Happy Friday + Giveaway!

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Happy Friday! This giveaway is all cuteness, my friends. Tuttle Publishing sent me this darling book: 501 Enchanting Embroidery Designs, and I was very, very tempted to keep this for myself. Normally I would have requested two copies (one for me, one for a giveaway), but these days I’m delving deeply into the minimalistic approach of letting go of things that I know I won’t get around to anytime soon. When the moment comes when I’m ready for some ridiculously adorable embroidery, I’ll purchase the book.

As such, I want to offer it up to you. The book is divided up into five parts that don’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but that might be because I’m not well-versed in embroidery. Part 1 is called “Little Scandinavian Sketches”, and these are probably my favorite designs. Here are a couple spreads from this section:

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I loved these motifs from part 2, “Sweet Little Sketches”:

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I noticed that the image above features only some of the letters of the alphabet, and it felt like a sign of some sort to see the letters “K” and “M” and “S”. I have a bad habit of trying to make everything mean something.

Part 3 goes into “Cross Stitch Motifs” (I didn’t take any photos of this section, sorry) and part 4 encourages us with the title “Let’s Embroider” and displays ideas for items that could be enhanced with some extra stitchery. There are even some sewing patterns included (e.g. the potholders).

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Part five finishes off with embroidery techniques followed by the motifs/designs that can be traced.

Crazy cute, right?

I’m back on the deadline horse, so I am feeling not so sanguine (I had to look up that word before including it here — do you ever do that? A word pops into your mind to use in a sentence but you have only a vague idea of what it actually means, which could result in embarrassment if left unchecked. In this case, I was happy to verify that sanguine means “optimistic, positive, confident, especially in an apparently bad or difficult situation.” Works for me!). My non-sanguineness is partly because of the heat that feels oppressive in our unventilated house, and partly because of the heavy food I’ve been eating. I’m craving light, healthy summer dishes.

So, with that in mind, to enter the giveaway, any comment will do as usual, but I would love a summer dish/recipe recommendation. Sweet or savory! The giveaway will be open until next Friday, August 5th. Good luck and have a fabulous weekend!

Oh what a big day
Tomorrow is K’s birthday
TEN! Oh my, oh my

Procrastinating

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I’m one of those super productive procrastinators. At the moment, I have a load of laundry going, dinner is prepped, I’ve cleaned off my desk, unpacked the luggage meant for the canceled teepee camping, paid bills, and have polished off a satisfying meal consisting of an avocado-tomato-egg sandwich. I even almost started to bake bread from scratch.

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In short, I’ve done everything except what I’m supposed to be doing: working on the illustrations for book #3. But look! I’ve taken a small sampling of my many, many watercolor sets and spent an unconscionable number of minutes arranging them for a photo and I’ve also been painting color charts because those are undeniably useful though admittedly not necessary.

The surest way for me to get motivated to take care of domestic duties and superfluous tasks is to dangle a work-related deadline in my direction. It doesn’t matter how much I enjoy the actual work for said deadline, I seem to find ways to avoid doing it until push comes to shove. Sigh.

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Alright, enough procrastinating. I will be back on Friday with a lovely giveaway!

P.S. The photos show my favorite watercolors that I use the most these days:

Schmincke

Maimeri Blu

Angora

Greenleaf & Blueberry

Kuretake Gansai Tambi (I have the 18- and 36-color set — these may actually be my very very favorite)

P.P.S. The giveaway bundle winner is Audie, congrats!!

Good-bye Little Girl Room

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Poor M pulled a muscle in his back on Friday, so we figured teepee camping was probably not the best idea. Since the camp site is so close and the rate was on the economical side, we didn’t feel too guilty about canceling and had a quiet, at-home fête of three.

But K had been looking forward to the teepee and was a bit bummed out (I suspect what she really wanted was the s’mores). Partly to assuage her and partly because we’ve been talking about it forever, K and I hit IKEA to finally update her room from pink and purple sparkle-ness to something a little more grown-up. I was rather impressed by her decisiveness when it came to selecting the rug, bedding, and curtains. As you can see, she went with a subdued palette. That swivel-chair was her favorite purchase, fyi. I was surprised that she chose black because it comes in cute colors like green, pink, blue, light grey…

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The Nordis sheer curtains were too long, so I shortened them, which was the highlight of my sewing over the weekend though I am working on my secret sewing project for M (spoiler: it’s not going well – if you saw my sneak peek on Instagram, that is by far the best-looking part of the project).

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This. This curtain rod and double brackets had me pulling out my hair, proving, yet again, that I am so not handy. “Mama, there’s an awful lot of ‘ow!’, ‘oops!’, ‘AAAAAGH’s going on,” K commented, as I tried to wrangle the power drill to tame the uncooperative screws. The curtain brackets are from IKEA as well and a monkey could have easily installed them, but I am obviously not as dextrous as a monkey.

