2022 Advent Calendar

Happy end of November! Did you have a gratitude-filled holiday weekend? Mine was good and hearty and on the quiet side.

It’s my personal tradition to work on K’s advent calendar around this time of year, and I’m almost done. Because I know that K has zero interest in my blog, it’s safe to share some images here. 

As per usual, I wanted to use what I have on hand. Remember my Swedish tracing paper flower advent calendar? This one is a similar concept, though far less complicated. I am in possession of multiple rolls of Pellon 830 interfacing, which is very similar to STP, and it came in handy for these fluttery “ornaments.” I thought about getting some glow-in-the-dark paint, but ended up experimenting with two different gold watercolors instead. One is more bronze-y than the other.

I didn’t bother with templates or anything. I like the organic quality of the wings and each butterfly is different. With a little double-sided tape magic, it was a breeze to assemble these. Oh, the antenna’s are fake flower stamens left over from past craft projects.

The idea is that K can hang each butterfly on the Christmas tree each day (we’ll be getting our tree some time today). Simple. Fuss-free with a tiny touch of bling. I like it!

Another nice aspect was that I only needed 18 days’ worth since there are some travel plans in the works and there’s no need for a count-down the last week before Christmas.


Alright, I’m going to go finish the advent calendar!! My aim is to position them on a wall with the loops hidden — like a flurry of winter flutterbies! Originally I wanted to wrap each butterfly in crepe paper. It would have been cool for K to unfurl each “cocoon” like a surprise ball, but my prototypes looked…not charming and evocative of turds, let’s just say. I’m glad I decided to simplify, though I was digging the whole metamorphosis conceptualization.

If you’re curious, here are all the calendars from the last 10 years:











I’ve been painting/designing some free printables for you, but I’m not quite done so I’ll be back in early December with the digital goodies. Take good care, my friends!

New Year’s Eve Thoughts

Happy almost 2022! I’m still in disbelief that 2021 is about to end, how about you? We’re buried in snow here in Seattle, experiencing unfamiliar subarctic temps. I haven’t driven for a week, though my intrepid husband ventured out to attempt to swim in Lake Washington three days ago. It’s his thing. Similar to Wim Hoff — aka The Iceman — M is a devout believer in the power of cold water swimming to cure all ailments. He’s been doing it since the pandemic started and it appears to work since he doesn’t seem to succumb to even the mildest of sniffles. Be that as it may, I was relieved when he decided that 28-degrees was taking it too far and merely gazed at the freezing water for an hour while sipping his double espresso. I’ve declined all invitations to join him. I’m not a strong swimmer and barely enter the water in summer months, and I’m not about to plunge into an icy lake.

I do, however, love to walk in the snow. I take long, meandering walks every morning regardless of weather conditions and I’ve been reveling in the soft crunch underfoot these last few days. The photo above is K’s handiwork (rather footwork) when we went on an afternoon walk together — she looked adorable as she jumped in the snow to form the heart shape footprints. Speaking of footprints, I like to see evidence of dog owners and their pups early in the morn on still-fresh swaths of white. I find it charming.

The snow-covered scenery has been ethereal. Snow blooms:

And there’s this metal chair sculpture in my neighborhood that’s fascinated me for years. The practical side of me wonders why it’s in such a strange spot by the sidewalk, but I suppose it’s some deep artistic statement that I’m not understanding.

So. 2022. Are you ready? With school on break and all this snow, the pace of life has been extra languid in the latter half of December, giving me ample time to contemplate what I intend for the new year. And while I contemplated, I organized/purged many areas of our abode little bits at a time since we’ve been mostly homebound. Our Christmas was lovely and…muted, to be honest. It was just the three of us (four if you count Katara, the cat) with calls to faraway relatives. Everything has been hushed and muted. Our days roll idly from one to the next, like a snowball in slow motion. Right now it doesn’t seem like much is happening, but gradually the moments and experiences will accumulate and by the end of next year, perhaps we’ll be astonished by all that was felt, accomplished, endured, overcome. I’m full of curiosity.

What do I intend for 2022? I’d like to simplify. And to beautify (the home, my creations, everything). I don’t have grand plans, per se. I feel like I’ve achieved so many of the things I used to want, and now I just want to stay healthy and enjoy being alive. Like Katara here, canoodling up to the heat vent and snuggling with her stuffed animal, which we call “Kissing Coyote.”

