Category Archives: Mini Sabbaticlas

What I did during my sabbatical week

Hello! I hope you’re enjoying a nice Memorial Day weekend!

I’m not doing anything special… 😀 Since I quit my regular job almost 2 yeas ago (!!), I don’t keep track of holidays very much any more, except for the big winter holidays. Dave is out of town this weekend (he comes home later tonight, thou) so I’m just enjoying peace and quiet.

Speaking of peace and quiet (notice my smooth segue? :D), I was on my mini sabbatical a couple of weeks ago.

(If you don’t know what my mini sabbaticals are, I’ve been taking every 7th week off since October 2015 to rest and recharge. You can read more about it here.)

I’d been feeling tired, unmotivated, and low-energy for a couple of weeks leading up to it and knew I really needed that time off.

I had a couple of work stuff and chores to take care of but didn’t plan too much else. Had dinner with a couple of friends but otherwise enjoyed my alone time, which is super important for an introvert like me! (Dave was out of town for work for most of the week.)

On Tuesday, I went to my pottery class. I had a few underglazed mugs that came out of the kiln so I glazed them.

I find glazing (putting the shiny coat once it’s fired once) to be the hardest part! I tend to lay it on too thick, I guess, and it tends to crack once it’s fired…:( I hope these mugs will turn out OK. (BTW, I talked about the joys and struggles of being a beginner on this blog post!)

On Thursday afternoon I block printed! My pottery instructor asked me to make a studio apron for her, so I’d been designing a new pottery-themed art for it.

Pottery tool block print ❤

It was more complicated than my usual design, and I loved how it came out! And she loved the apron 🙂

On Saturday, I vended at the Bastyr University Herb & Food Fair! We had such a gorgeous weather and had a great turnout!

This is my booth!

Shows are a lot of work, but most of the time it’s worth it! This fair had a nice laid-back vibe, and the shoppers were super nice 🙂

And lots of cute dogs, too!! <3<3<3

The show was more successful than I expected, which is always a plus 🙂

Although my sabbatical was a bit on a busy side, I was so energized and ready to go by the time Monday rolled around. I was so focused and productive.

It confirmed my belief again that taking a regular time off isn’t a luxury for me or my business – it’s a requirement for my success and happiness! 

If you’re curious about how I spend my sabbatical weeks, you can read my past sabbatical blog posts here!

Have a great week, my friend 🙂 Do more self-care!

xo

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

Greetings from Ithaca!

I take every 7th week off to recharge and rest.

(a.k.a. Small Scale Sabbaticals – a brilliant concept I adopted from Seanwes)

I was on my mini sabbatical during the last week of March, and my husband, Dave, our friend, Ed, and I visited the EcoVillage at Ithaca (EVI) in Ithaca, NY!

Beautiful community! © Ecovillage at Ithaca

We arrived at the village a little before 9pm, and it was already dark. I didn’t get to see the village itself but the stars were amazing! Ed is from Argentina, and he was telling us how it still freaks him out to see the constellations upside down! 😀

I made my daily art on the flight from Seattle to O’Hara. I ❤ llamas!

Elan, our kind innkeeper at Frog’s Way B&B, met us at the dark parking lot and led us in to the cozy basement apartment we stayed at. I was so exhausted from the long travel (we’d left our home in Seattle at 4:30 am), I went to bed and fell asleep immediately.

The next morning, we had our breakfast – guys had homemade granola and yogurt with a cup of coffee while I had a couple of pieces of gluten-free toast with chunky peanut butter and sliced bananas and an apple with a cup of Bengal Spice tea. Mmmmm…

Cozy frog enjoying his cup of tea. Painting inspired by the B&B we stayed at called “Frog’s Way”

Their kitchen was at the north side of the house and only has a tiny window (it’s designed this way to maximize the insulation in the house), but the view from our bedroom on the south side was pretty awesome.

Looking over the community gardens.

Yes, the landscape was still pretty grey and bare, but we looked out the window and saw grassy field, gardens, and trees. Definitely different than our normal view from the apartment of pavement, town homes and cars… 😀

Temperatures were in the mid-30s, and though it was not “cold cold”, it was damp and felt a lot colder to me. I hate being cold so immediately followed the wisdom of my Wisconsin-bred husband and put on a pair of long underwear.

I really loved the combination of wood and earthen walls of these houses ❤
One of the ponds in the village. So serene.
A little sauna shack. I bet it’s amazing in the cold winter!

Our purpose of being there was to learn from the founders – how they got started, lessons learned and successes of building a thriving ecovillage.

Our first meeting was with Liz, the co-founder, and we met in one of their common houses (at EVI, they have 3 distinctive neighborhoods – Song, Frog, and Tree – and though residents live in their own private homes, they get to use the common house for shared meals, meetings, and other gatherings.)

Frog common house. So bright and inviting!

