Sunday, May 30, 2010

Buen viaje!

I am now in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico... beginning an intensive language study for a month.

I thought that I would share some of my travels- with our readers and Mama Susanita y Papa Joe Sin Pelo.

Here are some pictures of my trip so far (less than 2 dias or 72 horas!)

Edith, girlfriend of our friend Jay.  (She takes good care of me and is very protective!) 

Girls in white dresses for their first communion.
Me and Gitano, the caballo.

Una Iglesia and the window in my room.

My room

La Luz
Hasta Luego!

- Kat

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Life at Mayo...

This is a message to let you know where I am at the present time. My brother, John, was diagnosed with Stage Four Esophageal Cancer about two years ago. It was very serious and he prepared for a rarely-done surgery in which the team at Mayo would reconstruct a new esophagus for him from the skin of his intestine.

Before he had this surgery, John was required to go through several of months of intense chemo and radiation to shrink the tumor. As he is single, John chose to do this is Kansas City, where two of my other brothers live with their families. Typical of John (a runner in his fifties), he chose to continue running during his chemotherapy. He also continued his job from my brother's home in Kansas City, as he was able.

When John returned to Mayo after chemo and and radiation, we all had an amazing surprise. The tumor was gone.There was no reason to do the reconstructive surgery. Even his doctors were astounded. 

John has been back for regular check-ups at Mayo ten times. I have four brothers and one or more of us usually go with him. It has been deeply touching to see how well we could all pull together to do our part to help him. I think this is my sixth visit here with John in the last several years.

John has continued to work during the majority of this time in his job as Assistant Director and editor of several publications for the National Federation for High School Activities in Indianapolis, Indiana. While he isn't able to run anymore (that knee thing!), he exercises six times a week, eats well and does everything he can to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Yesterday we got good news. John is again in remission. I am exhausted but thrilled and relieved. He has done his part toward getting well and his doctors at Mayo have been incredible. My other brothers and I also know each other again as adults, and that is a true gift of John's illness.  But, mainly, I thank God for his recovery. There are some things that cannot be explained.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Blog Party: Sneak Peak at our newest creations!

Welcome to the Katsui Jewelry portion of the Show What You Create Blog Party sponsored by Andrea Tarling of Vintage Bella Studio.
Here at Katsui Jewelry the elves have been hard at work!!  Kat and Suz are working long hours to make some creative, exciting pieces for the St. Anthony Park Fair. They are largely repurposed and made from the vast quantity of vintage and retro jewelry we are collecting. Half the fun is in the hunt, as we run from estate sale to estate sale, buying what we think is truly special. This is just a little taste of what you can expect...

"Sparrow" and "Cupid's Bow"
vintage repurposed and handmade resin pendants.
(Sparrow was a collaboration, Cupid's Bow was made by Kat and then "borrowed" for a while.)

Kat's creation of brass, buttons, beads, and hand-painted locket with photo of a bathing beauty!

"The Champion of my Heart"
Suz's brass creation with locket, "forever" token, vintage key and swimming charms. 

Vintage bead dangles and brass chain.
Handwired by Suz!
The incredible grey sugar and gold beads are from the May Basket Swap!

Kat's creation of linked vintage beads, crystal, button, and sterling

Kat in her "Garden Party" necklace... she has been singing "I love the flower girl" all day!

 The Brights!

 "Garden Party"
Kat's repurposed vintage necklace of bright enamed flowers and a fluttering butterfly.

"Frida's Flowers"
Beautiful bright necklace made by Suz!

"Funky Corsage"
Kat's cuff of handpainted brass "ribbon", vintage beads, buttons, and flower handmade from vintage fabric!

(Much brighter in person- see below!)

Kat in her "Garden Party" and "Funky Corsage"

Kat wearing all of her creations at once!

Keep coming back and see what the little elves are doing!

- Kat and Suz

Visit some of the other blogs at the party!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Shout out: The Uniform Project

Dad came downstairs yesterday to show me this amazing project- one young woman wore the same dress (well 7 identical dresses) every day for a year... only changing with accessories and layers.  Tips for her project were donated to an agency that provides for uniforms and other educational needs for children in India!

Not only is she incredibly stylish- she's also clearly got a big heart!!

Without further ado...
The Uniform Project

Uniform Project Picture Book from The Uniform Project on Vimeo.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Happy Mothers Day To Me!

