Monday, January 31, 2011

paper lanterns project

My girls and I recently made paper lanterns with left-over pages from another craft project, tape, and some organic cotton thread. As they say back home in the local paper, "a good time was had by all!".

Supplies include paper, tape, scissors, needle, and thread.

Fold the paper in half lengthwise. Hold the open edge with one hand while cutting slits on the folded edge, making sure not to cut all the way through to the open edge. Unfold paper, match up the two short edges forming a cylinder, and secure with clear tape.

Thread and knot a 6" string of thread (I doubled my thread) and pierce one side at the top of the lantern leaving the knotted end exposed. Pierce the opposite side of the lantern from the inside and tie a knot on the outside of the lantern.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

chinese new year lanterns

February 3rd marks the beginning of Chinese New Year, a holiday we celebrate with friends and family. To mark the occasion, I've re-strung two of my favorite possessions, antique metal lanterns, with vintage red velvet ribbons. My plan is to display both (one for each of my daughters) on the front porch -- let's hope the weather cooperates.

Below is a little painting I did of my treasured lanterns.

Monday, January 24, 2011

my karate kids

For more than three years now my daughters have studied kenpo karate at one of Seattle's premiere martial arts schools, Alpha Martial Arts. Owner Chris Herrman and his team of instructors are helping my daughters grow into courteous, confident, and compassionate leaders -- thank you!

Laria and Addie earned spots on the school's junior demo team (AMA Wolfpack) that performs at city-wide events throughout the year. I thought I'd share this video from a recent performance at the University of Washington Women's Basketball game. Laria and Addie perform the fan routine. I hope you enjoy -- I did, but then again I'm a little biased. Cheers!

Click on this link to watch the video: AMA Wolfpack UW Basketball Demo 01/14/11 . Addie and Laria are standing in the front row (on the left) at the beginning of the video.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

thank you Chanee, {me}longings

Chanee's Setting Some Sparkle post

Over the past couple of years I’ve spent more of my “free” time on my creative arts. Along the way, I’ve had the great fortune of becoming friends with some of the most talented artists and industry bloggers around, including Chanee Vijay.

I was immediately drawn to Chanee because we share a passion for sustainable living. Chanee also keeps a gorgeous blog, cleverly titled {me}longings, that showcases fresh earth-friendly home and garden decorating ideas as well as beautiful sustainably-designed pieces and vintage finds. Every visit is a treat!

Imagine my surprise when Chanee awarded me a Stylish Blogger Award. How sweet and unexpected. I love what I do and I blog when I can -- something I'm grateful to have the time for. Thank you Chanee --it's an honor.

By accepting this award I promise to share seven things about myself and fifteen recently discovered blogs that I find inspiring, creative and well worth a visit.

For starters, here are seven things about me:
  1. Some of my favorite gifts to give are art supplies.
  2. I would love to travel back in time to spend an afternoon baking bread with my great-grandmothers Relda and Velda.
  3. My first published artwork was a yearbook cover I drew in 4th grade.
  4. My favorite color is burgandy.
  5. I wish I were a better cook.
  6. Oils are my preferred paints to work with.
  7. And I've built a house from the ground up--a four square bungalow with built-ins, two refinished antique claw foot tubs, push-button switches, and period lighting.
And for the blogs, I don't have fifteen and some of them have been around for a long time, but the ones I am sharing below are kept by some of my favorite people. I hope you take a moment to get to know each person on the list and the gifts they have to offer...they certainly make this world a better place for me.

you sentimental idiot
accidental frock
SPUN Collective

If they choose to accept this award they will:
  • Thank + link back to the person who awarded them (me)
  • Share seven things about themselves
  • Pay it forward to 15 discovered bloggers
  • Contact those bloggers about the award
Well, I'm off to share the good news with these lovely ladies. Cheers!

Friday, January 21, 2011

the perfect painter's palette

I simply had to have this vintage metal lunchroom tray the moment I saw it at Goodwill a few months back. I think I'm putting it to good use these days.

shorpy finds - seeing beauty in the mundane

Every so often I make time to scan the "pages" of the amazing historical photo blog Shorpy and I'm always glad I did. These snapshots of everyday, mundane tasks spoke loudest to me this morning. I hope you can see the beauty in them, too. Enjoy and happy weekend.

Lumber camp, Minnesota (circa 1937)

There's something calming about this picture...perhaps it's because when I'm washing dishes late at night it's my time, quiet time. If you look closely, you can see a special lady photo above the kitchen sink (maybe he's thinking of her?). Click on the photo to zoom.

