Saturday, July 27, 2019

Mid-Summer



















It's hard to believe that summer is half way through and back to school supply is in the shelves already. The last two weeks of June were mostly stormy and rainy I kind of like that and thought I need to find a pair of rain boots at least, so I won't need to wear wet shoes and socks at work. Then July came along, the heatwave was just unbearable. The apartment felt like a 375 degree oven temperature and we all have been roasted at some point. We hid inside and tried to feel "cool", but the heat that absorbed from the rooftop made the cool air from the a/c never reach to the comfortable point; anyway it was terrible. I really am not a fan of summer after all~

But, hey how are you doing? It has been busy for me, new job, new tasks, new workflow, and new routines. It is not as easy as I though with the new job, there's a lot to pick up and things to learn and I felt slower for getting all that new knowledge into head this time, but thank to all the supportive people at work that I can finally say that I am doing well.

It is hard to believe that we have been moved to NY a little over three years now. Beginning of this year, we started talking about finding a place to buy and settle down, but a plan is a plan. Buy a place will be postpone for now. Then we have had many talks over the table and car rides about finding a new apartment and move away the one we are in now might be an option?! After all the math and reality facts, we decided to stay put for another year or two for now. The place is closer to S' school and my work now, so we don't  really need to commute far away for school and work. It seems a disappointment for not getting a place of our own, but relief of not need to pack and move so soon at the same time.

I have been updating a few things around the apartment and for us; getting a bigger bed for S, finally after her first twin bed from Grand Forks and it is about time. Updated window curtains,  as the living room is facing the west; it is terrible place to be in the summer. Then I found a sale stoneware cooking pot as the older has a crack on one side's handle, but I still keep it for our soup making day and new a kettle for tea time; and finally new bath towels. That things we kept using over the years are really need an update. I also have been working through boxes that still unopened from the last move and hope to declutter more. But summer makes everything slower than usual.

My sewing time is slow, it has been hard to find time to sit in the studio and sew, even on the weekends. as I am always catching up the house chores. laundry, cleaning, mopping floor, grocery shopping, all that necessaries. By the time, I am done with all the necessaries, I want to sit and read and maybe watch a slow film and drink iced tea.  I see the change in myself a last few months, I am feel all that hurry, but go with the flow and all. Especially I found that I really like to sew when no one is around these days. The quietness, the freedom and the self-time. Last week, I just committed myself to sit and sew for 30 minutes a day before everyone gets around and it really work out well. I continue working on the nine-patchwork quilt and the quilt blocks are coming together nicely. I knew that I could have it done quicker, but working slowly with patchwork is so rewarding these days. Just me and the fabric. I can not wait still for the new quilt top finish, but it won't be quick this time. 

We have been taking short trips this summer, just to get away the city life. We tried rafting for the first time and also zip-ling. It is such excitement for us! We kind of paddling through the rafts and soaking up all the summer heat at the same time. Exhausted, but really loving all the greens that Pennsylvania has. It really has been awhile since we try new things... let's say more adventures events.

I am finally home alone for the first time this week just for a few hours, moment of quietness.  Thank you for all the kinds and support comments from the last post and placing orders from the shop. Thank you for the encouragements and kindness. I really am not sure where this journey will take me now, but for now all is good!

Tomorrow I will be making a cheese cake for S, since it has been awhile since I really cook or bake this summer; just try to avoid adding more heat to the apartment. This is one of the biggest reason we want to move, the unbearable indoor summer heat.  While the cake sits in the oven, I will be in the studio sewing and cutting up more squares. Maybe you can join me for the sewing time... 

until then...

xc

Thursday, May 30, 2019

It will come..


After a full month of the 9-5 routine, things are gather up together; in a good way! The bus stop is so close to the apartment and I always get off a few stops early, so I could walk home and decompress the day and reflect what could have done better and of course other things that come to mind right after getting of the bus is what to make for the supper and can I make it to bed early today (honestly). 

I guess, holiday is always a treat for full-timers, is it? The long weekend seemed just gone like a swift. Where did all that time go? When I was still staying at home I was able to finish so much, sewing, house working, and running errands. It felt so strange not being able to do so much for the first time and have trouble finding time to just sew during the long weekend. I really would like to catch up the sew along I am doing and mini nine patch quilt that I am working on and few other sewing projects that I have started, but have not be able to task on. 

Over the weekend, I took Sunday morning off from everything else and focus on working the shop listings for the patchwork handmade items that I have been slowly creating. It has been over 3 years since I have decided reopen the handmade items for the shop.

When I first finished up graduate school in 2013, I though I would teach fine art for rest of my life,but teaching in a large classroom setting was not something that I felt comfortable with and I taught 3 years in college setting for fine art students. There was just something that I was not truly connected to.  So, I took time away from teaching after moved away from N.D. 

