Omiyage Eats

Wait a minute - what's that photo of muffins doing there?

To be honest, if I weren't craft blogging, I'd probably be food blogging. There's really nothing like homemade cookies or a fresh loaf of bread or muffins warm from the oven. You'll notice a theme there - that theme is wheat - which I love, but which doesn't love me! We'll talk about that more in a bit. 

Don't worry - food isn't taking over, but I'm always interested in tried-and-true recipes and what other people eat, so I thought it would be fun to share what we're eating in this space. To get started, here are a few snaps of things we've been eating and loving lately.

Back to those muffins. There are almost always over-ripe bananas in our kitchen - some get frozen for smoothies (nothing improves a smoothie like a frozen banana!) but the rest end up baked into banana bread or banana muffins. While a basic banana muffin is great, we often dress them up - recently I've been stirring walnuts and dark chocolate chunks into banana bread and adding berries to muffins. Those ones are strawberry banana but blueberry banana (or even strawberry-blueberry-banana) are pretty fab too! How about you? What's in your favourite banana bread/muffin recipe?

We're also big fans of pancakes. I don't think I've ever met a pancake I didn't like! (That's a lie - in Brazil pancakes are a savoury dish served filled with ground beef - kind of like a manicotti but with pancake instead of pasta. While I can appreciate a savoury pancake - Korean pancakes are pretty perfect - I'm not sure a meaty filling is my speed!)

For Pancake Tuesday, we had Chocolate Chunk pancakes with coconut yoghurt, homemade strawberry sauce, homemade maple syrup and sliced banana. Oh, and bacon. Of course.  Joy The Baker has some pretty great pancake recipes - these chocolate chunk ones are a favourite as are her Carrot Cake Pancakes should you want to squeeze a bunch of veggies into your morning meal without going the kale smoothie route!

I'd love to hear about your favourite pancake recipe - well, as long as it isn't wrapped around a pile of ground beef!

Despite what these pictures might tell you, I'm trying to get back to a wheat-free diet - not gluten-free per se, just cutting out most wheat. I was off wheat for more than a year but, since we've established that wheat is pretty much the most delicious thing going, I gave in and started eating ALL the wheaty things again. But now I'm trying to get back to not eating all the wheaty things. Again. Are you still following that line of logic?

Anyway, I try to avoid gluten-free things that require alchemy (and things like xanthan gum) and stick to recipes that are simply flourless. I was excited to try making flourless cookies and even more excited that they actually look and taste like cookies! If you are on the hunt for naturally gluten/wheat-free recipes, these peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies are pretty great.

I didn't follow the recipe exactly (because I'm kind of incapable of following a recipe exactly) but even with reduced sugar, reduced vanilla, reduced chocolate and a reduced mixing time, they were a success! I'm happy to elaborate on my changes should you be interested.

Do you have any tried and true flourless recipes? 

Have a wonderful weekend! Hope it's filled with delicious things.

Hot Air Balloon Cards

It's been quite quiet over here (have you noticed?) - February is always a bit of a slog and I'm in the midst of writing my next paper craft book (!!!) and trying to make big life decisions (ugh!) and, well, something had to give!

Anyway, I have been playing around with this idea for an everyday card design featuring hot air balloons for awhile now. With a bit of spare time this morning, I gave it another whirl... and, to be honest, was a bit underwhelmed with my final result. I love the concept but because the surface of these particular kraft cards tears when you try to reposition the washi tape, I couldn't move anything around to achieve a final picture I was happy with. Serves me right for sticking everything down haphazardly before testing the surface - there's a lesson in there!

I had planned putting together a full tutorial but since I wasn't totally happy with the final card, I was going to abandon this project altogether. But then I posted the images on Instagram with the tongue-in-cheek caption - DTBB (or Do This But Better) and the idea was more popular than I expected. So, since there was such a positive response over there, I'm sharing them with you here as a bit of inspiration!

It's quite simple really - start by drawing a cloud pattern onto a blank card. I love (love love!) Posca paint markers! Then apply overlapping strips of tape to a piece of parchment/waxed paper and cut out your balloon shapes. Peel off the paper backing and stick to the card. Finally, add a basket and draw in any details you desire.

If this project has piqued your interest, you can find lots more detail on creating multi-strip shapes out of washi tape in my book or dig into the blog DIY Project archives for tips.

Joyful Designs Review

I've recently fallen in love with adult colouring... which sounds a bit dirty but is actually anything but! There's just something so relaxing about sitting down with a pile of markers or pencils and colouring within (or out of) the lines. It's become a bit of a trend to colour as a form of meditation and I'm all for it!

