Category Archives: Watercolor

Happy Thanksgiving


Just a little note to wish you and all your loved ones a spectacular Thanksgiving! We’ll have our usual unconventional movie + Chinese food Thanksgiving of ultra low stress. Since I won’t need to slave over the stove, I’ll be using the extra time to sew a recital dress for K, work on the annual Advent calendar (see previous ones here and here and here) and finish up the next Furoku (it might be a day or two late…).

I have so many thanks to give. Too many, really, and I think I’ll leave it at that. I am sending you all a flurry of good thoughts, and I’ll be back next week with some fun updates. Happy Turkey (or in my case, Dim Sum) Day!!


P.S. I will be participating in Indies First Day at Queen Anne Books on Saturday, November 28th at 10am. Stop on by if you’re around!


Things That Make You Go Calmmmmm


It’s not even Thanksgiving yet and I’m already beset by the holiday fatigue. Retailers are streaming jolly tunes about Santa and snow everywhere I turn, and I find myself scouring online sources for gift ideas and feeling overwhelmed by the choices. Luckily, I’ve been reading all of your comments from the giveaway to amp up my mindfulness cultivation toolbox. Knitting kept cropping up so I took up my needles for the first time in years even though I’m a self-proclaimed non-knitter.


It’s like riding a bicycle, I was pleased to note. My hands automatically started casting on stitches while my brain was saying, “How do I do this again?” Knit-a-row-purl-a-row…it really is a very soothing activity.


I don’t have any particular plans for this pretty indigo yarn (enough with the indigo, I’m sure you’re thinking), but if I keep going, it would make a cozy scarf. And hey, I had meant to knit a scarf last fall, remember? I’m noticing a trend: it takes about an extra year for me to fully carry out my plans since the skinny jeans are still in progress as well.

I’m still coughing, I’m sad to report. It’s throwing a wrench in my Zumba plans (I recently tagged along to a free class with a friend — I can’t help but think “Zumba” is just an exoticized name for the kind of aerobics reminiscent of the 90s, but it’s a lot of fun so I got a 5-class punchcard). I’ve had to skip the last few weeks due to the hacking that causes people to instinctively shift their bodies away from me.


But this surprise package from one of my favorites — Frances of Miss Matatabi — cheered me up and helped me forget about my health issues for a bit. What should I make with it? It’s so lovely. And indigo! The woman knows me well.


The holidays are barreling down, so I’m doodling and thinking, thinking, thinking. How to make it simple? As stress-free as possible? Thinking, thinking…

Happy Friday + Randomness



Happy Friday! K is down with yet another fever and general malaise, and she’s missed a couple of days of school this week. The prospect of trick-or-treating is looking a little dubious, much to her chagrin. I’m feeling some wooziness myself, though I’m fighting it with all my might.

When we picked up K’s costume elements last week, I spotted a Crock Pot for a good price, and remembered several friends telling me how much it can save time and money. My mom never used a slow cooker (though she went through a passionate pressure cooker phase), so I’ve been curious…

Of course, it’s still sitting in its box, awaiting the perfect comfort food recipe. And right about now, with all these flu-like symptoms zipping around, comfort food sounds wonderful. I’ve been Googling “best crock pot recipes” and Adobo chicken seems to be a thing when it comes to slow cookin’. I don’t know…I’m in the mood for something vegetarian, though I’ve got nothing against poultry. Anyone have any recommendations?

Must go make some more lemon-honey tea for K and me. Have a restful and healthy weekend, all!

Floodings, colds, oh my!
It’s been a rough week so far
Time for extra sleep

Madame Frump No More


When I was a young lass toiling over catalog page layouts amid the design-y and stylish citizens of Williams-Sonoma / Pottery Barn HQ, I used to spend a lot of time and effort on my appearance because everyone around me sashayed about in beautiful attire. One of my good friends and co-workers — he of the vintage couture connoisseurship and wearer of thrifted Ferragamo loafers — would appraise my daily outfits and give me a thumbs up or down. We had the sort of honest and hilarious relationship that was blatantly modeled after Sex and the City, except I wasn’t as cool as Carrie and he was way cooler than Stanford (though technically, we both wanted to be Carrie). One day, when I was developing what seemed suspiciously like pink eye and generally felt unsexy and un-urban, I showed up to work in a pilled, shapeless sweater and baggy pants.

My friend’s hands flew to his cheeks and he uttered in horror, “Ay Mamacita*, what happened? You look like… Madame Frump!!”

