Rockstars

Oh the days! The weeks! The months! I feel like I’m operating at warp speed and am hurtling through a galaxy littered with to-do meteors. Things are good, though. It’s mega-exciting to see the feedback from all the pattern testers and I am so so so so so so close to getting my manuscript completely done. I feel lucky that other wonderful non-publishing opportunities keep popping up and I’m spending a lot of time asking myself, “Is this something I really want to do? Is this the best use of my very short life? Am I fully using my skills and talents?” These are tough questions to answer sometimes.

Speaking of talents, I always marvel at K’s musical acumen. It’s something I don’t possess — I’m sure I’ve told you at some point that I have on record the lowest score in the history of a certain karaoke machine in Tokyo. Did you know that K is in a band? That’s her and her bandmates above. They have a gig at a coffee shop coming up in a few weeks and have been practicing regularly with their music teacher, Lacey. K does guitar, bass and has also written some original songs. AR, on the left is on keyboard. AM on the right is a spectacular drummer. All three girls alternate on vocals. Their band is called “In Tandem.” I love it.

K and AR have been friends since elementary school and all three are in 7th grade (K and AM go to the same school). They’ve had a couple of recitals together at the building where they have their lessons, but this will be their first “real” performance at an outside venue. We’ll see how it goes — I get the sense that K is wary.

For now, they’re practicing hard and M is designing a band poster for the show (the photo below is one of the photo options I provided). A band poster! How cool is that? Let’s hope that the event doesn’t get canceled due to jangled nerves or unforeseen complications….what brave, beautiful creatures these girls are. I don’t know if I would have been able to go up on stage at their age. From my vantage point, they seem like true rockstars.

Okay, back to work-like things for me. Mid-winter break is almost over and K and I have been “remodeling” our bathroom all week in-between my book editing sessions. It’s looking so fresh and clean! We just went to IKEA for a new medicine cabinet and fingers crossed that we can install it successfully…

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

~xo

Call for Pattern Testers for My Next Book! [CLOSED]

Update: There’s been an overwhelming response, and I have lots of fabulous testers signed up. THANK YOU!

Hello, hello! I’ve been diligently working away behind-the-scenes and my next book is starting to come together in a lovely way. It’s SO exciting. This is my favorite part: when the structure of the book is mostly done but there’s still enough wriggle room for changes. I can practically feel the elation of bursting through the finish line, but it’s also continuously and thrillingly uncertain.

So. Do you love sewing? Are you interested in getting a sneak peek into my new book? Are you a stickler for details? Then perhaps you’d like to be a pattern tester? That would be so tremendously awesome!!! This new book is a slightly different flavor from Sewing Happiness. It’s been pure fun and the projects are very beginner friendly and kid-friendly. All of the projects can be whipped up in an afternoon or less. If you’d like to be a tester, please fill out the Google Form below and I’ll send you a PDF with the pattern to test by February 8th. You’ll have a couple of weeks to work on the pattern and in order to meet my deadline, I would need all feedback by February 22nd. Because I’m so grateful for any and all help, I’ll be popping a little treat in the mail for you so please make sure to fill out the address fields. 🙂

I’m looking forward to being able to share it in full next year, my friends!! Sometimes I wish the book process didn’t take its sweet old time but then again, that’s what makes it all the more rewarding. Patience is a virtue and all that.

OK! Here’s the form (if you can’t see it, please click on this link):

P.S. The photo is actually an outtake from Sewing Happiness styled by my wonderful friend Allegra Hsiao, shot by me.

Happy 2019 + Secret Valentine Exchange Hiatus

Happy New Year!!! I hope 2019 has started off in a good way for you, my friends! K and a friend baked these lovely macarons a few days ago, and they’re so delicious — a perfect way to begin the year. She tells me that they used this video and it must be a darn excellent tutorial because the macarons came out very profesh.

So I’ve been mulling over how to make this announcement. Typically, my first post of the year is all about the Secret Valentine Exchange and I was keeping my fingers crossed that 2019 would be no different. However, when the numbers reached over 500 last year, we were astounded and delighted but also overwhelmed by the amount of communication and follow-up such a large number of people required. We have loved loved LOVED hosting the exchange for the past five years. It’s one of the most beautiful and meaningful projects I’ve ever been part of, made extra special because it was a collaboration with Ute, who is one of my favorite humans on earth. But if you’ve been following either or both of us, you’ve probably noticed that our online presence has dramatically declined because a lot has been going on in real life. I tried to figure out a way to keep SVE rolling while working on two books and other projects that I don’t often talk about here, but I had to admit I would be setting myself up for a very stressful start of 2019. Ditto for Ute. A hiatus made a lot of sense for this year.

Somewhat related, “macaron” — according to Chowhound — shares a root meaning with the oft-confused and different cookie named “macaroons.” Both names are derived from the Italian word ammaccare, which means “to crush”. It’s crushing (in a not-so-great way) to put SVE on hold, but if we want to crush it (in a great way) in 2019, the extra time will be used productively and with a different kind of love.

From the bottom of our hearts, we are so very grateful for all the past participants. It’s called a “hiatus” because I truly hope that we’ll be back next year or the year after. On the upside, one of the things we discovered last year was that there is a veritable explosion of similar gift exchanges these days. Perhaps if you’d be so inclined, you could leave a comment with some of your faves as alternative options?

And for those of you that might be eager to do some sewing and want to get a sneak peek into my next book, I’ll be putting out a call for pattern testers in a few weeks. Stay tuned!!!!

