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!


Monthly Income Report + Furoku Membership Sign-ups



Before I go into my monthly income report, I’ve received several emails from people wanting to join the Furoku membership, so as promised, I’m opening it up again! I find it mind-boggling and buoying and humbling that folks are willing to travel with me on this admittedly undefined and slapdash adventure of mine. To sum up what was part of last month’s furoku, I receive the loveliest of comments from Kay:

Dear Sanae,

I received my first furoku and am totally delighted! Frankly, I did not expect much — I really joined to help you out in your big adventure but your furoku is worth every bit of my investment. Love reading your story, love the mini cards and yes, I did print them up on cream colored cardstock and they turned out beautifully! This was my first time doing something like that and it was easy with your clear instructions. Your artwork is gorgeous and I am oddly quite proud to be the owner of these original cards and can’t wait to use them. Not sure I like cutting out the envelopes but they are charming and really, the cards do need made to order matching envelopes. I was also touched by your donation of part of the proceeds to a worthy cause. And thank you also for the discount for fabric! This furoku was a big hit with me and I can’t wait until next month!

p.s. Cutting out the envelopes took very little time and they are so well shaped that folding is intuitive as well as professional looking. Also viewed the video and enjoyed it immensely!


It is quite possibly the most validating and motivating comment ever — thank you, Kay!! I know that I won’t nail it every month (and I’m sure that I probably didn’t even come close to nailing it for some of the furoku members…I promise to do my best though), particularly while I’m still working on book #2, but I have to tell you: I have so many ideas! My idea cup overfloweth. I want to be able to customize the monthly furoku as much possible and my ultimate aim is to create a very collaborative space. And guess what? The collaboration has already started…Per Kay’s comment, I included downloadable mini cards, and you can get a peek of one of them up at the very top (that little French bulldog up there is actually modeled after one of the member’s pups).

Then unbeknownst to me, fabulous Greta utilized Spoonflower to create this one-of-a-kind fabric with my designs (I made them copyright free in the hopes people will do exactly something like this) and sewed a dress!!!!! She sent me these photos:


Blown. Away. The Spoonflower fabric is cotton poplin, the pattern is the Geranium by Made by Rae, the skirt fabric is Joel Dewberry. I was so moved and was crying so much, K thought I’d broken a bone or something. Oh, I love the piping and the cute little buttons. Greta, I have no adequate words.


And other collaborations are in the works!! I have most of Furoku #2 done (it’s very different from #1), and I think this one will be really fun. It all still sounds amorphous, I’m aware, but can you tell that creative energy is abrewing?


Okay, onto the monthly income report. Aside from the one week of spring break, I’ve been channeling the kind of focus reserved for surgeons and snipers on book #2 (thank you SO much for the productivity tips, they’ve been super helpful!) and considering that I launched all this at the end of March, I kept my expectations very low. The total came out to a little less than $400 — $377.81 to be exact — but I’m flabbergasted that I have anything to report. I’ll reserve the details for members, but I had a couple of income sources in March. It’s daunting, seeing the $20,000 column looming over the tiny sliver of March 2015…However, Little Kunoichi is about to spread her wings into the big wide world, I’m narrowing down which products to create/sell and who knows how things will shake out by December 2015?


My hope is that by July, I’ll be in full membership website development mode. If you’d like to join to have a major say in how the membership site will be crafted and get a unique digital gift every month, I hope you’ll sign up if you haven’t already:

[UPDATE: removed until next month!]

I’m still trying to figure out the whole tracking thing with subscriptions (technology is not my strong suit), so will keep the button up until the end of next week, and will re-open sign-ups mid-May-ish. A million thank yous for all the encouragement and support!! I am so very grateful.

A Past Monday Outfit Giveaway [CLOSED]


Good morning! Time is of the essence as I juggle multiple projects for deadlines that are coming up at the end of the month. In my characteristic overly optimistic way,  K and I planned some fun outfits for me to sew up for her this weekend, and of course, by late Saturday evening it was obvious the outfits weren’t going to happen.

My harried state of being was abundantly evident on that same Saturday evening when K, her friend and I swooped into the theater parking area (we had tickets for Robinhood, if you recall) with 9 minutes to spare. I’d just negotiated a labyrinthine series of construction roadblocks which made a normally 10-minute drive into a crazed, 35-minute one. Fortunately, I’m freakishly paranoid about being late for anything and always leave excessively early. I cut off the engine and frantically fished through my bag for my wallet to insert my debit card into the parking meter. Nothing. No wallet! I’d left it at home. This is something so rare, K gasped.

