Category Archives: Life

Happy Friday + Randomness


You know, it’s been a pretty tough couple of months for me. I have a built-in Pollyanna functionality, so I do find the silver lining in most situations, but these last two months nearly did me in. With illnesses and financial/career issues and things falling apart one after another, October and November may very well rank up there in the top 2 worst months of 2015. Two days ago, as I administered Benadryl to alleviate the humongous hives that mysteriously appeared all over K’s body (and her hands swelled up like mitts and lumps the size of golf balls protruded from her feet), I had this sudden and visceral realization that the problems will never cease. I don’t know why this felt like some thunder clap a-ha moment, but it did and somehow, that made me feel less overwrought. It’s rarely about the actual situation but the expectation I start to uphold that problems shouldn’t exist. So silly. It’s sort of like swimming or surfing in the ocean and becoming indignant about the water going up our noses or waves knocking us over. In many ways we can revel in the majesty and beauty and awesomeness of it all and — to a certain extent — prepare for the worst, but it’s a force that’s much bigger than us and uncontainable in its unpredictability.

Ultimately, in the satellite view of things, my dramas are ridiculously insignificant. Especially in the aftermath of events in Paris.

The pendulum seems to be swinging the other way, and although there is a fresh crop of other minor inconveniences, overall things are improving. We’re recovering from our multitudes of ailments, and financial bits are heading in the right direction, and we’ve patched up leaking/breaking/exploding elements.

Yesterday morning, K traced her fingers around my eyes and murmured, “So many wrinkles, Mama. Don’t get old. Don’t.” Sorry honey, no can do. Just as problems are an inexorable part of existence, my crow’s feet will continue to deepen and time will march on, widening my waist, depleting my elasticity, blurring my sight. And that’s okay because I hope to live long enough to wear unfashionable house dresses because I’ve long stopped caring what other people think; to smile from a face full of permanently etched laugh lines; to peer delightedly at my grandkids through my trifocals. We can only do what we can in the best way we know how in the amount of time we’re given.

And what does this have to do with swans? Not a thing. I just like to ramble and throw in an image that I’ve painted.

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends.

Next week’s Thanksgiving
I’m taking a few days off
I’ll try to post once

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…



As the cough subsided in K, it snaked its way into my throat. I imagine this cough to be a rather heavyset creature, shifting its ample hindquarters this way and that in my trachea, settling in for the long haul, probably knitting something scratchy and long to cause those pesky dry hacks. It happens every year around this time.

Instead of fighting it, I’ve learned to submit. I figure it’s my body’s way of telling me to shut up already, just rest. The beginning of the school year is always so frenetic and after about a month, a collective exhaustion seems to disengage the immune system, and the flu spreads like wildfire. Interesting factoid: I was talking to a friend who grew up in Japan and there, where the school year starts in April, they have something called the May sickness because a large number of students go through a similar spate of illness approximately four weeks after the start of a new school year.

So I am resting this week, using my voice as little as possible. But I can’t help but want to keep my hands and mind busy. I’m not very good at sitting still and doing nothing. Last week, I passed a storefront with “ReCreative” splashed across the window, and what caught my eye was a small sign that read, “yarn: $1″. Seattle Recreative is essentially a thrift store for crafters, but it’s also a community space for art classes and exhibits. The place was hoppin’! Filled with a mish mash of supplies from fabric to jewelry-making doodads to what appeared to be ancient tubes of paint, moms with strollers and toddlers were arriving by the droves when I ducked in to see what this whole dollar yarn situation was about. I ended up with a few skeins in my favorite shades, and snagged a couple of vintage National Geographics at 50 cents a pop too:


$6 well spent. I’ve also checked out a couple of promising reads from the library:


Still working on my Gingers. I started anew with a size 6 since my last attempt at size 8 yielded über mom pants with too much wiggle room around the tummy and thighs. I got my size 6 pattern pieces all prettily cut up, selected a denim from my pile that wasn’t quite stretchy enough, and alas, I couldn’t even get my calf in. I dove back into my pile, found another denim (in grey this time) with significantly more stretch, basted it up, but no, still too small. And the size 8 mom pants are fitting much better all of sudden, though still a touch loose. I am somewhere between a 6 and 8, it seems, though I have a sneaking suspicion that my monthly cycle may morph my body into two completely different sizes, depending on the time of the month. Since I clothe myself exclusively in knits and worn out jeans, this is difficult to verify.


