Category Archives: Life

Happy Friday + Randomness



A few months ago, I went to the Folk Life festival for the first time. It’s a music and street food bonanza and a friend was performing so K and I braved the heavy traffic and navigated our way toward the Exhibition hall. A swish and a loud collective gasp from a crowd stopped us in our tracks, and there, standing in the middle, was a juggler.

Now, I’m no juggling expert, but this guy was something special. First of all, he was dressed like Hansel from Grimm’s Fairy Tale (or at least how I imagine Hansel would dress) and he was lobbing massive bowling pins into the air. This youthful man clad in old-timey garb kept a running monologue going throughout his performance, which included adding other objects into the airborne pins — the highlight addition was a child.

K and I stood mesmerized and when he passed around a receptacle for donations, I readily tossed in five bucks. It was worth it. I was also struck by how he emphasized how he’s been practicing for 20 years, starting with little bean bags and working his way up to bigger items. “This is how I make my living folks,” he announced proudly. I was impressed. My husband would probably say it’s B.S. but I believe the juggler — he’s that good.

If he can make a living throwing and catching objects, I can do the same with my various skills, I reasoned. I’m a bit of a juggler myself, what with all this sewing, writing, illustrating and book-making. Remembering the Folk Life incident bolstered me, and I have finally finally worked up the chutzpah to put my little Furoku sidebar button and an explanatory page (it’s somewhat long-winded — I’m working on editing it). It’s a gamble, folks. But I’m willing to keep practicing and evolving.


The giveaway responses are so fun! I especially love the party stories and so far the unbelted look for the dress is winning out.

Furoku seven
Will arrive late on Monday
My mojo’s returned

Happy Friday + Randomness


Today, we have a guest post by none other than K! Take it away, sweetie:

hey everyone! this is k here. this year has been tough because all my friends are away! my neighbor just moved. which is sad to me! :-( but my summer has been pretty awesome anyway! being filled with fun stuff like my bday party which could have been the most awesome thing this year! i have been going to coding camp this week and i am the only girl (except one other girl who is in a different group) i just came back from camp! i hope your summer has been as awesome as mine! bye!


Isn’t her enthusiasm for life effervescent? We obviously have a penchant for the word “awesome” in our family…at any rate, I just love how intently she’s concentrating on writing up the blog post. So awesome.

Well, that’s it folks. Even though we technically have three more weeks of summer left, it already feels like the end. We’re going to make the most of these last carefree days, mark my words. K has no other camps and we are going to laze about and enjoy each other’s company as we prepare for the new school year. I’m still restoring my sewing area which I had to dismantle for the birthday party, but there will be some sewing — I’m hoping I can finally convince K to try her hand at my beloved craft. There will be picnics. There will be lots and lots of trips to the library and hours of reading (while on picnics, I hope). Possibilities of goodness ahead.

Happy Friday, all
August is swiftly ending
Time to think of Fall

Party Success!


Good morning! [Insert wildly uncoordinated victory dancing here] The hotel-themed 9th birthday party was a major success!! As predicted, I wasn’t on the ball with photo-taking, but I did grab a snap here and there as the festivities progressed.

We started with a little “check-in center” (a vintage typewriter table covered with white burlap I found in my stash). K cleverly set up my ipad with a sketching app so the girls could sign their names. Alas, the homemade cookies a la Comfort Inn was a bust, but those store-bought buttery ones were delicious.


Each girl received a “keycard” (thin wooden tags I got from Impress years ago for no particular reason other than the fact that they’re fun – the metal tins are the same ones I used for the Advent Calendar last year):


I spent two full days cleaning our house and this amounted to shoving a whole bunch of detritus into the basement, where M and I ended up sleeping while the girls took over the upstairs suites. I forgot to get photos of the “suites”, but they looked unrecognizably pristine. The flowers I added everywhere was a professional touch.

The evening started with spa treatments, followed by room service. This involved the girls using my ipad to text to M’s phone, which worked pretty well. M took on the delivery duties, but was repeatedly reprimanded by the girls for getting the order wrong. We focused on kid-friendly and un-nutritious fare: mini pizzas, mac ‘n’ cheese, chicken hot dogs, etc. I did up my game a little and make mini rice balls, which the girls oohed and aahed over.

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As nails dried and food was consumed, M set up a rather, uh, colorful disco ball he purchased and “DJ Fat Daddy” took over the house — check out his handmade sign. Obviously, we have very different aesthetic styles. The sign sent the girls into peals of laughter and abundant singing and dancing ensued.


K blew out her birthday candles (I did not make the cake; totally dialed it in on the food front), and they watched a movie into the wee hours of the night, complete with butter popcorn and Ramune, a distinctively Japanese soda that comes with a marble as a stopper.

