Ponder: The Meaning of Life

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I don’t know if you’re like me but I have a tendency to get sucked into a rabbit hole on the internet. You begin a search on one thing and end up somewhere completely different. I think its pretty cool though when it happens. I stumbled across this pretty neat letter the other day written by Hunter S. Thompson back in 1958. He penned this letter to a friend asking him for advice on the meaning of life.

I find his letter charming, insightful and one to ponder every now and then. I have a tendency to collect and revisit this sort of thing- a mental floss for the brain. LOL

 

April 22, 1958

Dear Hume,

You ask advice: ah, what a very human and very dangerous thing to do! For to give advice to a man who asks what to do with his life implies something very close to egomania. To presume to point a man to the right and ultimate goal — to point with a trembling finger in the RIGHT direction is something only a fool would take upon himself.

I am not a fool, but I respect your sincerity in asking my advice. I ask you though, in listening to what I say, to remember that all advice can only be a product of the man who gives it. What is truth to one may be disaster to another. I do not see life through your eyes, nor you through mine. If I were to attempt to give you specific advice, it would be too much like the blind leading the blind.

To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles … ” (Shakespeare)

And indeed, that IS the question: whether to float with the tide, or to swim for a goal. It is a choice we must all make consciously or unconsciously at one time in our lives. So few people understand this! Think of any decision you’ve ever made which had a bearing on your future: I may be wrong, but I don’t see how it could have been anything but a choice however indirect — between the two things I’ve mentioned: the floating or the swimming.

But why not float if you have no goal? That is another question. It is unquestionably better to enjoy the floating than to swim in uncertainty. So how does a man find a goal? Not a castle in the stars, but a real and tangible thing. How can a man be sure he’s not after the “big rock candy mountain,” the enticing sugar-candy goal that has little taste and no substance?

The answer — and, in a sense, the tragedy of life — is that we seek to understand the goal and not the man. We set up a goal which demands of us certain things: and we do these things. We adjust to the demands of a concept which CANNOT be valid. When you were young, let us say that you wanted to be a fireman. I feel reasonably safe in saying that you no longer want to be a fireman. Why? Because your perspective has changed. It’s not the fireman who has changed, but you. Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective.

So it would seem foolish, would it not, to adjust our lives to the demands of a goal we see from a different angle every day? How could we ever hope to accomplish anything other than galloping neurosis?

The answer, then, must not deal with goals at all, or not with tangible goals, anyway. It would take reams of paper to develop this subject to fulfillment. God only knows how many books have been written on “the meaning of man” and that sort of thing, and god only knows how many people have pondered the subject. (I use the term “god only knows” purely as an expression.) There’s very little sense in my trying to give it up to you in the proverbial nutshell, because I’m the first to admit my absolute lack of qualifications for reducing the meaning of life to one or two paragraphs.

I’m going to steer clear of the word “existentialism,” but you might keep it in mind as a key of sorts. You might also try something called “Being and Nothingness” by Jean-Paul Sartre, and another little thing called “Existentialism: From Dostoyevsky to Sartre.” These are merely suggestions. If you’re genuinely satisfied with what you are and what you’re doing, then give those books a wide berth. (Let sleeping dogs lie.) But back to the answer. As I said, to put our faith in tangible goals would seem to be, at best, unwise. So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES.

But don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean that we can’t BE firemen, bankers, or doctors — but that we must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal. In every man, heredity and environment have combined to produce a creature of certain abilities and desires — including a deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be MEANINGFUL. A man has to BE something; he has to matter.

As I see it then, the formula runs something like this: a man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES. In doing this, he is fulfilling a need (giving himself identity by functioning in a set pattern toward a set goal), he avoids frustrating his potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self-development), and he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it (rather than bending himself to meet the demands of that which he seeks, he has bent his goal to conform to his own abilities and desires).

In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important. And it seems almost ridiculous to say that a man MUST function in a pattern of his own choosing; for to let another man define your own goals is to give up one of the most meaningful aspects of life — the definitive act of will which makes a man an individual.