Sigh. I’m getting mighty comfortable at the drawing board.

Anyway. Quietly, quietly. Time to pipe down and soothe, to still my overactive tendencies, to drink tea and let lozenges slowly melt in my mouth. To wait for the departure of my cough. And maybe dream about knitting something.


Cough Cough


As I’m typing this, I hear the muffled yet constant coughing from K’s room.


Still sick. She insisted that she was all better and braved the cold and wind and rain, parading around with friends on Halloween night. Came home with her voice hoarse and cheeks rouged, fingers icy. She gleefully counted her candy: 80 pieces (AND I ate sooo many while trick-or-treating, Mama!). Collapsed in a coughing fit. All that candy was probably not wise.


So today (and maybe tomorrow and the day after) is all about herbal tea with honey and reading books and burrowing into bed and extra hugs.


Cough cough. Oh. I hear her…singing? Better check on her.

This is the part about autumn that I always forget: the flurry of fever and germs and little sniffling people. But the light is pretty this time of year and I find it endearing how she gets so engrossed in books that she forgets to eat.


I fought a good battle, but I’m toting a box of tissues with me everywhere now too…

P.S. Furoku 8 has gone out! Please let me know if you have any issues.



Happy Friday + Randomness


Happy Friday! Do you like K’s instructions for this year’s Halloween costume? “Tight” seems to be the overriding theme…She’s been into this show called Mighty Med, which is about a hospital for superheroes. As a result, there’s been a significant uptick in the obsession level of all things superhero-related (Marvel comic books are permanently piled next to the kitchen table). I’m a little stumped when it comes to what she wants attached to the velcro strips on the utility belt, but it seems like something doable in 24 hours, right? It’ll have to be since that’s all I have until the annual Halloween-themed, dress-up bash at K’s school.


Wishing you all a cozy weekend! It’s gorgeous in Seattle, and I’m savoring this slightly-chilly-yet-sunny autumn with multiple cups of warm beverages and walks around pretty neighborhoods. I love this time of year so much.

Superhero K
will rise from the fabric pile
shining mightily


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


Happy Friday! Above are my poor, poor neglected serger (left) and sewing machine (right). Did you know that you can use a regular old sewing machine cover for your serger too? The pear print is what could be considered a vintage Kokka linen/cotton blend — I made that cover for my very first Singer sewing machine back in 2007 or so. I adore that fabric. The cover on the right was a potential book project (it has multiple pockets), but it didn’t make the cut.

Good news: final illustrations for the book are COMPLETE. I still have a couple of extremely minor things to turn in before I can call it a wrap, but the illustration portion was huge (over 300 files!). Now that I’ve become a little familiar with this process, I’ve given myself a few days to relax after the milestone. I’m going to ease back into my beloved routines and ever so slowly ramp up. I can tell I’m doing the right thing because I haven’t gotten sick at all. Both K and M have been under the weather, sadly, but I’ve been hearty enough for both of them to handle care-taking duties.

So I’m off to revel in this feeling of accomplishment for a bit before channeling my energy into a new phase that I’m excited about. I hope you all have a great weekend, and I’ll see you some time next week!

What shall I sew first?
A costume for K, perhaps?
Or maybe for me…


Happy Friday + Randomness


I did not make my deadline. This was a colossal bummer since I’d told everyone and their pets that I would be officially fini with all book brouhaha by October 5th (even the barista at my regular coffee shop haunt greeted me with a high five on The Day). I was technically done — of course, I’m using the words “technically done” very loosely here — on Monday, but then I kept finding mistake after mistake. It killed me, but I asked for an extension. Again. I used to pride myself on keeping my word and meeting deadlines, but them’s bygone days it seems…Each time I don’t hit a deadline, a little part of me withers, but I’m very lucky that the lovely folks at my publisher are wonderfully accommodating. So I am still, still hunkered down, painting and illustrating. It’s the last big hurdle of the book process for me and for reasons beyond my understanding, I keep complicating things by trying to get fancy when simple is always best.

