Creative Blog Hop

I have been invited by Inge from Windward Made to participate in a Creative Blog Hop. All bloggers who join the fun answer the same questions about their work and process and then invite more creatives to join. Now it's my turn! So here are my answers:

1. What am I working on?

Nowadays I am working on many things all at once. I am in the process of launching my collection of weekly planners for 2015. Some of them are already available in the shop and others are still being photographed. I am also developing a new collection of notebooks, where I'll be using some basic screen printing. This is the first time I am doing screen printing, so it is very exciting for me to learn this new technique. On the other hand I still have lots of testing ahead of me. I won't tell you yet what the collection will look like, except for that the notebooks will have less pages and more colors compared to the ones I've been making until now. At least that's the plan, I might still change things around.

I am also working on a new website for Paper Plane Stationery. I am hoping to have everything under one roof: my shop, this blog as well as all the info and contact information. This project has also just started, to there is still a lot of work ahead. I can't yet estimate when the website will be up, but I can't wait already! I am doing it all myself, so I am expecting a lot of trial and error on the way.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I wouldn't say I am making something completely new, but there are a couple of ways I think my creations stand out at least from the majority. My designs are very simple. I believe in the power of simplicity, I always take away from designs (also from songs, writings, everything I create) instead of adding when editing and perfecting them. It is also very important for me to be as friendly to the environment as possible with everything I do, so I make sure to use eco-friendly materials and processes and recycle whenever possible. Another difference of my products from at least a lot of large scale production items is the personalization. I make everything myself, so a lot of my creations are made specifically for a customer. I find this connection very important in doing what I do. Even when my customers purchase my standard designs without any special requests, I like to approach each of them personally: write them a note, wrap the notebook nicely or add a little surprise I think they will like.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

I love to make. There is nothing like the feeling of taking a bunch of supplies that don't look like anything and creating a final product that can be used and looks beautiful. I made lots of notebooks, I've crocheted loads of baskets and knitted several scarves and I still have this rush of joy every single time I hold a finished product in my hands. I seriously run to my husband each time I've bound a new book to show him and every time he tells me its beautiful.

Another reason for making what I make is that I love physical objects. I am the kind of person who still listens to music on vinyl and tapes, takes photographs on film, writes on paper and schedules things in a little planner book. I don't hate digital tools, there are a lot of amazing things we had no idea were possible just a few years ago. And I am not a fan of mass production of cheap low quality physical products. But there is something about beautiful high quality products made with love and care that makes them so special. I am especially addicted to paper products. When I put my thoughts on paper it somehow makes them more real. So I try to have everything on paper. I keep several notebooks for notes, sketches and to-do lists, a weekly planner, a blog planner as well as occasional print outs and worksheets for other activities. Having worked at a printing house I realized I love working with paper products as much as I love using them. This helps me understand my customers so much better. I use my notebooks myself and I am always paying attention to how I use them and what I expect from them when developing new products.

4. How does my writing/illustration/creative process work?

The ideas come to me in many different ways. Sometimes I get them when I am taking a shower or when I am lying in bed and can't fall asleep. Some ideas come when I am trying out a new medium or browsing what other creatives do (usually the ones from completely different genres). I try to write down or sketch all the ideas I get and when I have time I test them. Sometimes I do some more sketching to develop them further, but most of the time I get straight to carving the stamps or folding paper. Sometimes the idea works out, other times it doesn't and I try to experiment with it more or just drop it if it doesn't feel right. When I like the idea I make a prototype and afterwards go ahead and start planning a line of products.

What I definitely know about myself is that I almost never get good ideas when I know I need to come up with one. They usually just pop up randomly. So I am trying to develop my creative process so that I involve myself more in the activities during which I get ideas. For example, sketching something every day. I don't do it regularly yet, but that is the goal. The purpose of those sketches is not coming up with new ideas, but just practicing. Hopefully then my brain will be in creative mode more often and will generate more of those random ideas.


And now to the lovely ladies I'd like to invite to join this creative blog hop:



Kaisa is the owner of two beautiful shops: Beanie on Helina with home textiles made of natural fabrics and Beanie on Helina Ink with illustrations and stationery. She is a Finland-based designer too and even though we met only once (since we live in different parts of the country) I am really happy to have connected with her. She is super talented and hard working and one of my favorite textile designers ever. I am a proud owner of one of her "classic" house cushions and it is a very lovely addition to my living room! Check out Kaisa's blog for behind the scenes of her amazing studio, peeks into her life and pictures of her cute dog.



