Category Archives: Life

Happy Friday + Randomness


Happy Friday! Hey, Little K’s in a magazine! The book got a nice write-up in the May issue of Seattle Magazine, available on stands now. I loved that the fact checker asked if the islands and body of water shown in the first spread actually exist. The answer is no, and in fact, I forgot all about it until now, but I made it so that the islands form the Japanese character for “people” or “hito“. I don’t know, I thought that would be fun. I showed you the progression from sketch to final here. The other two books featured — Arrow to Alaska and Elliot the Otter — are also Spring titles from Sasquatch, so I’m in great company!

I’ve been burning the midnight oil behind the scenes on various book-related projects, and thanks to all the great productivity tips I got from you, I accomplished an enormous amount this week and I tell you, the timer trick is the way to go. I’m prone to procrastination and am an incorrigible over-planner so it can be a deadly combination.


The winner of the pullover giveaway is Melinda, congrats!


Thank you so so much
Love that furoku members
are growing slowly*

*I’ve never expected nor wanted a ginormous response, and for me, this gradual and steady pace feels just right. There are no guarantees, of course, but it’s starting to feel like I’m actually going to achieve my end-of-the-year goal!


Happy Friday + Randomness


Happy Friday! That image up there pretty much sums up our spring break: sleeping in and blissed-out exhaustion from nonstop fun.

What’s odd is that despite being a rabid and chronic scheduler, I had virtually nothing planned, and what I did have planned shouldn’t have been fun — namely an appointment with the orthodontist:


There’s a striking pair of walls lined with silver boxes at the ortho office, and each box contains teeth molds for all the pediatric patients (sort of creepy, sort of cool). K and I love the orthodontist, is that weird? She’s down-to-earth, great with kids, and she’s made the whole braces process a breeze for K. She even pre-ordered a copy of Little Kunoichi!

When we first consulted Dr. B almost two years ago, I noticed a before-and-after photo on the her desk. It depicted a close-up of some serious orthodontic work and showed only the mouth. The dramatic and awesome dental transformation amazed me, and when I remarked on it, she revealed that the photo was actually of herself as a teen. “It changed my life and it’s the reason I became an orthodontist,” she said. I liked her immediately.

K has had her braces for over a year and a half and soon, they’re coming off! Which means K will get retainers. As if that weren’t good enough news, the orthodontist has animal print options. She’s just out-of-this-world fantastic like that and K fell in love with her even more:

ortho2 ortho3

So the appointment was fun and she chose tiger stripes, natch. Not-the-greatest ipad photos, but the spotty socks with the stripey shoes make me smile.

And then somehow our week filled with activities organically, and the highlight was the Queen Mary Tea Room, to which I took K and one of her closest friends:


They gussied up in party dresses, brought dolls with them, and enjoyed high tea in an elaborately kitch Victorian decor. They sipped Chocolate Peppermint Rooibos tea, wolfed down miniature scoops of sorbet, finger sandwiches, purple cotton candy and fruit dipped in chocolate. Notice the raised pinky. Very important.

queen-mary-tea-room2 queen-mary-tea-room3

They were gaga over the whole experience. That’s a pretty timer they had for steeping (3 minutes, 4 minutes, 5 minutes). There was swimming and impromptu playdates and mama-daughter time galore, and I just scored tickets to go see Robinhood for tomorrow and will take K and another friend.

Best. Spring. Break. Ever. At least, that’s what K said. I didn’t get a whole lot of work done, but it’s been undeniably bonding. And that’s what counts, right?

Happy weekend, everyone!

Braces will come off
Only five more weeks to go
Finally: chew gum!*

*K has lamented all the treats she missed out on Halloween and Christmas and Easter and at the top of her post-braces wish list is gum.


My 8-Year-Old Fashionista


A few weeks ago, my mom sent K a box filled with thrifted animal print clothes. Dresses, skirts, jackets, scarves, lingerie (??), hair bands, and even a backpack, though I don’t think a lot of it is meant for kids. Needless to say, K belted out a yelp of joy, and since then she’s worn nothing but outfits from that box (except for the lingerie, which is all sorts of wrong on multiple levels).

It’s a sight to behold. From head to toe, she’s generally decked out in spots and tiger stripes, and she looks as though an inspired scientist decided to create the ultimate big cat hybrid. The leg warmers up there weren’t part of the package, but they were also a gift from my mom when she last visited. They are worn frequently. Simpatico they are, those two.

