Category Archives: Watercolor

Happy Friday + Randomness

blue-girl-branches

Happy Friday! I’ve been noticing that I like to go in cycles when it comes to making things. Right now, I’m feeling a huge resurgence of love for sewing and my sketching/painting is taking a back seat. I had a brief fling with knitting and then my enthusiasm waned, but I can tell that I’ll want to go back once the sewing bug eases up a bit. Do you find that? Are you the alternating or concurrent type? I used to think I liked to dabble in a variety of crafts at the same time, but lately I want to focus more — what is it that they call it? Single-tasking, I think.

Anyway, I painted this li’l blue-grey lady a while back with some beautiful handmade Greenleaf and Blueberry watercolors (based here in Washington!).

We had a balmy, sunny, I-want-to-run-around-without-my-winter-coat kind of day yesterday and I’m hoping for some more of those.

I’m wishing you a happy weekend!

Haiku by K:

Friday is the best
No homework I need to do
I get to relax

 

 

Mishmash of Thoughts on 2015 + Happy 2016!

 

happy2016

2015 is about to end, and I’m full of nostalgia already. This has been a year of so many magnificent firsts — I’ve mentioned them relentlessly at this point, so I will spare you the replay. Will 2016 top the surreal awesomeness that was this year? I can’t wait to find out.

The rose illustration you see up there is one of my favorites that I’ve done in the last 12 months. It’s a departure from my usual style, with more dimension and a botanical painting vibe. I want to do a whole lot more with the series that I created (there are about 10 flowers in total).

Ah, but that “want”. It’s one of the things I noticed as a recurring theme this year. I publicly announced so many things I hoped to accomplish, and don’t get me wrong, I got a lot done but I left far more than I was comfortable with undone. That was my biggest challenge — to find peace with incompletion, to not beat myself up. I hate hate hate not following through, and I feel like so many of my promises to myself and others fell to the wayside. Things like my grand aspirations to sew up jeans and a stylish grown-up wardrobe, to devote serious energy into an online shop (I’ve sold 2 items to date and have stalled on adding more items), completing the custom illustrations (it’s been over a year, for shame), providing monthly income reports, etc. etc. These are not mission critical tasks by any stretch of the imagination, but few things feel worse for me than letting myself and others down.

It’s made me a lot more cautious about what I declare as goals. And I’ve also learned that I have to be careful about talking about money issues here on the blog. Not everyone on the interwebs is kind as I was sad to discover first-hand, and I need to beef up my emotional armor a bit more should I choose to resume sharing financial information. I’ve been very open and in-depth with the Furoku members about the behind-the-scenes aspects, where it feels like a very safe arena. I think we all need spaces like that. Even though I’m always riddled with self-doubt, I believe that little membership is one of the best things I’ve come up with. It’s pushed me to become more honest, to try new illustration styles (the rose illustration at the top was created for one of the monthly offerings), to get out of my comfort zone and attempt new things. I feel like I’m a slightly better version of myself as a result.

I’m aware, however, that the blog is getting the short shrift since I’ve been pouring so much of myself into the membership and books. I keep hearing that blogs are dying — do you think so? I feel like I’ve asked this before, but at the time it still seemed like blogs were thriving. Because I didn’t want to become too influenced by anyone while I was working on my books, I stopped visiting other blogs for a good year. Now that I’m starting to pick up where I left off, I’ve noticed that many of my favorite bloggers have either stopped or dramatically reduced their content. Or they’ve become much more commercialized. Or just…different. I suppose the same could be said of mine, and really, change could be a good sign.

I very much wanted to give myself a lovely new handmade wardrobe and had pumped myself up that this would be what the blog would focus on for 2015. But I made a total of 7 items. 7! And I’m sort of cheating because I made one of the tops (Renfrew) in 2014 but had never blogged about it. Almost everything I made was blue, and I didn’t count the muslins for my jeans. I suspect there are some psychological reasons I’ve resisted sewing for myself, because I somehow managed to find time to sew for K even when it was sure to result in sleep deprivation. A sure sign of commitment. The good news is that almost every single thing I made for myself has been in heavy rotation — the Nani Iro stripey top in particular (4th from left) is starting to look threadbare from constant wear:

2015-memade

 

Linen Top

Renfrew Bamboo Knit Top

Nani Iro Top #1 and Nani Iro Top #2

Romper and Strappy Tank 

Knit Dress with Keyhole back

Anyhow, onto 2016! I don’t have any sweeping or specific goals for this shiny new year. I still love to blog, I still love to write and sew and paint and make stuff in general, and I hope I’ll be able to do all that and more for the foreseeable future. The intrinsic rewards trump any insecurities I may be experiencing and it’s my answer to the ubiquitous Mary Oliver quote I keep bumping into: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” I’m not much of a poetry gal, but I got her latest book, Felicity, and the last line in her poem “Leaves and Blossoms Along the Way” caught my attention recently: “The point is, you’re you, and that’s for keeps.”

So simple, yet so true. Brava, Ms. Oliver! I love how unpretentious and relatable her language is.

preciouslife

 

I’m wishing you all a 2016 in which you get to be spectacularly you!

 

P.S. Furoku members! The next edition is aimed to hit your in-boxes at 11:59pm tonight (or, you know, possibly on New Year’s Day).

