Cowls Are Da Bomb

Pattern created by designer Ángela Gómez Ortega; this pattern is wonderful! You can find more information about it here.

Yarn: Kauni 8/2 and Acadia
Wool, baby alpaca, and some silk
Needles: size 6, dpn and 40cm circular

Took me about four days to knit the first one (warm tones), and the second came much faster. I knit two cowls to use up the one ball of yarn as much as I could although there's still about a tennis ball size of it left. I would have loved it if one cowl had the entire range of the rainbow's colors, but on the bright side I now have two beautiful cowls with either warm or cool tones to choose from! This Estonian yarn has unmatched rainbow gradient. It makes my inner 90's kid self so happy to look at.
Doesn't it remind you of fruit roll-up candy?!

Moss Words

For a dear friend. Did some thumbnails, made a draft sketch with graphite pencil, then used colored pencil for final lettering (freehanded). Painted with Japanese watercolor set: Kuretake Gansai Tambi


How I felt as the election results unfolded, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm, as told by the pumpkin I carved and photographed decaying back in October...

I could listen to this for hours

Kitty in Watercolor, August 2016

Trevor is a real sweetheart of a boy cat. He can be found at Oakland Cat Town Adoption and Cafe where he is currently in a foster home.

This medium continues to beguile me, despite the challenges of working with it. I appreciate my mistakes and keep a good attitude around failures (there are plenty of them)! :-)

Not Trying to Start a Race War, Just Trying to End One *

Papaver somniferum (bud of blossom above)
The last rains of spring (California School of Herbal Studies)
*Saw this on someone's sign at a peace rally

I don’t even know where to begin, but maybe my college years are a good place to start.

Almost ten years ago, I began to think critically about race and racism in the U.S. thanks to the awesome professors I had at De Anza College and U.C. Berkeley. First, my college classes during Fresh/Soph year were centered around how different ethnic groups within the Asian American umbrella came to the U.S. and how they/we were treated.

I learned about internalized racism, and oppression that is so systemic and ingrained that even those who are not white-skinned partake in reinforcing that white is best (e.g. communities of all races subtly or not-so-subtly promoting the lightening of skin, hair, eyes, and on and on).

Jumping from community college to Cal, I learned more about Native American history, African American history. I think the rage I felt for my Asian American, and fellow People of Color overshadowed any teenage rage I ever had. Well, it was a different kind of rage. This rage has continued in me today; however, I’ve learned to channel it into taking action and creating connection with P.O.C. communities as well as white allies/accomplices who want to work and fight together. I am absolutely still learning, still listening.

Sadly the education I received is not mandatory for all Americans, but it really should be because the revisionist history taught in the public elementary - high school system is a contributor to the divide in our country today. YEA, I SAID IT.

Being a fair-skin to tan petite Asian American woman means that I don’t fit neatly into the Black and White dialogue. I absolutely have benefited from white privilege because of the proximity of the color of my skin to white. On the other hand, some of my earliest memories as a child are receiving racist aggressions, unintended or not.

These past few weeks have heightened the general heartache I have felt over the last two years of publicly-shared murders of black people. Thank goodness for social media and the internet because it’s a platform to share the sh*t that still happens to Black/Brown lives, otherwise invisible to those who don’t live the experience (people who have skin my color or lighter). Yes, it IS necessary to talk about race because racism is one of the root issues in this tangled mess. #BlackLivesMatter #BlackLivesMatter #BlackLivesMatter #BlackLivesMatter

Before entering into discussion about Black Lives Matter, and before critiquing the movement, be prepared with knowledge and history of the oppression of P.O.C. Can’t rewind back to your college years and take radical, awesome classes on the People of Color in our country? It’s okay, you can start with this book:

And these blog posts/articles have been greatly helpful:

Where did April go!?

For a sweet friend, a marriage congrats card.
My pair from Rachel Corry's Sandal Making class. I want to get my hands on some California-produced leathers now!
Making my mom a pair of sandals for Mother's Day.
And, my next footwear project is going to be....
...a pair of these! My foot is pictured in someone else's pair, made by Rachel.
I highly recommend Rachel's class. It was so much fun, fascinating, and satisfying to go home with my very own handmade pair of sandals. She has a Skillshare class up - quickly, take it if you cannot attend her class in person! 

Himalayan Blackberries Take Over

These sketchbooks from Pentalic are my favorite spiral-bound books for light wash watercolor work.

Himalayan blackberry is all over my yard and it's fortunately at a manageable amount - just have to trim off and uproot what I can. It'd be futile to attempt completely removing it. It's still inspiration for creative work.