Let’s assume that you think you have a choice of eight paths to follow (all pre-defined paths, of course). And let’s assume that you can’t see any real purpose in any of the eight. THEN — and here is the essence of all I’ve said — you MUST FIND A NINTH PATH.

Naturally, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. You’ve lived a relatively narrow life, a vertical rather than a horizontal existence. So it isn’t any too difficult to understand why you seem to feel the way you do. But a man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.

So if you now number yourself among the disenchanted, then you have no choice but to accept things as they are, or to seriously seek something else. But beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life. But you say, “I don’t know where to look; I don’t know what to look for.”

And there’s the crux. Is it worth giving up what I have to look for something better? I don’t know — is it? Who can make that decision but you? But even by DECIDING TO LOOK, you go a long way toward making the choice.

If I don’t call this to a halt, I’m going to find myself writing a book. I hope it’s not as confusing as it looks at first glance. Keep in mind, of course, that this is MY WAY of looking at things. I happen to think that it’s pretty generally applicable, but you may not. Each of us has to create our own credo — this merely happens to be mine.

If any part of it doesn’t seem to make sense, by all means call it to my attention. I’m not trying to send you out “on the road” in search of Valhalla, but merely pointing out that it is not necessary to accept the choices handed down to you by life as you know it. There is more to it than that — no one HAS to do something he doesn’t want to do for the rest of his life. But then again, if that’s what you wind up doing, by all means convince yourself that you HAD to do it. You’ll have lots of company.

And that’s it for now. Until I hear from you again, I remain,
Your friend,

Hunter

Obsessed: Blythe Dolls

blythe 1

image via Pinterest

blythe 2

Image via dollytreasures.com

blythe 3

image via marbleandphillip.com

blythe 4

Image via m.flickr.com

blythe 5

Image via chuthings.com

blythe 6

Image via Pinterest

blythe 7

Image via flickr

How kawaii are Blythe Dolls?! With the dolls’ over-sized heads and large eyes, hobbyists customize them- from skin tone, hair, clothing and accessories. I just love their expressions and poses. The hobbyist spares no small detail on these dolls- no wonder they cost $200+

Obsession around these fun dolls has reached a cult like following.

 

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Road Trip Fun: Part 3

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Oregon!

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Peaceful

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After a day of adventures, ramen and beer is in order!

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Yum!

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Multnomah Falls

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Multnomah Falls Pool

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So many trails

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Liv, the adventurer

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Horsetail Falls

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“Actually, the best gift you have given her was a lifetime of adventures.” Lewis Carroll

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Nat bought her first pair of Dr. Martens

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If only I could have tried all of them…

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Ice cream time

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Oregon Coast

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Yachats

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Near Heceta Lighthouse

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“I believe there is a subtle magnetism in nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.” -Henry Thoreau

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And here we are, back in sunny California!

After leaving Seattle, we made our way to Portland, Oregon where I rented us a fun little place from Air bnb. It was our final destination before heading back home to California.

We visited the beautiful Portland Japanese Garden our second day in Oregon. It was a beautiful day, a little light rain, but we didn’t need to break out our umbrella. It is known to be the nicest Japanese garden outside of Japan. It did not disappoint! I took about a million pictures, everything was so inspiring and lovely. After our visit to the garden we headed to a shopping area where we purchased art supplies at Blick and Natalie was so stoked to buy herself her first pair of Dr. Martens. We ate so much good food- the highlights were donuts at Blue Star Donuts, Salt & Straw ice cream, Ramen at Noraneko, pretzels and root beer at Henry’s and German schnitzel at Swiss Hibiscus.

The next couple of days we headed 45 minutes outside of Portland to visit Multnomah falls. It was so crowded but well worth it. Wow, this is a huge waterfall, just breathtaking! After exploring here we decided to hop back in the car and keep driving. We stopped for two more waterfalls. Oneonta and Horsetail Falls. Both just really cool! It was so fun to see all the falls and make those lasting memories with my girls.

After our three days in Portland, we headed to the Oregon coast, passing through Tillamook and traveling down south to our destination in Yachats, Oregon. What I loved about our drive were the fresh fruit stands and coffee huts. We stopped to buy fresh cherries at a fruit stand and kept ourselves warm with coffee and tea. The Oregon coast was rainy and freezing for most of our trip along the coast!