Here I am with the woman that made me a mother. We call this a Mother-Daughter Totem Pole. Kat is loving and kind, headed toward a great career as a clinical MSW, one of the most creative artists I know and the "Kat" is Katsui. I adore her. She gave me a super gift, Photoshop Elements, the easy one, because I am Technologically Challenged.

This is Andrew, Megan and Drew. Megan is my second daughter. Her mother, Diane and I, were due at the same time. We were both young and hot (not in the sense you think of now...though maybe that, too!) It was the middle of a South Dakota August and I sat in my living room and stared at the wall. I didn't have air conditioning. Di delivered seven days earlier...I was so mad! Actually, I was fine once I delivered. I love Megan (and her parents). We were so lucky to have her go to college in the Twin Cities. We were even luckier to have her live with us one summer. She is now back again, finishing her residency in internal medicine. She will be a brilliant and caring doctor. The nice looking guy on the right, Drew, is her partner. He is finishing his Ph.D. in Philosophy and we laugh a lot together and share a true love of sweet things!  We approve of him for our daughter, Megan. Andrew is their friend. He will have both a degree in philosophy an an MD. All three of them are scary smart!

This is the guy that made it all possible. He surprised me with a Mary Francis purse. It is brown and is beautifully beaded. He said it cost more than I would ever spend on a purse. I have resisted checking out how much it cost! I love this man. He is kind and gentle and is loved by so many. He has been a fantastic father to his daughter.  I could not have found a better choice as a husband for me. And I love his bald head! 

p.s. Kat wanted to add that we went out to brunch on Mother's Day at one of our favorite restaurants The Red Stag.  They use locally grown products and are an eco-conscious LEED-certified space.  Kat and Megan totally approve of the Dyson Blade hand dryers and took several trips to the restroom to try them out.   The food is phenominal, supper club fare with style and FLAVOR.  Kat says that she has learned her lesson after not ordering the chicken-fried steak with pancetta leek gravy.  Even though her corned beef hash was good, it was not eyes-rolling-back-into-head-and-unable-to-speak-with-pleasure good like the steak.  Mom and Dad were kind enough to share some of theirs with her!

Afterwards we went to the ADORABLE Northeast Minneapolis store i like you!  They feature locally handmade goods that are super cute, funky, adorable, fun, beautiful, and all-around fabulous.  We like them right back!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The May Basket Swap

Well, Suz is swapping again. I joined Kari Ramstrom's May Basket Swap and had an absolutely wonderful partner. Her name is Renee and she has a business (Vintage Recreations) in which she repurposes jewelry (like Kat and me) ...and she lives in the Minneapolis area! How strange is that! She is actually going to be selling at the Junk Bonanza...this is the real thing, sisters!  I will take you through this beautiful basket step by step and then I want you to go to her blog to see the basket as it was presented. As would be expected, it was beautiful. As usual, I didn't think about taking a picture before I dove in! 

This is the beautiful basket in which the many treats were presented. I believe she said she made the liner. It is so soft and pretty and will be put to good use, probably right next to my bed. 

Throughout the box, there were TONS of flowers, vintage plastic, silk, feather, you name it. They made a bed for all of the beautiful little treats.

My home is decorated in mostly soft pastels...soft pink, soft blue and soft grey. Renee sent some wonderful treats that will be so much fun to use. There are soft pink flower candles, the kind that float in water (I love those!). Next to the candles is the most lovely blue ceramic charming. Then we have flower seeds...we love flowers in Minnesota...even though our growing season is about one month! Under that is a soft pink feather bird and some pink fuzzy chicks!!! I love fuzzy chicks! And then we have a wonderful package of Prima flowers. I will find a lot to do with these!

Next are the millinery flowers...can you believe it? They are so rare around here. She had just been to an antique fair near me and bought them for me. I was thrilled. As scarce as hen's teeth, as they say in the Midwest (not really). Aren't they gorgeous? There were also two of those little vintage plastic baskets that people used to have at weddings. So sweet.

Wow, isn't this something? This is the biggest haul of vintage jewelry I have laid my eyes on! Kat and I were both just dazzled. There were enamel pins and plastic flowers and rhinestone pins and beaded necklaces and seed bead chains and pearls and pop bead spacers...just everything I could ever want. There was also a darling little container of rhinestones...really cool ones. It truly was a dream basket full of jewelry goodies, which are the things that I love the most.

