Tuesday, December 30, 2008


2008 is almost over! The number 8 in Chinese culture is lucky, so 2008 was supposed to be a lucky year. Looking back, it was rather a good year for me. I fulfilled some dreams--like walking on the Great Wall of China and visiting Taiwan with my parents. I also finished my novel which definitely took some luck.

The number 9 is synonymous with longevity in Chinese culture (hope that bodes well for the longevity WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON!), so 2009 is a year to think of long term ambitions. Here are 9 of my personal goals for the year (some are a little less aspiring than others):

1. Write a new good novel. Make books without any excuses-- work that I know that I have done to the best of my ability so that it doesn't matter what anyone says.

2. Grow my hair at least 3 more inches so I can donate it. This is actually kind of hard, because my hair is driving me a little crazy. I haven't had it this long for a while.)

3. Charity. Robert's Snow is a project that I am proud of but, not only is it too much responsibility for me to take on again, it is also a project of the past that, for now, I want to leave in the past. But I feel strongly about my art and charitable giving...so I'm working on a new project that will be revealed in the new year. Stay tuned!

4. Make dumplings. This is something I haven't done since I was a child with my mother. If I remember correctly, they were far superior than store-bought ones. I think this is a good year to find out if that is true.

5. Participate. I read a fair amount of blogs and lists but I never comment. I rarely even respond to comments on my own blog. I guess I am still in a weird-shy-lurking phase...that I will get over this year.

6. Do every school visit to the best of my ability. I've booked quite a few visits this spring, and I am SO grateful and honored that schools have requested me. The only problem is that sometimes my introverted nature takes over and students, schools, librarians and teachers begin to blur. I am going to make a special effort to check myself this year.

7. Learn how to make a frosting flower. I really want to get some impressive cake decorating skills down!

8. Embrace marketing, but know my limits. In this current climate, I need to give my books all the help they can get. I don't want to be QVC salesperson, but I'd like to get as many people who might be interested in my new book know about it.

9. Be thankful. No matter what this year brings, I know there will always be something to be grateful for. With thankfulness, nothing is ever that bad and the best things are even better. And that is something I hope stays with me for a long, long time.

Friday, December 26, 2008

fortune cookie friday

"If you fill your head instead of your pocket, you cannot be robbed."
-Chinese Proverb

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Cookies

I have been having a bit of a cookie addiction this season. As I mentioned earlier, in my crafty Christmas post, I began this year's holiday baking with Martha's honey gingerbread recipe, which while enjoyable did not have the "zing" I love. So instead of waiting until next year, I began experimenting with spicy gingerbread recipes. There was a lot of experimenting...and a lot of eating.

I tried many ways to wean myself off of eating all these cookies, including drinking vanilla tea, until finally I decided that my tree which was decorated mainly with origami needed cookie ornaments. And cookies covered with acrylic glaze cannot be eaten!

I've kept them for tonight to decorate. I thought at Christmas Eve, I'll paint them pretty and put them on the tree. Maybe it will be my new Christmas Eve tradition!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

RISD sale

Last Saturday. I had a craft booth at the RISD sale--thanks all that came out (especially Natalie who came with a suitcase of books for me to sign! Wow!). It was a fun time, though I do think it was a little slower than sales past. This year I had new items at my booth besides books and prints:

Ki-Ki's Merbunnies! Aren't they cute?
I also wanted to sell cookies or cupcakes but as I was recruited into the Merbunnie factory, it was a dream not meant for this year's sale. Next year!

But other than that, this years sale was very much like the sales I have attended in the past. Ki-Ki, as usual, was repeatedly assumed to be me. I have come to the conclusion that she just looks much "artier" than me. It must be my advanced years:
And I spent just as much money buying other peoples' goods than selling my own. Though it is a good deal, usually artists sell their goods cheaper at these sales than they do in the retail market. And the money goes directly to the artists...and all artists need money. (See how I try to justify my frivolous spending?).
This year I bought a painting from Gregory Poulin. If you remember, last year Anna traded him for painting of garlic. Well all year, every time I went to Anna's house I would see that painting and think--I should get one. So I did. Of course, I went for the opposite end of the tastebud spectrum. I do have a bit of a sweet tooth.

I also made a huge splurge and got these beautiful waterlily earrings from the jeweler Elise Moran. I really wanted the necklace too, but restrained myself.

There were about a dozen more artists that I wanted to buy things from as well, like the beautiful gingko leave pottery from Three Wheel Studio:

The cool cookie belts from Glitterlimes:

and the sweet collages from friend Karen Bessette:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

all is bright

While no one in my neighborhood has more than a string of lights, the house around the corner has more than enough to make up for it. It is brighter than the street lights. It makes me smile thinking of how much enthusiasm must have motivated such a display. I hope the family never loses their holiday spirit, not that it looks like there is any danger of that.