“We’ll have to miss the play,” I announced gravely. I had no money to pay for parking, no ID to show for the will-call tickets. 8 minutes until showtime.

The girls were crestfallen, and it’s amazing how the brain kicks in when faced with two stricken-looking tweens. I restarted the car, zoomed into the nearby grocery store parking lot — conveniently located roughly two blocks from the theater — and the three of us hauled ourselves at breakneck speed toward the will-call window. The women behind the glass didn’t even ask for my identification and placed the tickets into my sweaty palms. I glanced at the clock: 1 minute until showtime!

Robinhood was awesome. It had a bit of a contemporary twist to it (think disco music), and was full of humor and excellent performances. Note to self: I better go back to that grocery store and buy a ton of food – I’m feeling guilty about parking not-so-legally.

For spring break last week, I tried really hard to focus on K and spending time with her; I also tried desperately to find small pockets of time to hustle on work-related tasks when she was happily occupied with friends, but those were hard to come by. Though I felt good about prioritizing family time, I’ve been tamping down my mounting distress that other things are not getting done. Laundry? Psh. Cleaning? I wish dust farming existed, as I seem to excel at harvesting dust bunnies. As much as I love them, I’ve been cursing all those sound-bitey Ted Talks and books about organization and prioritization — I do think they help remind me about what’s important, but they’re useless when it comes to dealing with the uneasy feelings that come with choosing relationships over impending work deadlines and basic home maintenance.

Anyway. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I may not be gracefully executing my projects, and I may be throwing out a cop-out post offering up a hardly worn garment for a giveaway (and it’s possible I’ll do this again next week), but childhood is fleeting and memory-making is priceless, no?

I’m not sure if anyone is going to want this pullover I made a while ago. It’s super stylish, I think, but it’s not animal print which is the singular most important criteria for K as we all know. So it’s up for grabs. It’s about a 5T in size and it’s not perfectly made, but I was pretty proud of figuring out what was one of the most complicated pocket instructions to date.

I’ve heard of pomodoro techniques, GTD, et al — but if you would like to enter the giveaway, I’d be delighted to know: what’s your most effective productivity or focusing techniques? Do you hide your phone/devices? Or conversely do you live and die by a particular app? Clearly, I need some help and love recommendations from folks.

The giveaway will be open until this Thursday, April 23rd and I’ll announce the winner on Friday. Do I need to mention that international entries are welcome at this point? Good luck!

P.S. Apparently there was some kind of technical glitch on Friday and people weren’t able to leave comments – sorry about that! It’s all fixed now, I believe.

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.


I was gaining momentum…


…and then my custom illustration output had to be put on hold as I re-examined my to-do list. Which is a shame because I really, really enjoy working on them.

Like this foxy guy.


They’re actually not entirely on hold, since I’m painting what I can here and there, but progress is slooooooooooooow. But mark my words, they will get done!

I’m loving all the various requests so much, I’ve scanned them all with a vague notion of showcasing them together at some point. So many plans, so many hopes. When will human cloning become a viable option?


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!

Little Kunoichi Process Sneak Peek + Preorder Info

lk-process1One month until the official launch of Little Kunoichi!! May 5th is the big day. My heart palpitations are on the rise and I’m vacillating to and fro between nervousness and excitement. I heard an author on one of the bazillion podcast episodes that I listen to, and I can’t remember which author it was, but she said that she was “cautiously optimistic” about her book. I feel exactly the same way.

You can see a glimpse of how the cover of Little K evolved above, and today I wanted to show you a quick overview of the pictorial process of creating the interior pages of my children’s book. I’ve already given you a long-winded text-heavy version of the same process, but images always add more, don’t you think?