This common house in the Frog neighborhood was by far my favorite! It felt so open and airy. Even on a grey, drizzly day, there was so much light in the building.

And, of course, I loved all the artwork there 🙂

Beautiful mosaic work on the wall.
Succulents in pretty painted pots!

I was drawn to their handmade gourd lampshades immediately!

Homegrown organic gourd lampshades by Graham Ottoson.
And the boys were drawn to it as well…, like moths to the flame… 😀

They also have a workshop/studio/shop Graham’s husband built, called “Gourdlandia”, in the village, and I was thrilled to take a peek at other beautiful creations ❤

My dream studio ❤
Magical gourds… ❤
Love the delicate lights shining through ❤

And, of course, I had to paint one of the gourd lampshades for my daily painting project 🙂

Gourd Lampshade!

During our stay, our friend, Devon, who used to be an intern at Bullock’s Permaculture Homestead, where Dave lived for 7 years, and his lovely partner, Star, invited us over for dinner at their home in Ithaca.

I ❤ tacos!

They had an awesome build-your-own taco bar with all the goodies. Oh, it was amazing!! And it was so nice to see an old friend and meet new ones, too 🙂

On the last day on our way to the airport, we stopped at one of the falls in Ithaca.

Because all the snow was melting, the fall was pretty impressive! I could feel the mist on my face from 50 yards away!

Beautiful camo colors and textures on a sycamore tree ❤

We were there for only 3 days, and it was disorienting to wake up in my bed the next morning.

With all the technological advancement, you can travel so far away so fast now. When I got up on Sunday and walked out of my bedroom and looked out the living room window, I wasn’t sure if we were really in Ithaca the day before.

But I look at these pictures and paintings and know we were really there!

I’m so grateful to have been able to spend a few days in such a beautiful place and meet the kind people at the EcoVillage!

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

 

The Best Strategy to Avoid Burnout

I was on my mini sabbatical during the week of 2/6. 

It was super relaxing, and I felt like it was one of the best sabbaticals I’d ever been on! What made it so successful was I didn’t schedule whole a lot of social engagements during my week off. 

In the past, I’d  cram in as many lunches and coffee dates as possible during my sabbatical (I mean, like 3 or 4 during the week :D) because I didn’t see my friends any other time. But this year I’m switching gears and trying to spread out my social engagements more evenly and make time to see my friends in small doses outside of my sabbaticals.

I’m an introvert, and being around people, while it can be a lot of fun, drains my energy. So, in order for me to really recharge my energy reserve during my sabbaticals, I decided not to schedule any get togethers with friends in advance, and it was super helpful! I still saw people, but it was more spontaneous (imagine that!!) and based on how I felt then.

Anyway, while on sabbaticals, I try to do things I normally don’t have the time to do. And here are some highlights!

1. I did my goal setting and planning for 2017. 

I got this downloadable  “2017 Goal and Intention Kit” from Jessica Swift and LOVE it! I did some intention setting earlier this year but finally dug into the actual goal setting during my sabbatical. It felt so good to have more clear directions for the year!

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My business goal is to grow my wholesale side of business, partnering with more retail shops to carry my greeting cards! (BTW, If you know cute gift/stationery shops that may be a good fit for my work – do tell me in the comment! Both in and outside of US.)

But more generally, my goal is to be more focused – working on just one thing at a time, be more present with work and relationships, and getting more quality work done in a shorter time. I’m excited about this goal and will share more in another blog post!

2. I created abstract acrylic paintings.

One of my intentions for this year is to try and explore different creative outlets. I feel it’s important for artists to stay curious and try something new! You might end up not liking something but will never know unless you try it, right?

I’ve been a little intimidated by painting with acrylics (I took a class once and found the medium hard to work with!) but I love the look of acrylic paintings, so I watched a couple of classes on Creativebug (I especially enjoyed this one and this one) and went for it!

 

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I decided to paint some abstract pieces – just something different and intuitive .

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I worked on 4 canvases at a time since they’re pretty small (8″x10″), and I didn’t want to wait around while the paint was drying.

I shared this process video on Instagram and thought you might like it, too! It’s good to document the process to see what steps I took to create an artwork and reflect on what I might do differently next time.

 

The hardest part of creating these paintings for me was to know when to stop. I felt like I over did the first paintings – I kept wanting to layer more and more hoping to make them look like something else… I’m letting them hang out for a while to see how I feel about them later.

And the second set, I went really simple just to see how I felt about them. I still did multiple layers but used just two colors and simple shapes. As my wise friend said, it takes guts to create something so simple! You keep thinking “this can’t possible be done…?” even though in your gut you know you should stop.

And the wonderful thing about acrylic paintings is you can totally paint over it if you don’t like something 😀

3. I made waxed fabrics to replace plastic wraps.

A small part of me dies whenever I use single-use plastic wraps, and I’ve been meaning to do a DIY project to replace them.