More Mushrooms

A family of fruiting morels are in my front yard! They were discovered during weeding and general garden tidying. What's your favorite way to eat them? This is my first time finding edible mushrooms "in the wild"! 

First Day of School

Classmates' feet dangling from our "barn" classroom loft.
Plantago (plantain), Achillea (yarrow), and Stellaria (chickweed off scene). Can you guess what we made?

Piece I made few weeks ago. The mighty Taraxacum officinalis (dandelion). One of my favorite weeds, ever. 
I'm beyond fortunate to have the means and access to attend school for western botanical medicine. So much gratitude for everyone and everything in my life that makes this possible! 

To all my loved ones who donated money toward my tuition: I'm making your balms and salves this week! Forgive me, I have been struggling with that mildew and other household ailments turned into bodily ailments! *bow*

All That the Rain Promises

Oooohhh, unidentified. Questionable Stropharia? 
Peziza spp.
Yay, fungi in the yard, outdoors!
Fungi in my bedroom. On our bed frame. NOT cool or fun or healthy for my weakling human lungs!
Ack! Ick! Bleeegh. 

The wonderful rain has brought more moisture, beyond what my house ever had in the two years since we've lived here.

Our home is ill-suited for all of the moisture because I've revealed mildew problems in my bedroom before: last year, the one straw hat I own had green mildew growing on it. Luckily, my felted wool hat that sat on top had nary a mold spot. I took the straw hat outdoors, and covered my nose and mouth while I brushed off all the green mildew, sprayed with a diluted alcohol solution and let it bake in the sun. The straw hat bounced back from that and hasn't had another problem.

This recent incident, however, has resulted in much larger area of mildew. I found it growing on the cast iron legs of my sewing machine table! Wuuut?! Gross! On the bottoms of some straw baskets, into some wool skeins, sewing notions, and on my mattress. *

That was the worst bit. I went to bed one evening with an allergic reaction and no clue what was causing it. My nose dripped non-stop, my throat was itchy. My immune system went south, and I even got an eye infection (basically, I got pink eye) last weekend. There's no such thing as a "safe" level of mildew/mold because every single person has different tolerances for it. My partner, for example, has been fine. He's continued to sleep in our bedroom while I retreated to our living room.

Fungi, I have so much respect and fear for you! You range from the delicious chanterelles, boletes to the fearsome molds/mildews.

I actually have to stay home from work today :-( because I still, a week later, feel crappy from my symptoms and I also need to tackle the mildew again. I can't remember the last time I wanted a baking hot sunny day; I need it now more than ever so the sun can help me nuke all our belongings!

Wish me luck cleaning all of this. Have you ever dealt with mold in the home before? What measures did you take to prevent it?

*To clean the mildew this time, I bought a trademarked mixture of washing soda, trisodium phosphate. The product is called Concrobium, and is non-toxic. Can be found at local home improvement store. I also employed the vacuum, baking soda, and lots of ventilation to dry everything indoors. COME BACK SOON, SUN.

Lazy Monday

Nepata spp. - this painting will be published in one of Homestead Apothecary's upcoming zines.

I transplanted this buckeye young one from a friend/neighbor's yard. Everything about the process was beautiful, satisfying. And, I gifted the young tree some self-made moon fertilizer soon after its transplant. He's doing beautifully in his new home. What a cutie!
This post is titled "Lazy Monday" but it wasn't quite lazy (I cooked up some of our CSA veggies toward a homemade udon dinner, among some other chores), however the above painting and tree transplant were done a little while back ;D

I Can't Mix Creativty + Deadlines

YES! Deviled egg plates make a perfect watercolor paint holder.
Secret Valentine's Welsh Terrier ;)
Knit swatches of my spun yarn; note the improvement :P
Anyone else have a meddling kitty?? Dude, I need to finish those handkerchiefs.
Turn it into a photo op! Happy New Year again :)
I would make a terrible freelance artist/creator. Things would fall to the wayside, nothing would get accomplished on time! I don’t like to rush or push creativity (don’t worry: I’m a diligent employee, at my desk job HAH).

Yet, last year I was drawn to the Secret Valentine’s Exchange that blog writers Sanae and Ute put together. I love sending snail mail as much as I love receiving it. Us 90’s kids are probably the last generation to enjoy snail mail on a wide, common scale. 

 I don’t give a hoot about the commercial holiday that is Valentine’s, but this was an opportunity to have a little fun with the international Internet creative community. 

Like my partner last year, my secret Valentine’s recipient is a dog lover. Her family’s pup was lots of fun to draw and paint! I have a few other little goodies to put together and mail off. Unfortunately, I’m gonna miss the deadline (UGggghh), because my recipient is overseas (I’m so sorry!!!). I can post her painting here since she likely won’t be reading my blog before she gets this ;) 

2016 - Year of the Monkey

Happy Lunar/Vietnamese New Year ~!

