March 28, 2014

What I Learned in March

Can you believe it's already the end of March? Time sure flies when you are... having fun blogging! 

Today I'm going to share the six things I learned this month. Are you ready? Here we go!

* * *
1. I don't seems to be able to remember my age anymore.
Ever since I turned 35, I've been having trouble remembering my age. The other day, I drew a complete blank when I was asked how old I was. I blurted out, "Ah am I 36 or 35? I can't remember," and after a moment of silence, everyone started laughing. Can you imagine when I'm 70? I'm hopeless.

2. Art = Joy. 
I finally started to follow my bliss and make art this month. I had denied this part of myself for years, only to find out that I wasn't happy. 
Striking Truths

I decided to start with what I already had and just started working. I had no idea what I was doing, so it was a little awkward at the beginning. But once got over my initial fear, what was left was sheer joy and freedom. 

I realized I didn't have to wait for a permission to create something. I didn't have to be certified to be an artist. All I had to do was to grab a pencil and start drawing, letting my passion be my guide. 

I'm planning on finishing up this artwork this weekend. I can't wait to share it here when it's completed!

3. I am an artwork in progress.
Just like the drawing is work in progress, I am a work of art myself, continuously evolving every day. I grab a paint brush and paint my day one stroke at a time. Some days, I make a bad move and try to turn the mess into something meaningful. Other days, I'd be delighted by unexpected outcomes. I'm hoping my life will be one beautiful work of art when it's completed. We'll see.

4. Coffee is not only good for drinking, but also a great medium for painting.
Now I can paint and drink coffee at the same time, preferably from separate cups.

Brown wash = strong instant coffee

5. My 5-year-old son definitely got his artistic talent from me, and he doesn't like to compromise his artistic vision.
While working on his homework yesterday, he decided to show off his newly acquired skill, drawing a skunk, which was not part of the homework, at all.

Title: "Sprayed by a skunk"

He convinced me he was going to draw a pretty butterfly flying around the goat. While I wasn't looking, he went on a mission to work on a skunk. Not just any skunk, but a spraying one

He truly is a one of a kind. He never worries about what other people might think of him. I'm so happy he is able to embrace his unique design and thrive on it.

6. I miss Michael Scott from The Office.
I recently took a survey for Emily's blog, and the last question she asked was, if your life was a TV show, it would be... I answered it would be "Friends," then immediately regretted I should've chosen "The Office" instead.

Don't you just love Michael Scott? I miss his awkwardness. I have to watch the show again this weekend for some good laughs.

Haha! Go Michael!

What did you learn this month?

And oh, more importantly, if your life was a TV show, what would it be? Share in the comment? I'd love to know!
* * *
Today, I'm linking up with Emily at chatting at the sky for her What We Learned series.

March 26, 2014

When You Make a Mistake

When you make a mistake, what would you do? 

I'm talking about the kind of mistake that hurts and does some damage to other people. What would you do when you make a mistake like that? 

Last Friday, I had one of those moments. The moment of failure as a parent. 

I had a huge temper tantrum in front of our boys and my husband, Steve. Is a mother like me even allowed to have a tantrum in front of her kids? 

Perhaps, tantrum isn't exactly the right word for what happened. I was frustrated with Steve and got emotional. I yelled, did some name calling, exaggerated facts, and stomped my feet. Yes, I'm a feet stomper, and I'm not proud of my own behavior.

How and why that happened isn't important here, because we all know life happens. Your day-to-day stress builds up. You may be undergoing hormonal changes like I am. Some days, your life feels like a never ending juggling act rather than a blessing or an exciting adventure. You feel worn out. Your mind gets foggy and you aren't sure what really matters anymore. 

When you're feeling like that, it only takes one trivial thing to put you over the edge and let the floodgate open. 

And I lost my cool, completely.

The kids had seen everything that happened. The damage was done. Why couldn't I just stay calm? 

Curled up in my bed, pushing my head against a pillow soaked with tears, I felt like a failure.  
I was feeling guilty, ashamed, and still upset about the stupid little thing that brought that much of anger out of me. I wondered what kind of damage I did to our kids.

The damage has been done and I can't erase what happened. What should I do now?

I knew I had to so something. But my mind was numb and the feelings of guilt and shame kept coming back in waves.  

What should I do? 

I said a quick prayer asking for help, and then I turned to facebook. Isn't that what people do when they are desperately seeking for answers? Probably not. But somehow that's what I did.