I found this tutorial on how to create waxed linen and made my own!

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It was pretty easy, and they’re definitely prettier than any plastic wraps 😀 I can’t wait to use them and see how they do!


Taking a regular time off every 7 weeks has been so valuable to me. I’ve been taking mini sabbaticals since October 2015 and can’t imagine not doing it!

It gives me the chance to step back and reflect on how things are going. I often ask myself; How am I doing with my goals? How am I feeling about my business? Do I need to course correct or keep doing what I’m doing? And since I don’t have a deadline or pressing work issues to attend to during my sabbaticals, I can really focus on the big picture.

Focusing on the big picture often reenergizes me and gives me inspirations for the future. And, since I’m forcing myself to get done 7-week worth of work in 6 weeks, I feel more productive when I’m “on,” too!

I used to have major FOMO about taking a time off from work but have learned over time nothing went terribly wrong while I was taking a break.

The truth is, one week is not that long.

As long as you plan ahead (which is easy to do since the sabbaticals come every 7 weeks), you can totally have a regular time off without losing money or feeling guilty.

If you’re curious, I want you to try it and see how you feel!

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

 

 

Holiday Sabbatical Art Projects!

Hi! Happy New Year!

2017 is the Year of the Rooster!
2017 is the Year of the Rooster!

Hope you had great holidays!

I had a very relaxing sabbatical week off the week before Christmas. I took it real easy, just hanging out, making art, and spent some time with friends and family.

In case you didn’t know, I take every 7th week off to recharge and rest.

I learned this concept of Small Scale Sabbaticals from Seanwes (A great place to get inspiration for your creative small business by the way!), and I’ve been taking my mini sabbatical week off since October of 2015.

It’s still one of the best business strategies I’ve ever implemented. When you’re growing your business, it’s easy to just keep working many hours because there is always something that needs to be done. Yes, I enjoy the hustle most of the time, but if I don’t intentionally take a time-off, I will eventually burn out. And if you’re burned out, you will no longer have the energy or passion to pursue what you love. That would be so sad!!

I ended up working through the last couple of sabbaticals, unfortunately, and I’d been feeling the effects for a while…

So for this sabbatical week, I was determined to not work!

I’d scheduled a few social events, but the rest of the week was wide open to do whatever I wanted!

One of the things I’d like to focus on when I’m on my sabbatical is making art for fun.

Which, I confess, is not easy nowadays.

Making art is my job now, and even if I’m just doodling, part of me is always thinking of ways to turn it into a product, like, hmmm, this floral design would make a good birthday card, or oh, I could turn this into a print for the holidays! and so on. It’s not a terrible thing since I’m still being creative and having fun, but just something to be aware of.

Anyway, here are some of the paintings I made for my 30-minute daily painting project during my sabbatical. (You can read this post to learn more about the project!)

Lots of oranges!

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A couple more food paintings related to the holidays.

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I made banana walnut pancakes on Christmas morning. So yummy!

On Friday, my friend and I went to Emerald City Fired Arts in south Seattle and painted this dinner plate ❤

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Here is the finished piece!

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I’ve also been getting into embroidery lately since I had so much fun with a cute embroidery kit by Beth Colletti Art & Design earlier in December. I practiced some stitches on the blockrprinting practice fabric while we watched all of the Lord of the Rings movies on Christmas day! It was THE. BEST. CHRISTMAS. EVERRRR!!

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Embroidery is quite fun and meditative! I’m not sure if I’d do anything with it, but I’d like to continue practicing this fun craft! I have hundreds of block prints to embellish, you know?

I realized since drawing or painting is always going to feel somewhat like work, I want to explore other types of arts and crafts to have fun with in the coming year.

Last but not least, I made this painting of me and Dave during my sabbatical. Through my daily painting practice, I’m painting more with gouache (an opaque watercolor) and LOVE it!

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I think this is going to be our Christmas card next year 🙂

Hope you got to spend some time relaxing and being creative during the holiday season!

Here is to another year filled with making, exploring, and learning ❤

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

 

 

Taking a time off when you’re swamped

{Hi friend – I just wanted to acknowledge that this has been a rough week for many of us… I happen to write this post about self-care (or sort of a failed attempt at one) and hope it helps you in some ways. Know I’ve been thinking about you <3}

I just took my mini sabbatical week off during the first week of November, and it was not easy.

(If you’re not familiar with the mini sabbatical, I take every 7th week off to rest and recharge. I adapted the concept from Seanwes. It’s pretty much the best, and you should totally do it, too!)

I’ve been taking my sabbatical week off since last October, and since it’s a regular thing, I put it on my calendar in advance. And it helps me to not schedule any deadlines or client work during that time.

My mini sabbaticals force me to be more productive during my “on” weeks. Since you are taking a week off every 7 weeks (so 6 weeks on, 1 week off) you’re forced to get 7-weeks worth of work done in 6 weeks. I remember being super productive right before I left for a vacation at my old day job, and it’s a very similar feeling.