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The star of the party, however, was this label maker. The girls went wild for this cool contraption I got at Kinokuniya on sale, and it elevated the goody bag content manifold:

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There are quite a few different tape designs that you can get for the label maker, and the tapes themselves are more like washi but not quite as sticky — you can see them starting to peel off from the keycard and wooden tags above. I believe the girls made about a thousand labels, including one for “DJ Fat Daddy”. M was a humongous hit at the party. I keep finding labels stuck everywhere in the house.


There were five girls total for the sleepover and I thought that was just the right number. The ladies conducted a survey amongst themselves and the consensus was that the party was a 10 out of 10 (well, one girl gave it a 9 out of 10, but hey, close enough).

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. The sweet sensation of checking off another biggie from my to-do list!! Alright, I’m ready to get cracking on some sewing for pure fun…I’ve missed it so so much.

P.S. The winner of the giveaway is Erica, congrats!

P.P.P.S. Our neighbor, who is like a second daughter to me, was an indispensable helper — the key to a killer party is to basically have a savvy 10-year-old run the show.



Happy Friday + Randomness


Happy Friday! Now that I’ve had a couple of days of staring off into space with little in the way of brain activity, I’m in industrious mode and am preparing for K’s upcoming sleepover birthday party that’s happening tomorrow. Her actual birthday was at the end of July, but due to the unfortunate scheduling of book stuff, I’d promised her that I would organize a fetê to remember after I completed my big deadlines. I think it’s telling that she said, “Well, even if everything goes wrong, we’ll have a good story to tell.” That should give you an idea of how my party-planning efforts tend to end up.

I’m sewing up some goody bags from this luscious metallic knit fabric (purchased from Drygoods many, many moons ago) that I originally meant to use for the book. It turned out to be too blingy for the look I was going for, so now I can make little glam pouches that K’s friends will be sure to love. In the coming months, you’ll start to see all the fabrics that I intended for the book that never made it. To say I went a little crazy fabric shopping is an understatement.

The theme of the birthday party: Hotel Extravaganza. But not just any hotel, friends. We’re modeling the event after The Comfort Inn, that economical and wholly nondescript chain of accommodations in the vein of Holiday Inn (Express), Quality Inn and Best Western. It’s K’s all-time favorite lodging, and thank goodness she hasn’t experienced the Four Seasons, because it’s already proving to be more than I bargained for to transform our house into a lower-to-mid-level hotel for five girls.


There will be a lobby for check-in (complete with a plate of cookies at the counter, just like The Comfort Inn), keycards to the “suites”, and room service. We’re taking some creative liberties with the theme and throwing in a little spa pampering with mani/pedis and a “media + party room” for movies and karaoke — M will resurrect his college DJ days and get a dance fiesta going (I heard him mutter something about getting a disco ball for the living room; maybe I should just drape this fabric over a rotating fan for a similar effect).

So I’m off to assemble goody bags (with miniature bottles of shampoo and conditioner, soaps, etc.) and to bake and clean and pump up the air mattresses. Perhaps I’ll be able to show you the fruits of my labor next week — but no guarantees since I’ll probably be running around like a madwoman. Have a wonderful weekend, all!

When our guests arrive
Saturday evening en masse
They’ll see: “K’s Hotel”


Summer Fun with Ba-Chan


My mom returned to Los Angeles yesterday. For 16 days, she cooked us delectables (sushi! Soy sauce mochi balls that K loves! Seafood pasta!) and spent large quantities of time with K while I labored away to meet deadlines. I wouldn’t have survived and most likely wouldn’t have met my deadlines without my Mama.


I took these shots while on the ferry to and from Bainbridge Island. On Sunday morning, I decided that I had ignored my family for too long, and thought it might be enjoyable to spend the night on this little island that’s a 20-minute ferry ride away. Silly me. There aren’t very many places to stay on the island, and the first couple of places I checked were fully booked of course. “We’ll have to make it a day trip,” I told K, but she asked me to try just one more place. So I called the Eagle Harbor Inn to appease her, assuming failure.

“Well, we’ve actually been fully booked three months in advance for a long time,” the hotel guy told me,”but it’s your lucky day. I just got a cancellation a few minutes ago and have a room.” Perfect! Within half an hour, we were out the door and ready to roll. M had a lot of work to do and opted to stay in Seattle.


We had a lovely time: swimming at the Aquatic Center, eating Japanese food for dinner and chocolate lava cake for dessert, strolling around. The fruit flies in the hotel room dampened our spirits a little and they were impervious to my kung fu moves meant to get them out. But the room itself was very, very nice and for a last minute trip, we had no reason to complain. K recorded every teeny tiny detail (and every flower) of our micro vacation with my mom’s camera.