*He was from the Dominican Republic

Fast forward many, many, many years, and I am Madame Frumpin’ it hardcore. I look like that illustration above on a good day. At least that has a sporty vibe and is acceptably like the ubiquitous “momiform”. I did rustle up deeply hidden energy to wear normal clothes on the few occasions I was meeting people for the first time or for special events — it’s always a good idea not to be mistaken for a homeless person. For most of the last six months in particular, though, I’ve been reaching for pretty much the same three t-shirts and stretch pants. The other issue is that in my enthusiastic embracing of the KonMari method before I got caught up in deadlines, I’d vigorously emptied out my closet. You’d think that if I kept only what sparked joy, I would look presentable, but no, apparently dumpy clothes light me up. Perhaps in the chaos of this last year, I yearned for comfortable and forgiving garments with elastic waists.

BUT. No more, I say, no more!

Now that I’ve cleared away most of the bookishness haze and I actually have a manageable to-do list, I’m eager to revamp my handmade wardrobe. Would this be considered completely non-essential? Yes. But I am a staunch believer in the power of clothes and have had a perennial love affair with them. I’ve experienced how differently people treat me depending on how I’m dressed (let me tell you, the dirty tee and leggings combo doesn’t garner a lot of respect), but more to the point, I’m acutely aware of how I feel in clothes. Beautifully-made, well-fitting clothes are inherently uplifting and confidence boosting. And who doesn’t want a more positive and self-assured person around?

Of course, it’s going to take me a bit or maybe a lot to get to the revamped, lovely me-made wardrobe of my dreams, but I’m prepping my fabrics, sorting through my patterns, firing up my sewing machine and iron.

Goodbye Madame Frump, hellooooooo….well, something better, I hope.

Stay tuned.


Happy Friday + Randomness


It’s been quiet around here, which means things are bustling in the background. I have much to share, but one of the highlights of last week was a Little Kunoichi event. It was my last scheduled event and was held at a beautiful Japanese gift shop/gallery called KOBO. There may be some more events in the future, but that particular book reading capped what I considered the launch season. My book has been out for almost five months, can you believe it? I just found out that someone’s seen it in Madagascar!!! What??

At any rate, I’ve learned some notable tidbits from doing these events:

1. I am the worst promoter ever – I actually ran into some friends right before the event and didn’t even invite them because I was so timid about it. I’ve been tsk-tsking myself for days.

2. And when you don’t promote your own events, not many people show up (average number of attendees: 5, not including my own family members). Cozy and intimate events, these are. I was all gung ho and invited everyone and their distant second cousins to the launch party back in May, and about 100 people showed up for that event — just goes to show you that I can do it if I set my mind to it.

3. And when not many people show up, you don’t sell very many books.

I’m going to have to work on this. I’m much more comfortable in front of people now, which has been a lovely side bonus from the series of book readings I’ve done, and I’ve really beefed up my illustrating-on-the-fly skills (I offered custom illos for some of the events). I can whip up a watercolor dolphin in five minutes flat. I really love creating little paintings, especially for kids.

I’ve also been including a fun presentation about how the book came to fruition, and the part that seems to make people perk up is the cover options we went through. I’ve collaged together the versions that I presented up there, and the one of the lower left corner was the winner, but with a caveat: the colors needed to be brighter. The background and ninja uniform then went through various hue iterations, and it was fascinating to see the business side of developing a cover. It is, despite the general pleas to never judge a book by its cover, the most important element. Everyone took it very seriously. Which is pretty funny when talking about ninja girls and pet bunnies.

Alright, must go focus on the elusive sorcery that is book-making. Will be back some time next week!!

How do these weeks zoom?
Could’ve sworn it was Monday
but no, weekend time…

Happy Friday, and happy weekend to all!


Happy Friday + Randomness


Happy Friday! Lately, I’ve been spending a few minutes every morning with my watercolors, painting whatever comes to mind. As a way to chronicle my daily paintbrush musings, I’ve been posting them on instagram, and it fills me with tiny bubbles of joy to have this little ritual (don’t roll your eyes!). There’s really no rhyme or reason to what I paint and I don’t know how long I’ll continue this.

As I’m wont to do, I’ve been thinking a lot about this whole “follower” culture that’s the norm these days. On Wednesday, I had to block an IG follower with a provocative profile image of a male appendage front and center, and then realized that a slew of my so-called followers are spammers of similar ilk. It’s sad.

Not because I don’t have as many followers as I’d initially thought — that doesn’t bother me in the least, but because it taints my experience of something I was genuinely enjoying. On Pinterest, I have over 20,000 followers, but I’m sure most of them are in the business involving handcuffs and poles and disco lighting. And then there’s the whole insecurity-inducing aspect of the popularity contest…yet we can’t forget the astronomical benefits of the connectivity and access social media promotes. I wonder what the next phase is? Curiouser and curiouser.