For this sabbatical, even though I knew it was coming, I didn’t plan well enough in advance so everything was behind.

First of all, I had to prepare for my winter holiday stationery collection release that was scheduled for November 1st.

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Yay, it’s here!
I was already behind getting everything ready for it due to planned and unplanned events this summer/fall – I swore last year I was going to start getting the holiday collection ready earlier in the summer – well, now I’m telling myself I need to start planning for next year’s collection, like, NOW. Sigh.

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I seem to need a reminder for the lesson #1 above, “Everything takes way longer than you think.” over and over….and over. Note to self: Always expect things will take longer. Things will go wrong. Schedule buffer!!! 

(BTW, who said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”? I do feel a little crazy going through this yet again!!!)

On top of that, my really good friend from Japan was visiting last week. So I had to juggle my collection launch timeline and hanging out with her for several days. Eeeek!

Although I had to bow out of some of the social engagements so I could finish work, we did manage to do some fun things together, like visiting the Seattle Art Museum to check out their Yves Saint Laurent exhibit (it was exquisite!), visiting my American parents on Camano Island, seeing our mutual friends, and taking a day trip to Portland.

And, I taught my block printing class on the last day of my sabbatical.

Honestly I was feeling so run down and tired that I didn’t feel like I was on my A game, but the students seemed to have a great time and did a wonderful job! Seeing how much fun my students had during the class always lifts up my spirit ❤

Look at their gorgeous work!!
Look at their gorgeous work!!
My sabbatical was not the most relaxing or rejuvenating, and I’m definitely feeling a little burned-out.

For example, it takes more to get and stay motivated. I’m tired and can’t stay focused on my tasks. I’m feeling low energy in general. The grey weather and daylight saving time change are not helping either! Not to mention the election… OK, I can’t go there, yet 😦

Holiday time is not the most relaxing fun time for a small creative business owner (or anyone? :D), and I really need to be more vigilant about self-care.

I need to listen to my body and be compassionate with myself. Giving myself permission to slow down or change my plans, especially during my hustle time, is still one of the hardest things!!

To recover from my not-so-relaxing sabbatical week :D, I’ve been taking things a little easy this week. I’m getting back in my regular routine of early bedtime (I try to go to bed by 9:30pm), cooking and eating more at home, and limiting my social engagements so I can just stay home and enjoy my alone time. I don’t know if it’s the age thing, but I seem to need a lot more down time than I used to to recover from stuff! 😀

Unfortunately, you can’t just batch your self-care all at once during your time off every 7 weeks.

Taking care of yourself in small doses every day really makes a difference! And, incorporating your small self-care habits into your daily routine is the key to success 🙂 Once you build a habit, it just becomes something you do, like brushing your teeth or washing your face!

I hope you take good care of yourself and stay well, my friend ❤

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

 

 

 

 

My Food Journal Drawings from Japan!

I just got back from my Japan trip on Friday, and it was awesome ❤

I doodled while I waited for my flight to Japan :D
I doodled while I waited for my flight to Japan 😀

In this visit, I didn’t actually go home. Instead, I visited my parents in Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan, where they spent the summer this year.

my parents by the Lake Mashu. It was the most beautiful and peaceful lake I've ever seen!
my parents by the Lake Mashu. It was the most beautiful and peaceful lake I’d ever seen!

Hokkaido is so big and spacious!

They have a huge commercial agriculture and farming industry up there. I felt like I was in Montana or somewhere in the midwest half the time 😀

This was a typical view while we drove around.
This was a typical view while we drove around.

The nature was absolutely breathtaking. My parents took me to see some of their favorite spots.

Lake Mashu, Ashoro, Hokkaido
Lake Mashu, Ashoro, Hokkaido
A Garden at Takushin Kan, Photo Gallery, Biei, Hokkaido
Beautiful cosmos at Takushin-Kan Photo Gallery, Biei, Hokkaido
Daisetsuzan National Park, Hokkaido
Daisetsuzan National Park, Hokkaido

Pretty magical, isn’t it??

And another highlight of my Japan trip was, of course, the food! Hokkaido is known for many foods, like potatoes, corns, beef, pork, and seafood to name a few.

I ended up drawing what I ate every day during my stay. Here are some of my favorites!

