SUMO COUNTING + SUMO OPPOSITES!

Wow, August just vaporized and I’m reeling from the fact that September will be upon us in a matter of hours. How are you, my friends?

I’m doing a quick check-in today for a couple of reasons:

  1. I wanted to say hello – August has been somewhat rough for me and my monthly ritual of updating my blog has a helpful, grounding effect. Though I’ve been pretty overwhelmed especially in the last week, there’s a chance that life will calm down very soon. Whew. My favorite autumnal season is just around the corner, and I’m excited to savor it. Things are starting to look up!
  2. I have new books coming out:

Oh my goodness, aren’t they CUTE?????? SUMO COUNTING follows a typical day of sumo wrestlers with little rhyming couplets. SUMO OPPOSITES is just that — opposite words, plain and simple. I did try to incorporate lots of Japanese cultural elements in the  illustrations for the OPPOSITES book too, though. Plus, there are Japanese words accompanying the numerals and English terms. I always love it when board books are informative and interesting for adults as well as for the littles, and I kept that in mind as I created these.

The official release date is next Tuesday, September 7th! They are available wherever books are sold (you can click on the book images on my sidebar or click here), and pre-orders are always awesome!

I am particularly in love with this spread from SUMO COUNTING (the most elaborate one):

The Japanese garden I painted is a mash-up of three local gardens: The Seattle Japanese Garden, Kubota Garden and Bloedel Reserve. All three are incredibly beautiful and it was such a delight to incorporate various aspects of the three gardens.

This is the opener for the SUMO OPPOSITES book:

I loved trying to balance the minimal and complex illustrations for the series.

So! I like to include fun extras whenever possible, and to celebrate the forthcoming launch of my adorable sumo guys, I designed a little repeat pattern, which can be used as gift wrap for small presents. Click here to download the printable PDF file.

I taped two sheets of the sumo paper to wrap both books. As you can tell, I’m very into blues and greens lately.

Here’s what’s even more thrilling: there are TWO more Sumo books in the pipeline! Like all of my kids’ books, the next two will be published through Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch Books. The entire set will be a great addition to any library, and these make excellent baby gifts. The best way to describe how I felt making these books is “joyful,” which was much appreciated since I was working on these during the height of the pandemic lockdown last year. I’m so grateful to have had these sumo books to keep me company during these uncertain times.

Yay! Please order these joy-boosting books for every baby/toddler you know :-)!!!

 

2020 Free Holiday Printables

Hello, hello!

I am, as ever, a creature of habit: the annual Advent calendar (this year’s is my absolute favorite to date, by the way), the monthly blog posts, and all the other various habits I’ve cultivated over the years that I uphold with a Pit Bull determination. For the month of December, I created some cute holiday tags and print-at-home goodness for my Patreon members and then remembered that I normally offer up free printables here on the blog during this season.

So I started to play around with a more simplified set of tags and wrapping paper designs and things got a little out of hand.

I created 16 tags:

…and 10 wrapping paper designs (ideal for wrapping very small gifts):

The tags and wrapping paper can be easily printed on 8 x 11.5″ (or A4) paper. I always recommend thicker paper for the tags like this one. I’ve finally figured out how to make seamless repeat patterns, which has been a major learning curve for me. Surface pattern design is SO fun. Most of these were created using Photoshop, but some were done in Adobe Illustrator. I’ve also learned how to use Procreate to make patterns, but I’ve had the best luck with Photoshop so far, especially since I like to use my watercolor illustrations which often don’t vectorize nicely in Illustrator

I hope these come in handy! I may dip my toes into printing some Spoonflower fabrics with a few of my designs in 2021. My mind is now spinning with ideas!

Anyway, since combining all the files into one PDF created a giant document, I had to split them up. Please click on the images below to download the PDF files:

 


 


 

 


 

Let me know if you have any issues!

Alright my friends, I’m wishing you all a festive end of the year! I’m looking forward to posting in January — a fresh new start is exactly what I need. I don’t want to put too much pressure on 2021, but I’ve got high hopes! Cheers!

 

2019 Advent Calendar + Even more holiday tags!

“I wonder when this Advent Calendar tradition will end?” As K grows older, this is the question that pops into my brain every time I embark on yet another design for the holiday season. She’ll be starting high school next year and I don’t know if she’ll enjoy it quite as much.

This was a fun one, my friends. The idea first came to me when I was — as per usual — shopping at Trader Joe’s. I saw the garland with the felted balls ($8.99! What a steal!), and I immediately knew that it would be part of the Advent Calendar.

And so, a couple of weeks before December 1st, I got cracking. I wanted to include little origami-type envelopes to hang from the garland, that much I knew. What to put inside of the envelopes, though?

I started by doodling cat elves and I don’t know…the thought of painting 25 cat elves lost its luster instantaneously. It was just going to take too long, given my penchant for wanting to add lots and lots of details. Luckily, I repurposed them as downloadable tags here, if you’re interested.

Hmmmm….cats, I mulled. I hit the watercolors again and just started pumping out little cat portraits and suddenly, I had it: cats in hats. In my typical let’s-totally-overdo-it style, I also planned to paint dogs in clogs, but…well, I barely finished the cats. The kitties by themselves seemed too plain, so I managed to squeeze in painting tiny wreath frames. SO FUN.

 

The wreaths also became stickers to secure the envelopes closed AND serve double-duty as the day of the month.

