Empty Nest Prepper

Image taken at Luna Liquida Hotel, Puerto Vallarta

I am married to a doomsday prepper. Our basement is filled with vats of powdered emergency food stuffs, oxygen bags, industrial outdoor gear, large plastic containers of water, hazmat suits, and more. There’s even an ice pick hanging on the wall, which he used for mountaineering with a friend, but I’m pretty sure that it’s part of his apocalypse arsenal. He’s researched generators and studied blueprints for bunkers. At one point he ordered numerous books on urban farming and off-the-grid how-to manuals in case the internet ceased to exist. This survivalist mentality started decades before the pandemic was even a sniffle in our collective nostrils.

It’s hard to explain, but this quality is both disturbing and endearing to me. I don’t subscribe to the intense fear that drives prepper-ism, but I’m a planner by nature so I get it.

In fact, I’ve been doing my own doomsday prepping these days. My particular doomsday is tied to K’s imminent transition from high school to college. In the fall, she’ll be flying from the Pacific Northwest coop and going to the Midwest — Chicago to be exact — which feels so far from Seattle. My identity is unapologetically ensconced in motherhood, and since she is my one and only child, things are about to get funky for me.

My new identity will be as an empty nester. It’s interesting: K reported that according to her psychology teacher, empty nesters are the happiest people. I’m willing to consider that as a possibility, but I’ll have to go through a stage of deep grief first. For the last almost eighteen years, I have been perpetually tracking and managing her schedule, strategizing what to feed her, analyzing her needs and wants. There will be a giant hole in my brain and heart when the tracking and strategizing and analyzing become unavailable and obsolete.

How am I prepping? For one, I’ve been doing a lot of contemplating about who I am and who I want to be without mothering at the forefront. Sure, I’m a wife and daughter and sister and friend and creator of books and sewing projects and such, and these will continue to be important roles. And it’s not as if I won’t have any maternal duties once K is off to college. I don’t have definitive answers yet, of course, but I’ve been dreading/enjoying the contemplation. I also often wonder whether I’ve equipped my daughter with sufficient life skills. And I worry that I’ve saddled her with my neuroses. Only time will tell.

I’ve been continuing to purge as well. As I’ve mentioned M and I may or may not move when she leaves, but I’m preparing nonetheless. K and I went through the bins with her childhood toys and stuffed animals and clothes. Oh, the clothes! Remember the hundreds and hundreds of garments I sewed? We’ve kept only a handful. I am ridding the collection of cookie cutters from the days when I used to make cute pancake shapes (insane, now that I think about it). We have dozens of volleyballs from all the camps and teams she participated in. Do we keep any? A deluge of emotions…and at the same time, liberating.

How could she have been so little! And oh, she was clearly meant to be a musician…

I’m in the thick of prepping, and I may have more to say later but for now I’m going to make a list of all the other items to tackle: K’s schoolwork from kindergarten to high school; her music paraphernalia (what should we do with her piano?); her room! Will I finally stop sewing in my bedroom and use her room as a studio? Or maybe it would be a moot point if M and I move. He hasn’t quite let go of the mobile home idea, but is keenly interested in boat-living now. I’m not on board, pun intended. Not the least of which because I get seasick.

Anyway. Empty nest prepping. It’s happening. If you’ve gone through it, I welcome any words of wisdom and anecdotes of the experience! 

Empty nests and flying the coop reminded me: have you ever seen a peacock take flight? It’s startling and not as graceful as I expected. Quite shocking in its blustery-ness, to be honest. I guess all those feathers are somewhat cumbersome…

In other news:

  • Sashiko’s. Stitches releases on April 2nd!! Pre-orders are available wherever books are sold. I’ll share some behind the scenes next time.
  • I’m starting on a new book, so I will be in focus mode for the next few months. I may not be on social media much, not that I’m too active regularly.
  • I’m still de-stashing my ample fabric hoard and am sewing, sewing, sewing (okay, mostly planning on sewing, but some sewing is definitely going on). I’ll try to share as much as I can in the next month or two.

