Eco Friendly Gift Guide




Many of you are probably done with your Christmas gift shopping, but as I mentioned in my previous post, this year I am a little late with buying gifts because of all the holiday orders (which I am so happy for, thanks guys!) and a couple of Christmas markets I am participating in. So I am still on the look out for gifts for some of my friends and relatives. This year I am trying to be as eco-conscious as possible. Gift giving can easily result in buying and getting too much stuff you don't really need. This year my goals are to give thoughtful gifts that the receivers will actually use and to support small eco friendly businesses when buying them. Another thing I am trying to do is to give hints to my relatives that I don't really need anything (unless they are prepared to buy a Vitamix :) ) and that I would be totally happy with a cake or a bottle of good red wine as a gift.

As a result of my search for eco friendly gifts I compiled this gift guide for those of you who still need gift ideas and try to be friendly to the environment during this time of year when a lot of purchasing has to be done.



1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6



Free Printable: Holiday Gift Tags



Have you started buying Christmas presents yet? I know people who have bought everything before November started and others who don't even want to talk about Christmas before December. I usually start planning what gifts I'd like to give in October and try to buy (or at least order) them all before December starts. This year I am a little late. I have a couple of gifts purchased already, but I still have no idea what to give to others. The only thing I planned this year is to not buy any gifts from large chain stores and support makers and small businesses instead. I was hoping to make some of the gifts myself, but now I am not so sure if I'll have the time. I should seriously hurry up, especially if I want to order some of the gifts online!

Anyways, I wanted to also make something special for you to help with your gift giving this year. I designed these Christmas tree themed gift tags to make your wrapping a little more special. You can print these for yourself at home or send them to your local printer. I printed mine on my favorite brown recycled paper. The file has a white background, which means you can make your gift tags in any color by printing them on colorful paper or card stock.



INSTRUCTIONS


1. Download the printable pdf (HERE in A4 and HERE in letter size)
2. Print the file scaling to 100% on heavy paper or card stock. Experiment with paper colors!
3. Cut out the circles and punch a little hole on the top
4. Write a sweet message on the back and attach to your gift wrapping




Please note! The printable files are for personal use only. Feel free to print them out and use them for your own gift wrapping and holiday decor. Please, do not sell the files or the printed products. If you publish them on your blog, make sure to include a link to this post. Thank you!


Make Your Own Tiny Notebooks



In my 5 Tips on Dealing with Procrastination post I mentioned that I like to make tiny notebooks for myself for keeping daily to-do lists. It is handy to have only a few lines per page so I am not tempted to plan too much for one work day. I also like to make these notebooks myself, because I get to use my leftover materials. Plus they get finished pretty fast and there isn't much use for them once they're full, so I don't feel bad about throwing them away. You can make a bunch of them in one day and be set for your daily to-do's for several months ahead. You can also use them for other purposes, like jotting down ideas or making tiny sketches. These notebooks are great for carrying around in your pocket or purse. If you'd like to make these for yourself, follow the tutorial below, they are really easy to make! You can leave them blank or print lined pages using the free PDF I included for you!



MATERIALS


- carton (I used A4 sheets as well as pieces of scrap carton)
- printer paper
- lined pages printable PDF (download here)
- colorful markers, paints or anything you would like to decorate your notebook covers with
- trimmer or scissors and ruler
- stapler
- utility knife and cutting mat (optional)
- bone folder (opional)


INSTRUCTIONS



1. Cut your carton into 8 cm wide strips. I used A4 size carton sheets and only measured the width at this point, but if you use scraps of carton or other sheet sizes make sure your strips at not less than 16 cm long. Each strip is going to make one notebook cover.

2. Decorate your covers. I used markers, but you can get creative with this part. Try collages, rubber stamping, watercolor, stickers. This step doesn't necessarily have to be done at this point. I like to decorate my covers right away, because I cover the whole carton strips with my designs. But if you want your design to be, for example, in the center of the front cover, it is better to do it after step 9.

3. Fold each of your carton strips in half. You can use bone folder for a sharper fold.

4. Print out your pages (you can download free printable PDF here). Use the "two-sided" setting on your printer. The PDF is designed for A4, but if you use letter size just print it in 100% and you will get the same result. If you want your pages to be blank, just skip the printing. You can also design your own pages! Cut your printed paper in 8 cm wide strips, the same way as you did with the carton in step 1. You will need 10 strips for each notebook.

5. Fold each strip of paper in half.

6. Measure your folded pages to be 8 cm wide and cut off the edges. Now you have 8x8 cm folded pages.

7. Take 10 folded sheets and put them inside each other. Do that for each notebook.

8. Place each set of 10 folded sheets inside a cover.

9. Measure your notebook to be 8 cm wide and cut off the excess edges. You can use your trimmer if it is sharp and sturdy enough to cut that thickness. Alternatively, you can use a utility knife with a ruler. Remember to have your cutting mat underneath to keep your table surface undamaged.

10. Now add two staples to the spine of your notebook. You will need a stronger stapler for this and it shouldn't be too tiny. If your notebook is too wide to fit into your stapler, reduce the width repeating step 9.