I was struck with a lightning bolt of genius that magicked itself out of nowhere: using a notcher to fold the square pieces of papers into envelopes. This way the flaps overlap nicely. In case you don’t know, a notcher is a tool for garment pattern drafting. Very handy. I was manually measuring and cutting out notches at first, so remembering that I had this tool was a big time-saver.

The stickers, I have to say, were not awesome. Their adhesive power was disappointingly wimpy and the textured washi envelopes started to open up as they hung from the garland. I quickly had to reinforce all the envelopes with clear packing tape. We just happened to have some printable sticker paper on hand and I hadn’t used them yet, so it was worth a try. Note to future self: don’t use these stickers on anything other than flat, smooth surfaces.

It was, however, easy to print on the clear sticker paper and the yellow backing slipped right off. I really enjoy peeling sticker backings off. So, so satisfying!

I had just enough washi paper left from a previous Advent Calendar for the envelopes and I seriously adore the nubby surface. I punched holes in the corner for the strings that I looped and tucked in-between the felted balls of the garland. Simple.

Visually, this calendar deviates from my normal neutral color palette, but I’m pleased with how it turned out. I was able to check off all of my personal requirements:

  • Use as much materials that I already own (the garland was the only thing I purchased for the actual calendar)
  • Easy to make
  • Include a balance of giving and receiving (as usual I included giving/contemplative activities as part of the calendar).
  • A new design
  • Low maintenance for me, delightful for K

I’m happy to report the K loves it. Mainly, though, I think it’s because of this other brilliant thing I picked up from Trader Joe’s:

It has little flaps that you can open for the first 12 days of December. Each day contains a different beauty product, a mini version of existing TJ items like lotions, bath gels, sunscreen, etc. Perfect for a thirteen-year-old! She’s a little bummed that she won’t have any more to open for the 13th day and beyond, but that’s okay.

All in all, this was a good one. I always have such a lovely time planning these calendars and all the parts that go with it. Here it is in full:

So! Because I painted so many kitty cats in hats, I thought I would offer up a few of my favorites as downloadable free tags. There are some plain wreaths as well, for those of you that may not be as caught up in cat mania as I am. Simply click on the image to download — I hope they’re useful!

And here she is, the inspiration for all this feline craziness, sniffing our Christmas tree (sorry about the image quality — it’s getting dark so early these days):

It’s amazing to me that I’ve been doing this for so many years. Below are links to all the advent calendars I’ve made to date:

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

Alright my friends, I’m sending you warmest, coziest wishes for the holiday season! I may be able to write one more blog post before the year is out, but we shall see! Happy Holidays!! xoxo

Happy Thanksgiving + Free downloadable holiday tags

Happy T-day to all my US friends!! Just a quick little hello today since I’m still working on K’s Advent Calendar and tying up a few other fun projects. Today, K and I had a leisurely Thanksgiving brunch, strolled around Greenlake, and now we’re getting ready to go out for our annual Taiwanese family dinner at this delicious restaurant. I have given up trying to be “normal” in any way, shape or form and love love love how stress-free our holidays have been these past few years.

Also! I doodled some cute kitty elves that I originally considered including in K’s Advent Calendar. I’ve decided against it but I thought folks might find them useful as holiday tags? I also threw in a couple of wreaths that I am going to use for the calendar. If all goes well, I hope to show you what I ended up creating fairly soon.

Click on the image below or here to download the tags. As always, I recommend printing the designs on slightly thicker paper or this textured inkjet paper, which is what I use. Download, print, cut them out (make sure to add a little extra bit at the top if you want to punch a hole) and write a little message on the back and/or use it to decorate a gift!

Enjoy!

Holiday Tags + Wrapping Paper Designs Round-Up

Hello, hello! In an unprecedented display of organization, I’ve managed to get all of my holiday preparations done well in advance of the big Christmas day. This feat required some hustling on my part, and I paid the price by getting a teensy weensy bit sick. I’m almost 100% but I was pretty sniffly there for a few days. I have big book deadlines coming up so I worked extra hard to clear my calendar — I want to focus on work while my mom is visiting and having loads of fun with K during winter break, but now I’m lounging about sipping ginger tea and getting some much-needed snoozes so I can get all healthy. It’s always an excellent idea to listen to my body.

Since I’m no stranger to the last-minute wrapping frenzy and because you seemed to like the tags I offered up a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to round up some of the downloadable/printable holiday tags and wrapping paper I’ve designed over the years just in case they’re helpful for you. For even more options, head on over to my brand new Patreon page – there’s a post there with a mega list of downloadables.

I hope you’re having a wonderful season, my friends! 2018 has been a phenomenal year for me, and I can’t wait to see what 2019 will bring. I do most of my detailed updating through my Patreon newsletter now, but I’ll be sure to post here regularly in the new year — at least once or twice a month! That’s the goal.

Wishing you the warmest, coziest, joyful-est holidays, and I’ll see you back here in ’19!

Below are the printable tags and wrapping papers (all can be printed on 8.5 x 11″ or A4 paper). Enjoy!

TAGS

Bleu Tags

Animal Tags

Dala Horses Tags

dala-horses-example

Hedgehog/Unicorn/Cat Tags

WRAPPING PAPER

Cat Wrapping Paper

Hedgehog Wrapping Paper

 

Unicorn Wrapping Paper

unicorn-paper1