I treated myself to Joyful Designs Artist's Coloring Book featuring the illustrations of Joy Ting late last year but didn't have a chance to break it open until recently. But now that I have, I just had to share - it's really that good!

Joyful Designs features 31 full page designs to colour. There are lots of intricate details and plenty of florals which is always a good thing but interesting patterns and modern doodles too.

I've long admired Joy's doodles, so getting to add colour to her illustrations is really delightful.

As for the format of the book itself, the paper is thick and sturdy so your markers don't bleed through BUT the designs are only printed on one side of the page so that if they do, you don't ruin the next image.

I started out with pencil crayons / coloured pencils but the images are so intricate that I found my hand was hurting when I coloured for any extensive amount of time. Markers are much easier to fill in all those small details.

Each page is also perforated so that you can pull out the pages to make colouring easier or to display your favourites once they are coloured.

If you love the idea of colouring as a form of relaxation or want something that allows you to be creative without a big mess or a huge materials list, I definitely recommend picking up a copy of this book. It's filled with hours of enjoyment for only $7.99.

Since colouring is my new favourite thing (which clearly means I'm growing younger, right?), there will be a few more colouring book reviews & even giveaways coming up soon. Sneak a peek here.

Joyful Designs Artist's Coloring Book is published by Peter Pauper Press. You can find it (and the other titles in the series) at most major booksellers - like Amazon.

Kirigami Love

Looking for a sweet & simple Valentine's Day activity? There are quite a few kirigami designs that are perfect for celebrating love day (or any other day for that matter.

Why not try...
Heart To Heart
Pop Heart
Fangs ... skip the fangs, keep the lips and you've got Kisses!

Happy crafting!

Illustrated Stationery

Do you know Aimez Le Style? This Japanese company produces some of my favourite washi tapes. I've used lots of them in previous DIY projects here on the blog. Like this one & this one too!

One of the reasons I love Aimez Le Style products is that they collaborate with artists from all over the world to produce their unique washi tape designs.

New to Aimez Le Style (and to Omiyage) are fabulous new lines of artist stationery products. I snapped a few (ok, more than a few) shots of these new collections last week and couldn't resist sharing here.

Colourful designs from French artist Steffie Broccoli - French animals and Parisian places and quirky girls. How great is that owl... or rather hibou? 

More animals! This time from British illustrator Charlotte Farmer. I can't decide who I'm more smitten with - that stately Tuxedo Cat or the friendly polar bears.  All the critters are!

And, last but certainly not least, lovely floral and tea-themed designs from British illustrator Emma Block. The pink floral is just so sweet - I want to keep it all for myself!

You can find all the new products over in the shop.

Which collection is your favourite?

Patchwork Hearts

It's hard not to get sucked into the Valentine's Day love fest online. Everything's so cute! (And pink!)

If you're feeling the love this month, here's a quick project to try for Valentine's Day - patchwork hearts. Perfect for putting all your pink & red tapes to use.

You will need a piece of waxed or parchment paper. I always use the backing papers from shipping labels. Starting from the bottom, layer short strips of tape into a heart-ish shape. Make sure to overlap each one slightly.

Once you've made your patchwork of tape strips large enough, it's time to cut it into heart shape. Fold the paper in half and cut out half a heart shape.

Carefully peel the heart shaped tape sticker off of the paper backing and stick to front of card, gift bag or wherever else you'd like to use it.

Pretty cute (and easy), right!

Will you be making Valentines this year?

January Doodles

A handful of my favourite pages from January. You can see all of the doodles here and follow along all year long on Instagram.

Thoughts so far...

Full page colour makes me happy.
When in doubt, draw flowers.
Posca markers are my favourite.
A blank page on January 1st was frightening, now it's full of potential.
I'm still calling these doodles, even though they're really not.

Washi Wrapped Pencils

Just popping in with a quick DIY idea to share!

I was sitting at my desk and (miraculously through the mess) I spotted this fab multi-pattern roll of washi tape and a blank pencil and I thought they might make a good pair. And, indeed they do! Not only that, it's pretty much the simplest way to make a washi tape covered pencil that I've come across.

All you need is a pencil and piece of medium width washi tape. This one is 28mm wide. Cut a piece of tape the same length as the wooden part of the pencil. Lay the pencil on the piece of tape, lining up the tape with the ferrule*, and then wrap the tape around the pencil.

Voila! A 5-minute 2-minute DIY to try. (I did mine in a little less than that so they are a wee bit wrinkled - you should smooth out the wrinkles as you go.)

(I detail two other washi tape pencil ideas in my book - they're suited to all sorts of tape widths rather than such a specific one).

*Ferrule is the fancy name for the metal ring connecting the pencil to the eraser.