Because K’s room is east-facing, it’s like a broiler in there during the summer months, but her original curtain rod had broken and we’d been trying to shield the sun with foam boards that I happened to have on hand. Not a classy look, let me tell you. I’ve known for a long time that I should put up blackout curtains, but laziness kept winning out, and I was willing to live with the shanty-town look.

But it’s my girl’s 10th birthday in five days and she deserves better. Clearly sheer curtains weren’t going to cut it. Hence the double curtain rods and blackout curtains. I’m quite proud that I finally got everything measured, screwed in and acceptably installed. The curtain rod with the glass finial is from Amazon as is the grey-ish white blackout curtains — they were a good deal! They initially looked really cheap, but I have to say that I’m pleasantly surprised by  how put-together it all seems.

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All this talk of curtains and bedding is well and good, but the most important part of her room is directly across from her bunk bed: the studio. This is where my musical child practices her instruments and composes songs and generally blows me away. She recently recorded a song with her piano/guitar/voice instructor (yes, one teacher for all three) and I couldn’t believe it was K when I heard it in the recording studio. I tried to upload the MP3, but it says the size exceeds the limit for WordPress…oh technology! At any rate, it’s pretty awesome to watch the blossoming of a talent through perseverance.

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And then, of course, there are the signs of approaching teenage-hood on her door.

Alright, all that drilling and redecorating wiped me out! Hope you all had a fabulous weekend!

Happy Friday + Randomness

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Happy Friday! While we were in Michigan with M’s family a couple of weeks ago, my mother-in-law quietly handed me a box while I was reading and nodding off on their cottage deck. It was from her mother, my grandmother-in-law as it were, who passed away last September. “Sanae,” her elegant handwritten script had labeled the plain Kraft paper box.

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Inside was a meticulously folded origami box.

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And inside of that, beautiful shibori-dyed fabric. Ronia Marie is a textile artist based in Indiana, where M’s family is from.

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I love ’em. I love, especially, that a woman I’d met only twice who hardly knew me but enfolded me into her family, selected such a thoughtful and appropriate gift.  And that an ancient art form from Japan is practiced with care in Indiana — the heartland of America — where my husband’s family has deep, deep roots. It all feels interconnected.

These handkerchief-sized habotai silk pieces are proffered as jewelry. K immediately beelined for them as soon as I started snapping these photos. I guess we’ll be sharing. We’ll wear shibori bracelets together and think about Great-Grandmom as K knows her, and we’ll learn more about dyeing fabric because I actually don’t know a lot about it and have wanted to dip my toes into what looks like messy fun. Have you done any fabric dyeing? I adore Morgan’s experimentation with shibori (I’ve been asking her to give me lessons for years), and Ute has featured a gorgeous book (I can only find the German version online — I might have to get it anyway) and A Verb For Keeping Warm (of the tunic pattern from earlier this week) also has a heavy focus on textile dyeing — this book by AVFKW owner Kristine Vejar looks amazing.

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Anyway. Wishing you all a terrific weekend! We’re gearing up for this weekend and will be celebrating up a storm for M’s birthday.

A little ferry
Will take us to an island
To our sweet teepee

 

Potential Birthday Tops for a 10-Year-Old

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July is teeming with birthdays in our cozy circle of family and friends, and it feels like we’re celebrating every other day. But the two that matter the most in our household are coming up this weekend and next. This Saturday is M’s special day and we’ve got a teepee booked. He loves those teepees, and I hope we can slumber without any moose scares.

And then the following Saturday, K turns 10!!! A while ago, I found this amazing silk fabric with pink horses and nothing was going to stop me from getting it for K even though a) it’s silk, which is an impractical textile option for a kid and b) it wasn’t, as I’d initially thought, pink unicorns. K is going through a humongo unicorn phase right now.

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I know that she’ll adore it though.

I’ve been so scattered lately. It wasn’t until yesterday that it dawned on me that I have less than two weeks until her birthday and I’ve done so little planning. I’ve totally dropped the ball on this one. If nothing else, I’m determined to sew her a sweet top because she noticed that I’ve been sewing for myself again and said, “No fair! I want you to sew for me!!”

Because the fabric was a bit spendy, I only got a yard and a quarter, which limits what I can make. I’ve narrowed my choices down to the following:

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From this book.

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From this book.

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From this book.

I’m leaning towards that last one. The silk would flow so prettily and I might be able to reduce the width a bit to squeeze the pattern pieces out of the small amount I have. What do you think? Which one would you go with? Or do you know of other tween-worthy patterns that could be made from 1.25 yards? I suppose I could combine it with some lawn fabric I have (which is what I might have to do with the very top option with the lace inset), but I don’t know…this one deserves to shine on its own.

I better get crackin’. There’s a sewing project I want to try for M as well, but that one is fairly ambitious so I highly doubt I’ll be able to complete it in time. You know me, always biting off more than I can chew — what would be the sewing equivalent of that? Threading more than the eye of the needle can hold? Cutting more fabric than the pattern requires? My brain is not cooperating…More later!