(I had plenty of meat-y dishes, and they were all good. But I want to highlight more seafood dishes here because I think turned out prettier :D)

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My parents and I had dinner at New Chitose Airport the first night I arrived. I had to try their seafood donburi. It was delish!!
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What I enjoyed the most was a simple meal with rice, grilled fish (here I had Hokke) pickled veggies, and miso soup. I appreciated they offer a wider variety of fish in Japan!
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We stayed at an onsen (hot springs) inn in Ashoro. Onsen inns typically serve you dinner and breakfast that consist of seasonal local foods in tiny dishes. I love these tiny dishes ❤
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Here is what we had for breakfast at the onsen. So simple and delicious ❤ I wish we could’ve stayed there longer!
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My mom and I went shopping in Asahikawa and ate at the same restaurant I had the simple grilled fish earlier. They’d started serving Sanma, which is a very common fish you get in Japan but not in the states. Sanma had just come in season, and it was GOOD!
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We had sushi at the airport before I left. Yes it was at the airport and it was the conveyor belt sushi (the conveyor belt sushi is actually pretty good in Japan) – BUT we thought it was the best sushi we ever had. WE ATE SO MUCH. I was high from all the glorious sushi for hours afterwards.

I can’t believe how quickly 10 days went by. It’s always so hard to say good bye at the end of my visit. My mom and I usually can’t get too many words out of our mouth because we’re crying… 😦

Mom!
Mom!

I also noticed we’ve gotten closer as we got older.

Maybe I’ve become more mature? and am more compassionate towards them… I think my daily meditation practice also helped me stay calm every time they pushed my button 😀 Oh parents.

I hope we all stay healthy and get to enjoy many more visits together! Thank you for the lovely vacation, mom and dad! ❤

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

 

 

Lessons learned from my not-so-restful sabbatical week

I took my sabbatical week off during the week of 8/1. (You can learn more about my small scale sabbaticals here.)

I was supposed to take it off the week before, but I had so much to do, so I decided to push it back one week.

The week before I’d originally planned to take my week off, I was planning on making 4 tutorial videos for Sakura of America, and it took a lot longer than I anticipated (duh!)

And at the last minute I was invited to be at a craft show, and I agreed, so I spent hours preparing for the show at the same time.

It became obvious to me that I wasn’t going to finish the video project and tie all the loose ends before the end of the week. 

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Rather than doing a “half-on, half-off” sabbatical week, I decided to push it back one week so I could finish everything and fully enjoy my time off the following week.

Or so I thought.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to tie all the loose ends by the end of that additional week, so some work did spill over to my sabbatical week. Sad face 😦

I’d put in long hours the week before and worked the craft show all day Saturday 7/30, so I was really wired going into my week off.

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My booth at the show 🙂
Ballard p-patch
And it was a gorgeous day to be outside!

Plus my husband Dave had been away for 2 and a half weeks for work and came back on late Saturday 7/30 night. Originally, he was going to come home on Sunday 8/1, so it threw me off the loop.

And whenever he comes home late, I go to bed at my normal bed time but just can’t fall asleep until he gets home…

As an introvert, even though I love and miss my husband very much while he’s gone, I also enjoy my quiet alone time. And it usually takes me a few days to adjust to having him around again.

Oh, and we had a couple of guests stay over at our place with kind of a short notice… and I’d already scheduled my social time with some friends that week (Max 3 social engagements per week!). So I ended up having a bit more people time than I’d wanted.

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We hosted a hand-roll salad bar one night, and it was fun and delicious…

Even though I generally have a good time when I’m with friends, I prefer to have them scheduled in advance and need to have a good amount of down time in between to recharge.

And as for work, I got an inquiry from a customer who wanted to place a big rush order of my block printed tote bags on the first day of my sabbatical week.

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My hand block printed artichoke tote. Cute, yes?

Initially, I said no because there was no way I could have the goods ready within the timeline, but the customer was really interested in working with me.

So I tried to make it work by having them screen printed rather than me hand printing them. And that meant a lot of back and forth with the print shops and the customer throughout the week…

After all, the customer decided not to place the order because the timeline didn’t work for them. Which was fine, but I couldn’t relax completely until all the loops were closed… 

I also have a new class to promote, followed up with people who’d just signed up for my email list, and Instagram just rolled out their Snapchat thingy (a.k.a. Instagram Story) and I got embroiled in that too!!

The Seafair, which is a big summer festival in Seattle, was going on during my sabbatical week, and we live very close to where the Blue Angels perform. Their performance is cool and all, but the noise is totally unbearable. It is SO LOUD.

Oh, Blue Angels... Only if you were quieter...
Oh, Blue Angels… Only if you were quieter… Photo credit: Monica Zaborac

So on Saturday, I tagged along Dave’s teaching gig at a university to get away from home. They had a pretty loose, hands-on day for his class, and I got to hang out with Dave part of the day and read, too.

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And I went for a walk in the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle waterfront with a good friend 🙂

On Sunday, I ended up doing chores and went to see a movie (BTW, loved the new Ghostbusters movie!!) to get away from the Blue Angels noise again… 😀

I LOLd so much!
I LOLd so much!! 😀

Before you know it, my sabbatical week was over. O.V.E.R. Sigh.

It wasn’t the most relaxing week off, and I was pretty bummed about it.