11. Done! Now fill your notebooks with your plans and ideas!



Are you using daily to-do lists? Will you try making these notebooks to make your planning and organizing more fun? I'd love to see your results and ideas!


My Helsinki: Didrichsen Art Museum and Backyard



I am bit late with this post as I've taken these photographs over a month ago, but I really want to show you this beautiful place. This was my first time visiting Didrichsen Art Museum in Helsinki. My husband and I went to see the exhibition of Edward Munch's works and as much as we loved the exhibition (especially his prints!) we were also pleasantly surprised by the museum building itself and its backyard. It feels more like a little park with pine trees, blueberry bushes, beautiful sea view and a collection of sculptures hiding in the corners. We had a very relaxing time walking around, listening to the waves and looking for hidden art treasures. The museum building, designed by Viljo Revell, one of Finnish best known architects, is very interesting too. I loved the huge windows that reflect blue sky and water as well as cozy rooms on the inside, that feel so quiet and tiny even when full of visitors.




Smoothie of the Month: Strawberry Carrot Pineapple from SGS



Last month I joined a 30-day green smoothie challenge created by the two lovely ladies from Simple Green Smoothies. The challenge was to drink green smoothies every day for a month. To help with that Jadah and Jen were sending the participants new smoothie recipes every week along with a shopping list that had all the necessary ingredients. I have been drinking green smoothies (almost) every day for over a month already before the challenge started, so that wasn't new to me. But I was really looking forward to try out new recipes, because my green smoothies have been pretty much the same every day. I wasn't as active as I was hoping to be in the challenge, as I didn't follow all of the recipes they sent me, but I've tried most of them. I found so many new delicious combinations! And there was so much variety, there were sweet, spicy, sour, creamy and even chocolate smoothies! I would definitely suggest all of you who would like to add a healthy habit to your lifestyle to join in the challenge, next one is in January and you can sign up here, it's free!

So for this month's smoothie I wanted to share my favorite recipe from the October challenge. I enjoyed a lot of their recipes, but this Strawberry Carrot Pineapple smoothie was truly a special one. It has a little weird color, which comes from the mix of the colorful fruits and veggies, but it is delicious! I've never thought of adding carrots to a smoothie before and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it adds a really great taste to it. I am definitely going to make this smoothie over and over again as well as add carrots to my other smoothie recipes.





Strawberry Carrot Pineapple Smoothie (serves two)

2 cups fresh spinach
1 cup unsweetened coconut water
1 medium sized carrot
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup pineapple (fresh or canned)


Blend coconut water and spinach first, then add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Enjoy!




Hope you love this smoothie and if you have other smoothie recipes that include carrots I'd love to know!


5 Tips on Dealing with Procrastination and Laziness



Recently I have been working a lot on my productivity. I’ll be completely honest with you, I am an extremely lazy person and a professional procrastinator. This is something I don’t like to admit about myself but I had to face it in order to fight it. When I worked in places where I had a boss, company’s clients and deadlines, being productive was not that hard, as I was accountable to someone else. Now that I am trying to be my own boss and set up my own deadlines sometimes I seriously feel like I am at war with my laziness and procrastination.

Luckily what I definitely love is life-long learning so I took this problem in my hands and decided I will deal with it until it is not slowing down my work anymore. So I started watching courses and reading articles to find all the advice I can use to get myself more motivated and hard working. In the beginning I thought I am not the type of person who can just change the way I work, develop all those new habits and get extremely organized. But the time came when I got so frustrated I had to start putting all that advice into action. And what helped me a lot is knowing about the experiences of people who have been exactly where I was and managed to overcome laziness and become much more productive.

This is my first time writing life and work advice type of post and to be honest I am a bit nervous. I am no productivity expert in any way, I have just started learning and I can’t wait to learn more, because there is still a lot for me to work on. But these are the tips that have helped me so far and I really wanted to share them with you, because some of you might find them helpful too.



1. Make a schedule

I keep a weekly planner where I write down everything that I plan to do during the week. Those are mostly plans that happen on a certain day at a certain time. I try to schedule everything: meetings and classes, band practices, movies and concerts I want to go to, museum visits, flea markets, yoga and swimming workouts, even friend meetings and visits. Sometimes on my bad days I can be too lazy to even do the things I like to do. That is why I really try to plan even the fun stuff. Whenever there is an exhibition I’d like to visit, I ask my husband when he has free time and we decide on a day we go see it. This might be too much for some of you, but it really works for us. Since I started doing it we’ve been missing out on a lot less happenings than before. In our climate it is so easy to decide to stay warm and cozy at home rather than go somewhere, but when it is scheduled it has to happen.

2. Daily to-do lists

I am a little obsessed with to-do lists. I especially enjoy crossing off the tasks I’ve finished. Sometimes when I’ve done something that’s not on the list, I’ll still write it down just so I can cross it off. Seriously, I’m that obsessed! I used to keep a huge list of everything that needs to be done. That list kept growing all the time and there were always more tasks to do than the ones I crossed out. That wasn’t really rewarding, so I changed to having weekly lists. That worked a bit better, but every time I looked at the list I didn’t know where to start. I saw all the tasks on the list and felt overwhelmed with the amount of work I had. I spent more time worrying about how I’ll get all the stuff done than doing the actual work, so many tasks got moved to the next weeks.