And you? Do you have plans and hopes for the new year? Are you glad to say farewell to 2021? I think I’ll miss this year. It was a surprisingly good one, leading me to viscerally understand that circumstances never have to override my choice for joy. We have had times that many would call heart-breaking. We have had huge wins. Up and down, up and down. And through it all, I’ve strengthened my mental/emotional muscles to find meaning and appreciation in everything. Perhaps that’s what I most intend for 2022: to continue strengthening these mental and emotional muscles.

Alright, it’s time for me to tackle organizing the frightening utility room. I wish you and all your loved ones a happy new year, my friends! 

Happy Friday + Yet Another Giveaway: Sew Sweet Book [CLOSED]

Happy Friday! I might as well just call this a giveaway blog at this point, no? I’m still playing catch up since returning from Japan and when I looked at the calendar, I shook my head in pure disbelief that over a week had already passed and that we are yet again traveling (this time domestically, to visit M’s family in Indiana).

But lucky you, I have a backlog of Tuttle Books I’m happy to give away and this one is a particularly good one. I would keep it, except K can no longer fit into the largest size. Besides, the patterns in this book are precisely the kind that I drool over but hold very little interest for her. I mean, look at those dresses and skirts!!

Anyhow, if you’d like to win a copy of Sew Sweet: Handmade Clothes for Girls, please leave a comment. As always, any comment is great, but perhaps you’d like to share a favorite summer dish? I love making pesto pasta because it’s easy and quick and refrigerates well. Who wants to slave over the stove in this heat, right?

OK! I will have to skip yet another couple of weeks due to travel, but will be back again on August 4th. Happy end of July, everyone!

So many flurries
of summer activities
Barely keeping up

[Update: The winner is Coralee, congrats!]

P.S. Chibi Samurai Wants a Pet is launching SO soon on August 8th, and I have some fun stuff I’ve been working on to share soon!!


Happy Friday + Randomness


K made me a ring. She glued one of those aquarium glass beads to a broken metal band that she scrounged up from somewhere. Then she tucked it inside a clasping shell container and wrote a note.

k-ring2Because this came in the mail:

advance-littlek1I probably don’t have to tell you that I became quite emotional. I had a moment of terror before I opened the box. “What if I hate it? What if I feel disappointed?”

I don’t, I wasn’t. No, not even close. There are too many things I love about it to list them here. The compact square size. The gorgeously textured cover with a slightly vintage feel. The matte paper. The fact that something that was a molecule of an idea turned into a real, tangible, tactile book. I am so overwhelmed.

I had to run an errand at a bookstore yesterday, and I found myself sitting at one of the little round tables in the kids’ section. I stared at the display of books by local authors and thought to myself in disbelief, “My book is gong to be there.” I think the employees were a little worried about the crazy lady squeezed in the kiddy chair crying like a baby.


Just a little sneak peak for today — I’ll show more in the coming weeks along with some behind-the-scenes posts, and I am making plans for a giveaway since I have these lovely advance copies (though most are already spoken for). Perhaps you’d like to pre-order if you haven’t already? I hope so…The month of May seems far away, but I have a feeling it’ll be here in no time.

Also, thank you to everyone who sent me well-wishes and comments on Instagram (I’m not very good about keeping up there. It’s something I’d like to work on because I enjoy it).


SVE update! Final tally has us at 99 participants (Ute and I are big softies and weren’t exactly strict about our deadline)!!!! Nearly 100 folks from 20 countries — mind boggling. All the partner info have gone out and this is incredibly exciting, friends! Please make sure to let us know if you’ve received your partner info at secret.valentine.exchange@gmail.com if you haven’t already, and don’t hesitate to contact us there if you have any questions.


Happy Friday and Happy Weekend, everyone!

What? Dreams do come true?
It’s been on my bucket list:
A book of my own*

*Until I laid my hand on the cover of my book, I realized that I didn’t for a second believe that this was actually happening. The mind, it works in strange ways. P.S. Thank you also for the kind comments earlier this week. The lows are not so bad — part of life, right?