We finally arrived in Yachats at the Fireside Motel (highly recommend!). I reserved a room right on the ocean for the night. We watched otters play in the surf and enjoyed a lovely meal at Ona before retiring for the night. We were pretty tired! We had been traveling for the last 15 days!

We left the next morning to drive back to Yreka, California for one last night with our friends who live there. I think the girls were pretty anxious to get back home, get back to routine, get back to their daddy. We left Yreka early in the morning and drove 9 hours to get back home. What a trip!

I had the best time with Olivia and Natalie. I am so lucky to be able to go on road trips and see new places with them. We had plenty of Beatles music, snacks and adventure, and really, that’s all one needs, right? I can’t wait until our next adventure in Japan!

 

 

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Road Trip Fun: Part 2

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We just entered Oregon!

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Our home for the next couple of days in Hansville, WA

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Nat and Farra

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Liv, Farra and Nat

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We waste no time getting to exploring!

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Foul Weather Bluff

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Evening stroll on the beach

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Our hosts Charlie and d’Arcy

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Liv in her element

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At Point no Point beach

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Liv

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I love shells!

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A little break from our exploring

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Point no Point Lighthouse

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Nearly 100 steps- we were so active this entire trip

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When in Seattle you visit the gum wall!

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Silly!

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Paradise Valley Conservation Area

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See the owl? He dive bombed us as we walked by!

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So much beauty in Washington! Cant wait to visit again!

After leaving Yreka, CA, we made our way (nearly 10 hours in the car) up to Washington. We decided to see Washington first, Oregon on the last part of our road trip. My friend wanted us to come up for the 4th of July. She wanted us to see what the 4th was like. So we made it up to Hansville, WA July 3 by late afternoon. We wasted no time in getting to our exploring. It felt so good to be in Washington! 

Our first visit was to Foul Weather Bluff. We had the beach to ourselves. What an amazing place! Olivia loved it here. She’s a nature girl, just like her Mama! We visited Point no Point beach and the lighthouse. What a fun experience. Our friends took us to the best places! For the most part, we spent a lot of time in nature, and that’s what makes Washington so lovely in the summer. It really is an explorers paradise!

After a couple of days in Hansville, we took the ferry over to Seattle from Kingston to spend the last half of our visit in the city. We took the kids to Pikes Place Market, the Gum wall and just took in the sights and sounds of the city. Our remaining stay was in Bothell, WA. What a great city! It’s right next to Woodinville, known for wine produced in the region. We ate some amazing food and had a great time! One of our favorite places to visit is the Paradise Valley Conservation Area. D’Arcy and I visited here on my last trip to Seattle and its one of my favorite places. So much green! We hiked here for a couple of hours, had a nesting owl swoop down on us- that was pretty exciting. Olivia spotted it hanging in a tree down the path. We stopped to watch it, it just eyed us. Finally, it swooped down on us. Another hiker told us he had lost a few hats by the owls swooping down on him. This time of year the owls become territorial and confront hikers. The owl just didn’t want us in its space.

It was Liv and Nat’s first time to Washington. We had an amazing time visiting with our friends, so much fun packed in! Can’t wait to go back! Stay tuned to see our last destination- beautiful OREGON!

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Road Trip Fun: Part 1

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Heading out on our 16-day road trip!

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First stop: Mojitos at the Boathouse at Hendry’s beach

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Teresa and Bethany

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Santa Barbara Museum of art

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Afternoon playing at the Pacific

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Lovely dinner at Finch and Fork YUM!

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Were ready for day 2

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At the Santa Barbara Mission

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“The only thing that makes life worth living is the possibility of experiencing now and then a perfect moment.” -Paul Bowles

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Onto our next destination…

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Wine tasting time in Paso Robles! All this driving makes me thirsty!

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Made it to Pacific Grove- Monterey

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Teresa and Bethany

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Trip to Monterey Bay aquarium

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Liv, Nat and Bethany

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The girls and their crab dinner!

