Happy Friday + Giveaway! [CLOSED]

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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

FOUR YEARS!!! (+ a giveaway bundle) [CLOSED]

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Well, well, well. If you traverse all the way back to the beginning of this little online notebook/sketchbook of mine, you will see that I started to record my thoughts and projects on July 16, 2012. Which means that tomorrow, this blog turns 4 years old. FOUR. I powered through the clumsiness of the newborn stage filled to bursting with love, uncertainty and awkwardness. Then I dug my heels in for the toddler phase and touch-and-go twos. Finally, I observed with somewhat flagging energy and a misguided sense of been-there-done-that weariness as the third and fourth years undulated up and down. In fact, this last year, I took more breaks than ever (though some of it was against my will – darn hackers) and wondered if I would ever get back into a regular thrice-a-week schedule on a consistent basis again.

It would be easy to blame Instagram, that enabler of quick and easy updates. I could also offer up my deadlines and book stuff as excuses. But really, I believe that we make time for what matters to us regardless of extenuating circumstances, and for whatever reason, year 4 of blogging felt less compelling to me.

As I contemplated my 48-month trajectory from blogging novice to…I don’t know, blogging slacker, I went way back to browse through my initial posts. Oh, I had so many ideas! The sewing hadn’t even begun. Publishing books was a mere bucket list item that seemed as unlikely as sprouting wings and a narwhal tooth/horn. I was sparkly-eyed and twitchy with giddy nerves every time I clicked “publish”. Now it’s as though my blog and I have been married for a good while and the consuming passion has given way to wondering if my next 50 years are going to be the same old, same old. Comforting, yes. Still steeped in bone marrow level love, absolutely. But suspicious that maybe, just maybe, there could be more? Is it a matter of spicing things up? Am I being too complacent? Maybe we need to go on an adventurous road trip or sew up some lingerie? Perhaps it’s disconcerting that I’m mixing metaphors and comparing the blog to both child and spouse, but I guess it’s about falling in and out of love, which is inevitable for every relationship, no?

I’m entering my 5th year with caution. If nothing else, I’ve learned that I’m hopeless at keeping my word once I declare something here. I tested as Upholder for Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies Quiz, but my inability to deliver on public pronouncements doesn’t seem very upholder-esque of me.

How to fall back in love with blogging, that’s what I’m pondering — this time with less fervor and more serene contentment. While I continue to gnaw on what year 5 may look like for this online space, a celebration of the anniversary is in order! And what better way to do that than through a giveaway? Because the blog has been such a key part of making my dream of creating books come true, it seems appropriate to give away a signed copy of Little Kunoichi as well as Sewing Happiness (if you already have copies, might I suggest passing them on as gifts if you win?). PLUS a $45 gift certificate to Miss Matatabi (I’ve linked to her new online shop, but you should be able to select from her etsy shop as well; I’ll confirm). Frances is a delightful friend with whom I plan to hang out next summer when I go to Tokyo, and I want to support her whenever I can. The pile of fabrics in the photo above are from her shop. They’re there just as props and are not part of the giveaway. Thought I should clarify.

To enter the giveaway, comment away! Anything will do, as you know, but I’m curious: are you still reading blogs? Which ones continue to be your favorites? You don’t have to list mine — in fact, let’s take it off the table. Or have you shifted over to IG these days? Do tell! I’ll leave the giveaway open until next Friday, July 22nd. Can’t wait to read your comments — good luck!

Thank you, everyone
For reading my little blog
You have changed my life*

*The very, very best part of starting this whole venture is the community that I’ve become a part of. I now have online friends that are real-life friends and when I’m here, I feel surrounded by a bevy of kindred spirits. It makes me gawk with wonder.

P.S. So here’s an interesting blog tidbit: for all the sewing, illustrating and yammering on about feeeeeeelings that I’ve done over the past four years, guess which post has been the most popular by far? This one. It’s also been pinned thousands and thousands of times. Crazy, right?

 

Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls Calligraphy Kit Giveaway [CLOSED]

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My friends, I have an especially lovely giveaway for anyone who’s ever ogled at the hand lettering trend that’s been taking the world by the storm.