Of course, I was lost, if I don't teach what can I do? I have had asked myself this questions a lot from the day I graduated from school.  It was hard to find that path after school. Luckily, I was commissioned to make patchwork quilts at the time, word of mouth is magic! That led me into a new path and I was also giving private sewing lesson to local friends' friend and friend on a one-on-one base. It was the path that I was seeing myself going for; making/selling handmade quilts, pouches, and teaching sewing lessons. 

Around March, 2014, I launched quarter inch mark studio. That was the time I have published my very first sewing pattern. The feedback was unbelievable and that really have brought me excitement and encouragements. No one would  really understand what that supports and feedback meant to me and S. Until this day, I still am feeling grateful!

Right around that June, we've decided to settled down in Iowa and found the perfect home for us! It was in a perfect neighborhood area for S to grow and I can start grow roots for the little patchwork studio. Between month of March to August of 2014, it was dramatic months and exhausted. I have had all kind of ideas and anxiety for all the things, but it didn't work out and I have had to start allover. It was not easy, but we managed and moved into our first home! 

It was a perfect home! It really was! We loved it there! After settled in S with new school and lessons.  I started the "talk" with my dear friend Staci for running a sewing studio in  our "living room and kitchen area". It was a perfect space for a table of 6 people and enough of plugs. Staci helped me on checking into all details for running a studio at home and took me to local sewing stores for possible teaching class. The local teaching opportunities didn't turn out, so that was disappointment for sure, but that didn't back me down. I remember that somehow there were things that didn't work out and that "dream" of running a studio fall apart. I fell into real difficult depression time the hardest emotional break down. I still have no ideas how it happened to me, but I was hard! The sewing studio idea was great, but it didn't work out. Maybe the timing was not right? That have led me to questioning myself more and more and that was the true reason I decided to discontinue selling my works. It was hard decision at the time, but it was the decision seemed right to make. 

Moving away Iowa was something that I never though about! Life takes us on roller coaster rides and sometimes we really get tire and frustrated of it, but sometimes it takes on adventure and discover better and meaningful of the life ride. Coming to east coast is the best decision in my life! I probably would not admit it 3 years ago, but I definitely believe it is the best of best move that we've done so far! I wouldn't say that we love New York ( but who doesn't love New York), but after living in Midwest for nearly 18 years, New York is too much for us still this day. 

It has taken me a good 2 years to feel settle in and getting used to the city life pattern; not all that perfect, but there's a lot of changes that made within myself. I've not change a bit who I am, but then change to a better and confident soul in someway and I am taking No so much easy now! Rejections just come easier for me and maybe I am getting older, so it doesn't hurt too much. 

In 2017, I took a leap and started creating sewing patterns. I knew that having an in-house studio is impossible in our small N.Y. apartment and the timing is not right, still. But I do enjoy writing sewing patterns; provide clear instructions in the way how I would taught in person and show every details if I could in the photos. I have had started a few new sewing patterns; unfinished ones in the pattern folders. Then in 2018 I had to leave my little family behind for awhile to be with my family oversea.  

After all the curves in life, I am still holding up my "dream" of running a patchwork studio somewhere this day. I didn't want to give up what I have been working on last 10 years. Getting a full-time job is for the reality, paying the bills and saving up for the studio. Soon S will be leaving the nest that we build together. I knew I probably will have empty nest symptom and I like to prepare for that now.  I am excited to have patchwork items update to shop from now on. 

I will keep on writing. I can't promise weekly posts, but will promise for monthly post.
I will keep on sharing patchworks here because it is important for me. 
I will keep on sewing , maybe not everyday, but I will keep building the dream job that I dream of. 
because I know, it will come.... 

Thank you for being here and all... Years of blog reading, private messages and all. You have really gift this gal a dream to dream on ! 

xxc

** You can find all the handmade pouches in the shop. The handmade items will be active from Thursdays to Saturdays. I will deactivate the listings around Saturdays 10a.m. So that will give me time to wrap up the packages and ship them in a timely manner, since I am not able to make it to the post office on the weekdays. 








Sunday, May 19, 2019

Slow Patchwork





















Time has slipped through my fingers since I was last here. I have tried to write an update post in my mind many times, but then when I have a few minutes to sit down all I want is to read and be slice. Today I made my mind to stay home; tidy up the living room, water plants, mop the floor, laundry , iron all the work shirts, and wipe out the dust in the studio and more bits and bobs that have been accumulated.