Then, I came across this video clip that gave me the answer I needed.

                                                                                                     (You can also watch the clip HERE.)

When you make a mistake, can you turn it into something good?

After watching this video, I realized I didn't want to be wasting my precious minutes moping around in bed. I wanted to make every moment count. Staying in bed while knowing my kids are still upset from my behavior was not what I wanted. 

When you make a mistake, can you have a do-over, or is it too late? 

So, I took a deep breath, gathered up all the courage that I had, and went to talk to Steve and the boys who were getting ready for bed.

I left all the self-defense, pride, and justification behind on the wet pillow. The only thing that was left inside of me was honesty. I was feeling raw, vulnerable, and authentic. Those were the only things I could offer to the boys. Would they be enough to patch up the scar?

I wanted our boys to see what it's like to make a mistake. I wanted them to know how we humans fail sometimes and still have to move forward, hoping to make something good out of our failure.

I had a heart-to-heart conversation with my boys. 

I apologized and told them I'm not perfect and I do make mistakes.
We discussed why it's so important to learn from our mistakes.
I told them I love them more than anything in the world and would do anything for them.

When the conversation was over, the boys gave me a big hug. Their wide smiles assured everything would be okay. We cuddled each other and went to sleep dreaming of a brighter day tomorrow.

It hurts to make a mistake when you are a mom and you are feeling like a complete failure. It hurts to make a mistake when you know you're hurting your loved ones. 

But I'm not perfect and I know I will make a mistake again.

I understand some mistakes are bigger than others and may never be forgiven. The damage you've done may be too wide and deep that the scar may never heal back to normal again.

I want to believe, however, we can always ask for a do-over. You can always try to put things right again with your offering of honesty and love.

I hope something new, unexpected, and beautiful would come out of our failure when we ask for a second chance.

It's never too late to have a do-over. 

March 22, 2014

Living fully by taking small risks

Are you afraid of living fully?
I am.

But then I realized, 
I was the one who was imprisoning myself in my own shell. 

I wanted to break free
to live fully the way I'm meant to live. 

So, I decided to take a small risk with my painting today. 

When I was done painting, 
I felt free. 
I could breathe with ease 
for the first time in a long time. 

Nothing good comes out of fear.
Everything good is made out of love. 

I'm breaking free from the shell that confines me
by taking small risks. 

I'm breaking free from my fear 
by chasing my love.

I probably need a mat with a bigger opening. 

But I think this piece looks quite handsome paired with a dark mat.

Let's take our passion and run like our life depends on it.

Would you walk down the path that's tailored just for you - 
the path that fits perfectly to your unique design?

Did you take any small risks that set you free lately?

I'd love to know. 

Contemplating: Ink, watercolor, oil pastel, and charcoal on paper

March 20, 2014

Daughter of The Wind

Today, I wanted to share my newest creation with you. 

Anemone: Daughter of the wind. 

Did you know that Anemone is a Greek word, anemōnē, that means "daughter of the wind?"

I think the meaning is quite fitting to this subject. Don't you agree?

My interpretation of Anemone. Primitive and wild.

Even though I looked up many types of this flower, I ended up using the Japanese Anemone for inspiration. It's fascinating how our childhood memories run deep into our heart. 

Am I homesick? 

Daughter of the wind. 

Ink, watercolor, coffee on paper.

I wanted to end this post with an excerpt from Mary Oliver's poem, The Journey. This poem describes how I feel right now - how I try to pursue my passion despite the voices of fear and doubt, and how I am seeking my own voice.

I thought many of you can resonate with its message as you pursue your dreams. 

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice—

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.

                   Mary Oliver, from "The Journey," in Dream Work.  

You can read the entire poem HERE.

March 18, 2014

Seeking Passion : When you are about to give up

Dear fellow passion seekers and creative souls,

I've been quite frustrated lately.

I feel creatively stifled. Artist's block? Blogger's block? I've spent hours trying to let my creative self out, but nothing has really come out. I have some ideas that get me excited, but my thoughts are scattered and I'm having trouble putting all the pieces together. Uncovering the true design of who I am turned out to be a lot more challenging than I anticipated. Seeking and following your passion requires patience, and you need a lot of it. And as you already know, I'm not patient.

All I want to do is to create things with a sense of liberation and freedom. Paint a blank canvas using my imagination. Decorate an empty space with personality and warmth. Fill this blog with creativity and inspiration.