Monday, December 15, 2008

my crafty christmas

This holiday season I have given into my inner Martha. Usually, I only do one of the holiday activities that I dream of in my head, but this year I have done almost all of them. This year I made teacup candles:

I don't know why, but I am so proud of them. Every since my friend Libby's tea party, I've been visiting thrift stores and antique shops and collecting pretty teacups, it was fun to do something with them. I gave each teacup candle to my blue rose girl friends (which is why they are blue candles).

And (for those of you that get my newsletter know), I also made Christmas cookies with special labels for the tin. Here is the label:

and here are the COOKIES:

This year I used Martha Stewart's honey gingerbread recipe which was quite good but more of a milder, sweet taste. Next year I think I will do more of a spicy gingerbread, have to do some experimenting.

The other culinary activity, which was a first, was the creation was truffles and fudge:

I put candied ginger in the truffles. The cookies and truffles I gave(as well as books) to friends and family...not really out of generosity but more out of self-preservation. If left to my own devices I would have eaten everything and given myself an extra 5 pounds for Christmas.

Friday, December 12, 2008


My younger sister Ki-Ki is visiting to help me at the RISD sale tommorrow. We've done this sale for many years, and I'm starting to do it more for kicks than for profit. Time, however, is having the opposite effect on Ki-Ki and she now wants some profit.

Which is why she is now making product. And what product? She's making MER-BUNNIES!

Tell me these are not the cutest things you have ever seen! My photos are not doing justice to them. But they are based on the idea that everyone, deep down, harbors a secret desire to be a mermaid (I wanted be a unicorn...maybe next year). The tail comes off, by the way. She's making them from old sweaters, discarded fabric from the recycling center and fabric samples I had bought as reference material. So lots of green, good earth mojo too.

Please come to the RISD sale and buy one (and my books too):

RISD Alumni Holiday Art Sale
Saturday, December 13
10am to 5pm
Rhode Island Convention Center
1 Sabin St, Providence, RI
Booth #310

Or if you'd to order one, e-mail her at alice@ki-ki.net (she's also a really good website designer, she did mine). They are $25.-$35.!

In the meantime, instead of making cookies or writing a new novel as I had planned, I am now a worker in Ki-Ki's Mer-bunnie sweat shop. I think I get paid in product.

fortune cookie friday

"Man who waits for roast duck to fly into mouth must wait very, very long time."
-Chinese Proverb

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

early gifts

I had tea with fellow author and neighbor Ann Downer, who gave me the wonderful gift of her son's discarded Ruth Chew books!

I LOVED these books when I was a child. They are all about witches and magic in a fun and exciting but not scary way. I wonder why they didn't make a comeback with the Harry Potter craze? I wish they would. They are all out of print, which is what makes this little bunch of books pretty priceless. Except now I want to get all of them and am spending hours on eBay trying to track them down.

Monday, December 8, 2008

oh, christmas tree

While my cousin Austin put up a rather modest Christmas tree,
I decided on something a little more elaborate.
But it is still humble in its own way. Having a slight dearth in Christmas ornaments and a reluctance to buy any, I decided on origami ornaments. In a way it's tribute to my Lissy's Friends book--an opportunity to re-use those folding skills!

Though I have to admit, during the painting of Lissy's Friends the only shape I really mastered was the crane. So it was with great pride that I finally managed the origami lily,

and goldfish.

Now I just need something for the top of the tree. Maybe I should make the Lissy doll an angel outfit!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

last day

Today's the last day of my Bookplate Promotion! Get your request in, bookplates will begin to get mailed on Monday.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


So the holiday season has arrived and I've found it hard to stay focus on work. This is the time of year that I love and hate being a freelancer. I love it because I can make my own schedule--I can dedicate a day to make the cookies and crafts that I am dreaming of--and I hate it for the same reason. It is hard to make myself do "real work" (meaning something that I will get paid for!) when there are so many other things I'd rather be doing.

This is something even more evident as I've embraced the writing side of my career. Becoming an author has been more a result of persistence than calling. I rarely have characters whispering in my ear or find myself in a dream-like reverie of mystical creation. My writing is usually just me, unromantically pegging away.

In the past, I used to wonder if this sort of non-magical creative method was somehow a reflection of my work. If the trumpets did not blare while I wrote, was what I wrote unworthy? However, as time passed, I slowly accepted that this plodding process was just my way, for better or worse.

And right now,unfortunately, it is for worse. It is hard to face trudging through writing when I'd rather decorate cookies. I've gotten so self-indulgent that I've decided to try Linda Sue Park's method of writing two pages a day, without excuse. We'll see if it works. If not, I'll have to ask for some discipline for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

December Newsletter

I just sent out my December Newsletter, which included a free, downloadable cookie tin label and the reminder that my bookplate promotion ends DECEMBER 7th.

Please sign up for my newsletter HERE.