2015 RECAP: Sewing for K

2015-recapfork

Good morning! I hope you all had a restful and celebratory Christmas, and perhaps you too are now looking back upon all the happenings of 2015. It’s been a big year for me: one book launched, another completed. I inadvertently started something that could be considered a side business. My little family of three had highs and lows, but the good times outweighed the bad. I hadn’t been quite prepared for the emotional turbulence that was part of this year, but in hindsight it stretched and pulled me like taffy, loosening me up, adding flexibility.

Given the many life-altering events that happened in the past 12 months, it’s no wonder that my personal sewing took a major hit. But I can’t really blame it all on book activities. The inevitable seems to be happening, and as K grows older, she’s less interested in wearing clothes that I’ve made. She wants to live in t-shirts/knits and leggings, preferably with characters and bright designs on them. “The non-stretchy stuff you make is uncomfortable, Mama,” she tells me.

So it makes sense that I tended to default to stitching up knit clothing, just because that upped the chances of them getting worn. Even so, she’d rather wear the store-bought hand-me-downs from our neighbor — I can understand that.

I’d assumed I made about a dozen things for K this year, but as I looked through my archives, the grand total came out to 27 (if counting each component of her Halloween costume separately). Not too bad! An average of 2+ a month is far more than I thought I could manage.

So here they are by month (surprisingly, the only month I completely skipped was May):

JANUARY

raglan-navy-floral5

 

Raglan Navy + Floral

frogtastic10

Frogtastic Tee

 

perripullovers5 perripullovers6

Perri Pullovers

FEBRUARY

plaid-wool-dress1

Front Placket Dress (Wool Plaid)

geometric-placketdress1

Front Placket Dress (Geometric)

coral-giraffe-print1

Coral Giraffe Print Top + Leggings

MARCH

bow-dress5

Bow Dress

robe-jacket7

“Robe Jacket”

dotted-sailor-dress3

Sailor Dress

APRIL

bunny-tee-dress6

Easter Bunny T-Dress

JUNE

maritime-y-dress4

Maritime-y Dress

non-recital-dress7

Recital Dress That Wasn’t

whitefloral-naniiroshorts3

White Tee + Nani Iro Knit Shorts

JULY

bralette1

Bralette

henrydress-gradientgrey8

Henry Dress in Gradients of Grey

AUGUST

bedfordinblackandfloral1

Bedford in Black and Floral

 

rockstar-pants14

Rockstar Pants

SEPTEMBER

ottobre-marja3

Ottobre Marja Top

 

animal-knit-dress4

Second Day of School Dress

OCTOBER

superherok6

Superhero K

NOVEMBER

fauxfur-vest8

Faux Fur Vest

DECEMBER

gold-recital-dress3

Gilded Recital Dress

27 items! There were a few pairs of leggings I didn’t post, so it’s probably closer to 30. I’m not sure how to approach 2016 and sewing for K… I’m in the midst of making her a puffy jacket — it probably won’t be done until this Saturday — and I will continue to make her necessary clothes, I’m sure. But it’s different from when I first started this blog and I could make whatever I wanted for her and she happily donned the outfits. She’s no longer my dress-up doll, and we are entering a whole new phase of tweenhood and strong opinions and self-consciousness.

I’ll figure something out, though. Maybe 2016 will be about teaching K how to make her own clothes. Now, wouldn’t that be something?

Happy Holidays!

2015-joypeace

Filled with loved ones, I hope it is.

Brimming with inside jokes and outside ones too.

A magical time.

A time for reflection.

Perhaps some wistfulness as well.

Deck those halls, or leave them bare

But most of all, I’m wishing you all

Peace + Joy, Joy + Peace, whatever combination thereof

 

P.S. If you need any last-minute gift tags, you can download them here and here. [UPDATE: I just sent out extra holiday goodies to Furoku members, so check your Promotions/inboxes :-)]

P.P.S. I’ll see you back here in about seven days!

 

Happy Friday + Randomness

mysterious-apparatus

Happy Friday! Thank you so much for all the comments from my last post!! I’m overwhelmed by the kindness! Slowly, slowly I’m decompressing after months of chasing deadlines. The upside is that the holidays are going to be a piece of cake – I’ve vowed to really (really!!) keep it simple this year and I’m not ashamed to admit that most people are receiving gift cards. Even kids. Maybe next year I’ll wow you all with an array of handmade presents, but not this year. Now that the Advent Calendar is in full swing (it’s sweet how K puts the flowers in a vase each day) I feel that my elf duties are done. Incidentally, the glitter washi didn’t hold up the flowers all that well, and we kept finding them strewn about the floor, so I had to re-tape them all with not-so-glamorous painters tape. Oh well.

2015-adventflowersinvase

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I’m not sure what the illustration is up there — I’ve been doing this funny thing lately: I take my art supplies with me to coffee shops and paint for a little while. I was sketching the top portion of a coffee grinder at one of the cafés, and then thought of gramophones, and added a few hearts. I like it.

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Have a cozy weekend, all! I’m making my holiday list, checking it off, and reading some books for the sheer pleasure of it. Can’t wait.

Are you making things
for this holiday season?
If yes, then good luck!

 

Happy Thanksgiving

2015-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

calming-things1

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.

calming-things2

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.

calming-things3

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.

calming-things4

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.

calming-things5

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

 

crockpot

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

madame-frump

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

little-k-covers

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!

 

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