The initial excitement of starting something new has worn off. The clouds of doubt have rolled in, and the rays of sunshine are now behind the thick gray clouds.

Uncertainty. Doubts. Not good enough.

These words keep circling around in my mind, while I try to cling to my hopes and dreams. Where did the sunshine go? Will it come out again?

Do you have cloudy days like that? 

If you do, you're not alone.

The voice of doubt constantly talks to me in my head. It's so sneaky that sometimes I mistake it for the voice of love and I almost give in. 

"Yuko dear, you don't have what it takes. Why don't you stop wasting your time painting and decorating and go clean up the powder room instead? You know your kids want to spend more time with you. You are huffing and puffing, but nothing is coming out. It's time to give up."

My mind gets foggy and limbs are numb. I feel paralyzed. What should I do? Is this voice telling me the truth? 

What would you do when you're creatively stifled?  

What would you do when you are about to give in to the voice of doubt?

Seek for inspiration?

Focus on the moments of sunshine and be thankful?

Cling to hope like your life depends on it? 


Well, I've tried all the above, but the voice still comes back to me, strong.  What should I do?

The good thing is this is not the first time I've had this struggle. Over the years, I've learned a few things that help me get through uninspired moments. I thought I'd share my secrets with you. 

1) Lock up your negative voice in the basement
Don't let the voice of doubt boss you around and tell you what to do. You are the boss. You tell the voice to back off.

Helpful tip: When the voice of doubt tells you to give up on your dream, imagine the voice belongs to someone you absolutely can't stand. Perhaps it's that girl you couldn't stand back in middle school. Perhaps it's that annoying co-worker who gets on your nerve. Just pick one person and pretend that voice belongs to him.

Every time you hear the voice of doubt talking, tell him to zip it. Tell the voice that he doesn't have control over you. A dark cold basement is where he belongs, not in your head. 

2) Create your own cheerleader.
Cultivate your personal cheerleader who speaks in your head. Every time you hear the negative voice nagging you, let the cheerleader speak up for you. Your inner cheerleader should give you the encouragement you need ("You can do it!," "You've got what it takes. Keep going!") until the negative voice dissipates and you feel much better.

3) Show up.
From my experience, waiting for inspiration to kick in doesn't work. Once you start pursuing your passion, you are either going to make it or give up before making it. It's important you show up every day no matter how uninspired you feel. The more you practice, the better your craft is going to be. You may not have the most creative or productive day, but showing up is the way to get out of a funk.
Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over,
it became a butterfly.
- Proverb
Creativity is a process. The creative journey itself is just as much important as what you create. All the sweat, blood, and tears are the proof that you are living a life of an artist. You are in the process of transforming into something you've never been and that requires hard work and patience. Let's not forget that you are about to turn into a beautiful butterfly. It's worth all of your effort.

So, I will pick up a brush and sit in front of the computer. I may not produce anything meaningful today, but it doesn't matter. At least I know inspiration will come back to me as I practice my craft. 

What do you do when you feel creatively stifled? 

What do you do when the voice of doubt speaks to you? 

Do you have any tips that work for you? Share in the comment?

March 16, 2014

Pretty Little Details

I wanted to pop in to share some pretty little things I found around the house today. 

Love those bright yellow flowers with the blue plates. Yes the plates are back on the wall again. 

My new (old) ironstone tureen with pretty details. 

image via The Green Gables Blog

Have a beautiful Sunday!

March 13, 2014


Yes, I'm still painting and drawing...

Practice your craft, every day. 

Practice, practice, practice...

because this is the only way you can improve your craft...

And don't forget to put yourself out there.

Share what you have with the world, even if it's not perfect.

Metamorphosis: Ink, coffee, watercolor on paper.

Have a lovely day.

March 11, 2014

Resin Bust Makeover

I want you to meet a new member of our family, Mary, the resin bust (my 5-year-old named her). Mary wasn't this pretty when she first came to our home. 

She looked like this. 

Ever since I saw this bust featured in House Beautiful a few (several?) years ago, I've wanted one for our home.
Dana Abbott & Kim Fiscus, image via House Beautiful
I love the idea of using a decorative bust as a necklace holder. This way, you can not only organize your pretty necklaces but also display them where you see them every day. Over the past few years, I have scoured the internet in search of a bust. Much to my despair, an authentic antique bust typically costs a small fortune, and even a good resin reproduction is quite expensive for my standard. I've narrowed down my search to our local craigslist, hoping someone would be willing to part with their authentic decorative bust for cheap. It never happened.