Self-care is a top priority of mine, and not having a regular down time is pretty hard on me. When I can’t get enough rest, I try to breathe and be more compassionate with myself. I do what I can to take care of myself and just accept the things for what they are.

With that being said, I did spend some time reading. I’ve been reading “The Highly Sensitive Person in Love” by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D., and it’s fascinating! (In case you missed it, I talked about my Highly Sensitive nature in this post.) I love exploring my inner world… ❤

The Highly Sensitive Person in Love book cover
This!

I also made some art for fun during my sabbatical week.

Dahlias marker drawing
Dahlias with Sakura Koi pens, micron pen, and a gellyroll pen.

These dahlias were inspired by the beautiful community garden I was at for the craft show ❤

I also got to spend more time with Dave than usual and slept more (including naps!) so I’m more refreshed to start my work week.

I’ve got a couple of trips coming up this summer, too, so even though I didn’t get a full time off last week, I’m glad some important work got done! It’s a balance, I guess…

Hope you’re getting some relaxing on this summer!

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

I’m going to a 10-day silent meditation retreat!

I can’t believe my next mini sabbatical week is coming up! It’s been 6 weeks already?? Time sure flies.

I’m actually taking an extended sabbatical this time and going to a 10-day silent meditation retreat.

I’ll be gone from June 1 through 12.

Happiness is Meditation Art Print

I went to my first silent meditation retreat about 3 years ago, and it totally changed my life! It was so enriching and deeply healing. I remember coming out of it feeling so content and happy. Like I didn’t have any emotional or physical knots anywhere.

As the name of the retreat suggests, you don’t talk to anyone for 10 days and either meditate or learn how to meditate for a good chunk of the day from 4am to 9pm .

(You can see my experience from the last meditation retreat in this post if you’re interested. You can also learn more about this particular meditation retreat here.)

I signed up for this retreat earlier this year. I didn’t know why exactly, but I felt ready for it. Last time I went was the spring before I got married. It was also the time when I was contemplating cutting back my hours at my day job so I could dedicate more time and energy into art.

I had another huge life change last summer when I quit my day job cold turkey and felt I needed to pause again to reflect on things that have happened since then.

To be honest, I’ve been feeling pretty anxious about it. I’m nervous about not working for so many days. In fact I’ve thought about postponing it more than once. It’s not like I have employees who can run the show while I’m gone. When I’m gone, my business needs to be on hold, too.

But I figured there is never a “good” time to take off anyway.

When you are an entrepreneur, there is always things to do. Your to-do list never ends. You could easily end up working ridiculous hours, never taking a day off, and burn out eventually if you’re not careful.

I’ve talked to Dave about my concerns, and he reminded me how great I felt last time I went to the retreat. He really noticed I came home a different (i.e. better) person then!

Another friend I talked to pointed out to me that this time of reflection will help me recharge my creative battery, too. So while I’m not able to “work” per-se during the retreat, I’m still doing something positive to grow my creative business.

So I’m giving myself a permission to go and enjoy my time to just sit quietly.

The hardest part of silent meditation for me is not the no-talking part.

I actually really enjoy that part. I’m a proud introvert, and it’s nice that even if you’re surrounded by strangers, you’re not expected to make a small talk with anyone 😀 Not talking to anyone for 10 days while having no responsibility was pretty amazing!

The toughest part was being alone with the endless thoughts that came up.

It was the dark and angry thoughts that upset me the most. I was surprised I had so much anger inside me for so long. And it was a constant practice of noticing those thoughts, observing them without a judgement, and letting go of them. Over and over.

It seemed like my mind never shut up! And without other noises distracting me, the voice in my head grew louder. What a fascinating experience it was!

I’d also come up with the best ideas while I was meditating. But you’re not supposed to write down anything either, so that was another tough part.

You learn to let go of things. Whether it’s good or bad.

You’re also not allowed to draw or exercise during the retreat. I know that will definitely be a challenge for me!

But like the last time, I’m trying not to have a lot of expectations. I will experience what I’m supposed to and gain (or not gain) whatever comes out of it. Maybe I’ll have a totally awesome experience again. And maybe I won’t. And that’s OK, too.

I’ll be completely offline between June 1 and 12. That means there will be two weeks without any new blog posts! If you comment or send me any questions, I won’t be able to answer them until after I come back.

I can’t wait to tell you all about it when I come back! Take care until then ❤

p.s. If you wanted your Father’s Day card in time, order it tomorrow, Monday, May 30, for timely shipping 🙂

xo Yuko

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My sabbatical block printing & sewing project!

Hello!

I took my sabbatical week off during the week of April 18. It’s been a couple of weeks, but I wanted to show you the block printing and sewing projects I worked on.

I take every 7th week off to relax and do things I don’t normally have the time to. 

It’s kind of scary to take a week off so regularly, because, I often feel I need to be making $$ and can’t afford to take a time off. BUT, it’s important for me to make the time for reflection and recharge on a regular basis. It’s been one of the best business strategies I’ve taken! (You can learn more about what the mini sabbaticals are all about here.)

