Happy Friday + Randomness

Happy Friday! I picked up these fetching ranunculus blooms at Trader Joe’s yesterday, and it really is about the small things that brighten our days, isn’t it? Pink flowers in general uplift me, but these delicately layered petals are mood-boosters on steroids. It was fun to play around with my camera and photo editing…I haven’t been doing much of that.

Instead, I’ve been spring cleaning like a fiend now that I’ve completed a couple of deadlines — the dining room table’s been looking like a crime scene. And that’s currently the least offensive part of the house. My next big book deadline is at the end of May, so I’m taking advantage of these few glorious carefree hours this week to restore order to my workspace and home before I trash it all again. It’s the never ending and oddly comfortable and predictable cycle.

Gah, these flowers are so gorgeous. If reincarnation is actually a thing, I’d like to come back as blush-pink ranunculus. I wonder how it feels to be that beautiful? And who knew that $4.99 could bring so much joy? Anyway, I hope these photos brighten your day too! I’ll be back next week with more substantial content (maybe. maybe not. now that I think about it, I’m not sure that I’ve ever created substantial content).

Have a refreshing and lovely weekend, all!

What brightens your day?
It really doesn’t take much
Wouldn’t you agree?

Happy Friday + Randomness


Happy Friday! It’s been a productive week – I’ve been sewing furiously behind the scenes and getting a lot done. This was the kind of week that made me extra appreciative of the friends I’ve made in the last few months through sewing. For example, I got a photography lesson from the lovely Michelle, who shot the cover of my book. She’s a consummate pro and probably one of the kindest, sweetest people I’ve ever met. We had so much fun, and she even let me use her fancy 100mm macro lens. I got a close up of oregano flowers (which she also brought for me from her garden along with some heavenly scented verbena – she’s just fabulous), and I can definitely tell that the quality is several notches above the unimpressive line-up in my photo toolkit. I’ll have to start saving up to get this lovely lens. Michelle is a very patient teacher, and we went over how to look for optimal light, setting white points and how to use this big ole reflector I got for photo shoot purposes:


I’m feeling pretty legit and my living room looks almost like an authentic photo studio now. It’s time to start improving my photography for real since I’m supposed to shoot all the interior photos for the book.


I finally visited the new Drygoods store in Pioneer Square after a delicious and laugh-filled lunch with a compatriot in the land of sewing obsessed and wow. I mean, just wow. It’s a stunning historic space situated on a pedestrian-only, cobbled street. The ceiling soars up to eternity and gigantic windows let in copious amounts of light. Everything about the place feels airy and bright and with Keli’s flair for interior design (and the drool-worthy fabrics, naturally), you can’t help but be lured into the shop. Of course, it helps that they have a mega-clever window display:


They’re like little state-shaped pillows. I think it’s genius. You can vaguely see the two talented ladies that help run Keli’s shop, Margaret and Julienne, and it’s so funny because they all know my taste so well. “This made me think of you,” they’ll say, and invariably, it’s something I love in the grey/black/indigo/ivory color scheme. I was overwhelmed by how pretty everything looked and forgot to take more photos, but I’ll see if I can get better ones later. Oh, while I was snapping this one above, a gentleman paused next to me and said, “What a nifty looking store, eh? Makes you want to get crafty.” Exactly.


A conversation from this week:

K: Mama, I want a training bra.

Me: What? Why do you even know about that?? No, you don’t need one.

K: That’s the point, Mama — hello, training bra?*

*She won’t be getting one any time soon, but it did make me start thinking about making one…hmmmm…I bet I could make super cute ones and they would be so easy…


I’m off to go practice some photography! Have a wonderful weekend, all!

Getting back my groove
I will be sewing like mad
this week and beyond





Indy Menagerie


It’s a bit of a departure from my usual topics (though do I really have a set of usual topics?), but we spent a lot of time at the Indianapolis zoo a couple of days ago, and I have to say, I loved it and went crazy with my camera. I’ve gone to the Seattle zoo a fair number of times, but I’ve never been able to get decent photos of the animals. I think they might be introverted.


