In My Mailbox: Vintage Recipes

vintage recipes, chiffon cake, old recipes, recipe boxMy pen pal Danielle has been sending me a string of vintage recipes lately and I love it! Each on is a little time capsule from days when sweets and treats were most often homemade and sometimes a little strange. (At least strange compared to what we’re used to eating nowadays.) This is my little collection from the past few letters. vintage recipes, chiffon cake, old recipes, recipe boxI’m most interested in trying this one. (I keep forgetting to add butter scotch chips to Naoto’s shopping list.) I love how it’s handwritten, creased, and well-used. It sounds very sweet, right? Maybe I need to do an Instagram Story from my kitchen so we can all be surprised at the outcome! vintage recipes, chiffon cake, old recipes, recipe boxAnd who doesn’t love a chiffon cake? I don’t think anyone makes these anymore. (Or maybe we just don’t call them chiffons anymore?) It sounds so light and fluffy. I wish I had a reason to bake a cake this week. vintage recipes, chiffon cake, old recipes, recipe boxThe fact that someone clipped this out of the newspaper and wrote, “MAKE AGAIN” on it makes me verrrrry curious. It’s called Desperations for goodness sake! I can’t picture what the finished product looks like…any ideas?vintage recipes, chiffon cake, old recipes, recipe boxHere is where I draw the line… Canned pears and pimento cheese? Topped with green pepper? Nope. (I don’t think the salad dressing looks bad though…)

I wouldn’t eat that…would you?

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Cocktail Perfected: Twentieth Century

Twentieth Century Cocktail, vintage cocktailsI’ve been working this week on decorating and pulling out some of my Halloween mail art supplies. I’m hoping to have everything done tonight so I can enjoy the season and maybe make a cheesecloth ghost or something. It was really hot on Wednesday, so I was able to finish the balcony. Temperatures dropped yesterday and leaves are actually falling, so I’m definitely feeling like getting cozy and reading spooky books this weekend.

Ok, so the Twentieth Century is not a true Halloween cocktail, but there is a hint of chocolate so we can consider it grown-up Halloween candy-esque. I had this cocktail for the first time at Fitzgerald’s a few years ago and it’s a favorite classic cocktail of mine. It was created in 1937 as a nod to the Twentieth Century Limited, a train that went between Chicago and New York City from 1902 until the 1960s. You might think it sounds weird with the creme de cacao and the lemon…it is strange but it works. Trust me.

Twentieth Century Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces gin

3/4 ounce Lillet Blanc (We use Cocchi Americano if we have that on hand instead.)

3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 ounce white creme de cacao

Add all ingredients to a shaker filled with ice. Shake until fully chilled and strain into a coupe. Enjoy on a chilly fall night. (Or a warm summer night…it works.)

P.S. Two true Halloween cocktails: Purgatory and Corpse Reviver #2

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In My Mailbox: Halloween Mail…Candy Included

Last year, Donovan surprised me with the best kind of Halloween mail, the kind with candy! She mailed a package of pumpkin Peeps with a little note taped on the top. It was so fun to receive and I’m trying to keep it in mind when I send out my Halloween mail this year. Happy October, everyone!

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Summer Book Report, Part 2

summer reading, a good man is hard to find, we have always lived in a castle, a country doctor, consequences, convenience store womanI gave myself until the technical start of fall to finish my goal of reading ten books, and I’m going to call it complete. I finished my last book on Tuesday, and one of my choices is technically a short story, but…it’s all good. I’ve been reading up a storm, finishing all of these this month. (Don’t be too impressed…one book was a layover from August and the others are quite short!)

A Country Doctor by Sarah Orne Jewett (1884): This was for book group and it was kind of meh. The writing is really lovely, but many parts were too verbose and I didn’t feel the same connection to the characters that I have in other books. Oh, and it’s another single woman, finding her way in the world, struggling between career and marriage…I’m not complaining. I love those books. This just wasn’t my favorite.

“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor (1953): It’s a short story that I can’t believe I’ve never read. I can’t tell you anything. Don’t read about it. Just get it and read it. It’s perfection.

Consequences by E.M. Delafield (1919): Another spinster novel…I loooooved this. It took me almost a month to read it and I had to take a break from reading it to read for book club. But, every time I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. It is a tale of a misunderstood child turned single woman who makes many bad choices in life (a life constrained by society’s expectations and restrictions) and has to live with the consequences.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (2016): Oh look! It’s a book written this century! Naoto’s sister recommended this book to him a couple years ago and it was the book that got him back into reading. He read the Japanese version and I was a little bummed because it wasn’t available in English when he told me about it. Then, I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Work Over Easy, and I was reading this post thinking “huh, this book sounds like that one Naoto read!” and sure enough it was! I immediately ordered it from the library and read it in one day. I loved it so much, but it’s hard to explain why. Weirdly enough, it’s another book about a single woman who has made some “non-traditional” choices. I loved the main character and I loved how the author paints the perfect picture of life in a convenience store. (Sidenote: convenience stores are way better in Japan…perhaps I need to write a new Japan Does It Better post.)