Bonnie is an amazing surface pattern designer, a blogger and a founder of the Roost Tribe creative community. I have been a regular reader of her blog Going Home to Roost for several years and she has given me so much inspiration during that time. I have been especially excited for Bonnie when she got to teach her own Creative Live course called Design Surface Patterns from Scratch and I loved hearing her creative story and watching her share her skills. She is an amazing teacher! I can't wait to purchase the course, go through it again and learn to work with patterns like a pro :) You can see bits of Bonnie's new fabric collection in the picture above and more of her work on her blog.


Make sure to check these ladies sharing their creative processes in the next two weeks. And thanks for letting me share mine!


Easy Autumn DIY: Leaf Prints



Do you like to collect fallen leaves during autumn? I definitely do! My blog and instagram feed is full of people doing the same so I am guessing this is an activity most of us visual people can't resist. Even though I love hot weather (don't ask, I don't know why would someone who loves hot weather live in Finland), autumn always brings this cozy atmosphere that makes me feel warm on the inside. Collecting leaves reminds me of my childhood years. Autumn was always a beautiful time of year in Murmansk, where I grew up, and every year in elementary school we had a class cancelled so we could go and collect colorful leaves. The teachers encouraged us to pick the prettiest leaves and taught us the right names for the colors and types of plants. It felt like looking for hidden treasures. I still enjoy walking around the park looking for different trees and prettiest leaves.



Lately it has become almost a tradition for me to make prints using the leaves I've collected. In previous years I made t-shirts for my band and autumn-inspired notebooks for my shop. This year I wanted to make some art prints because the walls in our apartment are still empty since we moved in. I have been collecting some art to hang, but I am still in the gathering and planning stage. After several tries I ended up with a print I am happy with (pictured above) and I'd like to share my super simple process with you.


MATERIALS

All you need for this project is fresh leaves (don't let them dry, as they will break easily), paper or carton, paint and brush. I tried using both watercolors and acrylic paints. The one pictured in the instructions below is watercolor and the one used for the print in the picture above is acrylic. You can see the results are a bit different and I like both looks. The technique is exactly the same for both types of paint. If you use acrylics you will need a bit of water added to them. I just dipped my brush in water before taking more paint each time. I suggest collecting more leaves than you need so you can practice on scrap paper before making the final print.



INSTRUCTIONS

1&2. Paint your leaf with watercolor or acrylic paints. Use some water, but not too much for the color to be bright enough. Feel free to experiment to get the results you are looking for.
3. Carefully turn the leaf upside down and place the painted leaf on paper or other surface you are printing on.
4. Press it to the paper making sure all of the edges of the leaf contact the surface.
5. Remove the leaf from the paper.
6. Paint the edges with a thin brush, if necessary.


Do you like to collect leaves during autumn? Do you use them in your DIYs? I'd love to see your projects!


My Helsinki: Keskuspuisto / Central Park



I've been thinking for a while about starting a new blog series where I'd show you the city I live in. The reason I was a bit hesitant at first is because I am not the kind of person who knows all the best coffee places and the latest hotspots in town. I don't even drink coffee and I am not much of a party person. But I do love Helsinki, I love taking walks around the neighborhood (oh and I absolutely love our new neighborhood), I love the seaside, I love the culture and the simple and quiet atmosphere of the city. And that is what I wanted to share, the parts of Helsinki I love and the things I experience as part of my life here. So in the end I decided this blog series is a good idea and here I am, sharing the first bits of Helsinki through my eyes.

One of the things I love the most about Helsinki is that there is a lot of nature here. There is a park or a small forest in almost every neighborhood. When we moved to our new place in the beginning of summer I was especially excited about this huge park that starts right behind our house. It is called Keskuspuisto, which means Central Park in Finnish. I couldn't believe there is this whole area that feels like a proper forest located so close to the center of the city. So my husband and I have been walking and biking through the park all summer exploring new paths and finding new little surprise places (like a horse farm!) all the time. Now that the fall is coming it started to get more bright and colorful, but also calm and quiet at the same time. Even when its raining it feels so cozy to walk between all those pine trees.



