The Neglected Blog 

 

Oh hi. I’m back. We took a vacation to Japan last month and re-entry into my home time zone has been a challenge. We got home on May 2 and I think I’m almost adjusted, but now my work and social calendars are keeping me from the blog. 

We had planned to go to Japan in the fall, but we found an amazing flight deal (It was less than a flight to San Francisco!) and decided that we had to go for it. I have zero regrets because the weather was beautiful almost every day and really, I could go to Japan every day, so not having to wait until fall was just fine with me.

This time we spent most of our time in Tokyo with a side trip to Hiroshima. Hiroshima was gorgeous and emotional and inspiring. I’m glad we finally went. I’d like to think we paved the way for President Obama’s trip later this month. 

I have so many pictures to share for our latest adventure and gardening season is starting up (even though it’s freezing here this week–literally! I had to cover my plants on Saturday because we had a frost warning!) so I will be back in this space soon with some posts. 

In the meantime, I’ll be reading my book club book and getting ready for a little party Peggy and I are hosting for Karen & Jackie’s birthdays this month! 

Fish Snack Sets & Green Depression Glass

vintage fish snack set, vintage snack sets, blue-green glassLast week I shared my paper finds, and today I’m back with the fun vintage dishes I’ve added to my collection. (My collection that has outgrown its space, by the way.) My favorite new find was a trio of blue-green glass snack sets. I had never seen anything like them before! vintage fish snack set, vintage snack sets, blue-green glassThey are pretty tiny…it’s hard to tell from the pictures, but the glass holds about three ounces and the plate is big enough for maybe a few crackers and some cheese? I thought they’d be perfect for a little beer or cider and nuts or cheese. Plus, who doesn’t love a good fish plate? (I did a little googling and could only find these and these…not as good as the blue-green ones with the original cup if you ask me.) green depression glass dishesAnd you may remember these dishes from Jackie’s Lighthouse Tea. They were Peggy’s and now I have a set of my own, including dessert plates to go with the cups and saucers and the creamer and sugar.

Now I just need to plan a little event so I can use them!

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Kyoto Part 3: Our Anniversary Lunch

IMG_3181Would it be weird to start blogging about my 2015 trip again? Maybe? I’m going to write anyway. I’ve been going through my pictures and reminiscing about all of the fun we had last spring and I realized that I’ve never really closed the book on that trip. I have a few last things to mention about Kyoto and some new editions of Spending the Yen.

We were in Kyoto for our anniversary last year and Hisae (my sister-in-law) took us out to lunch at Yuzu-ya, a restaurant and ryokan near the Yasaka Shrine. At street level, it looks like a black storefront (pictured above) but once you go through the doorway, you see that you walk up a rocky stairway to get up to the restaurant. IMG_3174IMG_3173Once you’re there, you forget that there’s a busy street below. It’s surrounded by lush greenery and trees and feels so removed and peaceful. ambiance, Yuzuya Ryokan, Kyoto, JapanThere is traditional seating near the windows where you can appreciate the trees and fountains outside. We sat at a regular table, but we still had amazing views. IMG_3158The meal was very traditional, using locally-sourced ingredients and lots of yuzu, hence the name Yuzu-ya. (Yuzu is a Japanese citrus, in case you don’t remember me talking about it before.)  Our first course was an appetizer of traditional Kyoto-fare. As you can see, it was presented beautifully on a tray of tiny plates adorned with leaves. Each bite was so different in taste and texture but it all worked together perfectly. IMG_3161Next, we had smelt grilled alongside bamboo leaves on a tiny table-top grill. IMG_3162(It was looking at me.) On the side was a yuzu sauce. I picked off as much meat as I could, but Naoto finished it off for me. (He ate every last bit, including the eye and the bones!)Then we had porridge with rice and fish and egg and chives, again cooked table-side and finished with a squeeze of yuzu. IMG_3167It was incredible. dessert, mochi, Yuzuya Ryokan, Kyoto, JapanThe dessert course was green tea and a brown sugar mochi. A simple but delicious way to end the meal.

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Write On for National Letter Writing Month

Mailbox pin, drawn by Marissa Falco, Thimblewinder on EtsyApril is National Card and Letter Writing Month!

Ok, I know I expressed a little bit of burn-out at the end of February’s Letter Month, but how can I not attempt another letter writing challenge for National Letter Writing Month? Just like last year, I’m attempting to write a letter or card every day in April as part of the Write On Challenge.