Such a fun way to cap off the Ba-chan visit. We miss her desperately already, and we’re making tentative plans for another girls’ extravaganza in the winter when she comes out next. Destination: hot springs in Canada! I’ll probably have to actually get on the ball and reserve a room far in advance this time. To those of you in the know, any recommendations?


Glitter and Sparkle


Good morning! I have a well-oiled and thrumming sweatshop raging in my “atelier” (aka bedroom), but it’s all been book-related so I’ve not sewn much for K. And when my mom brought her a suitcase full of animal print clothing and all that sparkles and glitters…well, my sewing motivation for K faded a little more.

But isn’t that image above pretty spectacular? Not my usual simple and light vibe, but I love the dramatic effect. The light is reflecting off of an extremely bling-y sequined dress that was part of the Ba-chan haul, and we had a fun impromptu photo moment. She’s ablaze!

I’m still scrambling to get everything wrapped up for book #2, but wanted to pop in to say hello, and I miss updating here.

A lot has been happening these past couple of weeks: good-bye parties, birthdays, book readings, photo shoots, adventures with Ba-chan…but with my usual Alzheimer-esque tendencies, they’re all starting to blur in my mind. It’s one of the reasons I love maintaining a blog because otherwise I would forget everything that happens!

Back to work for now, and be back Wednesday with more updates.

P.S. Furoku #5 has gone out…I have been thinking long and hard about this venture and will be sending a follow-up email about it.



Happy Friday + Randomness


Happy Friday! So, yesterday marked the third year of this little virtual notebook/sketchbook of mine. Three years that whisked right on by, full of surreal and life-altering changes, the whole nine yards. My thoughts are still very much aligned with what I pondered for my second “blogiversary” here (why, oh why are there so many unpalatable words associated with blogs, including the word “blog”??)

I’ve decided to do something different and will take two weeks off from here. My mom is coming on Sunday, I’ve got a huge deadline on August 3rd, two birthday parties to plan (M’s and K’s), and I want to spend some time away from here to see what ideas bubble up as I ease into the fourth year of blogging. It’s my summer vacation from all things online to reconnect with people and tactile, physical stuff.

I will, of course, miss you and will be sorely tempted to post something because I’m an incorrigible creature of habit, but this feels like a good thing to do. I have visions of a recharged, refueled, much more relaxed me.


Bon voyage, adieu
Wish you a lovely two weeks
Back on August third

P.S. I will post two months’ worth of income information the week I return…

P.P.S. Furoku #5 will go out as scheduled at the end of the month-ish, and if I get my act together, I’ll finally get the sign-up button on the sidebar!

Happy Friday + Randomness


Happy Friday! How awesome is that shot of K up there that’s on our fridge? She partook in an all-girls skateboard camp last week and loved it so much, she wants me to sign her up for another camp session. I would have never guessed that this would be the sport of choice for my girl (my heart may not be able to handle it — she can now “drop-in” from the highest ramp and I have my eyes partially covered as I watch her glide down smoothly then do a “kick-turn”). “Mama,” she tells me, “I think I can be really good at this.” I was afraid of that, but I’m all for trying things out.


We’re oozing all over the place like melted popsicles in this heat wave, and though our basement has been a lifesaver, it’s not the most pleasant place to sleep. We’ve been calling it “indoors camping”. I am thoroughly ready to get my weekend started, how about you? I’m wishing you a wonderful one filled with cool breezes and fizzy drinks!

See you on Tuesday
I will be posting just twice
Deadline time again*

*I’m currently working on a project that I’ll post next Tuesday, so I’ll be skipping Monday. I also need to hunker down for the final two weeks of July to get book #2 in tip top shape, so postings may be a little less consistent over the next few weeks.

P.S. I’ll be at Kinokuniya’s tomorrow from 2-4pm for a book signing and presentation / watercolor demonstration. Hope you can make it if you’re around!

P.P.S. I didn’t take the photo! Credit goes to Marshall, who runs the skate camps.



Not Buying Clothes: Year Three


So, it’s that time of year again when I fondly recall that the last time I willingly purchased a piece of apparel for me and K was July of 2012. I say “willingly” because I’m still miffed about having to shell out cash for a couple of t-shirts and a pair of knit capris last year on an unplanned trip. I’m going to disregard that particular incident and act as though my three-year track record of clothes shopping abstention is unblemished.