There were also dog treats that drove Sophie and Harvey, The Rescue Dog, just nuts. I need to find out from her what they were as they are long gone. I didn't think to look closely as I threw away the wrapper. And there was the most adorable ceramic flower vintage clock, which is hanging in the paper craft room. The last treat (I am sure I am forgetting something) was a pair of aqua blue fuzzy socks. How did she know I love fuzzy socks, and especially ones that are a soft aqua. Kat wanted to borrow them. I said,"No, borrow an old pair." She told me the old ones were "hard," which they are compared to these!

Thank you, Renee. I am blown away by your generosity! This was an incredible swap! Renee brought the basket to my house. I was not feeling well and Kat traded with her. She said she was so sweet and had one of those beautiful Scandanavian faces. I am hoping we can get some of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area bloggers together this summer and then I can meet her. 

Underneath this is the basket that I gave Renee. There are some similarities, huh? Do you see the bird, beads, flowers, trim? 

Here you can see my first pincushion, which was on the top. I started with a turquoise blue ceramic Oven King bowl on the bottom. I have a bird in a nest on the top. I sugared the bird, then started making the flower garden. I got a little carried away!!!! Nonetheless, it was fun to make. You can also see the top of my basket. It is a vintage sewing basket I bought from Kari's shop. I actually bought two, one pink and this one, and I had a bit of a hard time giving this one up...but I am so glad I did to such a great partner. Sigh. Swapping is so much fun!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

There Are Good People Out There In Blogland

This is a photo of myself, Maija Lepore and Trish Samsal. For the last ten plus years, I have gone to visit my in-laws in Mesa, Arizona. They live in a beautiful house on the golf course and it is always so wonderful to share time with them, to get taken care of by my second mom, and to watch the Arizona sunset. I have always wondered if this is where I would end up, as there are so many things I love about Arizona. The only problem...I am an "odd duck." I do not play golf and I do not play bridge. I like to play with beads and old paper. I am a bit unconventional, to say the least, and never felt that I would quite fit the mold in Mesa. 

Then I met Trish, who was working in the craft store that was owned by Domestic Bliss in Downtown Mesa. I fell in love with the store (in fact, I thought Trish owned it!).  Trish was teaching classes like encaustic painting and making large glitter Easter Eggs. They also offered sewing classes with exciting Sis Boom Bah and other fabrics. I was at home! She was patient and helpful while I buzzed around the store in a frenzy. I saw her at Silver Bella and I remember her handing my friend, Donna, and me some free things from her booth. So nice! When we visited this Christmas, she was again so helpful to Jud, Kat and me.  I remember walking down the street in Downtown Mesa..there was an antique mall and a store called Mystic Paper! I was dazzled! This was the kind of area I have dreamed of inhabiting!

I found blogland about the time I signed up for Silver Bella and again felt this wonderful sense of finding my kindred spirits. I left my comments on many blogs and a couple people were especially welcoming. Among these was Maija Lepore. Maija always seemed to answer my little notes and I was so touched. I had a class with her at Silver Bella and she was just like I imagined her in person. What you see is what you get. She is an honest, forthright, genuine, generous person. I got together with both Trish and Maija this year in Phoenix. We had lunch and Trish taught us a class in making tiny books. I had a wonderful time.

I have strong connections here in the Twin Cities but I am getting tired of the long winters. Someday I imagine I will be living in Mesa, or somewhere in that area. It is such a relief to know that there will be true community there for me.

Maija is having a giveaway when she hits 200 friends on her Google Connect. She is giving away the coolest apron from Olive Juice and Co. Go and check it out and become her friend. You won't regret it!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Something to believe in... Be the Change...

Mahatma Gandhi once said: "Be the change that you want to see in the world"
I am a person who believes strongly that if you have connections and a voice, you should use it to speak for others who have less access to avenues of influence.

Well, this blog is one of those connections to others: all of you wonderful people out in the blogosphere.

We usually use this blog for the fun and happy-go-lucky parts of our life, but today I'd like to speak to our readers about something with greater gravity.

A few weeks ago I participated (and helped to run/plan) an event on my campus to raise awareness and educate people about homelessness.  This was the last event of a year long poverty project to raise awareness, educate, do service, and advocate.  At the end of the night we all made a commitment to do something... I committed to be unafraid to use my voice.

