You are Worth It

You are Worth It

Invest in yourself. The value and potential that you possess is important enough. Pay attention to the things you love. Give it your time and energy and provide space for it. Remember to feed and nourish it into growth.

This isn’t a new year’s resolution. This is a consistent practice and work in progress and it happens to be my current mantra. One of the many different ways I am exercising this practice is by making space for, and opening myself up to collaboration. On Instagram, I called out for volunteers to help me with some photo projects I had on the back-burner. I received a number of interested responses and I am so grateful to everyone’s openness and willingness to participate in this with me — even if for some people, this was beyond their comfort zone. I am happy to be able to produce this type of work — especially if I am able to empower others to see beauty in themselves. Here are some of the outcomes of my Saturday session with Kelso (and please stay tuned for my shoot on Sunday)!

If you’re reading this and you’ve reached out, thank you! I can’t wait to work with you!

UPDATE: I’ve added a few photos from my Sunday session with Marian. We were feeling a little bit rushed that day but we managed to get some great portraits! Thanks for taking a look :)

Cabin in the Woods

Cabin in the Woods

Our friend Gray invited us out to his family’s cabin in the Upper Peninsula. It was chilly and gloomy and all kinds of cozy — everything I had hoped for from the Northwoods.

The hours passed too quickly at the cabin. All nine of us were very ambitious in bringing multiple activities, handfuls of books, and board games. The only thing the Lake wanted was for us to bathe in each other's company without a looking at the clock.

Of course, we succumbed. The longer we stayed, the easier it became to recondition ourselves to be careless of time. In the few days we were there, we cooked hearty soup and baked pies; made flapjacks with coffee in the mornings; drank hot tea in the evenings after a steam in the sauna; watched animals swim in the lake (an otter!); walked under canopies of fiery leaves; gathered around the radio; and wore smoke-stained clothes. When we did glance at the clock, it would already be 3 in the morning! Our last night was melancholic. We felt the creeping of time, closed our eyes to hang on to those soft moments, hoping we had enough, and wishing it was infinite.



Lisle’s River
by Jim Harrison

Dust followed our car like a dry brown cloud.
At the river we swam, then in the canoe passed
downstream toward Manton; the current carried us
through cedar swamps, hot fields of marsh grass
where deer watched us and the killdeer shrieked.

We were at home in a thing that passes.
And that night, camped on a bluff, we ate eggs
and ham and three small trout; we drank too much
whiskey and pushed a burning stump down the bank -
it cast hurling shadows, leaves silvered and darkened,
the crash and hiss woke up a thousand birds.

Now, tell me, other than lying between some woman's legs,
what joy have you had since, that equaled this?

Japanese Breakfast at the Mill

JBrekkie

@ The Mill, Iowa City

When I found out Michelle Zauner was playing at the Mill, I was pretty surprised. I snagged those tickets real fast but I was even more surprised that she didn't sell out until the week of. I've been a fan for a little while (probably only since early spring of last year, shortly after Jay Som became my most overplayed artist on Spotify, but I didn't know her when she was Little Big League). She blew up rather quickly. It was kind of amazing to see her perform at such a small venue compared to where she has been performing lately. What was fun about the whole thing was how I had also seen Jay Som open for a larger band at the Mill before and at one point in time they both toured together.

Zauner captured me in a different way, though. I can't explain how excited I was to have stood only 2 feet in front of her during that entire show. It felt kind of strange — not in a surreal way, but like I knew her more than she intended for me to. It felt like I was watching a close friend. You see, when you find out someone has lost a parent like you have, there's an immediate connection with that person and you just "get it".

There's this great article written about her that basically confirmed my suspicions that we are very much alike; in grief, feelings about death, thanatophobia, in the way we view our work and life, and how we both feel like we are grasping for the tattered threads of our cultural weaves that we see unraveling before us — as if the woven cords were only kept together by our mothers. We are alike in how we developed an over-appreciation for food in loss and, though our food vocabulary in our native tongue is strong, we are missing something larger that would make our cultural experience feel whole and complete.