After coming back from visiting papa who slipped down and broke his backbone the end of the last year. I took another few weeks off from job hunting. The job hunting started in early January, I sent out lots resumes and waited to hear something and of course, nothing was heard. The ongoing searching jobs and submitting resumes taken up lots of energy and time. There were time, that I took time off to sew and write and to give myself a break from the process (thank you for being here). There were time, I had though maybe the phone is not working, so I would text a friend and just to check if the phone is actually work ( and it is working). The job searching process is long and it drains out confidence and brings anxiety.  I knew it wouldn't be easy since I live in a competitive city even job opportunities are widely open.  I keep on trying and keep optimistic about it!

Nothing was heard in February! So that made the month of February very long and gray! I wish it was pink allover, but it was not! I actually was depressed and started have more doubts in myself and of course that inner self conversation began all unhealthy and questionable. I was blessed! Have friends started calling and checking on me and see where I am at with things! Then beginning of March, I took time off from the job search and focus on sewing and positive self-dialog.  It felt pretty encouraging with all the work that I could have done in the studio without distraction and brights me up.

Around mid March, I started getting phone calls and emails for interviews (what????) I know,  they just came all together around the same time. I had numbers of phone interviews and in person interviews. I have had rejections follow up, but more opportunities came along! I felt dizzy after all the roller coster rides.   Right after the last posting, I was invited for a second interview and spent time to prepare for it. I knew I have a good chance and needed to take extra mile on this opportunity. I didn't think the second interview went that well! You know, you just kind of know how it went after met with the directors! But then I received the offering phone call two days later and was hired! It just happened!  So,  I have been working and training last three weeks full-time and yes it takes time to feel myself again! I am just tired and too anxious!

My body is exhausted after getting off the bus from work as I have been getting up at 6a.m.. When I came home, all I want is sit and read a page or two of the book. Make myself a cup of tea. Around 6p.m. put on the apron and start prepare supper and semi-tidy up the space. I tried to reground myself a bit and getting things organized, but mentally I am just not there! I knew it is going to get better and improve as the time goes!

I haven't step in to the studio for three long weeks and totally miss the sewing time and everything. I am thinking I still remember how to sew and cut fabrics, but it requires time to pickup that productive sewing mojo.

Today has been a productive day at home for a long time; cross out to-do lists and getting organized!  The shoulders are feeling lighter as I check off the promises list as well. This is the behind blog life that I am working with and finally feeling comfortable to share with you.

As the weather gets warmer and daylight gets longer, I am hoping to maybe sit and sew a bit in the studio before prepping the supper and I just knew it takes routine and self effort for that, too!

Stay turn!

and Thank you for staying around...

xxc



Saturday, April 6, 2019

the April day



















It is still a sweater season for me. A couple sweater laying around, one hanging in the back of the dining table chair, one behind the studio chair and another one in the corner of the storage room. I am cold! The gloomy and rainy days never bring much of the warmth to the apartment and the space heater is on and off as I need it and the sweaters, too!

I have been sipping tea throughout the days alone and ask Siri to turn on Pandora for me. Maybe today you are sipping tea with me as you read alone...

Summer of 1997, I flown over 23 hours flight and landed in Gateway airport, Sioux City, Iowa. I remember sobbed through of my first flight to Japan, then cried and sobbed through my second flight to Minneapolis, America. I sured the lady who sat next to me was trying to ask, are you ok? But my head was covered under a blanket and tried to avoid any contact with strangers. That was my first time away from home and first time not being able to go home, like tomorrow. On my third flight to Sioux City, I was exhausted! Never has anyone tell me that America is so far way. I vivid remember that was the first time I saw the farmlands below my eye view,;so close and felt an arm reachable distance. The engine noise was just right next to my ears and there were just 10 of us on that flight.

Late summer nights in Iowa was cold for me! I remember I was already wearing sweaters and jackets that I brought with me from home ( cold days didn't come till late October back home). Sadly they all shrank in the dryer after the first self-service laundry that I done in Swope Hall's (the dormitory) basement where I lived and done the laundry for 4 and half years. After labor day weekend, things just got browner, colder and drier on trees, grounds, and air. My sister took me to the shopping mall for the first time during our fall break. She brought me a real nice and expensive snow coat because I never experienced what snow is like before the October 31st of 1997; the snow coat was white with black patches around the elbows.  I wore that for 4 years and finally it had holes in a couple spots and it was not white anymore, it was yellowish after couple washes that I've done. My sister also got me a few sweaters, and she told me people wear hoodies and sweatshirts here. So I picked a couple of these to try out, and I love these since the day one I put them on, so does my S.

Before school started, Mary (our advisor) took us running for getting our social security, banking, errands and making sure that we are in a good transition into the new school year. I don't remember all the details in the bank that day, all I remember was bring home a large binder according to the banker that is where I will save all the monthly bank statements that the bank will send to my school address. And I signed lots documents; honestly I didn't know what I was signing for at the age of 18. I should know better, I should have had, but I didn't! People were all smiling, taking time helping out and everyone (new students) was doing the same thing. So my first checking account opened!

