Giveaway: A Journaling Kit [CLOSED]


Thank you for all the birthday wishes! I had a most relaxing time, completely ignoring my to-do list and doing everything that makes me feel good and whole: walking, spending time with my favorite people, writing and doodling in one of my regular coffee shop haunts, getting lost in a bookstore and choosing just the right birthday books for me (turns out I’m in the mood for sewing books and acquired this one and this one and this one). I’ve checked out that Twinkle Sews book so many times from the library that I figured I might as well own it and not sew from it instead of what I was doing: repeatedly accruing library late fees and not sewing from it.

I’ve gotten nothing “productive” done. And I don’t feel guilty at all — this is progress for a former workaholic.


Yesterday, I came across this post by Sew Liberated and I was nodding my head so vigorously as I read, I felt dizzy towards the end. Meg writes about the stuff I think about all the time: what’s important, how to approach the creative process, what to do if the activities we love turn into obligatory, stress-mongering jobs. She’s a whole lot wiser and more grounded and definitely way more eloquent than I am and it was a treat to stumble upon her blog. These types of musings filled with thoughtful and sometimes heart-aching yet ultimately affirming words and images were what had attracted me to the medium of blogging in the first place. It felt like reading someone’s journal, albeit more polished and less weird than my own scrawls.


I’m easing back into so-called work mode, but I’m trying to be conscious of finding enjoyment in what I do. At the Kinokuniya event last weekend (so fun! the kimono-wearing pair that participated in the Sashiko coaster demo/workshop bowled me over with delight), a lovely attendee asked me if I ever felt pressured to create things for the sake of keeping up with the blog. The short answer would be yes. Yes, I’ve sewn or painted or photographed things just so I can stick to my schedule. I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with that, especially since I need deadlines to get my mojo in gear. I view myself as being both the producer/art director and peon grunt worker for this blog. I give myself assignments and execute to the best of my abilities.

The problem, I believe, starts to rear its unwelcome head when the enjoyment and authenticity parts start to slip away (I hesitated to resort to the word “authenticity” because it’s starting to feel threadbare and overused). At some point, I found that I wasn’t actually finding any pleasure in sewing weekly outfits for K once my skills started to improve — outfits that she steadfastly refused to wear as our tastes diverged. Then I noticed that I was racking my brains for fresh content and feeling burnt out just so I could post every week day, which is when I went down to three times a week. Perhaps I’ll post even less frequently in the future, it’s hard to tell.

It’s a tricky balance. I’m a big believer in consistent habits and persistence and longevity, but I also know that rigidity can stifle the best, most creatively flourishing parts of us.


Maybe that’s why I love writing in my journal so much, which strikes the balance for me. It’s such a long-standing habit of mine, it never feels laborious (and the writing portion of the blog and to a certain extent the Furoku content I create feel like extensions of my journal). I’m not militant about how much or how little I should write per day, and I have no rules about topics. All that matters to me is that I write every day until I feel satisfied or until my window of available time has closed. Most of all, it’s meant just for me and it keeps me honest. Even though I try not to be affected by it, with blogs and books and other external-facing projects that I work on, I’m aware that other people are reading it. That adds a layer of complexity. Sometimes that layer is helpful, other times, not so much. I’ve published a lot of posts on this blog over the past four years and one of the things I struggle with is the sensation of repetitiveness. I loved this little mini episode that Gretchen Rubin did about Picasso — I often feel like I’m painting my own fakes too. As I browsed through my archives the other day, the one that is most truly representative of me is probably this one.

Anyway. With journaling in mind, a journaling kit giveaway seemed appropriate. This is a beautifully bound notebook with pink (!) grid paper. It’s the one featured in the book for the book cover project and I’m throwing in the cover as part of the giveaway too. It’s made out of this nubby, high quality grey linen and lined with a Japanese cotton. I’m also including the most amazing Palomino Blackwing pencil (it’s a limited edition style) with its distinctive eraser shape and a stripey pencil from the Anna Bond Rifle collection. Doesn’t this make a cute set?

Full disclosure: I did write in the journal as part of the photoshoot, but I’ve removed those pages so this is essentially a brand-new notebook.