That’s it for now! Hope you’re having a lovely, lovely end of February (a leap year, which makes it feel extra special)!! It’s almost spring here, can you believe it?

Crazy + Cozy

Hello there! 2024 has started out rather crazily for me: injuries, financial upheavals, accidents (vehicular and otherwise), spectacular emotional blow-ups, resurgence of long forgotten ailments, and just general weirdness — I’ve contended with them all in the last month. And of course, there are the global/national events. It definitely has NOT been boring. When I was getting my teeth cleaned last week, the hygienist was experiencing a bout of craziness as well, and we joked that maybe Saturn is twisting or some such (I don’t know much about astrology) and the full moon is probably messing with us.

How are things for you?

To counter the crazy and to fortify myself, I’ve been turning to coziness. Piping hot cups of tea and coffee. Sewing. Painting cute things. Reading cozy mysteries. Chatting with friends. Cooking hearty meals for my family. Cuddling with my cat. And yes, knitting. I think the coziness is helping? 

And speaking of cozy, I have some more Creativebug classes coming up in February — here’s a little sneak peek (if you want to see all the classes I’ve taught so far click here and grab whatever great deal is going on):

I love Creativebug, I really do.

Anyway, when circumstances feel tilted toward the unwanted, I practice appreciating as much as I can (though I could be better at it) and I allow myself to think, “something amazing must be happening soon.” In my 52 years of living, the truism has held up without fail: this too shall pass. One of the most edifying parts of growing older is knowing that I can handle the lows and enjoy the highs, often simultaneously. With that thought propelling me forward, I’m going to sign off here. If I find pockets of time, I will create something fun for Valentine’s Day and post it in the next week or two.

Take care, friends!

P.S. The knitting project up there is yet another scarf. I claimed that I would knit a sweater and I am determined to do so at some point in 2024, but right now a simple scarf feels just right.

2023 Free Holiday Tags

This week I met up with a friend to catch up over delicious green tea, and we both marveled at what a blur this year has been. I can’t, for the life of me, remember much of it. There was the excitement of K’s launch of her first EP, of course. One of her songs from the EP, 1000 Paper Cranes, was featured on KNDD (a local radio station), and we waited with bated breath for her song debut during a segment called Locals Only. Thrilling beyond words.

A big highlight for me was working on a picture book that will be released next spring, and I’ll do some promo activities at the beginning of 2024. If you’re interested, though, Sashiko’s Stitches is available for preorder now! It’s a heart-filling story in a good way (available wherever books are sold!).

In addition to book-making, I taught a bunch of workshops and Creativebug classes (make sure to take advantage of the free ones this month here), and I’ll be teaching more next year. I adore the Creativebug staff, and every filming session in California has been enormous fun.

There were many other brazenly momentous as well as quietly significant situations in 2023. I have been wanting to tell you about an extraordinary health crisis reversal that happened — I had quite a scare in the beginning of the year, and though there IS a happy ending, I’m not sure that I have it in me to describe it in full at this juncture. It was a lot. It seems to me that the fact that I’m still here, fairly intact, is enough. A friend called me a “DIY Medical Miracle,” and I like the sound of that very much.

I have been mulling over this quote:

“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final” 

― Rainer Maria Rilke

It’s a good one.

But let’s bring it back to the main point of this post: holiday tags that I designed. Every year I hope that these little freebies are helpful and that they add some festive flair during this often stressful season. I kept it simple and focused on just tags this year instead of furiously trying to add mini wrapping paper designs as I have done in the past. Simplifying has been my theme for a long while now. I just want to declutter and un-complicate life as much as possible. M and I may move next year once K is off to college, so I’ve been steadily purging. It’s really amazing how much stuff accumulates. Even more amazing is how very little I actually need. 

M occasionally gloms onto the notion of moving into a mobile home (college is expensive, ya know), and though it wouldn’t be my top choice, I do wonder what it would be like to minimize my possessions to fit into a double-wide. Or a beautiful small cabin nestled in a forest near a big lake…I wouldn’t say no to that.

Anyway, I got sidetracked again. Holiday tags! To download, click on the images below.