Smoothie of the Month: (High Calorie) Frozen Berries Smoothie



As I mentioned in my "10 random facts about me" post, I am a little underweight. This didn't come to me as a result of an eating disorder or anything like that, I've always been this way. I didn't even think much about it (except for my teenage years when I was totally unconfident about my looks) until my doctor started to worry about my hormonal levels. She told me I have to gain at least 5 kilos, but preferably more. The thing is, I am not limiting myself in the amount of food or calories I consume and I've never been trying to lose weight, so I had no idea where can I get those kilos from. I asked her how can I gain weight while keeping a healthy diet and I couldn't believe her reply. She said I don't need to worry about eating healthy (!!!) Can a doctor actually say that?

Luckily I didn't follow that advice and continued eating the way I did. And then I stumbled upon McKel's blog called Nutrition Stripped and was especially happy to find this post about underweight nutrition. If you've suffered from weight loss or have been always underweight like me, I really recommend this post. McKel has listed all types of calorie rich foods (mostly plant based) that can help you gain weight the healthy way as well as useful tips on how to add them to your diet. I have printed the PDF she provides and have been keeping it in my kitchen for reference all the time. It's also a great read if you don't know much about the issue. I really think this hasn't been addressed enough in the media, many girls are trying to lose weight and not so many of them know about the health issues that come with being too thin. Somehow many people think eating healthy equals losing weight, but that is not the case for everyone.

Alright, now let's get to the smoothie part! Why am I talking about all this in a smoothie recipe post? Because smoothies have been an excellent way for me to sneak in some extra calories into my daily diet. I always try to add some seeds, nuts or coconut oil to my daily green smoothies. Now that the fresh berry season is over, I've been stocking up on frozen berries and using them a lot in my smoothies and desserts. This smoothie is my favorite high calorie snack. I like to drink it when I get hungry but it's too early for a proper meal. It's very filling and delicious. If you are not trying to gain weight (or trying to keep your calories low), you can add less seeds, nuts and coconut oil or skip them altogether. You can also substitute the banana with one green apple. It will still taste delicious without those high calorie add-ons. Or you can have this smoothie instead of a regular meal when you are in a hurry or feel like having something cold and sweet for lunch.






High calorie frozen berries smoothie (serves two):

1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy milk of your choice)
1 banana
1 cup frozen berry mix
1 tablespoon seed mix (flax, sunflower, pumpkin seeds)
2 tablespoons nuts of your choice*
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1-2 teaspoons maple syrup

Place everything into a blender starting with liquid ingredients and adding hard ingredients (nuts and berries) in the end. Blend until smooth, pour into a glass and enjoy!


* I usually use cashews, as they have the softest taste. This time I didn't have cashews, so I added hazelnuts. You can use any nuts you like or even better a mix of different nuts.




Hope you enjoy this smoothie! If you also watch your calorie intake (whether you are trying to consume more or cut down on them) I'd love to hear your tips!



New Collection: Natural Linen Hardcover Notebooks



I'm so excited to show you my new mini-collection of notebooks! During summer I taught myself to make hardcover notebooks using fabric for Kliffa's new collection. I really enjoyed the process and was happy with the result so I couldn't wait to try using fabric for the notebooks in my own shop. So I went on a hunt for fabrics both in thrift shops and fabric stores and totally fell in love with all the natural linen basics. The soft feel, calm colors and defined texture of linen has inspired this new collection of books I made.



I call it a mini-collection because there are four color options available at the moment. Three of those four fabrics are thrifted, so the notebooks will be available in limited quantities. On the other hand, I am planning to expand the collection with more color options. If you have been following my work for a while, you might have noticed that I like my creations to be as friendly to the environment as possible, so I am all about recycled and repurposed materials. This means the collection will be expanding as I hunt for more natural linen beauties in the thrift store land.



You can find more information about the notebooks and purchase them in my Etsy shop. They are available with blank pages made of 100% recycled paper. To open a little secret, I am working on other page designs to be added in future, which might include lined pages as well as weekly planners for the next year ;) But more on that later.





Recipe: Buckwheat and Veggies

buckwheat and veggies recipe

Since childhood I didn't really like buckwheat. To be honest, I hated it. It is very popular in Russia, where I grew up, and all parents know it is very healthy. So my mom always tried to convince me to eat it, but didn't succeed much in it. When I moved away I kind of forgot about it, because it is not so popular here in Finland and I've never seen it served in places like university cafeterias. Until I moved in with my boyfriend at that time (now my husband). He loves buckwheat. But I couldn't even stand the smell of it, so he ate it when I was away.