When she wrote Crying in H Mart for the New Yorker (exactly one month ago today, actually), I fucking lost it. What a beautiful piece. I read it at work and I had to escape to the bathroom about halfway through it to shed a few tears before re-emerging as a slumped, puffy, shell of a person. I felt exhausted, but not in a terrible way. You know that feeling after having a good cry? I shared many of her same sentiments and I can say I know exactly how she feels when she talks about her irrational anger and arbitrary triggers. Grief truly comes and goes in waves. I'll be walking past a salon and smell someone getting a perm and completely lose it (my mom used to get perms). The breakdowns are hard. They never come with a warning and they often arrive when I'm not even searching for her.

So did I cry? If I did, it was with my jaws clenched during, "Till Death" or reflecting over how her music is actually grief transformed. UGH. Japanese Breakfast was a great show. Michelle looks so happy when she performs with her enthusiastic jumping and climbing, all smiles — a reassuring reminder that life moves on. Bonus: she also has a contagious laugh! I appreciate her as a musician, an Asian-American artist, and as a person who has gone though a lot of tough shit. She is warm and full of energy and she makes you want to dance through your tears.

Patience Takes Practice

Patience Takes Practice

I took my first-ever group sew class at Home Ec and made my very first Wiksten Haori (my second pattern), and….it was the first time I almost cried over a garment.

The pattern itself is simple and uses material very effectively. The seam finishes are desirable to me as most of them are hidden between the lining and the main fabric. Everything up to the collar was a breeze and I was excited about the fabric I chose — a light, earth-toned linen with mustard lining that had little glimmering moons and suns on it. So magical! ✨ I was determined to finish this myself after class. Unfortunately, I lacked the space to sprawl out and work but I really wanted to complete it. To my utter dismay, I found that I cut the collar a little too long in the front on both sides and I missed some stitches on the lining (you can kind of see it in the 5th photo). It felt really discouraging and bummed me out a ton because I felt like I rushed myself to it.

Patience takes practice. This morning, I woke up with fresh eyes and had to remind myself it’s mine and I made it. I guess this means I will have to work on my second one soon. ;)


Elizabeth Moen's Album Release Show

Liz put on (yet another) amazing show. I am always astounded by her talent and happy to see her growth — she’s a rockstar! Cheers to all of the talented musicians that helped make her album release show so great! Of course, fantastic job to Austin & Josh for cranking out dope psychedelic visuals for each of her songs! From album art and t-shirts to music videos, they’ve been collaborating with Liz every step of the way, but this was something new for all of them. What a proud moment for this trio of friends! 

How To Make Boxy Tops Using an Existing Shirt as a Pattern

So you want to sew your own garment, eh? Or maybe you want to dive into slow fashion. It's not as tough as it seems! Slow fashion can be easy as long as you are willing to take the time to be mindful. Thrifting is a great place to start. Buying second-hand is often like a treasure hunt. If you want to take it to the next level, repurpose your finds! For me, thrifting pieces that still have life is fun, but there's something exciting about sifting through the piles of well-loved clothing — trying to find a unique piece, pattern, or material that I think has potential to become something better.

When I started sewing, I knew I wanted to learn how to make pieces that I could actually wear. Unfortunately, I was entirely intimidated by patterns. I was afraid I wouldn't know how to read them, or worse, I'd do something totally wrong and waste material. I decided the way I was going to begin was by using something I was already familiar with: a pre-existing shirt that I knew I already loved. I like loose-fit clothing that is breathable and natural-looking. Lucky for me, those types of pieces are easier to sew.

I'll walk you through this step-by-step, "How-To". Please feel free to ask as me questions below or via email! 

Another Millennial Small Shop

I'm going to ramble here but I want to be real: I am slightly annoyed with myself as a "creative" for giving in. I'm literally scoffing because I've gotten this deep into the commercial art game on a more personal level bc I need the extra cash (graphic designers are commercial artists so I guess I already fell into the trap. Cringy!). How fucking #millennial. 