“It takes more courage to be nice and happy,” M told me the other day. Do you think that’s true? Is human nature really prone to baseness and gloom? Perhaps. I recently heard a Buddhist reference, which went something along the lines of how our minds are naturally pure and radiant but are frequently visited by unpleasant and unwanted thoughts and emotions like greed, jealousy, anger, hate…I like to think that we’re all basically good, and I definitely prefer the Buddhist outlook. Then again, in my world, bears ride bikes while sporting grins, so I may not be a trusted source.


I am truly and earnestly burrowing into the final, final phase of book #2, and I want to give it the fullest attention that I can. As such, I’m going to cut myself some slack again and post less frequently here over the next three weeks. Once a week, that’s my aim…Have a wonderful weekend, all!


Good to shake things up
Quality trumps quantity
That’s what I say, yo*

*K likes to make up raps and I’m easily influenced.

Happy Friday + Randomness


Happy Friday! There’s been a lot of painting going on lately, and I’m also raring to dive into sewing — five more days until K is back in school, and I will have gloriously large swaths of time to devote to personal projects. Can’t wait!! I’ve been wading through my massive stash, trying not to get overcome by the vast number of choices.

For now, I’m savoring the last moments of summer and am hosting a lot of playdates.


M and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary yesterday. We are on a strict, strict budget right now, so we opted to hold off on anything that smacks even remotely of opulence, so we had a simple, unglamorous outing involving cheap food and a movie. Time to chat, reflect on a decades’ worth of memories, and marvel at how the years melt away. I painted a little card for him. It’s the “10 years” illo up there and I put it in a frame. He’s the “1” (get it?) and I’m the zero (not in the negative sense, of course — maybe we’ll interpret it as me being the circle of life).


My favorite K quote of the week: “Mama, you smell like puffy white clouds.” Apparently, the scent is a mixture of airy, clean and pretty.


Have a wonderful weekend, friends! Are you as happy as I am that it’s almost Fall?

The air is crisper
Back-to-school around the bend
Reset, refresh, go!

P.S. The giveaway winner is Jill, congrats!

I was gaining momentum…


…and then my custom illustration output had to be put on hold as I re-examined my to-do list. Which is a shame because I really, really enjoy working on them.

Like this foxy guy.


They’re actually not entirely on hold, since I’m painting what I can here and there, but progress is slooooooooooooow. But mark my words, they will get done!

I’m loving all the various requests so much, I’ve scanned them all with a vague notion of showcasing them together at some point. So many plans, so many hopes. When will human cloning become a viable option?


Happy Easter + Randomness


Happy Friday! Do you have big Easter plans? Every year, we get together with our neighbors and have an epic egg hunt followed by brunch in our yard (weather permitting). We’re all transplants and it’s become a much-anticipated tradition. There are usually at least 10 kids running around, and it’s a madhouse in the best possible way. I keep wondering when K will be too old for egg hunts…I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’re still good for a couple more years.


Sometimes K stumps me with her questions:

Mama, would you rather be rich with one arm or poor with three arms?

It seems like it would be useful, but I’m trying to figure out how I would use three arms…


Have a wonderful weekend everyone! I’m off to go prepare for the egg hunt/brunch!

Plastic eggs and sweets
Bacon, pancakes, food galore
Easter fun fun fun


Happy Friday + Randomness


Happy Friday! I meant to have a sneak peek of my upcoming children’s book today, but due to some unexpected snafus and technical problems on my part, I was foiled — I’m hoping for better luck next week!

I’m working on the custom illustrations from what is now an embarrassingly long time ago, and as my mother-in-law would say, the whole process is moving “slower than molasses in January.” I just hope I’m still not apologizing this time next year! The horse above is one of the few I’ve been able to finish. My scanner lost quite a bit of the details, but I actually like this version.


Early in the morning yesterday:

K: Mama! You look so tired! You shouldn’t go outside — you have big fat lines under your eyes…

Me: I do? That’s okay, I don’t really care what I look like.

K: No, I don’t mean that. I’m saying you shouldn’t go outside because I’m worried you might fall asleep and collapse while you’re walking.


Have a wonderful weekend, my friends! Postings might get a little spotty these next few weeks as I enter the last couple months of working on book #2. I’ll do my best to stay up to date here, though I must ‘fess up that I’ve officially caught the instagram bug and can be found there pretty regularly now (can’t.stop.following.people – so much inspiration! It’s like my first blush of Pinterest obsession all over again). It’s probably the cause of those big fat lines under my eyes…

I’m telling myself
I will not get overwhelmed
Not sure it’s working*

*It would probably help if I’d cut back on the social media. But oh, all the pretty images!

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