As you might have guessed, this profound and torrid love affair that K is having with all things animal print is throwing me for a loop. Once she identifies her thing, she’s all in, no holds barred. I’ve maxed out on the number of feline-fur-patterned outfits I can pump out, and really, I’m wary to add anymore to her already over-the-top collection. So I’m going to patiently wait for the linen phase to start. What’s that? You don’t think it’ll ever happen either? Sigh. I think some millenial version of goth fashion might be next.

What you see in the image above are her utmost faves from the box (I’ve started to italicize it in my mind). I was going to take a photo of K wearing all of them at once as she often does, but…well, it’s a lot to take in. Did you ever have that? Some fashion item or print you just couldn’t get enough of? I seem to recall going through a big head-to-toe denim phase…

It’s officially spring break! I have minimal childcare this week, so I’ll be focusing on having fun with K and posts may be going up later than usual. Happy spring!

Happy Friday + Randomness


Happy Friday! Friends, I miss sewing for myself. Yes, my sloth-like progression with the Ginger jeans is still lurking in the background, but as each day greets me with promises of summer, I find myself having fantasies about pretty spring dresses, floaty tops, tunic-style t-shirts…so I thumbed through my Japanese books and monster patterns binder, and that up there is my imaginary sewing plans. Once book #2 is wrapped up (about 2 more months!), I am going to stitch myself a high quality and super versatile wardrobe, and that’s a promise I’m determined to keep. I’ve been wearing the same five clothing items every week for the last few months to conserve mental power, and I’m becoming frayed around the edges literally and figuratively. These patterns/books may help me look less Pig-Pen-ish:

Butterick 5781
McCalls 6359
Vogue 1247
McCalls 6752

Pleated-Bodice Dress
Jersey Top with Cape Sleeves
Tank Dress


I just love all of K’s comments about this particular phase she’s going through:

M: Hey, I saw you talking on the phone with your friend. What were you guys chatting about?*

K: None of your beeswax, Daddy. Tween business.

*This is a new thing: K and one of her friends call each other from time to time using the moms’ phones and have meandering, seemingly endless conversations. A preview into teenhood…


Happy, happy weekend, everyone!

It’s spring break next week
We’re not going anywhere
Can’t wait to sleep in

P.S. The winner of the fabric giveaway is Bonnie! Congrats!

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!

Happy Friday + Randomness


Happy Friday! I’m working on (what I hope will be) a fun sneak peek post for Little Kunoichi next week, and as I was planning it, I thought of my favorite illustrator in the world: Carson Ellis. My own drawings feel like feeble chicken scratches next to her masterful art, but I don’t hold that against her. She just released a new book, Home, and oh…it’s classic Carson Ellis with the luscious details and hidden gems and muted tones that feels so very Pacific Northwest. Like this:


This is her debut as auther/illustrator though she’s a veteran illustrator; in the past, she’s teamed up with her musician and writer husband to write a runaway bestselling children’s series (I hear the movie rights are in the works) and has illustrated some of my all-time beloved books like this one. It’s one of K’s faves too.

I have every intention of becoming friends with Carson even though she has no earthly idea of who I am. I feel the same way about Molly of Orangette (who is also unaware of my existence). As a trio, I’m certain we can combine cooking, illustrating and sewing into a grand force of good — with some writing thrown in. My hope is that I’ll think back on this post in the near future and chuckle slightly red-cheeked about my creepy stalker-ness as I sip coffee with Carson and Molly at one of the fabulous cafes in the PNW. We need to dream big, people.


K on getting older:

“Mama, my life as a tween is hard.” 

I sympathized and told her it sounded like a good title for a book. That made her smile. What do you think?


Off to get my weekend started! Hope you all have a lovely one!

SVE gift’s here
I knew it would be gorgeous
above and beyond*

*My SVE partner was Mirta of Modern Botanics and you can see a glimpse of her gift(s) on instagram. She crafts charming and beautifully handmade/handprinted goods out of her dreamy studio in Italy. Grazi, Mirta! I’ll feature more details later, because the gift deserves a full post!

Happy Friday + Randomness



Happy Friday! It’s been a whirlwind of a week, and I have much to report, but I’m keeping it short and sweet today. This just in: for anyone still waiting for SVE gifts, it’s more than likely that your Secret Valentine shipped from a particular region where the postal system has been delayed several weeks. In fact, my very own Secret Valentine is in that region so I’m waiting for my gift with bated breath (I, of course, know who my partner is and know I’m going to receive something amazing). I’m going to wait to do the round-up until I have the present in my hot little hands, but in the meantime, if you participated and still haven’t received your gift, give me and Ute a shout out.