I took several things from these experience:
1. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and to have their humanity acknowledged.  To me, every human being deserves basic respect and compassion.  It isn't always easy to give, but it is my goal to attempt it.

2. We are all interconnected.
It's hard to ackowlege this, because it can be an endless struggle, but in many ways, if we aren't a part of the solution, then we are part of the problem.  As Maya Angelou said: "If it is true that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, isn't it also true that a society is only as healthy as its sickest citizen and only as wealthy as its most deprived?"  Similarly, in the Social Work for Social Justice Principles it is said that: "A basic moral test of any community or society is the way in which the most vulnerable members are faring"

3. I should be brave enough to speak up for those who don't have as much opportunity and access as I have- and I should stand up for what I believe in.
It's difficult to live every second focusing on the painful truths about our world, but I also cannot ignore or avoid the problems of the world and simply wish that they will go away.

So you may be wondering, "what can one person do?"

Well, Margaret Mead said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does”
And we know that we can't just close our eyes and cover our ears- ignoring problems won't make them go away.

The simplest place to start is through our connection to other people: open your eyes and ears, look people in the eyes, reach out your hand, and speak to others from your heart.  Start talking to your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, local and state representatives and tell them about things that matter to you.

Here's a few places for fellow Minnesotans and others to get involved:
Find out who represents you at all levels of government:
Call your representatives to express support for programs to end homelessness and express dissatisfaction with policies negatively affecting those experiencing homelessness. If unsure how to approach them, see  or

This group has great information about MN advocacy:
Find out about important issues facing MN:
U.S. Pirg is the national version of this:
I'm a social work student, so I use the NASW to let me know about important issues on a broader level:

And last, but not least, join the campaign to reduce poverty in America:

Believe in something.  Make a commitment to make a difference!

How will you use your voice?

- Kat

Monday, May 3, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jud Bud!

Last week was our dear husband and dad's birthday!
In honor of this his two favorite girls did a photo shoot with Emily...

Here's a few shots:

These are a few of my favorite things!

These are a few of my favorite things...
Traveling... This is a shot from the house where we stayed on a trip to San Miguel de Allende in Mexico.  I spent a lot of time reading by this fountain...
(I'll be back in San Miguel this summer for an intensive Spanish course.) I've also travelled to Croatia, Scotland, England, and Australia.

Vintage Shoes (which are hard to find in my size)
These black boots were from the estate sale of a woman from the family that started the Walker Art Center.  They are amazing!
These tooled leather pumps are from my golden birthday- when my parents and I went to San Fransisco.
These red 40s pumps are a recent find from an antiques shop visit my mom and I made. (I also scored grey cowboy boots with ostrich on them.)

Vintage Belt Buckles
I've been collecting them now for a few years.

The owl was a great Etsy find! Enamel from the 60s.

 I love Whimsical, Art Nouveau, Southwestern, and Native American Styles!
The inlaid mother of pearl and turquiose sun/moon is my favorite- a find from this Xmas in AZ.
This design is called "The End of the Trail"... I "borrowed" it from my dad years ago, but it has greater meaning to me since I interned at an American Indian social service agency.

The Fluffybutts. Do I need to say more?

Good Friends
Cecilia at the RenFest when she came to visit from MN.
She is amazing- smart, funny, accomplished, and just exudes genuine warmth and love.

Meggie and I playing dress up... I think this picture is exactly the person I feel like inside- a whimsical wild pixie child.
Megan and I were born 6 days apart and I don't know I time I didn't know her.  She's now a doctor, but still the silly-billy that I love!

Katy and I dressed up for Halloween (yup, I'm 30 and I still like to play dress-up!)
Katy and I have been friends since 7th grade.  She is smart, solid, witty, and loyal- she loves and appreciates me- even if I am a whimsical dreamer who is into girly things like fashion, fairies, and make-up.


My mom and dad are amazing.
They are loving, kind, intelligent, and wonderful goofballs.
My dad whistles and sings somgs that subconsciously relate to something he is going through.
My mom is one of the best friends (to me and others), is stronger than she knows, and has the most amazing laughs (I particularly like the one when she is laughing about something a little naughty.)

(One of my favorite photos of mom and dad- notice how they make the shape of a heart!  And are appropriately dressed in boy/girl colors!)

The simple beauty of nature... This sight lead me to stop the car and admire.

- Kat