Then, I came across this inexpensive resin bust at Hobby Lobby for $40 this weekend. The price was reduced from the original $70, and I couldn't grab it quick enough! I didn't care for its faux finish, but I knew this was something I could change. 

How ironic is it to come across an exciting DIY project, right after I told you I'm not a DIY kind of girl? I guess this is how life rolls. 

A close-up of the faux finish in all its glory. Mary looks very sad in this picture. She probably didn't like the original faux finish either. 

As you can see in the picture, the bust has a bumpy surface similar to a stone bust. I've seen many resin busts spray painted in glossy white, but I decided this one needed more of a chalky texture.

What can I use to create a chalky texture? Chalk Paint, of course! 

I grabbed a few cans of my trusty ASCP and a paint brush and went to town painting. Yes, I used the same paint I used for the Trumeau Mirror Makeover and Brick Fireplace Makeover. Is there anything ASCP can't do?

Things you'll need:
- Clean wet rag 
- ASCP Old White (creamy white)
- ASCP Paris Grey (light gray with blue undertone)
- ASCP Pure White
- Paint brush
- Drop cloth
- Roll of paper towel (to wipe off excess paint off the brush)

1. Wipe clean the bust with a clean wet rag. The cleaner the surface, the better the paint will stick. 

2. Mix "Old White" and "Paris Grey" to create a shade of light gray you like. I probably mixed about a 1/3 cup of Old White and a tablespoon or less amount of Paris Grey. 

3. Paint the bust using the "Old White/Paris Grey" mixture. Try to cover all the nooks and crannies and spread the paint as evenly as possible. Allow the first coat of paint to dry completely.

After a coat of "Old White/Paris Grey" mixture. This is what the bust looked like. 

The color was almost identical to the wall color and it was disappearing into the background. It also looked a little flat and I wanted to add some texture to it. I followed three more steps to achieve a more authentic look.

 4. Dry brush the bust using "Pure White" to highlight the high surface areas. Make sure your brush is completely dry, and apply only a small amount of pint on the tip of the brush. Any excess paint on the brush should be wiped off with a paper towel. Allow the paint to dry completely.

5. Dab "Paris Grey" on the bust using your fingertip to create an aged effect. The bust will look "dirty" after this step, but don't let it discourage you. Most of the dark spots will disappear under another layer of paint (next step). Allow the paint to dry.

6. Dry brush using "Pure White" over the darkened areas to complete the aged effect. I gently tapped the bust with the brush to soften the edges of the dark spots.

What do you think? I think it looks much better and more authentic than it originally was. I'm still debating whether or not to wax the bust. If I do, I will just do one coat of ASCP Clear Wax

The best part of having a bust is to decorate it.

Eddie Ross
Nesting Place
image via And George
image via And George

Possibilities are endless... I can't wait to decorate mine!

March 7, 2014

Mid Century Credenza Re-styled : Where to shop when budget is limited

I just restyled the mid century credenza in our library/office space.

When I styled the antique commode in our guest bedroom, I brought the Hollywood Regency gilt mirror from our foyer to hang above the commode. We didn't have any mirror in the foyer for a month and we found it quite inconvenient. You know, you want to make sure you don't have a piece of spinach stuck in your teeth before leaving the house.

I ended up moving the trumeau mirror above the mid century credenza to the foyer. Now we don't have to worry about spinach in our teeth anymore. One problem solved.

Then the empty space above the credenza started to drive me crazy. That was one of a few "pretty corners" we had in our house, and I missed the pretty corner. I think it makes a big difference to your happiness level when you have some areas of the house styled pretty even though the rest of the house is still unfinished. Or is it just me? 

Putting a home together is a process especially when you are financially limited.

Having a few pretty areas in your home gives you hope you need in order to stay focused and move forward.

So, I shopped the house and gathered the things that would work for this space. The corn-husk wreath came from the foyer, and the antique wooden bowl formerly held bread in the kitchen. My nude oil painting finally found its home (It was sitting in a closet.) The total I spent on this update: $6 for the two small moss balls. 

Is there a space in your home that is begging to be updated? You can do this, too. Go ahead, shop the house and see what you can come up with. That picture frame that's been sitting in your closet. That vase your aunt gave you for your wedding and never been used. You may be surprised you already have plenty of pretty things to decorate with. Along the way, you can always donate things you are not in love with, and purchase a thing or two as you need them. This is the process of refining your style as well as your possessions.