A few things:

  • I really want to use the challenge to use up some of my stash. (I say this every time but this time I mean it!) I have stationery sets from my past two trips to Japan that I’ve never opened…that’s just WRONG!
  • I’m not sure that I will document my daily mailings on Instagram this time. I like that posting daily keeps me on track with writing daily (and I love looking at everyone else’s posts!), but I also want this month to be about the letters and the connections and not necessarily about the mail art. Don’t get me wrong, I love making mail art…but sometimes I don’t feel so creative and that makes me feel bad about my mail. Mail should always be fun. (Well, unless it’s a sympathy card or something.) I guess I should say mail should always be about the connection. The other stuff is just a bonus.
  • I’m hoping to share a couple of mail-related books and maybe some more stationery items (both vintage and Japanese) this month.
  • I found this USPS packet for educators from 2015 that has some fun letter writing activities for kids. It kind of makes me wonder why the post office doesn’t make more of a big deal about Letter Writing Month.

Write on, friends!

P.S. The mailbox pin is made from an original drawing by Marissa Falco and can be found in her Etsy shop, Thimblewinder.

 

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Paper Antiquing in Princeton

vintage foreign language teacher stickers, vintage Eureka patriotic seals, vintage librarian record After we checked out the covered bridge and ate lunch in Princeton, we went antiquing. Princeton has several little antique and gift shops, but we stopped into the large Sherwood Antique Mall and decided to save the little shops for our next visit. Sherwood is basically a big building with loads of independently operated booths to poke through. It offered a nice variety of antiques and price points. Actually, I thought it was a little bit pricey for its location–some pricing was on par with Chicago antique shops. (Usually in my experience, the lower rents away from Chicago reflect in lower prices for the goods.) But, for the most part, prices were fair and I found some really fun things.

I’m always on the look out for vintage paper bits and dishes to add to my collection. I picked out these sweet vintage Hallmark teacher stickers with “Good job” written in a variety of languages. I especially love the little Japanese girl (top right corner) and the German boy (carrying milk pails?) I also scored a full book of patriotic-themed Eureka seals which were only a dollar, making them basically the deal of the century. vintage USPS puzzle postcard, Vintage Berghoff chicago postcardI poked through hundreds of boxes of postcards throughout the mall. I actually had to stop myself because my parents were with me and I didn’t want to slow us down. Sadly, I didn’t find any good Princeton, IL postcards to send that day, but I found a USPS hot air balloon puzzle postcard and an old Berghoff postcard. vintage chicago postcardsAnd I picked up some other vintage Chicago postcards. I love the scalloped edges! (Seriously, can you find edges like these on modern postcards?)vintage playing cards, horses and hawaiiI thought the horse cards would be fun for mail art in May (for the Kentucky Derby, which I’ve only seen once on TV.) And Naoto and I have been to Hawaii a few times but I’ve never made an album of our adventures, so I thought maybe some playing cards would help make that project happen. vintage Dennison labels, vintage Dennison gummed foil starsThe money I saved on the Eureka seals was wasted on these Dennison stars. They were packaged in a sealed bag and labeled “almost full” which was less than truthful, especially as far as the blue and red boxes were concerned. You win some, you lose some I guess. And, last but not least, this box of Dennison mailing labels! There are more than 200 in the box (which was also in sealed packaging) and it was definitely a winner!

I also found a couple of fun dish sets, but I’ll share those soon.

Have you found anything fun in a thrift shop or antique store lately?

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Princeton’s Red Covered Bridge

Princeton Covered Bridge, mom and meThe last stop in our little tour of Illinois was Princeton, the home of the Red Covered Bridge. Princeton Covered BridgeThe bridge was built in 1863 and runs across Bureau Creek just north of Princeton. It is still an active bridge, allowing cars to cross one at a time. (It’s no two lane highway!) Princeton Covered Bridge, detail of ceilingI loved this advertisement on the ceiling beams for Brown’s Household Panacea.Princeton Covered Bridge, information plaqueWhen I was young, we visited the bridge. If you’d asked me a few weeks ago about our visit to the bridge, I would have said we drove across the country to see it. The ride, as an eight year-old felt sooooo looooooong! In reality, Princeton is only about an hour away from my hometown. Isn’t it funny how your memory plays tricks on you? Princeton Covered Bridge, June 1986My mom dug out this picture of us on our first visit to the bridge in 1986. (That’s my brother in the snappy Hawaiian shirt and my mom was pregnant with my sister at the time.)

Fun times in Illinois!

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Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

This picture is from Bunny Tales, a book from 1979 filled with Easter poems and stories.