We have a guinea pig in the house. We’re pet-sitting for K’s friend, and I have to admit that Dorothy — as she’s called — is pretty darn cute with her sparkly eyes and pudgy bod. She’s very well trained and doesn’t like leaving her cage. My kind of pet. We’ll see how I feel after a week with good ole Dorothy.

K is smitten. I can already see the cogs in her mind turning to figure out how to talk me into getting one.


Have a wonderful weekend, friends! I’m off to go recharge…

Daylight savings time
Tends to throw my schedule off
But it’s worth the change*

*I’m looking forward to longer-lasting daylight!

I Can Do Anything, But I Can’t Do Everything


Throughout my childhood and beyond, my mom kept telling me that I can do anything that I set my mind to. I believed her wholeheartedly and set my mind to many career paths, and I have accumulated quite an eclectic background in various fields and industries. I jumped from corporate boardrooms to high school classrooms to theater productions to technology groups to the freelance life in writing, sewing, illustrations and photography. I seem to perennially be a Jane of all trades, master of none.

Recently, I realized that I’ve misunderstood my mom all this time. Somehow I was hearing, “You can do everything.” This is a very dangerous and unhealthy mistake, I’m discovering. We have so many roles to play, all of us, and I constantly have a running monologue in my mind in the form of a checklist. A typical list includes:

  • do laundry
  • plan photo shoots
  • develop patterns
  • schedule K’s playdate
  • remind M to fill out tax forms
  • meet with friend for coffee
  • sew skinny jeans
  • write blog post
  • paint custom illustration
  • contact so-and-so to promote Little Kunoichi
  • buy compost bags and zit cream
  • pick-up guinea pig from K’s friend (we’re pet sitting)

…and the list keeps getting longer and longer every day. Like other moms and women, I juggle home-management with some semblance of work, all the while trying to maintain relationships and family commitments.


Things are falling through the cracks. And the cracks are getting bigger.

A few weeks ago, I had coffee with two delightful and mind-bogglingly talented friends and we talked about the concept of “polymath” – a person with expertise in multiple disciplines. We each have ardent curiosity and enthusiasm for a variety of pursuits including arts and hard sciences and psychology and technology. But because we have so many interests, it’s easy to feel scattered and unfocused. It’s also easy to believe it’s possible to do it all. I mean, just look at all those overnight successes on the internet. Did you hear about the youtube video sensation that garnered millions of hits? A woman unwraps toys from Target. That’s all she does. The seemingly low bar of such stories inserts thoughts in my mind that maybe I too can create some fantastically popular video and rake in gazillions (maybe by folding fabric into origami shapes?) and spend the rest of my days becoming a polymath at a leisurely pace.


I know that the definition for success is amorphous, and money and youtube viewer numbers are not the best indicators, unless that’s your particular M.O. The other morning as I was dropping off K and her friend at school, the friend asked me what I was going to do for the rest of the day. I prattled off something about editing images and writing and she said, “Wow, your day sounds awesome!” And then she said, “If you become famous, will you buy a new car?” Because you know, we drive a junky old car and clearly famous people would never own such a vehicle. I informed her that the chances of me becoming famous are slim to none and it would be a long, long, long time before I could afford to buy a new car at the rate I was going. She looked disappointed that my “job” wasn’t as glamorous as she’d hoped. Remember how I started trying out the Amazon affiliate links? I earned $18.25 for the month of February. Exciting, but not exactly rolling in the dough.

In all but the financial realm though, I’ve been inching closer to my own personal definition of success. For me, a life well-lived is being able to spend my days on my own terms doing what I love with people who matter to me, and I want to create small ways to add beauty and goodwill around me. I’ve always wanted some version of that, though I’ve been fuzzy about what that actually looks like. For my college admissions essay, I unapologetically wrote, “I want to make the world a better place.” Ah, such an earnest idealist. I don’t hold grandiose aspirations at a global level anymore, but if I can nurture my family, be a good friend, and perhaps provide a space that’s on the positive end of the spectrum here with this blog, I’d be heading in the right direction.


My point is not that I am a financial failure nor that I’ve achieved some sort of exalted state of following my passion (ugh – yet another word I can’t seem to write without cringing). I think I’m trying to say that I’m getting closer to a way of living that feels right for me via slow and deliberate steps, but I’m also getting greedy about all the things I want to do. I want to be excellent at everything I love, and it’s just not possible, at least not all at once and not in my lifetime, most likely.