Then I learned something that totally solved the problem for me (thanks to April from Blacksburg Belle!): daily to-do’s. I still keep my huge weekly to-do list. But the only time I look at it is at the end of the day to cross off the things I’ve done and pull out the tasks for the next day. I make daily to-do lists the night before and try to plan one day at a time. In the morning I look at the list for the day and only concentrate on the tasks on that list not thinking at all about any other work for that week. It is very important to plan a bit less than you think you can do in one day. Once you’ve finished all your daily tasks, you can do an extra one or two from the weekly list if there is time left. It’s better to do more than you’ve planned than not having enough time to do everything on the list and stress out. When you do that for a while you will learn how much work you usually accomplish in a day and how much time each type of tasks takes. Then you can plan your days even better.

Recently I started making tiny notebooks for myself to write my daily to-do’s in. They work better than regular notebooks, because they have a small amount of lines per page, so I can't plan too much for one day. I’ll share how I make them in an upcoming post!



3. Get inspired by successful people

One of my favorite ways to get motivated is to listen to someone telling their success story. When I hear of a person who has been where I am and managed to get through, succeed, learn how to deal with the same problems I have, I can’t help but try to use their advice. When I know there are people with similar goals working really hard to reach them I feel ashamed to be lazy and still hope to reach those goals. I love watching online courses on creative business, blogging, marketing and so on while I bind my notebooks, sketch, cook, eat, clean or wash the dishes. You can also listen to podcasts while commuting or working out. That way you keep your brain working all the time, you get new ideas and things to work on. Sometimes after watching a really good online course I have so many new ideas I can’t wait to get to work!

4. Start with easy tasks

I know, this is a total opposite from what you usually hear. And I agree, doing the hardest task first thing in the morning is a good thing to do and feels really rewarding. And that is what you should do most of the time. But this tip goes for the bad days, when you get up and you don’t want to even think of work. All you want to do is lie on your bed and watch the lamest tv shows you can find. I have those days sometimes and I hate them. This can happen when you get sick, haven’t slept enough or the previous day was a really hard one. For example, when I play shows with my band I am completely drained the next day. I put so much energy into live performances that it really takes time to gain it back. Other times these days just come randomly and you can’t really predict them. You wake up in the morning and you know it right away, this is the day when it’s gonna be really hard to get things done.

On days like that it really helps to start with easy tasks. In my work this task is folding paper. I really don’t need to concentrate, I just take a bunch of paper and fold each sheet in half. It seriously requires zero energy and zero brain. So whenever I feel like I can’t really do anything today, I start folding paper. And you know what? A lot of the times this super boring process somehow inspires me to get to work. It gets my juices flowing, my brain starts thinking about notebooks and I might even get new ideas, start sketching or taking photographs. Even if I can’t get to other tasks and folding paper is all I can do that day, it is still better than nothing. On my high energy day I can save the time I would spend on folding and use it for some harder tasks.

If your work does not include any boring tasks (lucky you!) you can also do something around the house (or office), like cleaning, washing the dishes, organizing your desk or the folders on your computer. Anything that does not require much energy or brain power. Who knows, you might get into it and move to more important tasks.

5. Reward not punish

I used to always get angry at myself for not getting things done. In the end of a bad day I would think about how I didn’t manage to get everything done, how I am so lazy. I was thinking about how I'll never be successful if I am going to keep being lazy and procrastinating. And that is true, you can’t be successful if you are lazy and can’t get things done. But punishing yourself for it does not really help. So nowadays I try to reward myself for being productive. Sometimes with a nice dinner or desert, other times just thinking about what a great day it was and how well I’ve done. And if it was not a productive day, well, it’s ok, happens to everyone. I can just think of how I can make the next day more productive. I know, all this “happy thoughts” stuff doesn’t always sound like real advice. And I agree, that actions, not thoughts, is what keeps your work moving forward. But the way you think about your work does contribute to the mood you’re in and bad mood does reduce your motivation. So I say happy thoughts for happy work day!



I really hope these tips will help some of you get more productive and organized. And if you are a productivity guru already let us know what helps you stay productive? What motivates you on those lazy days? I'd love to hear your tips too!


Life in Phone Photos



Time for the next phone snapshots roundup! I gave a new name for this series, because I thought I don't want to limit myself to only instagram pictures. I take a lot of photos with my phone which don't end up on my instagram account, but I might still want to share it with you guys here on the blog. The main purpose of the series is still the same: to show you little peeks into my life and my studio. The picture above shows my brand new 2015 planner collection. They are available in the shop already!



Rock and sand in the central park / Free printable postcards I shared in one of my previous blog posts.



Beautiful backyard of Didrichsen Art Museum. Will share more photos from there soon!



Fall leaves in the park a few weeks ago. Now it's already snowing!



2015 planners in the making.



Ready planners and new notebooks.


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.