2014 Retrospective: K’s Outfits (Part 2)

We’re back with part 2 of K’s 2014 Handmade Wardrobe! Let’s jump right in:


Tennis (or Badminton) Whites
Nautical Knit Halter


A Little Lace, A Little Boho
Frances Newcombe Fabric (black and white)
A Little on the Wild Side


Galaxy Maxi (sewn in July, but posted much later)
A Groovy Kind of Dress
Big Joey Dresses (Grey + Red stripes / Animal Print)
The Classic Combo


Necessity Sewing (Rain Jacket, Long-Sleeves Tees, Denim Pants)
Franklin Dress + Tunic
E & E Ponderosa Dress + Hemlock Tee
Halloween Ninja


Small Fry Skinny Jeans
We’ll Call It A Muslin (The Alpine Coat fail)


Hooded Knit Cardi
Alpine Coat Take 2

See Part 1 here — at some point I might create a collage with all the clothes of 2014 together.


Grand total for the latter half of 2014 was 30 garments. Compared to last year? 58. Which comes out to 66 (2014) vs 129 (2013) for the grand, grand total. Hmmmm. Even 66 items sound like a ton of clothes, and when you consider that she still fits into the majority of the stuff I’ve made in the last couple of years…well, as you can imagine, her closet and dresser are packed to the gills.

What was awesome this year #1: I really focused on clothes that I knew K would like and as a result, she’s worn almost everything I’ve made regularly. Major win.

What was not awesome this year #1: Because I focused on clothes that I knew K would like, I often felt more like a custom tailor and less like the fashion designer I’d fancied myself in the past. Although I tried to inject my own taste into the clothes as much as possible, most of the items I sewed were dictated by K’s preferences, which meant a lot of animal print. Y’all know how I feel about animal print.


What was awesome this year #2: I’m a knits-sewing samurai at this point, and have zero fear of the stretchy substrate. I would love to own a coverstitch machine one day for that extra professional look since I dislike twin needles, but I can live with my zig zag stitches.

What was not awesome this year #2: I felt like I didn’t challenge myself much. Sure, there were some fake fur projects thrown in there, and that rain jacket material was no walk in the park, and okay, the skinny jeans pushed my sewing skills. Still, I want to up my game and try more advanced methods and professional-grade finishes. I want to try silk and chiffon and leather and crazy complicated plackets. Architectural details. Hong Kong seams. This makes me think of a lovely woman I met recently, who owns a great shop here in Seattle. She creates her own line of children’s clothes and her skills are impeccable. Her background is in bridal wear, but when she told me, “I can sew…well, anything,” (in a totally non-braggy way), I knew I wanted to be able to say the same. Still not quite there.


What was awesome this year #3: Even after almost two-and-a-half years of sewing pretty much every week for K, I still love it love it love it. Despite my grumbles about embarking on yet another leopard print outfit, I find myself slipping into that comforting meditative state when I cut the fabric, pin them together and position the pieces under the presser foot. And then the hum of the sewing machine starts (interspersed with the jarring roar of the serger which is less Zen), all the while I listen to an audiobook or whatever podcast I’m enthralled with at the moment…there’s nothing like it.

What was not awesome this year #3: As I mentioned, I’m still struggling with the best way to practice my sewing without creating this extravaganza of a wardrobe that only a former shopaholic could produce. The obvious answer would be to sew for other people or focus on home decor/accessories or open a shop of some sort. Through trial and error, though, what I’ve discovered is that the particular combination of sewing clothes for K is what makes my heart go pitter patter. To get even more specific, it’s creating the clothes that suit my taste in K’s size that I find completely inspiring. This poses an added layer of challenge as K’s opinions and tastes become stronger and more distinct from mine. And though I love making clothes for myself and I’m also leaps and bounds more comfortable stitching up things for other people, it’s oddly not as satisfying. Making clothes for K will always remain my favorite type of sewing.

Oh, and the shop idea could easily devolve into a sweatshop situation which I’m not sure I can handle.

So to make this utterly first world dilemma a non-issue and more awesome next year, I’ve decided that I’m going to stop feeling guilty and just make what I want, when I want because I am still solidly in the skills-development phase. My ultimate goal is to be able to sew anything at the highest quality level, but the joy is in the practice of sewing for me, and I have a seedling of an idea for a giving project in the works for any excess/unloved clothes that result. I’ll share more as my idea takes shape.


Overall, though, 2014 was wonderful and that’s a wrap for K’s 2014 handmade outfits! You can see 2013 here and 2012 here. Whew. Did someone say cray cray?

And tomorrow is the first day of 2015 — Happy New Year, my friends!!!!!