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (1962): I haven’t read enough Shirley Jackson. “The Lottery” is one of my favorite short stories ever. This was the perfect introduction into my spooky October reading. The book was creepy and captivating and funny…and the first paragraph is one of the best ever written:

My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.

For book club next month, we are reading Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and I just started Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, another Japanese book that I read about in the New York Times review of Convenience Store Woman. Perhaps I’ll be back with a fall review soon! In the meantime, here are some of my favorite book club reads from October!

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In My Neighborhood: Empowering Gardens

empowering gardens inc, forest parkEmpowering Gardens is one of those unique places that makes me thankful I live in Forest Park. It is a local garden center with a mission to provide job opportunities for people with disabilities. Everyone who works there is so knowledgable and friendly. And EG offers such great plants, definitely heartier than some of the stuff at the big box garden centers. Plus, their prices are competitive, which means you can buy more and help a good cause.empowering gardens, fall pansies, fall flowers, garden center, mumsRight now, they have a gorgeous array of pansies which love this fall weather that we’re just dipping into, and tons of mums–tiny ones and giant ones in all different autumnal colors. empowering gardens, ornamental pepper, fall flowers, garden centerThey also have a few varieties of ornamental peppers, which are so cool! (I’m kicking myself for not buying this one.) They also have some ornamental cabbages, fall grasses, cold weather vegetables, and plenty more. Pretty much everything you need to give your porch or garden a boost for the new season. empowering gardens inc, forest parkHow cute would one of these be on a Halloween porch? empowering gardens inc, forest park, Naoto at Empowering GardensWe bought a couple of small mums and this really neat black plant…I need to clear off the balcony of all the dead summer stuff and I’ll share the living fall version next week. (It’s really a mess out there on my lanai!) I really wish I could trust myself to water the pansies because they have so many stunning colors! And, this Saturday, I’ll be at Empowering Gardens selling my cards at the Music, Art & Wine event! I’m so excited to participate in this event that combines my love of gardening with my love wine and music and handmade art!

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Brookfield Arts Fest

Brookfield Fine Arts Fest, Brookfield, IL, Galaxie Safari We had a great day in Brookfield on Saturday at the Brookfield Fine Arts Festival. It was such a beautiful day! It was the first day of fall and the weather really cooperated with true fall-like temperatures. Our set-up was similar to Art Dans la Rue and Riverside…next year, I’d like to invest in a new table (ours is small and kind of rickety) and I’d like to work on using more of the tent space for stuff instead of just putting our usual craft show set-up outside. This year was all about getting comfortable with an outdoor set-up…next year hopefully we can perfect it! Brookfield Fine Arts Fest, Brookfield, IL, Galaxie Safari In the morning, it was breezy and chilly. I wasn’t prepared for how cold I would be standing around my tent as the sun was coming up. Thankfully I had a blanket in my car, so I wore it as a skirt to keep my legs extra warm. We also didn’t bring any chairs, so you might say we were a bit unprepared. But we’re both used to standing, so it was okay. Brookfield Fine Arts Fest, Brookfield, IL, Galaxie Safari Naoto stayed warm in the morning by using the exercise equipment in the park. He got a good leg workout there, and running to the farmers market for breakfast and lunch. Brookfield Fine Arts Fest, Brookfield, IL, Galaxie Safari By the afternoon, he was able to take a little nap in the sun while I took care of customers. apple of my eye, Johnny Appleseed, postage stamp, Brookfield Fine Arts Fest, Brookfield, IL, Galaxie Safari It was our first time doing this show and we got a good reaction to the cards. A lot of people always say it’s a unique idea, which makes me happy that I’m able to offer something a little bit different. It’s always so fun chatting about puns and old stamps with people. LaBarra, cocktails, Galaxie SafariWe ended the show with our usual cocktail celebration. We went to LaBarra in Riverside, an Italian restaurant that we love. I am so lucky to have Naoto who is always game to help out and to man the booth when I need a little break. He’s worth every penny I pay him in dinner and beer.

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Upcoming Shows & Galaxie Safari News

One craft show down, two to go this month! It is by far the busiest Galaxie Safari month around here…which is really exciting! Brookfield Fine Arts Festival This weekend, I am doing another outdoor show–the Brookfield Fine Arts Festival at Kiwanis Park in Brookfield. I am so excited to do another outdoor show, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the weather cooperates…right now it looks like it will be cool and dry. If you’re in the area, pop in to see us! And next weekend, I’m doing a mini show at Empowering Gardens here in Forest Park. EG deserves its own post, so I’ll save more for next week. And…I’m excited to announce that Galaxie Safari cards are now available at The Wardrobe in Springfield, Illinois! A customer at Art Dans la Rue sent one of my cards to the owner and she reached out to me to ask about carrying a few designs. So, I made a little wholesale page here on the site and got all ready to send some cards to Springfield. I am very excited to have some Abe cards (and more!) in our state capital. Now…if only I can talk Naoto into a little road trip to see the sites and visit The Wardrobe!