Sadly, I’d been sick with a cold for a couple of weeks and was behind on some work stuff, so I ended up working a little bit during my sabbatical.

But I also made sure to do something just for fun!

You probably know I’ve been practicing block printing on fabric for a while now.

I love the whole process of designing a block to seeing the prints on the fabric. Time just flies by when I’m engrossed in block printing!

block printed bags and towels
My block printing family 🙂

But I’ve also been feeling a bit burnt out on making block printed products, like tea towels and bags.

Considering all the hard work that goes into it, it’s not very profitable, and frankly, printing the same things over and over got old pretty quickly.

I was afraid I was losing the joy of block printing.

While I continue to focus on developing my art product lines, I’ve been focusing more on producing things that are easily replicable, like art prints and greeting cards, and moving away from block printing for production.

But a lot of people like the block printing aesthetics, so I started teaching block printing on fabric workshops recently at a local art studio, and I really enjoy it!!

IGIMO block printing on fabric workshop
Beautiful student work from my first class!

By the way, if you’re in Seattle area and want to join my class this summer, I just posted new dates on my website 🙂

With that being said, I still love to do block printing and want to continue practicing. I think for now I’ll be teaching more and block print for personal enjoyment rather than making products.

For this sabbatical week off, I decided to make a garment from my block printed fabrics!

I’m not good at sewing – I’d hemmed my pants and made simple tote bags before. But beyond that, it seemed really intimidating.

Sewing a garment seemed particularly challenging because you can’t just wing it, right? You need to follow a pattern, cut the fabrics nicely, and all of your pieces need to match up…

I like to do all of my creative work very loosely and wasn’t confident that I could sew something I’d actually want to (and can) wear!

But, I was inspired by two of my printing/sewing heros – Sarah Golden and Jen Hewett (check out her Print, Pattern, Sew project from 2015 – It’s really gorgeous and inspiring!) and decided to finally tackle this!

Japanese sewing book
Making garments by sewing straight lines? Yes please!

I got this Japanese sewing book, titled “Making Garments by Sewing Straight Lines” several years ago when I was visiting Japan. I was naturally attracted to the title 🙂 and all of the pieces looked adorable. I’d been just admiring the pictures until now and I’m glad I didn’t throw it away!!

I chose one of their patterns for a top that seemed pretty easy.

Japanese easy sewing pattern
This one!

I didn’t want to spend a  lot of money for the project, so I went fabric shopping at Goodwill as per my friend Sarah’s recommendation. If you’ve never gone fabric shopping at thrift stores, they’re awesome.

I looked around their fabric section, bed sheets, table cloth, and curtains. I saw so many cute fabrics there and was tempted to get them all! But I wanted to start small in case I hated sewing 😀 and bought two fabrics.

I wanted the color and pattern on the fabrics to work well with my block print design, not compete against it. So I picked a simple grey and white porka dot cotton bed sheet and a light weight cotton ready-to-sew blue flower pattern skirt.

And I got so much material for $5 each! Score!

ready-to-sew-skirt_liberty
Ready to sew? I like the sound of this…

For the block print design, I thought it would be fun to carve my recent obsession – poppies.

pink-and-purple-poppies-9x12_lores
Can’t seem to stop drawing these lately…
Poppy-hand carved blocks
Hand carving poppy & leaves. I use Speedball linocut tool and Moo Carve soft rubber blocks.

After I hand carved the pieces, I test print on a white cotton fabric. This is where I see areas I want to tweak and refine.

block printing on fabric poppy design
Test printing on white cotton fabric. I print with water-based fabric screen printing ink.

Once I was happy with my blocks, I started printing on the actual fabric I was going to make my top with!

For the  fabric design, I decided to do just a simple block pattern. I toyed with the idea of incorporating the leaves too, but it just got too complicated… I believe in simplicity!

block printing on fabric poppy design
Printing on upcycled bed sheet from Goodwill

It took forever to print my poppy design on enough fabric to make one top, y’all. Then I had to air dry it over night and heat set with the iron before cutting into it. Phew.

Though I picked a very simple sewing pattern, (and the book promised it was “easy” and “quick”) there were so many little steps, and it was still pretty challenging for beginner like me. I mean, I still can’t sew straight lines, you know? 🙂

But, I didn’t quit and finished my very first hand printed garment!! Ta da!!

Hand block printed poppy design upcycled women's shirt
My very first block printed sewing project! It’s so cute ❤

And, I love how it turned out! ❤

hand printed upcycled poppy-shirt-front
Not bad, right?
upcycled hand printed popy-shirt-side-back

Of course I see all the flaws and mistakes, but it’s good enough to wear around the house 🙂 It fits quite loosely, so it would be perfect during the hot summer months.