Not so at the Indy zoo. I felt up close and personal with so many creatures, sometimes it was disconcerting. For example, you can touch dog sharks in the aquarium section:


“Do NOT touch their fins or mouths or you will get bitten!” the booming speakers warned. The penguins were fabulous and though my photos may not be National Geographic contenders, they turned out way better than I expected:

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And I love this shot of the polar bear:


And then there was the other kind of bear that spent a good deal of time sniffing its own excrement, and I had to patiently wait for a picturesque moment:


I tried to coax the meercats to pose in a group, but they ignored me:


The snakes gave me the heebie jeebies, but I was enamored with their textures:


On the other hand, I thought the iguanas were super cool:


Who knew that rhinos were cuddly?


And oh, that baby elephant stole my heart:

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The flamingos were feisty, and this was the first time I was able to look at their eyes up close:

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A swimming turtle! So darling.


The big draw was a new orangutan facility. Check out how high it’s climbing! Apparently, it knows how to make coffee (at least that’s what my nephew swore up and down, but so far I’m coming up empty in my attempts to verify this claim):


But the wildest ones were K and her cousins:


Have you been to the zoo lately? Sometimes I feel sad for the animals, but mostly, I find them fascinating and beautiful (except for the bats. I don’t like bats).


Happy Friday + Randomness


Happy Friday! I’ve been loving all the coincidence stories from my giveaway! Yesterday, I was admiring the peonies you see here — I received them from a friend recently and remembered that her husband had the most extraordinary coincidence story: many years ago, he went to Kyoto, Japan via a research grant or some such (he’s an art history professor). He was wandering around alone one day and wanted to experience the non-touristy side of Kyoto and there, tucked in a quiet and obscured area, he found a hole-in-the-wall restaurant. Alas, his Japanese skills weren’t up to snuff so he couldn’t read the complicated menu. But lucky for him, through a lot of gestures and fragmented Japanglish, the restaurant proprietress informed him there was someone who spoke English in the restaurant at that moment. The English-speaking Japanese woman and my friend started chatting and a version of the following conversation ensued (he told me the story a while ago, so I’m paraphrasing):

Her: Where are you from?

Him: Oh, originally from Holland, but I live in Washington.

Her: Washington! That is where Seattle is?

Him: Yes! That’s the city I live in.

Her: Amazing! I am visiting Seattle very soon! I’m going to be staying with a friend’s sister…I haven’t met her yet, but she sounds very kind to let me stay with her and her family.

It turned out that the woman was, in fact, going to be staying at HIS house because the “sister” she was referring to was his wife (aka my friend who gave me the peonies – is that confusing?). How’s that for a remarkable coincidence?


Oh, before I forget, the giveaway winner is Arianna, who had run into an old friend in a rest stop hundreds of miles away from her home. Congrats!



Mentioning worker bees/worker sows earlier this week and the peonies reminded me that I took this photo a couple of weeks ago. Busy little tikes, those bees were. I’m off to take a leaf from their book (flower?), and go meet some more deadlines.



Wishing you a fabulous weekend, friends! I feel like I’ve flooded you with words this week, and will just leave you with this very cool image above that my father-in-law sent me recently. This photo is from about 1920 and represents four generations of K’s lineage on M’s side of the family. Hearty German stock that diligently toiled on farms. Clockwise from top: Luella Louise, Johanna Louise Hedwig (born 1832), Mildred Louise (born 1917) and Emma Louise. They all have the same middle name, and three out of the four lived well into their nineties. In my father-in-law’s words: “From the date of the oldest lady’s birth in 1832 until the death of the youngest girl in July of 2013, one or more of these ladies were alive, continuously, for about 181 years.” The youngest, Mildred, looks a tiny bit like K. So fascinating!

Now I want to search
for photos of ancestry
kimono-clad folks

Photography Practice

One of my goals for this year is to become better at photography. I’ve worked with photos for a long time – on catalogs (if you got a Pottery Barn catalog between the years 1999-2002, I did the layouts for every single one of them! Best. Job. Ever.), as part of an imaging team at a stock photo agency and as a photo editor. But it’s only recently that I shifted my focus to the taking of photos rather than just the selections or color-processing of them. I’ve discovered that I love it though I have so much to learn.

I still get flummoxed with apertures and f-stops and shutter speeds, but with my trusty manual and lots of practice, I’m starting to get a feel for what kind of images I like and how to work with light a little bit.

Here, I practiced with some pretty pops of blues that I found around the house. I am on the hunt for good online tutorials — I’m very much a visual and tactile learner and find most tutorials with just lots of written instructions challenging. I think it’s why I like Japanese patterns so much: the illustrations are excellent and I hardly need to reference the text. If you know of any good photography tutorials with lots of visual aids, please send them my way!