It's an endless introspection for me (I mean, I've shared some of my thoughts on this matter various times in past posts). I want to put shit out into the word but most of the time I feel like I am an ad. I hate promoting myself. I'm already promoting others — it's my job. As a marketer, I'd like to think I do it well...but I don't necessarily like doing it for myself. 

What do I do about that? I've had conversations with people about how trivial this worry is. Is social media this important? Probably not. Is what I am making now considered art? I used to make shit that means something. To lose sight of that is really sad to me. But maybe me making things (meaningful or meaningless) is inspiring to others? I guess if I can help conjure those feelings, maybe that's enough? 

I'm writing this post because I am about to start selling some stuff I made online. It's a scary next step and I wanted to share my aforementioned concerns. It took a long time for me to actually bring this to fruition. I weighed out the pros and cons a lot. Upon reading and researching, I found out that I have a legacy plan with Squarespace since I launched my website three whole years ago (!!!) so with my current plan, I am able to sell my work on my personal site. This info is basically what helped make my decision to sell online easy. It was already all there for me so I thought I would take advantage of my resources. Plus, I've created and learned many new things this summer so diving into this endeavor only makes sense.

Last week, I made some fun tassel earrings. I can now say they're in my "shop". Weird. I'll be selling other items down the line as well so hop on over, browse around, shop away, & stay tuned! I promise I'll be complaining less in my next posts.

xxo

----------
EDIT:
 You know what?? As I was leaving this draft, I made a realization. Why am I being so serious? After all, I've been having fun with it. It's a good way to keep myself busy, creating, and learning. It doesn't have to mean anything and it's all good practice. I mean, I had a lot of fun with those photos the morning I took them. It's all part of the process! Have I forgotten? Aren't we all just practicing life? 

 

Archive

Trust Your Work

Trust Your Work

Burnside Bibs

AHH! I can't believe it's DONE. Remember when I said I would never sew a jumpsuit without a pattern again? That was true. So I decided my very first pattern would be Sew House 7's burnside bib because, I mean look at this thing! Peggy's design is so irresistible, I had to make myself face any doubt and just do it. Though I probably won't be making another one anytime soon (need a break from roughly 10 hours spent on this guy), I couldn't be more excited! My mantra the entirety of making of this piece was, "trust your work," and I am so glad I did.

Having never picked up a pattern before, I started by questioning where to even dive in (shout out to Youtube tutorials and sewists that are so generous about sharing their wisdom with the web!). I learned what all of the symbols meant (darts, notches), where to cut, and eventually it all came together to make sense. Cutting the pattern itself was a mess at first. I aimed for a size 0 based on my measurements and this made me nervous because I wanted to keep the sizes up to 20 (in case I wanted to kick it up a few sizes in the future or make a pair for other people). Eventually I talked myself into thinking I would be comfortable enough one day to not need a pattern (ha!) or bank on my muscle memory to help grade the pattern a size or two up. Once everything was cut, it was a breeze! 

Peggy's patterns are so easy to follow. Like most patterns (apparently) the burnside bib comes with a small comprehensive instruction packet with a glossary of terms, images (YES), and options. I love options. There were two versions of the bib. I mixed a version #1 top (a more curved neckline) with a version #2 bottom (no zipper — didn't want to mess with an invisible zipper quite yet, though I had sewn one once before). I decided on cropped legs and I used a linen blend fabric. It is lightweight and feels super comfy. The pattern also suggests canvas or denim for a thicker, utilitarian feel. The finish was "seamless" heh. This thing goes well with basically anything and I am so excited to basically live in it!

The hardest part of the pattern (besides the cutting — which was honestly more tedious than difficult), was the ties. There's a method of making the ties where you sew a tube and flip it inside itself. Since it was so narrow, it was a little tricky. After that, it was all fine!

The bib is an intermediate level pattern (!!!). For a person that just picked up this sewing thing, I am proud to say I can look for patterns that are that same level or lower with confidence, yay! I already have fabric for another upcoming piece! 