I just hope it won’t come apart when I wash it in the washing machine… 😀

For the ready-to-sew skirt, it was a lot easier because all I needed to do was to adjust the waist and the length. No pattern required!

Poppy-skirt-wip_1000px

I printed the poppy and leaves along the bottom. Honestly, I didn’t have the time or energy to print all over on another big piece of fabric and thought it would be a cute design anyway.

Since this was going to be a more dynamic design, I incorporated the leaves to add visual interest and movement.

I sewed and attached the shoulder strap and made it into a multi-purpose dress and a skirt!

Poppy-Skirt_1000px

It’s super light weight and again perfect for hot summer days ahead.

Block Printed Poppy Skirt & Dress
2 ways to enjoy one skirt! p.s. Modeling is super awkward… 😀

It was a lot of work but (or maybe because of it) it was also very satisfying to make my own clothes with my hand printed fabrics!

I always had respect for people who can sew, but this experience definitely made me appreciate the craft 100x more!! Bravo, you sewists out there!

I’d love to continue practice sewing and deepen my block printing practice in the future. 

And I can’t wait to share my process with you on this blog 🙂

xo Yuko

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My Totally Relaxing Sabbatical Week

I was on my sabbatical week last week, and it was AWESOME.

In the past, I tried to be somewhat productive during my sabbaticals wether it’s learning something new or getting a project done. But this time, I was determined to just do whatever I felt like doing, whenever I wanted to. 

I had no agendas or goals. I just wanted to relax and unwind and that’s exactly what I did  🙂

Here is the report back from my super relaxing week off:

1. I read a bunch!

My husband Dave got me a Kindle for my birthday in January. I’d never had an e-reader before and wasn’t sure how I’d like reading on a device vs. paper books.

Well, it turns out, I LOVED it.

I love being able to get a bunch of books for free from a local library and also buy Japanese e-books through Amazon Japan for much cheaper (and quicker!).

Sadly, they don’t have a very good selection of Japanese e-books at Seattle Public Library, but I got an English version of Haruki Murakami’s book Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage and enjoyed it very much.

Normally, I get to read like 15 minutes before I go to bed (if I’m lucky!) but during my sabbatical week, I just read whenever I wanted for as long as I wanted.

I still got up fairly early every morning, but instead of writing, I just read on the couch. It was such a luxury to spend hours reading during the day!

Kindle_lores

The-swimming-book_lores

I also received an advance copy of Lisa Congdon’s The Joy of Swimming the other day and started diving in (pun intended!) during my sabbatical week.

Lisa is one of the artists I admire so very much, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be her friend on the internet. And I’m SO honored to be contributing a book review for this upcoming book!

I’ll write more about this beautifully illustrated book of hers in the coming weeks. But let me tell you it’s so delightful and inspiring ❤ The book will be released on April 17, and you can preorder it now here!

2. Cooking & Eating

You know food is my passion. I’m more passionate about eating than cooking 😀 but in order for me to eat good food, I’m often exploring different ways to cook with fresh, nutritional ingredients.

Kimchi_lores

Growing up in Japan, I had a close relationship with fermented/cultured foods. Maybe it’s wired in my DNA 🙂 but I love the process of making fermented foods very much. Fermented foods are full of flavors and good probiotics that help your digestive functions.

I’ve been making yogurt, bread, fermented nut/seed spread, miso, pickled vegetables etc. for quite some time. Homemade fermented foods taste a lot better than the store-bought ones, and I feel good knowing exactly what’s in it and how it was made.

Yes you do need to put in some prep work, but after that, you just let them be and let the nature work its magic!

I feel like a little kid on a Christmas day every time I open up a crock or jar of fermented foods for the first time. It’s not always successful but after you’ve done it a couple of times, you’ll get a hang of it. I love how everything turns out slightly differently every time even if you follow the same recipe.

Anyway, I made the vegetarian kimchi above with Chinese cabbage, daikon radish, and carrots, and it turned out yummy!

Washoku-breakfast_lores

I was also able to take extra time to prepare yummy breakfast like this in the morning during my time off.

Funny thing is, I grew up in a household where we ate more western style breakfast (like toast and eggs) but I’ve been getting into eating more traditional Japanese food for breakfast. It’s nice to switch things around depending on my mood 🙂

3. Fun & Unproductive Things to Refuel

The rest of the week, I did things just for fun 🙂

I had a very nice (and overdue) facial at Luminous Skincare Studio using the gift certificate Dave gave me for our anniversary, had tea with friends, had a night out with Dave to watch Academy nominated animated shorts and just enjoyed each other’s company more 🙂

Sheppie_0316_lores

And of course, this guy really enjoyed extended lap time with his mama ❤

Overall, It was soooooo relaxing and exactly what I needed! I’ve said this before and will say it again – Deciding to take every 7th week off was the best thing I’ve done for myself and my creative business! 

Yay for self-care!!

xo Yuko

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