Holiday Tags + Wrapping Paper Designs Round-Up

Hello, hello! In an unprecedented display of organization, I’ve managed to get all of my holiday preparations done well in advance of the big Christmas day. This feat required some hustling on my part, and I paid the price by getting a teensy weensy bit sick. I’m almost 100% but I was pretty sniffly there for a few days. I have big book deadlines coming up so I worked extra hard to clear my calendar — I want to focus on work while my mom is visiting and having loads of fun with K during winter break, but now I’m lounging about sipping ginger tea and getting some much-needed snoozes so I can get all healthy. It’s always an excellent idea to listen to my body.

Since I’m no stranger to the last-minute wrapping frenzy and because you seemed to like the tags I offered up a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to round up some of the downloadable/printable holiday tags and wrapping paper I’ve designed over the years just in case they’re helpful for you. For even more options, head on over to my brand new Patreon page – there’s a post there with a mega list of downloadables.

I hope you’re having a wonderful season, my friends! 2018 has been a phenomenal year for me, and I can’t wait to see what 2019 will bring. I do most of my detailed updating through my Patreon newsletter now, but I’ll be sure to post here regularly in the new year — at least once or twice a month! That’s the goal.

Wishing you the warmest, coziest, joyful-est holidays, and I’ll see you back here in ’19!

Below are the printable tags and wrapping papers (all can be printed on 8.5 x 11″ or A4 paper). Enjoy!

TAGS

Bleu Tags

Animal Tags

Dala Horses Tags

dala-horses-example

Hedgehog/Unicorn/Cat Tags

WRAPPING PAPER

Cat Wrapping Paper

Hedgehog Wrapping Paper

 

Unicorn Wrapping Paper

unicorn-paper1

2018 Advent Calendar + Free Holiday Tags

Hello, my friends! I’m testing out different blog posting schedules to see what feels right and so far, once or twice a month seems the best fit. I’m all about not overdoing anything nowadays, and methinks it’s the ticket to not getting sick. Both K and M came down with the sniffles in the last few weeks and I’ve been impervious to the germs (knocking furiously on wood as I type this).

Let’s talk about this year’s advent calendar shall we? I’m quite proud of this one.

About five years ago, I spotted a DIY project for paper houses on Pinterest and desperately wanted to make a winter village as an advent calendar. However. To start with, the time commitment was obvious — that’s a lot of cutting and folding and gluing. I don’t have one of those handy dandy Silhouette or Cricut machines and had no interest in owning one. Since I tend to procrastinate, I would come up with a different idea at the last minute every year.

For whatever reason, this year I was on top of things. Not only did I plan out the project three weeks in advance, but I even designed the houses myself. I know. Crazy. I was going to download a bunch of free online templates but when I saw how basic the shapes were, I figured it would be easy for me to customize my own. I spent an afternoon designing and voila, I had 8 templates.

I spent maybe an hour or two a day working on the calendar for a couple of weeks. I printed the houses on my usual inkjet textured paper, of which I seem to have an endless supply. I printed three of each template for a total of 24 houses. Then I sliced out the windows and doors with an Exacto knife but used regular scissors to cut out the houses. For scoring the sections that would be folded, I used a Japanese hera, which is actually a marking tool for sewing. I don’t like to get messy, so I got these mini glue dots, which were perfect.

Now, I typically design the advent calendars in a count-down style. The visual reminder of the number of days left is fun for K, and it makes clean-up a breeze later. But I spent so long on these houses and I love the way they look so much that I wanted the whole village on display for the entire holiday season. After mulling over this situation, I landed on the idea of flameless tea lights that K could place in each house. I considered adding numbers to the houses, but I’m more of a visual minimalist. I’m lovin’ the plain white houses.

Conveniently, there are 24 tea lights in a pack. Since these tea lights only last 3 hours, we decided to light them all on Christmas Eve.

I was making excellent progress, but something was still missing. I wanted a sweet little package that K would be able to open each day and a single tea light left something to be desired, so I painted a bunch of animals. I went to town dressing them up in winter garb and labeling them with numbers, then printed these out on the same inkjet textured paper. Aren’t they cute?

I scrawled the daily activities on the back (every other day, she gets a book so I simply wrote “book” for those days).

I wrapped each tea light with an animal card and placed them in a basket, which served as the count down aspect. On a side note, I found that basket at Trader Joe’s and it’s made out of newspapers. So cool! Oh, and the books are wrapped in this super darling black-and-white paper I found at a local natural foods grocery store.

This advent calendar has been THE BEST. K absolutely adores it and I feel so happy whenever I look at the winter village displayed on top of our old upright piano. At first I put it on our credenza (photo below) but quickly realized that Katara, our cat, will think they’re her toys and scatter them willy nilly.

Can you tell that I had a blast making this calendar? I’m going to display it every year for the holidays, you betcha.

I chose a few of my favorite animals that I painted (I removed the numbers so they’re not advent specific) and made them into a free downloadable for you as a little gift from me. Just print them out on cardstock (or the inkjet textured paper that I use), cut around the shape and make sure to leave a little extra at the top to punch a hole. These make lovely gift tags!

Click on the image to download (you may need to right-click and save onto your desktop to enable printing). Please let me know if you have any issues with the download.

Well, it’s time to wrap this up and tend to other to-dos. I’m almost done with Christmas shopping and making and I have some book stuff to finish. If you’re interested, here are the other Advent Calendars from years past:

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

I hope to check in again in a couple of weeks or so! For now, I’m signing off with a “Happy Holidays!!!” from my two beloved Ks:

P.S. Katara hated the Santa hat.