P.S. Did I tell you that I’m (reluctantly) on Facebook? If you don’t mind, please “like” my page! I promise I don’t post too often…Facebook never lets me forget how bad I am about posting there!

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Summer is Almost Over…

neon mail art, neon mail, pen pals, summer mail…and I still have some things to check off in our Passport to Adventure! I’ll do a real update about that at the end of September. I’ve definitely met my goal of sending fifty pieces of mail though. I’ve been so good about mail this summer, I’m a little surprised at myself. Right now, I have a bit of a stack to return, so I’m trying to catch up so I can start October fresh and jump into Halloween mail! creamsicle letterpress card, neon mail, pen pals, summer mailYesterday I took down my summer decorations finally and put away my summery stationery. I tried to use up all of my neon paper and envelopes and cards but I failed miserably, so away it goes until next year. (Though it is 90 degrees today, so it feels like I should still be sending popsicle mail!)In other news…over Labor Day weekend, we always celebrate Presley’s “birthday” since we got her on Labor Day back in 2006. Well, this year, she got a case of pancreatitis and ended up at the emergency vet’s for two days. It was extremely stressful and worrisome, but I think she’s feeling back to normal finally.  It was so good to be able to bring her home and let her relax in her normal setting. She wouldn’t go to the bathroom or eat at the hospital, but once she got home, she was comfortable enough to do her thing. (Sorry.) We did have to feed her an appetite stimulant to get her back on track for eating. She refused her normal wet and dry foods for awhile so she ate loads of treats and -ahem- freshly baked salmon that we made for her with our own dinner. And thankfully, our regular vet made a little house call to help take Presley’s catheter out so we didn’t have to drag her back to the regular vet after her traumatic emergency vet stay. (The emergency vet was lovely…Presley just does not like the vet.) Presley has some lovely human, dog, and cat friends who sent her get well cards and treats. She’s very lucky.  And eventually her little shaved arm will grow back, but in the meantime…we’re trying to fashion her a fancy bracelet.

So…other than getting ready for my three craft shows this month and nursing Presley, not much has been keeping me away…I’ll be back with a little Galaxie Safari news tomorrow and then hopefully I can share a little news from Naoto’s kitchen. He has completely taken over the cooking and it’s wonnnnnnderful.

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It’s Been Too Quiet…

Galaxie Safari greeting card, Kimberly AH, vintage postage, vintage Nebraska stamp, vintage typewriterI didn’t mean to take a long blog break–September has been a little crazy, at least crazy for me since I’m a little too used to the Slow Life. I’m hoping to take some time today and work on some blog posts to catch you up on everything.

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Jerry Orbach’s Steak

Jerry Orbach's Panfried Steak, Dead Celebrity Cookbook, Jerry Orbach, Law and OrderNaoto and I both love Law & Order. Back in our early dating days, we’d spend hours on the couch watching episode after episode during the marathons on TNT and USA (for the Special Victims Unit version.) We both loved Jerry Orbach’s character, Lenny Briscoe, the best. He was salty and sarcastic and had the best opening one-liners. And, because he was on the show for so long, it really felt like he was a weathered New York detective by the time he retired. Once he left, the show wasn’t the same, though we did continue to watch until the bitter end. When he died, it felt like we lost a member of our neighborhood. I’m so glad he lives on in Law & Order and Murder She Wrotethe Dead Celebrity CookbookI read about The Dead Celebrity Cookbook on Twitter and promptly ordered it from the library. Have you ever read it? It’s so fun! I ordered it for Katherine Hepburn’s famous brownie recipe (which I still haven’t made!) but when I thumbed through the book and found Jerry Orbach’s steak recipe, I knew we had to start there. Jerry Orbach's panfried steak recipe, the dead celebrity cookbookI am usually not a cumin and coriander fan, but everything in this recipe works together perfect to create a perfectly seasoned steak with a tangy, slightly sweet, and very flavorful sauce. We ate it with some sautéed zucchini but I’d like to make it again with some old school steakhouse sides next time.

And…it’s because of The Dead Celebrity Cookbook that I finally learned after all this time that Jerry Orbach played Lumiere in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast! (How did I not know this?!)

I’ll report back if the Katherine Hepburn brownies are amazing…there are also recipes from 3/4 of the Golden Girls, so I think another Golden Girls Gala may be in our future!

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