A few weeks later, I received a white box with my name and school address on and wondered who sent me the box, but it was always excited to received something in the school mailbox, even flyers from school clubs and commercial mails ( later on I learned it is called junk mail and short name for it is junk). I took it back to Swope and open it! It was my very first personal checkbooks and a registration book came along with it.  It felt so special! It probably had meant to a growing up teen is really going to be responsible to manage the financial independently for the first time. That Friday night, we ( students from oversea) sat at the Swope kitchen and show and tell our own checkbook. We couldn't help because we each pick out a cute design at the bank that day and that took a long time to decide on. My Japanese fellows kept saying kawaii, kawaii! Yes, they were kawaii (cute and sweet)!

On that following Monday, Veronica, my ESL teacher gave us a mini lesson on; "how to write a proper check" and how to record on registration book. So, I practiced how to write checks the next four years in every shopping that I have done, even with a payment of two dollars at a small town Walmart.  Before I could really trust the electronic payment, that was the payment option I asked the cashier to ring me up.

Soon, debit card came along and that probably have had saved half of the checks I wrote and saved some dollars on ordering new checks. I miss seeing my fancy signature in the check front, I still write checks for payments now and then.  These days, I still carry my checkbooks with me, maybe it is not a fashionable payment anymore, but it always makes me feel fancy with my fancy signature on.  All that helpful bankers have became people who I know so well throughout the year, they call my first name when they hear my Hello through the phone or step in the bank!  I couldn't help these memories that spark to me these days and have a good laugh at myself. Yes, there were mistakes in writing checks; wrong dollar amount maybe had once made 20 dollars into 20 cents, wrong name spelled, and wrong date on! The things that never went wrong was my fancy signature in the check front.

So, the new floor lamp is on every night this week. What a differences it makes? I love that warmer light brings to me at the night while I study, add on few hand stitches, and read through few pages of the new book. I trust it will bring many good warm light to me next many nights and lighted place where I set my down time alone at nights. 

I didn't have a very successful time to set up a mini light studio in the living room this week. The light comes in from the west window and I have to catch the light between  2-3p.m. or it dismiss. I struggled getting good light source and tried east side window as well as we don't have either north or south side options. Once I have found the good lighting spot, the sunlight has shifted and it is a game change for the day. Guess it always rains on the next day as I schedule it for the next day agenda and I have patiently waited for the sunny day and it came! I have done a big photo shooting this week and shown to Fifi and received two thumbs up!  That tickles me...

The wooden labels are officially added on to the patchworks. It felt really special and just like my fancy signature at the check front, but this time is the signature for my patchwork handmade. I love how it turns out and feel responsible for the work I designed and crafted. It is a promise! Lost labor of love in stitching and crafting projects and onto the final stage, meeting the audience. I say it is my obsession on what I truly love to do and makes me happy in thinking this roller coaster rides that I am on now.

I have break down my day and the week now; commit to myself on the daily/weekly agendas. This week, I focus on how to speak confidently and assured myself not rumbling through as I get nervous on questions that I have been asked. I get myself into critical thinking and writes pros and cons on my notebooks and added on a post-it on the page of the book that inspired me and go back to read the it again. I take time to sew and enjoy the conversation between fabrics and I time. I called Carol when I feel a heavy day hit on my shoulders and just need a talk; she is always there for me.  I window shopping when I need a little break from study, from more floor lamps, new dining table, new sewing machines,  soon to be release fabrics. They are all look terrific to me and have add to the shopping cart, just in case and the possibilities!

I look for a day to travel into the city and seeing all the flower blooming in the Battery Park and Central Park. A cuppa coffee would be luxury and relaxing in the walk (We always walk from downtown to uptown; sore legs, but amazing and refreshing to the soul) . I am anxious going to garment district seeing and touching all the fancy trims and fabrics, it has been too long! That will be another story to share when the day comes.

*** My contribution to 50 Little Gifts on the Window Zippered Pouch. I am late to the party due the family. It is a book that fills with great ideas for making cute handmade gifts. So many talented sewers have contributed to the book.   I am so honored having a project in a published book. Thank you to the publisher Susanne who has reaching out to me and trust of my work.

*** A few handmade items have added to the Shop; the cute dumpling pouches that made with sweet and precious fabric scraps.  Lovely penny square patchwork cases that are hand-quilted in cotton weight and linen fabric. I feel bashful letting the cat out of bag.  Yes, I am bring custom and handmade patchwork goods back to the shop and will share more with you.

xxc