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Bethany

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Day 4: San Fransisco

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We stayed at the Kabuki Hotel in Japantown

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Very pretty!

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Waraku is the #1 Ramen spot in San Fransisco

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She’s a pro at ramen eating

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I went with the spicy one

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We made it to San Fransisco and it’s freezing!

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Good fun in the glass elevator at the Westin St. Francis- were 34 floors up!

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Took a two hour bus trip through San Fransisco

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Groovy time in  Haight-Ashbury

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Made it to the Golden Gate Bridge!

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Steven flew up to join us for the night. On our way to have a cocktail at Sir Francis Drake

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Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope Cafe

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Cheers to friends and adventures!

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Love these two! Fun times!

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Japantown Peace Plaza

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That long stretch of nothing until we reach Yreka

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On our way to Scott River to play

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So beautiful!

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This was a mountain paradise

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Nat

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Good times with Christine!

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Liv and Jordan- these two have known each other since they were wee babes

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Sunsets in Yreka

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At the lake- our last night in Yreka before we head up to Seattle…

What a fun road trip! Our first stop brought us to beautiful Santa Barbara. We headed straight to the Boathouse at Hendry’s beach for a late lunch and cocktail. After recharging we headed to State Street for some window shopping and exploring. The beach was our next destination. The fog was heavy at times but the girls had fun splashing in the Pacific. I made reservations at Finch and Fork (a farm to table style) and we had a lovely dinner. After more walking around, we headed back to the Hotel Santa Barbara for some rest before day 2…

Day 2 was going to be about five hours in the car before reaching our destination in Pacific Grove (Monterey). We first visited the Mission in Santa Barbara for a couple of hours. We explored the grounds for a couple of hours then made our way by lunch up to Paso Robles. One of my favorite wines is Tobin James so we made a stop here to purchase some wine to bring back home. After wine tasting we continued our journey and arrived in Pacific Grove. We rented a lovely cottage a block from Monterey Bay. We had stayed at this cottage a year before and had to bring our friends to share the fun space. We spent three days in Pacific Grove exploring, recharging and eating lots of yummy food! After our three days here, we headed up north to San Fransisco. We arrived at Hotel Kabuki, checked in and headed across the street to Waraku to warm up- it was so cold in SF! We next set out and visited Union Square to do a bus tour. Our two hour tour took us all over San Fransisco. We ended back at Union Square where we met up with Teresa’s husband, Steven and did some window shopping. Finally, we took an Uber over to Francis Ford Coppola’s restaurant, Cafe Zoetrope. We had a lovely dinner here with our friends on our last night of the road trip together before we parted and went our separate ways.

Day 6 had us heading up north again to Yreka, California to visit our friends who moved here two years ago. We spent a couple of days hanging out together, catching up like old times, visiting the Scott river for some fun. We still had another 10 days of our road trip in Oregon and Washington. I will do a separate post about that part of our trip. Stay tuned!

 

Crafty: Hand Embroidery

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Inspired by the work of Yumiko Higuchi

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This one was fun! Different shades of purple

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A bumble bee for my bee keeper friend, Carre

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Made for a friend that moved to Texas. She hopes to have an alpaca farm.

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Delicate Floral

 

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Geisha for my friend Masami-san. This was so much fun! I loved working on the hair “kanzashi” accessories

My latest obsession. I decided to give hand embroidery a try after seeing a tutorial from Sublime Stitching online. I decided that I would purchase a few simple supplies and a pattern from Sublime Stitching and give it a go. I was instantly hooked! After my first go at it I discovered that I wanted to challenge myself with something more difficult. I found a picture of what I wanted to make online, printed it out and using tracing paper, taped it to a window and traced over the design. Once I had the design on tracing paper, I took my fabric (linen), layed it over the top of the traced design and traced over that onto my fabric using a tracing pen. Tracing pens are easy to use and wash off the fabric with water. Everything after is easy. Just pick a stitch and work slowly. I find that intricate designs can take several hours, over several days. I find those to be the most rewarding.

Tools to get started: Embroidery floss, embroidery needles, hoops and fabric. It’s that simple!