy treats for your face and tummy with a $10 discount on orders over $40 or $5 discount off orders less than $40 simply add this code at the iHerb checkout:  DPJ885

Happy shopping campers ^^

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Treasure Hunt~ thrifting for vintage in Seoul

The lovely Whit and myself dedicated our Saturday afternoon to to hunting down the seemingly mythical vintage clothing market in Seoul. We had heard whisperings about its existence, even seen evidence of it's gorgeous treasures modeled on a girl we met at a concert. But I was a little skeptical.
Vintage clothing? Inexpensive? Korea??

But we were delightfully surprised when we found the place 5 minutes away from Jongno 5 ga subway station on line 1. As we walked up to the second floor of this unassuming looking market building we smelt that old clothes smell and knew we'd hit home:  inside lay a life size dress up box packed floor to ceiling with vintage items.

Everything was present and correct~ dresses, shoes, bags and belts. Isles upon isles of so many wonderful threads to sift through. You really had to be dedicated to sifting to weed out the good stuff but that's all part of the fun of thrifting right?

Within 30 minutes I had bought 5 items and spent all of my budget, it was time to leave! Here's a little peek of my purchases~ lot's of Winter ready Christmas patterned knits, a maxi skirt, the most darling red embroidered rain coat and a "Hawaiian" (so the salesman claimed) embossed leather satchel which clearly has Mexico stamped on the inside. I managed to haggle that bag down by a whole 5,000 won and was more than a litttle proud of myself.
Two rounds in India and months of travelling through SE Asia have still done little to improve this gals bartering skills!

How was your weekend folks?
Did you find any treasures?

Monday Morning Ear Candy

             Good morning campers, I hope your weekend's were wonderful? 
I had a busy Saturday which was happily sunshine-y and filled with a LOT of subway hopping all over Seoul. I did manage to squeeze a little vintage clothing shopping in somewhere between line1 and line 6, but I'll post more on that later.

Right now, it's Monday morning desk time blues for most (including me) so I thought why not start the week off right with a little ear candy to lift you up?
While I'm the craft nerd my boyfriend Dallas is definately the music nerd half of the relationship and he very kindly put together this Monday Morning Ear Candy mixtape for you guys.
Isn't he sweet?
And he really does know his music, press play and make your Monday morning just a little bit more beautiful...
                                              monday morning ear candy 1 by louloubelle on Grooveshark

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Pretty Tea Light DIY

This post was inspired by my dear friend Whitney's beautiful DIY Fall Candle tutorial

Dallas and I live in a split-level studio apartment and while the upper mezzanine is a wilderness of backpacks, discarded furniture and one sad and lonely mattress base, our lower level is slowly but surely becoming 'home'. 
With a dusting of pictures, plants and personal touches we are working on putting a little bit of love into every corner and making it ours.
We've already been using the staircase leading up to the upper level as a showcase for some simple mason jar tea lights and Whit's tutorial reminded me of a pretty paper tea light DIY I'd seen on Pinterest a while back.
Now for the love of all men who are bearded I cannot find that link to give the original poster of that DIY credit for the idea so anyone who happens to read this and can share the link below I would love to give full and proper credit to to this craft's inspiration ^^

So let's get busy!
First, the gathering of materials. You will need:

1. A shallow basin
2. Ten black tea bags
3. Paper of your choice (I chose thick magazine paper with pretty Korean writing)
4. A small jar
5. Tea light candle
6. Twine
7. Scissors/exacto knife

This tea light has a paper inlay with a heart cut out through which you can see the candle burning inside. I thought it would be nice to tea-dye my paper for a pretty vintage effect but this step is optional.

To tea-dye your paper: Fill a shallow basin with a kettle full of boiling water and around 10 tea bags. Leave until water is cool then remove tea bags. Add paper to basin and leave to steep for around an hour. Remove and hang to dry.

Once you have your dry tea-dyed paper, measure the length and circumference of your jar and cut a strip of paper accordingly.
Pencil draw a heart shape onto your paper and cut out using an exacto-knife

Secure your paper inside your jar using tape or seal with a gel medium. Place a candle inside and finish the effect with a ribbon of twine around the neck of the jar.

Here's a peek of my pretty little tea light totally owning it's own step on the stairs. Plain old mason jar tea light wants some twine for his own neck now too.
We'll see about that.

Happy crafting campers!

3 little things

 It's been back to earth with a heavy bump over here in the 'Land of the Morning Calm'. 

The Chuseok holiday is finished and the mundanities of life have folded back in around, bills, grocery shopping....with a few moments of bliss thrown in here and there.

I have to remind myself daily to keep my eye open and recognize these moments or things, little though they may be, that distract me from the stress and the humdrum and prompt me to stop and appreciate the simple goodness that can make a gal forget herself and just be happy.

Here are those 3 little things:

1. Frozen grapes

You can forget me eating the regular room-temperature version of these Korean grapes. The ones where you have to peel off the leathery skin and spit bullet hard seeds through your teeth like a cowboy. And they're always presented to you buy a Korean co-worker or friend like they are such a treat. No thank you!
However put those bad boys in the freezer overnight and then your talking.
 Dallas introduced me to these juicy, frosty, lush on the inside and  tastier-than-ice cream snacks recently and I am hooked.
I could eat these by the punnet, they really are that good!

2. The Korean Times Crossword puzzle

Now this and my number one little thing go together like peas and carrots.
I love to find a corner and curl up with a bowl of finger food and the crossword....and usually end up tearing my hair out a little!
Lucky our friends do the same one so we can meet up and compare puzzles across bar tables like nerds ^^

3. Sock weather

Did someone say nerd?
Not only does the Fall chilliness signify moccasin and cardigan time for me.... one of the best things about Korea is their apparent sock obsession. You can buy any design/color/ pattern for less than 2 bucks and they have a pretty impressive array come sock weather time....once you've waded through the Hello Kitty and Pororos ^^
 I got more than a little excited when I picked up these lovely reindeer & geometric patterned pairs at the subways station market the other day.
Now I can have socks-y feet all of this Fall!

Did you like my sock pun?
Did I just ruin it by asking?

What 3 little things are keeping you chipper this week?