What makes this truly remarkable is that I used to love buying clothes with the kind of insatiable fervor of an addict. Loved loved loved loved clothes shopping. Well… it was more of a love/hate relationship. I loved the possibilities that a shopping trip held, that slightly chemical and perfumed scent of brand new garments on a rack, the thrill of a bargain. But the ugly side was the woes that filled the fitting rooms, the vast difference between what I imagined the clothes would look like on me and the reality of how they actually fit. Secretly, I obsessed about the tiny printed numbers on the tags — I experienced a boost of confidence if the tags showed a smaller size, and a sharp dip in mood if the numbers seemed too high. I have been known to buy a piece of clothing just because it sported the words, “size 6″, even if the seams strained to burst. “It fits!!” I would tell myself. I also did not enjoy tallying up the financial damages these sprees incurred.

But all of that is behind me. Sort of. I worry that I’ve just transferred my excessive predilections to sewing. I’ve been watching with growing concern as K’s DIY wardrobe continues to balloon and my own collection of handmade clothes overflows out of my rather large IKEA Hemnes dresser that was already crammed to the hilt with ready-to-wear.


A few months ago, I eagerly embraced the KonMari method from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and purged like a madwoman. Then slowly, inevitably, stuff started to pile up again. I made more clothes. I accumulated fabrics and props for the book photo shoots. K brought home a mountain of papers from school. Christmas and birthdays happened. Also, I hadn’t eliminated as much of my own clothes as I’d thought and I had difficulty rolling the clothes in the way Marie Kondo described in her book, causing some untidy storage issues.

During one of the photo shoots at my house, we shifted the IKEA dresser out of the way and moved the hallway dresser into my bedroom for a shot, and I gushed over the way the antique elevated the feel of the room. That’s my lovely flea market 1920s dresser at the very top. But it’s small and I’ve been using it to hold extra linens by the bathroom, and it would only accommodate about 1/4 of my clothes, if that. In a surge of inspired action, we played some musical dressers, and K inherited the IKEA behemoth to replace the tiny dresser that had been inadequate for a few years, and I vowed to slash my wardrobe.


I ruthlessly applied the “Does this spark joy?” test and filled four trash bags. I was fairly blasé about my store-bought garments as I tossed them in the bags, but I could feel the resistance bubble up when I tried to let go of my handmade clothes…the hours I spent on them! The beautiful fabrics! The truth is, many of the clothes I made don’t fit very well, and I rarely reach for them. And quite a few that I do wear regularly look shabby and tired. I did hold onto a number items made out of prized Miss Matatabi fabric to repurpose, but stored them away out of sight. You can see my work-in-progress in the images above. I still have a little more work to do to trim down my clothing stash, and I might go all out and get super minimalistic. Am I ready? I don’t know…

I do know that I’ve been eyeing people’s outfits a lot lately, thinking “Ooh, I want to make a summer dress like that one,” or “That shirt with the placket and subtle horse print is so fun…” I’ve been sketching a plethora of sewing ideas and jonesing to make more clothes for myself. How to balance these diametrically opposed desires to purge and make? It’s my perennial quagmire, but for now, I’m patting myself on the back for not buying any clothes for three years. No matter what else, I’m happy to chalk that up as a major accomplishment.

P.S. I’ve been mulling over the whole concept of shopping since reading this quirky and charming little book. Among interesting observations on consumer behavior, the author spent a year painting all the things she didn’t (but wanted) to buy, including items from her Pinterest board. I think I might start painting things from my Pinterest board, but that might take me a few million years…

Happy Friday + Randomness


Happy Friday! It’s been a long time since I’ve had technical issues. My laptop seems to be under the weather, and I can’t get it to snap out of its sluggish, sickly mode, so I’m going to go back up everything lest I lose my prized files.

Have you seen Frida Clements‘ work? Last weekend, when I participated in the Urban Craft Uprising (for a Little Kunoichi signing), I had the honor of meeting this über talented illustrator, albeit briefly. Frida has a fun book (aptly titled “Have a Little Pun“) coming out this August, and I want a copy! Frida has a sweet presence and her booth was rocking it at UCU. In fact, she had a pre-order copy at the table where I was signing, and I’m sure that her book is going to sell gazillions, judging from the number of people that stopped to admire the book. Her detailed charming illustrations winningly combines with her folksy handlettering, and I couldn’t resist buying prints. My favorite is the “Oh Whale” up there, but I also got “Honey Bee Yourself,” and had I known about it, I would have gotten “Don’t be Koi”.



Off to address technical snafus! Have a wonderful weekend, and for those in the US, I hope your Fourth of July celebrations are full of grilled goodness and sparklers!

O Fourth of July
Ping pong games and slip ‘n’ slide
We’ll have a par-tay*

*My neighbor organizes a rip-roaring party for the Fourth every year, and there’s always an amazing feast. My stomach is growling just thinking about it…

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