The fabulous duo of Besotted Co. introduced me to Maybelle’s work a couple of years ago, and it was of course love at first sight. Her instagram feed alone is spectacular.

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So when I saw her calligraphy kit at Kinokuniya a while ago, I snapped it up. Given my various obligations right now, however, the idea of starting a calligraphy habit is a pipe dream of the highest order. I’ve had to relegate it to my ever-growing “one day” list and in the interim, to reduce my guilt and to prevent the beautiful kit from collecting dust, I want to gift it to someone who would get more use out of it. I think this would be great for kids too, because if K’s writing is anything to go by, there’s not a lot of emphasis on handwriting in school these days (not that I’m being critical — I think K’s handwriting has tons of personality, it’s just not entirely legible).

The kit comes with everything you need to launch into the joys of lettering: wooden pen + steel pointed nib, a bottle of black ink, an utterly charming instructional booklet, decorative labels, vellum sheets and a lined guide sheet.

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To enter the giveaway, please leave any comment as per usual but it would be fun to know which word you’d want to hand letter — it’s sort of in line with the word of the year question I’ve posed before. The idea being that you would have to practice the word over and over and over so it would have to be something that you wouldn’t get too sick of. My word would be “mettle”. I’m currently dealing with a family situation that is taking up vast amounts of my energies, and I am in desperate need of industrial strength mettle. I think everything is okay, just…adjusting to a new normal.

I will leave the giveaway open until this Friday, July 8th (how is it July already?? update: I extended the giveaway for another week since I’ll be out of town and won’t choose the winner until next week). You know the drill by now, yes?

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I’ve finished three out of the five projects due and then we’re out of town for a week starting July 3rd, so I’m going to take it easy on the blog front again and will take a couple of weeks off. I realize that’s an annoying thing to repeatedly read, but you know my hyper neurotic need to keep you in the loop. I hope to be back refreshed and better equipped to focus when I return from Michigan!

P.S. The winner of the journal kit giveaway is Stacey, congrats!

Giveaway: A Journaling Kit [CLOSED]

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Thank you for all the birthday wishes! I had a most relaxing time, completely ignoring my to-do list and doing everything that makes me feel good and whole: walking, spending time with my favorite people, writing and doodling in one of my regular coffee shop haunts, getting lost in a bookstore and choosing just the right birthday books for me (turns out I’m in the mood for sewing books and acquired this one and this one and this one). I’ve checked out that Twinkle Sews book so many times from the library that I figured I might as well own it and not sew from it instead of what I was doing: repeatedly accruing library late fees and not sewing from it.

I’ve gotten nothing “productive” done. And I don’t feel guilty at all — this is progress for a former workaholic.

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Yesterday, I came across this post by Sew Liberated and I was nodding my head so vigorously as I read, I felt dizzy towards the end. Meg writes about the stuff I think about all the time: what’s important, how to approach the creative process, what to do if the activities we love turn into obligatory, stress-mongering jobs. She’s a whole lot wiser and more grounded and definitely way more eloquent than I am and it was a treat to stumble upon her blog. These types of musings filled with thoughtful and sometimes heart-aching yet ultimately affirming words and images were what had attracted me to the medium of blogging in the first place. It felt like reading someone’s journal, albeit more polished and less weird than my own scrawls.

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I’m easing back into so-called work mode, but I’m trying to be conscious of finding enjoyment in what I do. At the Kinokuniya event last weekend (so fun! the kimono-wearing pair that participated in the Sashiko coaster demo/workshop bowled me over with delight), a lovely attendee asked me if I ever felt pressured to create things for the sake of keeping up with the blog. The short answer would be yes. Yes, I’ve sewn or painted or photographed things just so I can stick to my schedule. I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with that, especially since I need deadlines to get my mojo in gear. I view myself as being both the producer/art director and peon grunt worker for this blog. I give myself assignments and execute to the best of my abilities.