And then I found out about raw buckwheat! I just saw it in a local health store and decided to buy it for my husband to try. The buckwheat I've seen before was brown and this one looked very light and greenish. I brought it home and thought, what if I give it a try? It may taste different than the brown one. And it did! I absolutely loved it.

buckwheat and veggies recipe

I already knew that buckwheat was supposed to be super healthy, but once I started eating it I also wanted to find out more about its health benefits. Apparently, the brown buckwheat I was used to is toasted while the green one is raw. If you want to know more about the difference, you can read this post. In addition, buckwheat is a protein-rich whole grain and is gluten free even though part of its name is "wheat". It has nothing to do with wheat actually, in fact is it a fruit seed, not a cereal. It also contains essential vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins, folic acid, copper and zinc. Sounds amazing, I'm so happy I can finally eat it!

I have come up with this recipe after trying a similar combination with quinoa, that my friend made. I thought it must work with buckwheat too. I love it cause it is easy and fast to make, so I often have it for lunch, when I eat by myself and don't want to take too much time off work during day time.

buckwheat and veggies recipe



Buckwheat and Veggies (serves 2)

1 dl raw (green) buckwheat
3.5 dl water
1 zucchini
1/2 eggplant
1 large tomato
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or olive oil)
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
sea salt, white and black pepper to taste
herbs de provence spice mix
flax and pumpkin seeds

1. Wash your buckwheat groats with cold water. Place in a small pot and add 3.5 dl of water. Bring to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes (mixing from time to time) or until all of the water is absorbed.
2. Chop eggplant and zucchini into large pieces and tomato into smaller pieces.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons of coconut (or olive) oil on a large saucepan. Add garlic and pepper and fry for about 1 minute or until the garlic turns yellow.
4. Add eggplant, mix with garlic and pepper and add a little bit of water, so the spices don't burn. Close the lid and simmer for 1 minute.
5. Add zucchini and a bit more water if needed. Close the lid and simmer for 5 minutes, mixing every once in a while.
6. Add the tomato, herbs de provence spice mix and salt to taste. Mix, close the lid and simmer for 5 more minutes.
7. Turn off the heat and keep on the stove until ready. Add more salt and pepper if needed.
8. Mix in the buckwheat or serve separately. Sprinkle with flax and pumpkin seeds.




Sometimes when I am in a hurry I do a lazy version of this recipe: just throw the veggies into the same pot with buckwheat after it has been simmering for ten minutes. That way I don't have to use (and wash) the saucepan. It works quite well too, you just need to mix it much more and probably add some more water into the mix. But I think the recipe above lets the taste of the veggies come out much better.

Also, feel free to adjust the times you cook the veggies. If you like them super soft, cook them for longer time. If you want them a bit crunchy, reduce the cooking time. I like my eggplant soft and zucchinis a bit crunchy, that it why I add eggplant first.

What do you think about buckwheat? Do you eat it often? Have you given raw buckwheat a try?

I hope you enjoy this recipe! Let me know how you like it!

Free Printable: Tribal Postcards



Today I'd like to share something I made especially for you! It's a set of post cards that you can download for yourself to print and post to your friends and pen pals. I designed this pattern quite a while ago, but this time I decided to freshen it up with the colors I was inspired by today. You can print them two sided with the postcard back, or, if you don't have heavy paper, you can skip the back side and print them on standard paper to use for making cute notes or as cheat cards for your next presentation. You can find the instructions on how to print them with the download links below.



INSTRUCTIONS

1. Download the PDFs: HERE for the colorful cards and HERE for the black and white ones
2. Print them out, two-sided, scaled to 100%, on heavy paper or card stock
3. Cut the cards out along the trim marks (you can connect the trim marks with a ruler and a pencil if you are cutting with scissors)
4. Write something super sweet on the back and post them to your friends!



Don't forget to show me how you use them, I'd love to see your results. Share the links to your blog posts in the comments or tag your instagram pictures with #paperplanestationery.

NOTE: Feel free to use my PDFs for any kind of personal projects. Please, do not modify the files and do not sell your print outs. Thank you!

Lately on Instagram



It's been a while since I posted my last Instagram round up. It has been ignored a bit during my busy summer time. Recently I've gotten back onto taking pictures of my everyday life and I am happy to share these bits with you again. The picture above shows the coast area that is very close to our neighborhood. We are lucky to be living so close to the sea now. I love taking walks and bike rides along the coast (and snapping pictures of boats), especially on nice sunny days.