More soon. Thanks for the love!

xxo

Consumer Critical Thinking

Consumer Critical Thinking

Happy (already late) June, everyone! May seemed like such a short month! I've been very behind on the blog for really no reason at all...and that's okay. Usually the excuse is that I have a huge project I am working on (which I kind of do...and cannot disclose quite yet!) but after all of that sewing, I put myself in a sort of stunned state of being. Besides wrapping up some events for work last month, I've been trying to just "be". 

Allowing myself to do nothing is very difficult though. So, I've been watching my mini garden, repotted some new plants (!), hurt my knee from doing too much yoga (yes, possible), cooking, sewed another market tote, made a face lotion (turned salve), I've been slumping around, and I even started two new books. One is called, Forest Bathingwritten by a Japanese author (and the world's foremost expert in Forest Medicine), Dr. Qing Li. The book came out early April of this year and I had it held at the library -- it is already proving to be quite popular since someone else held it before me and someone else has it on hold after me. It's an interesting concept about the way Nature is medicine and Nature heals. Shinrin-yoku is the medicine of simply being in the forest. If you've spent any time in the woods or somewhere green, you know it to be true. The book, from what I can tell so far, is filled with lovely colored photos of trees, gardens, flowers, parks, and eventually Dr. Qing will talk about how to begin the practice. The other book is about an Australian homesteading couple who trades their flowers for goods (they discuss other awesome things I vibe with). 

Anyway, I am writing today to share a special recipe (the face salve I mentioned just previously)! I meant to write this post in May when I was going through all of my body care products again -- a spring cleaning if you will. I do this from time to time to rid myself of expired products, discard any prescriptions, and to simply evaluate my load. I've doing well to begin with in terms of transitioning to more natural products and allowing my natural oils to come back. I've been on a "natural" regimen for about two years now but I wanted to step it up. What really made me anxious and pushed me to want to take it further was when I read the label on a product that my health care provider recommended to me. The product contained parabens.

A couple of years ago, before going natural, my skin went through a tough year and I broke out with the worst eczema that I had ever experienced. On top of that, I had seasonal allergies for the first time. It felt debilitating. I was uncomfortable, upset, embarrassed, and so, SO itchy. I had to take Zyrtec every single day, moisturized 2-3 times a day, and to make matters even worse, the eczema spread to my eyelids and irritated my eyes to a point where this created another health condition and the redness and inflammation made it look like I was crying. Which, at that point, I did a few times -- I was just so miserable.

I went to a health care provider and she was good to me as I was bawling in her office. She helped me find proper treatment and gave me a regimen that would control it. I learned eczema is hereditary, chronic, and I will never be free of it. That sucked. She prescribed various steroid creams and a medication for my face called Elidel, which I ended up being allergic to. She also recommended a moisturizer I could buy off the shelf called, CeraVe. CeraVe has the seal of approval from the National Eczema Association. It comes in a tub and it's pretty much a thicker, scentless lotion. Those things are like $14 a tub but I was desperate and doggone it, the product worked for me. Really well, too. It wasn't as heavy as Aquaphilic was (believe me, I tried a lot). Unfortunately, this product contains parabens.

Parabens are a group of chemical compounds used as preservatives and are found in most pharmaceutical and cosmetic products. Parabens also mimic estrogen in the body as stated in this article from Scientific American, "What worries public health advocates is that while individual products may contain limited amounts of parabens within safe limits set by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), cumulative exposure to the chemicals from several different products could be overloading our bodies and contributing to a wide range of health problems. “Of greatest concern is that parabens are known to disrupt hormone function, an effect that is linked to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity,” reports the non-profit Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC). “Parabens mimic estrogen by binding to estrogen receptors on cells.” Research has shown that the perceived influx of estrogen beyond normal levels can in some cases trigger reactions such as increasing breast cell division and the growth of tumors."