Some of what you see above may end up as decorative elements, we’ll see.

Alright. Even my mom has stopped reading my blog, so I’m quite certain I’m yammering on to an audience of about 3 people at this point — no matter. It’s funny how I noticed that I’d been feeling jittery and as though something was sorely lacking, and then I realized I’d let yet another week go without updating here. As soon as I snapped a photo and started typing, I felt a curious release of tension, a decompression. Relief. That’s what it was. I suppose there are worse things to be addicted to than blogging.

I’m so looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. Soon, soon!

My haiku brain’s stalled
Just coming up with this one
felt herculean

Have a wonderful weekend!



Happy Friday + Randomness


Happy Friday! I was going through some of my old photos, and I found this image I’d snapped of a cardboard sign someone had tacked up near a construction site. It’s an iphone shot, so it’s not stellar in quality but the message more than makes up for it, don’t you think? I had an interesting conversation with a couple of friends the other day about how the internet’s anonymity seems to breed meanness. I wonder what kind of world it would be if the philosophy above was widespread on and offline? Now that’s where I want to live.

It looks like it’ll be one more week of posting just once, but then, THEN, I’m back to regularly scheduled programming! I’m beside myself with anticipation.

So I’m keeping it brief to give me maximum work time, and I’ll be back with so much to say soon-ish!!

Hello October
Fancy seeing you so soon
Need costumes pronto

P.S. Furoku members, #7 has been sent! Please check your promotions or spam folders if you don’t see it.


Minimalist Sewing for K


After receiving even more new-to-K clothes from our neighbor last week, we went through K’s entire closet and all of her dresser drawers to take stock of her clothing situation. It is, in a word, crazytown.

I know there’s a whole lot of capsule wardrobe talk going around the interwebs, and I so admire the concept, but as we sorted through hundreds of items that I’ve made for K, it was time to admit that we’ve crossed over into the opposite of capsule: hoarder territory.

“We have to get rid of this, I made this three years ago!” I beseeched, holding up a wrinkled floral dress. K shook her head resolutely. And the thing is, most of the clothes I made when I first started sewing regularly for her still fit. I switched tactics and taught her the Marie Kondo method and asked her to only keep the garment if it sparked joy. She said “thank you and good-bye” to 15 things. On the one hand, this is ego-boosting on my part, but on the other hand, it doesn’t solve our problem. An excessively sentimental mother-daughter duo trying to eliminate handmade clothes is a recipe for disaster.

I keep revisiting my internal conflict of wanting to continue practicing my sewing vs. the guilt I grapple with as I generate more clothing than my daughter could possibly need. I love love love sewing for her. As we sat amid a literal mountain of clothes, we figured out that she could wear something different every day for a year. Every. Single. Day. This is ridiculous.

Yes, the obvious answer is to stop sewing for her. But I’m not quite ready for that so instead I’m going to adopt a minimal sewing plan for this autumn/winter. I’ll focus on clothes that she will actually wear regularly like knit tunics/dresses and skinny jeans and jeggings (or plain leggings). And for some reason, she loves zip-up vests and cardigans. I’m going to have to deploy some sneaky methods to reduce her gargantuan wardrobe. I know I’ll fall off the wagon and whip up some impractical, sure-to-be-ignored linen outfit here and there, but right now, I feel like I can get all minimalist and capsule-y with my sewing. I’ve got this.

P.S. A knit tunic coming up on Wednesday – I tried something new!

P.P.S. Happy Labor Day to all those in the US!! I forgot all about it since all the days have been blending into each other. The tail end of summer is always that way for me…

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