1. My cat and I love the view from the windows in our apartment. Looks like we live in a forest when actually there is a really busy road right behind those trees.
2. Here is the road I mentioned. Can you guess which of these houses is the one we live in?
3. A tiny notebook in the making.
4. One of the notebooks I made for Kliffa Fashion.
5. Collections.
6. A glimpse at my process of making another Kliffa notebook.
7. Pretty excited about the minimalistic look of this new pattern for Paper Plane Stationery.
8. Some more notebooks for Kliffa Fashion (yes, that's what I spent most of my time doing last month).
9. Have been especially inspired with natural linen fabrics, so a new mini-collection of hard-cover notebooks is coming in the shop soon!

FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM

Smoothie of the Month: Green Smoothie

green smoothie recipe

September has started and it's time for another smoothie recipe! This has truly been a smoothie of the past month for me, as I have been drinking green smoothies almost every morning. And that's what I'm planning to do all the time now! It feels so good to start a day with a glass full of freshness, vitamins and energy. It's also been an easy way for me to make consuming greens and veggies a habit. I try to eat fresh salads every day, but I often skip it, as sometimes our meals are pretty full of other things. Now I can be sure I consume a bunch of greens as well as some fresh fruit every day. Somehow it even makes me more motivated have some salad later during the day.

There are loads of recipes for green smoothies out there. If you like trying out different combinations I totally recommend you following @simplegreensmoothies on instagram, they share new recipes every day. As for me, I like my smoothie very green. I love when it "tastes green". Sometimes I just mix all the green veggies and fruit I can find in the fridge. But this is my classic go-to recipe. I also added a couple of options of what you can add to mix up the taste if you are not a big fan of greens. But I promise you, even if you find the taste of greens weird in your smoothie at first, you'll get used to it very fast and you'll love it!

green smoothie ingredients



Green Smoothie (serves two):

1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or any other non-dairy milk)
1/2 cup cucumber
1 green apple (Granny Smith)
handful of spinach
handful of kale
2 teaspoons chia seeds
2 teaspoons maple syrup

Optional:
1/2 avocado (for extra calories)
or
couple slices of mango or pineapple, fresh or canned (for a more fruity taste)

Mix chia seeds with a little bit of water. Let them soak while you are preparing the rest of the ingredients (at least for 5 minutes), mixing from time to time with a spoon. Place the rest of the ingredients into a blender. Add soaked chia seeds and mix until smooth. Pour into a glass, sprinkle with chia and flax seeds and enjoy!




Have you been making green smoothies? I want to know your favorite combinations!

Make Your Own Yarn from Old T-shirts



I love to crochet! It is so meditative and relaxing. Plus if you crochet while watching one of your guilty pleasure TV shows you don't feel as guilty, cause you're creating something at the same time. For me it's been online classes rather than TV shows lately, but you get the idea :)

Recently I've been really into crocheting with chunky yarns. I love it when you can see the stitch detail so well in the finished products. And I love to hold a huge solid crochet hook in my hand, it really makes me feel I'm working on something large and important. Crocheting with chunky yarn is also much faster than with regular yarns. Of course, I enjoy the process, but I also love to see the finished product in just a couple of hours!



If you are a knitter or crocheter you know what I'm talking about when I say this hobby is pricey. Yarns can get quite expensive, especially when made of natural and organic materials. And chunky types of yarn are often even more expensive than regular ones. So I found a way to make amazing chunky yarns myself and repurpose something old at the same time! I'll show you how. It's super easy!


MATERIALS

For this project you will need old t-shirts and it is important to choose the ones that don't have any seams on the sides. It is also good if they have no printed design or just a small one that occupies the top part of the t-shirt. I used a couple of my husband's old tees and bought a couple on a flee market. When you have a choice, grab the ones of larger sizes, you'll get more yarn from them. I got some XXL tees from the flee market and got larger yarn balls from them than from my skinny husband's old t-shirts.


INSTRUCTIONS



1. Cut the hem off from the bottom of the t-shirt.

2&3. Start cutting around the bottom keeping 1 - 1.5 cm (around 1/2 inch) from the edge. Don't worry if you don't cut perfectly straight, your cut won't be seen after you do the next step. Try to keep the width approximately same along the way, so your "yarn" will the the same thickness throughout.

4. You can do this step after you finish cutting, but I prefer to do it as I go. Stretch the "yarn" with your hands until it curls in. This step lets it look more like yarn rather than a ribbon, plus it adds length.

5. Cut off when you reach a sleeve (or printed design if there's one on your t-shirt).

6. Roll your yarn into a ball and you're done! Get you hook or needles out!


I hope you will try this out and I'd love to see your results!