Insider //
A Holiday Recipe

I’m gonna make this one short — just logging in to wish everyone a lovely Christmas.

2013 Christmas

Hope yours is wrapped in happiness and filled with the warmth of family and friends. Merry Christmas and Happy 2014!



December 24, 2013

A look back

Yup, it’s that time of the year — time for some holiday cheer. And time for reflection and anticipation. For me, it’s also the one month mark.

It has been a month since I became a resident ceramic artist. Two months ago, I did not know this was even a possibility when I sent out an innocent email. But now that I’m back in a studio environment, I’m thoroughly enjoying this awesome opportunity — learning my way around the new space, getting elbow deep in mud, conjuring up different ways to play with glaze, losing track of time…

in the studio

It has also been a month since we officially launched blue bean studio, and I have to say the experience so far has been simultaneously exhilarating and daunting. Not only did we open up shop on Etsy, we also participated in our very first art market. We made our first online and in-person sales, scrambled our way through setting up credit card payments, and discovered that while the costs may be great, the joy of sharing our work with others can be greater.

I use the pronoun “we” because my hubby has been the ultimate cheerleader and teammate by my side. (Warning: while I am usually not inclined to express personal sentiments publicly, it’s the holidays and I’m letting loose a bit. Ha.) I feel very blessed to have my hubby’s constant encouragement and unwavering confidence. He celebrates every little victory, empathizes with every small disappointment, and holds out a strong hand for every stumble on the road. His “just go for it!” attitude, while at times frustrating (especially for someone who likes to be prepared before taking a step — me), has even rubbed off a bit. He believes in me like nobody else does. End. Mush. Here. Moving along…

I am also fortunate to have family and friends who support me in their different ways. Very few people (no one, to be precise) knew what we were brewing up over the past few months. But once we let our family and friends peek into our project, they offered helpful feedback and moral support. It was amusing to see their reactions, ranging from “I had an inkling” to outright surprise, from cool curiosity to genuine excitement. I love that I can share this new journey with others because it is such a different path from what most would have expected.

All that to say, a month in and I’m feeling incredibly grateful. The novelty and newness of it all will inevitably wear off and the day-to-day mundane things will gradually pile up, but I hope that I will always keep in perspective how lucky I am to be able to pursue a passion. In the meantime, I’m inspired to create more fun stuff to share with you all : )



December 18, 2013

A drop (or a bean) in the jerry can

What a weekend! Our first official art market turned out better than expected, although admittedly our expectations were rather low. A big shout-out goes to my hubby who stuck it out with me in a super cramped space all day, and to the awesome friends who showed up to offer moral support (and sustenance). It was fun to be able to interact and chat with people in person about my work and to get direct feedback on what I had to offer. And hey, I even made a few sales. As I mentioned last week, a portion of the sales will be going to charity.

“Sharing the beans” is very much part of the blue bean studio creative endeavor. 5% of the profit from blue bean studio is destined to be given away. You can read a bit more about it here in this previous post.

charity: water

To kick things off, the first organization we will be sharing with is charity: water. I think what they’re doing is great and I first found out about their work through my brother and sister-in-law, who generously donated their wedding gifts to the building of wells in the developing world.

The following text comes straight off the charity: water website:

charity: water is a non-profit organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries. We use 100% of public donations to directly fund sustainable water solutions in areas of greatest need.

Right now, 800 million people on the planet don’t have access to clean and safe drinking water. That’s one in nine of us.

Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of diseases and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Children are especially vulnerable, as their bodies aren’t strong enough to fight diarrhea, dysentery and other illnesses.

Just $20 can give one person access to clean water.

Since we’re just getting started, this run will go for six months (I’m hoping to switch things up quarterly as we go along). How cool would it be if, at the end of half a year, with the help of others like yourselves, we are able to contribute to the building of a new well where people need it the most?



December 10, 2013

To market, to market…

On a whim, we decided to participate in a holiday art market. Now we’re scrambling to put everything together… Yikes. It’s a little daunting because: a) it’s very last minute, and b) we have never ever done a market before. I’m just gonna keep my fingers crossed that our table doesn’t look like a complete mess. We will have to learn on the fly!