This second book I’m working on serves as an example. When I signed the deal, I agreed to do all of the writing, illustrations, pattern development and photography. It was such an honor! I couldn’t believe they thought I could handle this! The publisher told me that they’ve never actually had one person do all of that for a book. I felt my stomach sink a little at that revelation, but it sounded like a hearty challenge. And let’s be real: the publisher was getting more bang for their buck. It was smart on their part.


At first, I took on every aspect of the book by myself because I have a hard time asking for help. I stayed in my lone wolf comfort zone, writing the words, sewing and illustrating the projects and trying to style and photograph them. It became quickly apparent that my skills were lacking in many of the areas and this bummed me out — I worried about the quality of the book. Eventually, I owned up to where I couldn’t do certain tasks at the level I desired and tentatively reached out for assistance. Sure, I could try to continue bumbling through on my own, but it was uncanny how events unfolded as soon as I accepted my limitations. For example, a few months ago, I admitted to myself that I wasn’t as good a stylist as I wanted to be, then an old friend who’s in the styling biz contacted me out of the blue and after a lovely catch-up session, she connected me to her stylist network here in Seattle.


This past weekend, with the pro bono help of my long-time friend and a new friend — professional stylists with decades of combined experience under their belts — we had a test photo shoot at my house and it was brilliant. They showed up in front of my house loaded up with bins of props and flowers and produce. So fun, so energizing, so full of inspiration. So very different from my lonely, solitary photo shoots filled with doubt and a sense of misgiving. I did, however, suss out that I had to up my photography game significantly since I couldn’t even set up my tripod properly without aid. And it dawned on me that shooting for print is less forgiving than shooting for the web, so I’m already working on rectifying the situation. I am completely open to suggestions for all you photography experts out there.

By the same token, frustrated by the pattern-drafting process, I talked about it with friends some more, and then got hooked up with a professional pattern drafter/sewing expert. She’s been giving me invaluable advice on construction methods for my patterns and it hit home how inadequate my pattern-making skills are. My eyes filled with grateful tears when she showed me an ingenious zipper insertion technique and wowed me with her ability to look at my sketch and immediately figure out the construction.


Other friendlies from the sewing sphere have kindly offered their time to test patterns. And on and on and on. I’ve been overwhelmed by the depth and breadth of magnanimity. And I may even ask you, my dear readers, for input and recommendations. What started out as a daunting solo project has morphed into a wonderfully collaborative, stimulating team effort that’s teaching me so much.

With enough time and knowledge and hard work, I can probably do anything, but I certainly can’t do everything. There’s no shame in not being able to do it all; a few years ago, I would have rather asphyxiated myself with a jump rope than type those words. Sometimes things will fall through the ever-present cracks, but that’s part of the whole process, no? A process of letting go, of finding a foothold in my strengths and being honest about my limitations, grasping onto outreached hands for support. And repeating this cycle for myself, for others, for everything — could this be the way to climb unimaginable heights? Maybe it’s not even about climbing heights but marveling at the power of community to move mountains (or molehills in my case)? As usual, I only have questions and few answers.


P.S. The images are outtakes from this past weekend’s photo shoot with fabulous stylists Allie and Rachel.

Happy Friday + Randomness


Happy Friday! A little illustration I made for a friend – I FINALLY started making progress on the custom illustrations and will start shipping them out over the next few weeks. Note to self: learn how to under-promise and over-deliver instead of the other way around.

This illo reminded me of how, late last night, our neighbor texted me for help. A bird mysteriously appeared in her house and was flapping wildly around in her bedroom. The odd part is that nothing was open — no doors, no windows, no vents. I sent M over to settle the matter, and though they weren’t able to identify the fowl, it looked a little like a crow (but with brownish-orange markings) and was big! M maneuvered the enigmatic bird out the front door with a broom and all was well.


Friends, I have to share this adorable Powerpoint that K made (I wanted to keep the voiceover, but the file got too big so screen shots only):

Slide1 Slide2 Slide3 Slide4 Slide5

It may not be riveting content for those of you not passionate about frogs as K is, and I wish you could hear her voice because it really makes the presentation. And that last slide! Killed me. She made the whole thing herself, including figuring out how to do the voiceover. It wasn’t even a school assignment – she did it purely for fun.


Have a wonderful, wonderful weekend!

February’s done
I better be careful or
the year will fly by*

*What??? It can’t be March already! One of my big goals for 2015 is to be more present (even though it makes me squirmy to type those words — I have weird issues with a lot of words/phrases) and I clearly have my work cut out for me. Speaking of being present, I checked this book out from the library as an afterthought since K wanted to stay longer to read, and I ended up loving it. I finished it last night and parts of it made me cry. I hope to be a wise American one day.

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