So yeah, I mean there is definitely reason to be mindful, but honestly, probably not reasonable to have all-consuming concern because some of these studies suggest a very weak estrogenic disrupting effect of parabens. I don't know...I guess I'd rather not deal with parabens at all if they are in question.

As much as I understand the faults within the world of Western med (that's another story for another time), it can be pretty amazing. Fortunately, after the regimen provided by my HCP, my eczema is a little more tame now. I still have my spots and occasional flare ups here and there but it is much better than it was and it is my continuous goal to maintain this control. However, I do not want to depend on strong topical steroid creams or products with ingredients lists that are twelve lines long anymore. Your skin is your largest organ and you'll want to be able to nourish it and protect it properly. With that in mind, I decided to make my own face lotion/salve with super simple ingredients and I've transitioned from using CeraVe on my body to using organic sweet almond oil. So far, they both work really well! I've tried coconut oils, olive oils, and homemade body whipped body butters, but sweet almond oil absorbs well and isn't as greasy. It is light and feels great -- plus it has vitamin E!

Again, working for the Co-op has its perks. I would say a lot of my consumer behavior is due to working here. Educating myself about the products I pick up is key and knowing where it comes from is also huge. Minding these things gets me in the habit of being alert and aware of my purchases, of my impact, and even of my surroundings. It's like consumer critical thinking. All of the ingredients are organic, fair trade, or local. 

Face Salve:
1/4 c. sweet almond oil
2-3 TBS. beeswax
30-40 drops of bee propolis (truly amazing stuff!)
1 TBS raw, local honey
1 TBS or less shea butter

Directions:
Slowly heat sweet almond oil in a double broiler and stir in the beeswax pearls. Remove from heat and continue to stir until you can see it start to thicken, then add propolis, honey, and shea butter until thick. That's it!

This recipe was adapted from Stevie who based her recipe from one of her favorite beauty products, Egyptian Magic Cream. Stevie is a zero-waste advocate and lover of the earth (yay!). You can visit her blog here or follow her on Instagram.

#WhoMadeMyClothes?

Who Made
My Clothes?

A Tribute to Fashion Revolution & Earth Month

I’ve been sewing like crazy the entire month of April in honor of Earth Month and Fashion Revolution Week. My little study is currently filled with recycled yarns, thread, & fabrics from the many market totes, boxy tops, tank tops, drawstring produce bags, & grocery bags I’ve been producing. The scraps have been weaved into more wall hangings and the best part is, my former coworker has gifted me her old loom! Now I can double the amount of pieces! She said a friend of hers built it from harvested local walnut and it is in really nice condition. 

The hardest project so far has been this jumpsuit (I will note that this fabric was purchased new. I allowed myself a couple new yards for practice). Let’s just say it’s definitely something I will never attempt to do without a pattern again. The back closes with an invisible zipper (my very first one!) and a metal clasp. The torso is a little long but wearable with a belt tied at the waist. The only trouble I have when I make a garment is that I don’t have a serger. Hooray zigzag stitching (and overcast stitching)! It’s been decent so far but definitely not the kind of finish a garment should have.

Regardless, I am truly having fun making these pieces with the Earth in mind. Throughout Fashion Revolution week I posted a series of photos on my Instagram of my finished pieces with the hopes of inspiring others to think twice about their purchases (or up-cycle/shop second-hand). It doesn’t have to happen during Fashion Revolution Week. Be curious! Ask questions. Be vocal! Even if it is something as simple as sharing on social media or asking #WhoMadeMyClothes Awareness does make a difference. In fact, this year's Fashion Revolution was the biggest by far in terms of participation with as well as over 1,000 events taking place in more than 100 countries! If you'd like to contribute more, donate to Fashion Revolution as they continue to work year-round to raise awareness of the fashion industry's most pressing issues and inspire people to take action.

As the month of April wraps up, I wanted to share some pieces of my collection so far. They are all made from thrifted pillow cases, bed sheets/linens, unused second-hand fabrics, -- even fitted sheets! For those of you who have been watching my IG, thanks for putting up with the mess of posts and for following along! xxo