Have a lovely weekend! 

March 4, 2014

2 Questions to Help You Find Your Passion

Did you notice that I haven't had my profile description up on my blog yet? If you take a look on the right side bar, you'll only find my name and picture at "About" section. When I started this blog, I left that part blank on purpose. 


I didn't want to give myself a label that might lead me in a wrong direction. Labeling is a powerful thing.

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to uncover the unique design of who I am. What makes me come alive?  What makes my heart sing? I kept asking myself these questions every day for the past three months. Of course, I had some ideas about what I liked and what I didn't, but I didn't want to mold myself into something I was not by mislabeling myself.

After three months of blogging, I think I finally figured out what I feel most passionate about. Yes, it took me three months of exploring different topics. 

Do you remember, I have recently refined my decorating style (and still evolving), realized art and I are inseparable, and become a tad wiser as a parent? I have also overcome my initial fear of putting myself out here (here and here), struggled through motherhood (here, here and here), and realized that talking about fashion and frugal living are not my strong suit. I have even tried my hands on some DIY projects (here, here and here). I sure covered as many areas as I thought would be interesting. 

My decorating essentials. I can't live without them.

I knew it was about time to start narrowing down some of these topics.

So, I decided to focus on what I truly enjoy sharing on this blog. If I'm not having fun writing and sharing certain topics, why should I work so hard on those areas? I should be spending more time doing what I love instead, don't you think?  

There are two areas I feel most passionate about right now.
1) Interior design and decorating.
I just can't get enough of it. I think about interior design and decorating throughout the day, everyday. If I'm not tweaking things around the house, I'm studying pretty spaces on Pinterest or shelter magazines. It's an obsession I have no idea what to do except sharing it here. 

2) Art. 
My old love and my newly re-discovered passion. I have no idea where this is going to take me, but I'm excited about exploring this part of myself.

You will hear more about these topics in the future. I also enjoy sharing some of my life stories, including stories on motherhood. This will be the third one, but I will only write on this topic when I feel inspired. 

3) Motherhood and stories about finding my true self.
The areas that felt like dreaded chores than sharing with joy.
- DIY projects
- Simple & Frugal living

I realized even though I do a lot of DIY projects around the house, I don't really enjoy writing about them. I guess I just do them out of necessity but not out of passion. If I ever come across any DIY projects that I feel excited about though, I'm sure I will be sharing them here. But DIY is not going to be the major focus of this blog. In the same way, I didn't care much about sharing my pursuit of simple and frugal living. Yes, I enjoy having that lifestyle, but those are not exactly what I'm passionate about. 

Now you know what to expect from this blog, at least for now. I'm sure it will continue to change as both I and this blog grow. 

My half painted china cabinet. Yes, it's still half painted.

Along the way, I came across two questions that helped me find my true passions. I bet asking these questions will help you narrow down your passion, too.

1) What makes you excited?
If you ask my husband, he would tell you I just can't stop talking about interior design, which he takes no interest whatsoever. I know I bore him to death by doing this. But when I get excited about creating a beautiful space, I just can't help but talk about it. (I am an ENFP, remember?) What makes you excited? What is it you can't stop thinking about?

 2) What are the things you do while you're procrastinating? 
If I had an entire day to myself, I'd likely be spending time working around the house, decorating. I am guilty of working on my decorating and art projects while I watch my boys. Sometimes I even put the TV on for them so that I can work on my projects. Or if I have a toilet that requires cleaning, I'd rather ignore it and work on my projects. What dirty toilet? I didn't see it!

quote by Jessica Hische. image source unknown.

I stopped calling my passions hobbies. 

I stopped feeling guilty about spending time doing what I truly enjoy doing. 

I may now be busier than ever, and I may not sleep as much at night anymore. But I have to say I am happier than ever!

It's so important to give yourself permission to work on what you're passionate about, not matter how small, impractical, or silly it seems.  

You may not be making money doing it, but that's not good enough reason not to do it. If you take your passion seriously and work really hard on it, you may encourage other people along the way. And you never know, you may end up making a living doing what you love. I believe money follows your passion, not the other way around. 
"Be willing to do the work you love for free, often and generously and continue to gather knowledge in the field of your passion and if you are married, encourage your spouse to do the same."

                                                                                                                       - The Nester
What makes you come alive? 

What are the things you can't stop talking about? 

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