Please let me know if you have any issues downloading/printing them! I know that little frog is totally random, but I think it’s so cute!

As usual I’m going to take the rest of December off, and I’ll see you back here some time in January. This Christmas is extra special because I’ll be spending it with my Mama. Now that she lives in Japan, traveling has been more challenging so I haven’t seen her in person since 2019! 

Wishing you the loveliest of holidays, my friends, and let’s make The Year of the Dragon a gorgeous one! 2024, I’m ready for you!!!!

2023 Advent Calendar – The Final One

This is it, my friends. The final Advent Calendar for my not-so-little girl. Next year around this time, she’ll be somewhere on a college campus, taking exams or grabbing food from the dorm cafeteria on her way to a class. The daunting phrase is looming above me all the time lately: empty nester. I have a plethora of thoughts on that. But I won’t go into them right now.

For 11 straight years, I’ve handcrafted a different advent calendar during the month of November to set it up by the last day of the month. I can’t believe we’ve come to this point.

Mushrooms. And acorns. K has an abiding love of shrooms (strictly decorative, mind you — at least as far as I know). Since greens and browns and neutral hues are her faves, I used those as the color palette guide for these sweet wool felt “ornaments.” And yes, I embroidered each one by hand, though I machine-stitched the actual mushroom/acorn shapes. As per usual, I added a touch of gold by painting a sheet of watercolor paper and punching out little circles.

It’s a similar concept to last year’s in that each day she’ll transfer a mushroom or an acorn to the Christmas tree as part of the countdown. I used these Merchant and Mills French safety pins, which I’ve had tucked away in my sewing desk. Cute, right? They work perfectly for this set-up because the clasp part grips nicely to the twine and she can easily remove each ornament. I could have gone blingier and bigger and way over the top for the grand finale, but this simple and homespun advent calendar feels just right.

I am quite emotional right now. K and I have been working on her college applications these past few months, and she’s nearly done (only two more schools to go!). So many changes afoot, so many amazing developments.

There are a billion other things going on, but for today I just wanted to share this assortment of fungi and oaknuts. Also! I included a couple of other store-bought advent calendars with chocolates and teas to add to the fun:

Incidentally, I hand-dyed the silk fabric under the advent calendars with red onion skins — I spent a delightful day with my awesome friend Rachel, who taught me many, many ways to dye with plants. We even did some indigo dyeing! More on that later!
At any rate, for some nostalgia, here are all the advent calendars from the past:











Alright, it’s time for me to design some stuff. I’ll be back in the next couple of weeks with the annual holiday tags and other downloadable goodies!

Creativebug: The Hanten Coat

Hello my friends! I know, I know, it seems like I am constantly updating you on Creativebug classes. I’ve had the enormous pleasure and honor of filming approximately 20 classes with them, so there’s a lot to talk about. My latest class on how to draft and sew a Hanten Coat just launched and I love, love, love this coat. It’s an enthusiastic nod to the traditional Japanese quilted short jacket by the same name.

You can also check out a fun little styling reel I created with the Creativebug team here. I know I’m biased, but I think it’s a very versatile coat, and it’s surprisingly easy to construct.

I’m a firm believer that everyone learns differently, and I’m delighted to be able to offer the Hanten Coat not only in book form (check out Sewing Love!), but in video format as well.

I actually just returned from filming even more classes with the lovely folks at Creativebug, and a plethora of craftiness that I designed will be available on their site early next year. If you browse through the vast class options on Creativebug, there’s no doubt that you’ll be fully inspired to crank out one beautiful project after another — many of my personal heroes are part of the roster of instructors.

To see all the classes I’ve taught to date on Creativebug, click here. Those cute li’l baby slippers might be just the finishing touch needed for your babe’s Halloween costume (okay, it might be a bit late for this year, but maybe next year?).

This is off topic, but I’ve heard from those in the know that blogs are back. Is that true for you? Are you reading more blogs lately? If so, please share some of your favorites!

Well, it’s time for me to wrap up a few more deadlines (October is always my most hectic time of year), but I will be back with pre-holiday goodness next month! 

Photo credit: Creativebug