U.S. Food Administration War Kitchen, Washington (circa 1917)

I'd give anything for those farmhouse tables...anything.

A Toilet Room in the Natural Food Conservatory, New York (circa 1906)

How amazing are those sinks? Those faucets? And those floor tiles? Sigh. If I could I would install these fixtures in my 100-year old Seattle home in a heartbeat.

Tenement yard, New York (circa 1900-10)

I may just have to paint this scene, yes, I think I must. What I wouldn't give to witness this firsthand -- the sights, the sounds, the smells -- oh how I wish I could go back in time.

(all images via Shorpy)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

double dating with chakra pennywhistle

I just have to share this with you. I received the sweetest gift a mother could ever receive over the holidays: a Chakra Pennywhistle original "Circle the Date" pillow. It's made entirely from organic and upcycled materials, and has become the centerpiece of conversation amongst house guests.

This darling pillow showcases not one, but two vintage tea towel calendar patches. Each patch has been embellished with a circle of red thread to mark each daughter's birthday. Incredibly sweet, right? And I just love the striking red color against the creamy white of the pillow.

My oldest daughter's birthday.

My youngest daughter's birthday

We will treasure this gift for generations to come. Thank you Rikkianne!

Friday, January 14, 2011

addie's pillow - two hearts (two sizes)

My youngest daughter celebrates her birthday on February 14th. So sweet, right? Well, this inspired me to sew her a little pillow using some hemp/organic cotton fabric and kapok fibers I had on hand in the studio. She loved it so much that we decided to offer similar pillows in the shop. Here's what I came up with:

The addie's pillow - two hearts (no. 1) pictured above measures roughly 6" across at the widest part of the heart and showcases a tiny wine-stained heart cut-out attached with 100% organic cotton thread --my favorite part! I'm also happy with the monochromatic, ivory design of the bigger heart.

If you're looking for a larger pillow to snuggle with, choose the addie's pillow - two hearts (no. 2) pictured below that measures roughly 12" across at the widest part of the pillow. My older daughter immediately gravitated to this size. We believe either pillow would make the perfect accessory to any home. Cheers!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

dragon blossoms

Fuzhou, China (March 2004)

As a mother of two Chinese-born daughters, it is important to me that we celebrate the history, art, and cultural traditions of their birth country alongside the myriad of customs native to this area, families of friends, and of my own Hispanic heritage. Finding a healthy balance is sometimes easier said than done.

My daughters are fully aware of their adoption journey, and as they grow older, they ask more questions surrounding their adoption process, China, and their birth parents. Unfortunately, we don't know any specifics about our daughters' birth parents, but we do know who cared for them from within hours of their births right up to the moments we met them for the very first time. Still, there is so much more to know.

Dragon Blossoms by Linda Bevis - Whole World Press

Someday we plan to return to China with Laria and Addie to visit their birth Provinces (Sichuan and Fuzhou respectively) in hopes of answering some of their questions and curiosities. And when we do go, I will have had the fortune of reading this book, Dragon Blossoms - An Adoptive Family's Year in China, written and recently published by our friend and neighbor Linda Bevis. I have only just begun reading the book since it arrived in last week's mail, but already I am gleaning valuable insights from Linda's honest account and personal decisions to make this journey with her family.

Thank you Linda, Ed, and of course, Leyla Fu-Chi.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

studio time

Today I'm taking a short break from all social media to work (and play) in my tiny painting studio. It will be hard to resist checking in with friends and cohorts on Etsy, facebook and Twitter, but it's entirely necessary. Will you miss me? I'll miss you.

I'll leave you with an image that will provide some inspiration for today's work.

Curtain Call by Andrew Wyeth - circa 1979 - watercolor/paper via here

Monday, January 3, 2011


My daughters earn a small allowance each week. They are asked to divide their monies into three jars: one for spending, one for savings, and one for charity. Over the holidays we visited two non-profits, the Seattle Animal Shelter and FamilyWorks food bank and family center to drop off some donations from the girls' charity jars as well as funds raised during an early holiday sale in my Etsy shop plus two brick-and-mortar boutiques.

We selected these two groups because no one should go hungry or be without basic necessities and we wanted to give back to the shelter where our beloved six-year-old cat named Paul was adopted last April. It's never easy to see the number of animals in the shelter. The girls were especially affected by the number of cats and dogs, but in the end were comforted to know their contributions were going to make the situation better. I'm a very proud mama.