Anyone game? I’ll take any comment, but I’d also love to hear about a good habit that you have. Do you exercise or do yoga regularly? Are you a water-drinking fiend? Do you have a penchant for sending thank you cards right away (not me!). I’ll leave the giveaway open until next Friday, June 24th, and will announce the winner the following Monday. International entries=no problemo!

Happy Friday + Giveaway [CLOSED]


Happy Friday! I got my translations done in time as well as a few other projects, and now I’m looking at one more big deadline hurdle, then I’m home free for a couple of months. I’m bursting with anticipation.

Anyway, while I duck my head down to get just a little bit more done, I wanted to kick off the weekend with another giveaway. We’re going full-on Japanese with this one. The little thread snippers are officially called itokiri hasami but every Japanese person I know calls them choki choki basami. Choki is an onomatopoeic word for the sound that the snippers make and basami is another way of saying hasami, which means “scissors”. A giveaway + a Japanese lesson, doesn’t get any better than that, right?


Moving along, people who know me well are aware that if you put any product in a test tube or glass vial, I’ll buy it. So obviously, I had to purchase this assorted hand sewing needle set that is this brand, though I mixed up the outer packaging so I’m not sure which particular set it is. The point is that I have way more test tubes filled with needles than I need, which sounds sketchy and somehow drug-related, I just realized. Regardless, they’re lovely needles, and I’m happy to pass along a test tube.


To enter the giveaway, any comment will do, but I’ve got summer vacation on my mind. Do you have fun plans for the coming months of summer (or winter if you’re on the other side of the globe)? We’re going to Michigan in July, and I’m wondering if I’ll have enough time and motivation to make a few things to fill out my anemic summer wardrobe. I hope so!

I’ll leave the giveaway open until next Friday, June 10th and will announce the winner the following Monday. International entries are always, always welcome. Good luck!

Have a great weekend, all! I leave you with the gems K offhandedly shared with me this week — so many morsels of verbal deliciousness:

“My thoughts,” K expressed,
“are like poetry bubbles”
and “love is magic”*

*What she actually said was, “Mama, you know that love is magic, right?” but that didn’t fit into my haiku.

Giveaway! Finca Perle Cotton Thread [CLOSED]


Good morning! The purging/cleaning is slow-going, but look what I found: Finca Perle Cotton Thread in size 8. Such pretty, pretty colors, no? Great for embroidery, crochet, and needlework of various goodness. Anyone out there a doily maker? These — like many of my accoutrements — were meant as props for the book, though I never got the chance to include them. I wish I had because they’re so twee yet cool (is that paradoxical?).


I have to confess that there’s a lot going on behind the scenes, and I’m feeling a little overextended. I can talk about details soon and I’m definitely not complaining because it’s all lovely — just trying to pace myself because…well, you know. I overdo things. It’s what I automatically do. Anyhow, you may be seeing a lot of giveaway posts because I love doing them, they’re quick, and the comments are always fun to read.

OK! So onto the giveaway question…any comment will do as usual, but I’ve been pondering beauty these days and I want to know: what makes you feel beautiful? Is it a certain shade of lipstick? Or perhaps an outfit? Is it the way your kids assault you with hugs when you walk into the room? Or the way your guy or gal lifts an eyebrow? Maybe it’s something more intrinsic like a natural-born skill or a physical trait or an attitude. I’ve been trying to figure this one out for myself. I think I feel the most unselfconscious sense of beauty when I’m connected with someone. Last week, I Skyped with a long-time friend (she’s in New Zealand) — we haven’t spoken directly in over 15 years and had lost touch about 10 years ago, but she’s remained one of my favorite people of all-time.

It was like magic.

We picked up right where we left off as though no time had passed and we laughed in only the way you can laugh with a friend you’re utterly comfortable with (there was, I admit, some snorting). I traveled all around New Zealand with her many moons ago, and we had an uproarious road trip, hithering and thithering in her tiny car. “Carefree” was the operative word and we got ourselves into quite a few scrapes and mishaps and took in vast expanses of unbelievably, achingly resplendent nature that rendered us insignificant; nothing bonds you like sleeping illegally on a historic site in a collapsing tent and jumping into icy lake water together at 5am. We’ve both had our triumphs and setbacks over the last 15 years, of course, and as we caught up via video which would have been unimaginable when we were galavanting through Kiwiland back in the 90s, our words tumbled out on top of each other. We tried to cram in as much as we could into a couple of hours and shared wholly, without reservation, already planning part two and three and four and so forth  — in that safety of being unapologetically myself, I felt beautiful.