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the pieces we’ll be bringing to the market this Saturday…
raindrop dishes

For more info, check out the Kirkland Art Center 2013 Holiday Art Market here.



December 4, 2013

Sharing the beans

When starting out in a small business, it’s so tempting to hold on to everything as tightly as possible. After all, the cost of getting things going inevitably piles up, and then there’s the running tab on the amount of time and effort poured into the (usually personal) venture. To put it succinctly, a small business can easily suck up scant resources and large amounts of time.

My experience has not been any different. Very few things are free, and those plastic cards have been flexed many times to pay for this and for that leading up to the launch. Countless hours have been spent setting everything up, and no doubt countless hours will be spent keeping things going. And of course there is the price of “putting ourselves out there”; for example, the last minute decision to participate in an upcoming art market has incurred unanticipated costs (to the point where it’s rather tempting to pull out).

sharing the beans

That is not to say that the journey has been unenjoyable. In fact, it’s been the opposite. Despite the huge cost, both my hubby and I have enjoyed every moment of putting this thing together. To be perfectly honest, the sense of accomplishment and partnership that has come with working side by side, night after night, on our bench at our wooden table (we haven’t even bought proper dining chairs yet) might be sufficient reward for all the time and money spent on this pet project.

But, like everyone else, we have to face the reality of limited resources. That brings me back to the point I started with — it’s so very natural to want to hold on to every last penny to put them back into the business. (And let’s just be clear that I don’t see anything wrong with doing that; after all, it is only smart practice to reinvest.) However, from the very start of this creative endeavor, one of my values has been generosity. I just wanted to make a habit of sharing from the get go. Besides that, I love the idea of transformation taking place not only through creating with my hands but also through giving with my heart.

As such, 5% of the profit from blue bean studio is destined for charity. It may not seem like that much, but I believe that every little bit counts.

Next week, we’ll spill the beans about who we will be sharing our beans with : )



December 3, 2013

Season of thanksgiving & giving

In a matter of days, families all over the US will be gathering and feasting in one way or another. Growing up in Canada, I sometimes felt bad for the Americans who had to celebrate two awesome holidays — Thanksgiving and Christmas — so close together. Canadians celebrate the former on the second Monday of October; for me as a kid looking forward from one holiday to the next, the month and a half between the two allowed adequate time for each holiday to be fully anticipated and appreciated. So when I first moved to the US, the stretch from Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed rather rushed and I felt that one couldn’t properly work up to Christmas because it arrived before the Thanksgiving feast could be digested.

After spending time abroad and having moved back to the US, I am learning to appreciate the beauty of Thanksgiving and Christmas being so close together. Upon reflection, it seems rather fitting that the season of giving should follow so closely behind the season of thanksgiving, even though the holidays weren’t “planned” that way. After counting our blessings with Thanksgiving, we can respond with generosity during Christmastime.

As commercialized as these holidays have become, I would like to think that beneath all the excess and excitement the spirit of thanksgiving and giving is still alive. Besides, it’s like having a bundled package, a month-long party punctuated by (usually great) meals.

Before I stop this rambling, I want to note that “giving” does not at all refer only to that of material goods. We can be generous with so much more than our pocketbooks!

Anyway, that’s just my humble opinion. Happy Thanksgiving : )



November 26, 2013



As the year draws quickly to its end, I find myself in a state of “beginning.”

I am not only beginning my foray into the small (tiny, really) business world, but am also beginning my new role as a resident ceramic artist. The first of these beginnings is the result of a labor of love over the past few months, the other is an opportunity that unfolded serendipitously before me over the past few weeks. Both beginnings are related to my creative endeavors. Seemingly my creative side (long hidden under the covers) cannot contain itself any longer; it wants to get out and do more (and I’m going to attempt to document its activities on this blog and elsewhere ; ).

Sometimes working up the courage to take the first step is the biggest challenge to beginning the journey. In a past post, I mentioned that “creative” and “courage” were words that I had written down for this year. Little did I know that two simple words (there were three, actually, but I’m keeping that last one to myself) would have such power to guide my path. Looking back, I would never have guessed that I would end up here.

Yet here I am, taking a step… beginning.



November 19, 2013