So, everything started with the “pitch”. Since I would be the writer and illustrator of the story, my editor and I agreed that as a first-timer, I should take it up a notch and provide a storyboard with thumbnail sketches to try to win the team over. I worked on a formal proposal with my editor and then sketched out each spread on blank 3″ x 5″ index cards, scanned them in and submitted this:


Happily, the publisher signed me up, and the next phase involved fleshing out the details of my rough sketches. I created full-size greyscale sketches of each spread and here’s what the opening spread sketch looked like:


After some feedback and tweaking, I plunged myself into weeks of painting. I’m planning a separate post on how exactly I create my illustrations (it’s a combination of hand-painting and digital assembly), but ultimately, that greyscale sketch turned into a very colorful final version. I turned in the art, and then the lovely designer at Sasquatch prettied things up and added the necessary text. Voila:


What was so encouraging about the process was how streamlined it was. I felt like the story emerged wholly-formed from the get-go and the illustrations and text remained virtually unchanged throughout. It was a dream project, and I’m so so pleased with the outcome. I’m giving you just a little taste today, but I hope this gives an interesting inside look into the making of a children’s book — at least my version.



I’m working on more sneak peek posts and some fun activities leading up to the “pub date,” as they say in the biz. The launch party is scheduled on Mother’s Day, May 10th at Queen Anne Book Co. from 4-6pm and if you’re local, I hope you’ll be able to make it! It’ll be a special Mother’s Day gift for me, I’ve been telling K. More on that soon.

Queen Anne Book Co. is taking pre-orders as well. We wanted to make these pre-order copies a little special, and if you place your order through QABC before April 25th, you will receive a signed copy. I’d love to personalize the books (maybe with an extra little illustration!) if you leave specific names in the comments section when you order here. The only caveat is that this applies only to US residents since QABC is a charming, but very local and small independent bookstore. [Update: don’t be scared by the $180 cost that shows up! There’s some kind of display error, but the correct amount will be charged, the bookstore staff has assured]

But Little Kunoichi can be pre-ordered all over the place including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound  and Powells. I even added a new My Book tab above that also includes a button for easy ordering (sigh, this required me to exercise some underused braincells and took me forever to figure out…).

Thank you for your continued support and please tell everyone you know about Little K!!

Happy Monday + Easter Bunny T-Dress


Good morning! Today, I have more of a craft project to share with you since the garment itself is simply an elongated t-shirt (using the same pattern as here). I added roughly 10 inches to the length.


The frogtastic tee is so beloved (and now that I think about it, I used the same pattern for that tee too), I wanted to give freezer paper stenciling another go. I even created a visual step-by-step!


I used the ubiquitous, standard freezer paper like this one, and the fabric paint is this brand. I forgot to heat set it since K was so eager to get the dress on, but that’s a good thing to remember. As you can see from the image above and from about sixteen thousand tutorials online, the freezer paper stenciling process is very straightforward.

1. Using a regular pen, I sketched out the general design on the non-coated side of the freezer paper. The plastic coated side is what will stick to the fabric when you iron it on, so keep this in mind.

2. Then, with an Exacto knife, I cut out the shape, and since I knew I wanted an outline of the bunny, I also cut the bunny out from the other side of the outline.

3. Iron the freezer paper on to your fabric. Remember to put the coating side down. I used my wool setting without steam, and though it got a teensy bit puckered, it wasn’t too bad and didn’t affect the results.

4. To ensure that the fabric paint doesn’t bleed through and stick to the back of the tee, place a piece of cardboard or several sheets of thick paper inside the tee, between the front and back layers.

5. I have the small set of these Jacquard textile paints. They seem to work well and the paint is flexible even after it’s dry.

6. Using a brush that’s not precious (I have a lot of watercolor brushes I don’t let K use), paint the open areas of the stencil. K did an excellent job.

7. We did two coats, waiting just a few minutes between each coat (like 5 minutes).  We could have done one more, probably, and should have waited for the paint to dry between coats, but we were impatient.

8. Without waiting for the paint to dry, peel off the freezer paper. This is my favorite part – love to see those crisp lines! I didn’t cut out the eyes or nose for the stencil because I thought K would want to freestyle to her liking, but then she asked me to do it, so I directly painted the eyes and nose/mouth.

9. And we can’t forget some kind of animal print element, can we? The leopard print ribbon is from here.

bunny-tee-dress3 bunny-tee-dress5

K gave the t-shirt dress an enthusiastic thumb’s up! She ran out the door, all ready to be an Easter Egg Huntress.


We worked on the stenciling on Saturday afternoon and it was so easy and quick – ahhhhh, satisfaction. The part that excited her most, of course, was the animal print bow and she deliberated over where the exact placement should be for a very long time. I’m of the opinion that she chose the best spot. I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend!


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