What about you?


I’ll leave the giveaway open until this Friday, May 27th and will announce the winner the following Monday. As always, international entries are welcome. Good luck!

Indigo Prints Giveaway [CLOSED]


I know. I’m beating the indigo theme to a pulp, but what can I say? I love the color so much. Plus, that was my dominant hue of the book, which seemed like the ideal color to include with the Art Walk concept, etc. etc. Perhaps you share a love of indigo too?

sashiko set 1

I had created these “samplers” as a reference for keeping track of which prints have sold (each square is an individual painting), but then several people wondered if I would sell the samplers as prints, and then I thought it might be fun to do a giveaway.

sashiko set 2

Here’s what the entire display looked like at Drygoods (the display wall is behind the sewing machines, which I think is pretty awesome; you can see the samplers at the lower right – the actual prints will have a darker blue like the images shown above):


These are 8.5″ x 11″ prints with twelve indigo squares per print. I’ll select three winners and the winners will receive a print of their choice. I probably don’t need to mention this by now, but international entries are always welcome.

The question, the question…oh, my friends, my brain is flubbery and empty. I enjoy all these book events, but three of them in one week exceeded my introvert quotient. I’m decidedly wiped out and need to squirrel away to recharge with a soothing beverage. Any comment will do to enter the giveaway, and perhaps you have a decaf tea recommendation? I’ve become an avid tea drinker lately, and this one is my favorite. With a splash of almond milk, it’s so good.

I’ll leave the giveaway open until the end of the week and will announce the winners next Monday, May 16th!



Giveaway: Caran D’Ache Gouache Paint Set [CLOSED]


I find it interesting (and disconcerting) that household matters start to nosedive in clumps. Within a ridiculously short period, our oven firecracker-ed and died (so scary), our bath tub drain stopped up, our faucet water turned a stomach-turning shade of brown. I could go on, but the onslaught has been punishing. My poor mom, she arrived from Los Angeles yesterday to a fully dysfunctional house.

It’s as though the house elves are taunting, “Take that!! Can you handle this??”

Luckily, the drama has been fairly short-lived, and we have a new electric range, the second bottle of Drano solved the tub issue (sorry environment), and the city inspector just notified me that there had been some fire hydrant testing going on which caused the iron ore and sediments to stir up in the pipe mains. The water is a less offensive beige now, and should start clearing up in a little bit.

When I start to feel defeated by outer circumstances that I can’t control, it seems counterintuitive but I like to give things away. I recently gifted a friend a set of watercolor paints, and it seemed to make her so happy, my mood soared by a thousand leagues.

That reminded me that I have this other set that I’ve been saving…for what, I don’t know, but it’s a beautiful gouache collection. I actually already have the very same set that I haven’t used up, so this was initially meant as back-up because I adore this brand so much and had this irrational fear that it might get discontinued. However, it’s clear to me that it’s going to end up sitting in my paint cabinet for years to come, so I want to offer it up as a giveaway.


This Caran D’Ache set is what I started painting with when I first decided to get back into all the “creative” activities I let fall to the wayside while I was working full-time. With the impending launch of Sewing Happiness, I’ve been thinking back to that time a lot. Remember how I was so affected by the negative review on Amazon? As if to make me feel extra relieved, I found out that the book got a starred rating from Library Journal and the review was so kind and uplifting, I was smiling for hours.

I used these paints here and here and here. Good times.

Anyway, would anyone like some gouache paint? It’s great for kids as well, and the colors are incredibly rich and vibrant. As per usual, any comment would do, but I’d be keen to know if there’s some sort of previously loved activity that you’ve let fall to the wayside that you’d like to pick up again. My intention isn’t to make you feel guilty about it, but to (I hope) remind you how much you enjoyed it.

I’ll leave the giveaway open until the end of next week — let’s say April 14th. I’ll announce the winner the next day and international entries are always awesome. Good luck!