I forget what type of tree this is from!
Bánh chưng with pomelos and air plant. The middle pomelo was grown by my boyfriend's mom. Oh and she made that bánh chưng. Yes, she's a badass.
I love lion dancing performances. These are some postcards I painted up to send out :)
Contrary to what mainstream media spews, it's not just Chinese people who celebrate the lunar new year: numerous other ethnic Asians follow the lunisolar calendar, including the Vietnamese.

Tết celebrations mean eating yummy Vietnamese home cooked dishes from family. YESSS! I'm so excited. It's better than receiving li xi (red envelopes with money), although as a kid, the money was definitely the best part. I think I spent considerable amounts of that cash as a youngster in my local Sanrio store. According to tradition, once I get married, I have to then give out red envelopes so I will enjoy my unmarried status while it lasts :P

As I've aged and moved beyond the money, I've come to appreciate the traditions in Vietnamese New Year. Ideally, before taking the red envelopes, you must first wish the elder good fortune and health. And, an elder who gives out lots of envelopes is rewarded in turn by receiving lots of good fortune. Isn't that a lovely exchange? 

Also, did you know that the Vietnamese zodiac is also different from the Chinese zodiac? We have a few different animals that make more sense to the common fauna in Vietnam. I, for example, was born in the year of the Cat which is equivalent to the Chinese Rabbit Zodiac. The other different animals are: goat in place of sheep/ram, and water buffalo in place of ox.

For this Year of the Monkey, I wish everyone lots of love in their lives, golden health, and strength to overcome everything that may happen. Do you and your family celebrate Lunar New Year? I'd love to hear some of your traditions!


"Happy 63rd Birthday Papa Bich"

Ayako really likes Shiba Inus and the ocean. 
Slowly painting and transforming the blank watercolor postcard pad I bought into greetings for family and friends.

I have a lofty goal to send out Lunar New Year/Tết (Viet New Year) cards, but we’ll see how far I make it :P

Fibershed One Year One Outfit Challenge

I've never bothered with New Year's Resolutions, but this year I'm taking on the Fibershd One Year One Outfit challenge. The exact requirements  of the challenge can be read on This Is Moonlight's blog. Yokoso lives in Australia and started her challenge last year inspired by Rebecca Burgess, pioneer of the Fibershed movement. 

The gist of the challenge is:
- fiber (fabric or yarn, etc) must be farmed and processed within 500km (approx. 310mi) radius of your location
- all fibers must be natural
- any dyeing must be using non-synthetic, local and natural organic matter

I don't quite know what my outfit will look like yet, but I have plenty of ideas and options. I've already gotten my hands on local wool to make tights. I own some of Sally Fox's cotton fabric, and although milled in Japan, I can't not work with this stuff for the challenge. It's SO BEAUTIFUL! 

My ancestors likely wove and owned garments made with hemp maybe cotton, and the upperclass wore silk. My modern day, Northern-California-Livin' self prefers wool and cotton. 

One of the exciting things that I learned at the start of the year is how to spin yarn!!! Perhaps I can incorporate this skill into my Fibershed outfit!!?? I'm wildly in love with my spinning wheel: 

Built in 1972 by New Zealand maker, Philip Poore.
Made of Rimu New Zealand wood. She shined up nicely with Skidmore's Furniture Oil
My second time plying yarn. Notice its unevenness. Still, exciting!
Blue Face Leicester sheep wool, singles on bobbins ready to be plied
 When I get into a hobby, I really dive in as far as my time and wallet will allow LOL. I believe that I've gone off the deep end this time. By chance, Carleen, a farmer, at the Saturday Farmers' Market offered some raw fleece from her dairy Friesian sheep (EDIT to add: Weirauch Farm). She normally sells these by the pound, but wanted to make space in her barn and was giving this beautiful fleece away. Their cheese is delicious and I highly recommend stopping by their stand at the market. 

With zero hesitation, I hand combed through her bag and took a large paper bag home. I'm SO excited to clean this using the Fermentation Suint Method. I collected gallons of rainwater and will allow this wool this sit in the precious water, to clean itself, and possibly stink up my yard. Like I said, I've gone off the deep end. 

Friesian sheep, raw fleece I was gifted at Farmers' Market, from Weirauch Farm and Creamery
Pungent sheep smell....I love it!
Thanks for visiting! Gratuitous photo of moi, bathing in California sun and coast.
What project(s) are you working on this year?