Walnut Cheese Shop

Walnut Cheese Shop, Walnut, ILMy dad has been talking about this cheese shop in Walnut, IL since last year when he went and stocked up on several varieties of cheese. He gave us a hunk of tomato basil cheddar, which was delicious, so we made plans to drive up to the shop together while I visiting earlier this month. cow, Walnut Cheese Shop, Walnut, ILWalnut, Illinois is a tiny town of 1400 so it’s very impressive that Avanti Foods has set up shop there. They have a distribution facility across the street from the quaint little shop where they produce and distribute cheese and frozen pizzas. The shop looks like a Swiss chalet and offers gift items, kitchen gadgets, and of course a wide variety of cheeses. Walnut cheese shop cheese, Walnut, IL, Avanti FoodsHere’s what I picked to try: Garden Cheddar, Blueberry Cheddar, Pesto Gouda, and their “special” Swiss, which a) was SO cheap, and b) is between a baby Swiss and a regular Swiss and the woman at the shop told us it is amazing. I figured, for $3.48, it was worth the risk. I’m looking forward to cracking a couple open this weekend. Walnut, IL post office, USPS, 61376Oh! And for fans of the USPS, here’s Walnut’s cute post office. Looking good, 61376!

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Old Salem Cemetery

gate at Old Salem Cemetery, Lacon, ILDuring our country drive, my dad and I stopped at the Old Salem Cemetery. Old Salem, the third oldest cemetery in Marshall County, is a small country cemetery northwest of my hometown. It’s tucked back at the end of a long dirt driveway, kind of the ultimate resting place. My great aunt and uncle are buried there. Old Salem Cemetery, Lacon, ILWhen I was in grade school, there were rumors of eccentric high schoolers going to Old Salem to perform séances among the turn of the century graves. And stories about ghosts and odd occurrences have swirled around Old Salem for as long as I remember. Old Salem CemeteryMost of the graves are from the 1800s, sparsely placed on the land among big old trees. It’s all framed on three sides by unruly forests. It’s easy to spook yourself into thinking you see movement in the trees, or shadowy figures watching you from the woods. Old Salem CemeterySupposedly, a young girl who died in a fire is buried at Old Salem. If you try to light a match near her grave, it will go out. I’ve never looked hard enough to find the grave and test the theory. Old Salem CemeteryGhosthunters also report going back to their cars after visiting the cemetery and having trouble starting the engine. Old Salem CemeteryIt is eerily quiet there. The silence coupled with the graves from the 1800s does make it a perfect place for ghost stories. But my dad and I didn’t experience any paranormal activity. Old Salem Cemetery, family graveMany of the graves have sunk into the earth or have sadly been damaged by vandals. (There were a bunch of beer bottles in the garbage can outside the gates, so it must still be a popular place for teenage partying.) Many of the graves are so old that the writing has been worn away. Old Salem CemeteryI wonder…is Adeline still alive or did she get buried next to her second husband? Old Salem CemeteryA sign of the times, there were a lot of children’s graves and family graves listing young children. (The lamb looks angry about this situation.) Old Salem CemeterySadly, the grounds aren’t cared for as much as they could be. There were a lot of branches down throughout the cemetery and the fence is falling apart. But it is still an active cemetery. The shiny new stones really stand out among the old ones here.  Old Salem CemeteryWhen we went to leave, my old car started right away (Can you be both disappointed and grateful?) and we managed to make it back to the paved road without getting stuck in the mud. Whew!

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Country Roads, Take Me Home

Reefer Road, Washburn, IL Do you know the John Denver song? It’s one of my favorites. Seriously, there’s no better medicine for the cold Monday morning blues than John Denver. 

Earlier this month, I spent some time with my parents in the corn and bean fields of downstate Illinois. We did a lot, which I’ll be sharing this week, but one of the most relaxing days was on Wednesday when my dad and I cruised the country roads together. We went to renew my license, went thrifting, had ice cream and on the way home we decided to take the long way. My dad pointed out who lived in each of the farm houses, where people I knew lived, and we had a lovely chat. It reminded me of when I was a student driver and got my blue slip. My dad rode along with me on my first drive through the country. He put his seat back and was the most chill I’ve ever seen him.

I’d forgotten how relaxing driving can be. When I was a teenager (driving my 1983 Cutlass) we “cruised” along the “main drag” (Illinois Route 89) of our small town before and after school every day…and in the evenings, after homework and supper. (It was a very small town with nothing better to do. Riding along in each other’s cars was the equivalent of hanging out at the mall, I guess.) When the speed limit is thirty and there’s no traffic, driving is fun!

Now that I live in a more urban area, I would have to drive a long way and through a lot of traffic to get to this kind of driving. There is just something so soothing about cruising along the winding rural roads, going no place in particular, where you hardly see anyone except maybe an occasional farmer or the mailman.

Don’t get me wrong…I love where we live. I love being able to walk or take the train to so many different places (as opposed to having to drive for twenty-plus minutes to get groceries or to eat out), especially in snowy weather. (Gosh, I really don’t miss driving in that!) But sometimes, I wish we had a little country house to retreat to when the city gets annoying. Then when times got tough, I could just hop in my car, turn on some John Denver and drive my blues away.

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