The problem, I believe, starts to rear its unwelcome head when the enjoyment and authenticity parts start to slip away (I hesitated to resort to the word “authenticity” because it’s starting to feel threadbare and overused). At some point, I found that I wasn’t actually finding any pleasure in sewing weekly outfits for K once my skills started to improve — outfits that she steadfastly refused to wear as our tastes diverged. Then I noticed that I was racking my brains for fresh content and feeling burnt out just so I could post every week day, which is when I went down to three times a week. Perhaps I’ll post even less frequently in the future, it’s hard to tell.

It’s a tricky balance. I’m a big believer in consistent habits and persistence and longevity, but I also know that rigidity can stifle the best, most creatively flourishing parts of us.

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Maybe that’s why I love writing in my journal so much, which strikes the balance for me. It’s such a long-standing habit of mine, it never feels laborious (and the writing portion of the blog and to a certain extent the Furoku content I create feel like extensions of my journal). I’m not militant about how much or how little I should write per day, and I have no rules about topics. All that matters to me is that I write every day until I feel satisfied or until my window of available time has closed. Most of all, it’s meant just for me and it keeps me honest. Even though I try not to be affected by it, with blogs and books and other external-facing projects that I work on, I’m aware that other people are reading it. That adds a layer of complexity. Sometimes that layer is helpful, other times, not so much. I’ve published a lot of posts on this blog over the past four years and one of the things I struggle with is the sensation of repetitiveness. I loved this little mini episode that Gretchen Rubin did about Picasso — I often feel like I’m painting my own fakes too. As I browsed through my archives the other day, the one that is most truly representative of me is probably this one.

Anyway. With journaling in mind, a journaling kit giveaway seemed appropriate. This is a beautifully bound notebook with pink (!) grid paper. It’s the one featured in the book for the book cover project and I’m throwing in the cover as part of the giveaway too. It’s made out of this nubby, high quality grey linen and lined with a Japanese cotton. I’m also including the most amazing Palomino Blackwing pencil (it’s a limited edition style) with its distinctive eraser shape and a stripey pencil from the Anna Bond Rifle collection. Doesn’t this make a cute set?

Full disclosure: I did write in the journal as part of the photoshoot, but I’ve removed those pages so this is essentially a brand-new notebook.

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Anyone game? I’ll take any comment, but I’d also love to hear about a good habit that you have. Do you exercise or do yoga regularly? Are you a water-drinking fiend? Do you have a penchant for sending thank you cards right away (not me!). I’ll leave the giveaway open until next Friday, June 24th, and will announce the winner the following Monday. International entries=no problemo!

Happy Friday + Giveaway [CLOSED]

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Happy Friday! I got my translations done in time as well as a few other projects, and now I’m looking at one more big deadline hurdle, then I’m home free for a couple of months. I’m bursting with anticipation.

Anyway, while I duck my head down to get just a little bit more done, I wanted to kick off the weekend with another giveaway. We’re going full-on Japanese with this one. The little thread snippers are officially called itokiri hasami but every Japanese person I know calls them choki choki basami. Choki is an onomatopoeic word for the sound that the snippers make and basami is another way of saying hasami, which means “scissors”. A giveaway + a Japanese lesson, doesn’t get any better than that, right?

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Moving along, people who know me well are aware that if you put any product in a test tube or glass vial, I’ll buy it. So obviously, I had to purchase this assorted hand sewing needle set that is this brand, though I mixed up the outer packaging so I’m not sure which particular set it is. The point is that I have way more test tubes filled with needles than I need, which sounds sketchy and somehow drug-related, I just realized. Regardless, they’re lovely needles, and I’m happy to pass along a test tube.

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To enter the giveaway, any comment will do, but I’ve got summer vacation on my mind. Do you have fun plans for the coming months of summer (or winter if you’re on the other side of the globe)? We’re going to Michigan in July, and I’m wondering if I’ll have enough time and motivation to make a few things to fill out my anemic summer wardrobe. I hope so!

I’ll leave the giveaway open until next Friday, June 10th and will announce the winner the following Monday. International entries are always, always welcome. Good luck!

Have a great weekend, all! I leave you with the gems K offhandedly shared with me this week — so many morsels of verbal deliciousness:

“My thoughts,” K expressed,
“are like poetry bubbles”
and “love is magic”*

*What she actually said was, “Mama, you know that love is magic, right?” but that didn’t fit into my haiku.