Monthly Archives: June 2013

#30DOC Week 1

I’ve been working through my 30 Days of Creativity Challenge all week. Like a champ. Of course, it’s only the first week–the real challenge will be keeping up the momentum all month. Here’s what I’ve been working on:








From the top: 6/1 plant markers, 6/2 handcrafted cocktails, 6/3 two handmade thank yous, 6/4 one handmade envelope and three more pieces of mail art, 6/5 this (free) pattern from Wild Olive (I loved making this! Thanks, Mollie!), 6/6 water colored stationery & envelope (I’m really enjoying playing around with water coloring things lately!) and 6/7 a kitty donut in honor of National Donut Day (from this Wild Olive Donut Shop pattern) I’m a little disappointed in my execution of the kitty pattern…I think I might need to re-do some of the stitches…I don’t feel like my interpretation is fulfilling kitty’s cuteness potential!

I’ve just been winging it each day, but the next two weeks are looking much busier, so I might have to plan out my creative projects to ensure I’m carving out the right amount of time for them. Also, I’m finding myself sticking in my comfort zone and not stretching myself…the whole purpose of this project (for me) is to get a jump start on a few artsy things on my Summer Manifesto…I must try harder!

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Plant Markers for the Balcony

IMG_2262We still have a few herbs growing on the balcony this year. It’s easier to use the herbs in our “daily” cooking when we can just pop outside to harvest them, plus we wanted to save all of our space in the garden plot for vegetables.

I wanted to make some plant markers for the herbs, similar to those I made for the garden. For the balcony herb makers, I gave the craft sticks a simple watercolor wash (using my cheap set of watercolors from Michaels), let them dry, and then stamped them with my letter stamps in StazOn ink. I love how they look so “official” poking out in the pots!



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Garden Update: Things Are Growing

DSC_0021Naoto and I spent some time at the garden on Saturday afternoon and again last night. We are both amazed at how much the plants grow within such a short few days. Here are a few shots of our garden, complete with my homemade plant markers:

DSC_0017 DSC_0016 DSC_0015 DSC_0013 DSC_0011 DSC_0009 DSC_0007And, in the most exciting news of all, our Juliet tomato already has a blossom!!

IMG_2329It’s so weird to me because the Juliet was the last tomato we planted (just last weekend with my dad).

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And, now that the vining plants are growing (except for the loofah…the loofah is doing nothing), we have to come up with a plan for handling the vines. We’ve seen some good ideas in other garden plots, so we just need to buy our materials and build something simple.


And, in our first gardening challenge, our limas are being eaten by…something…a rabbit? A bug? Who knows. But the whole crop is not looking good. I still have hope that maybe one or two plants will produce some good ol’ lima beans…

One thing that’s been fun and helpful for me so far this gardening season is participating in #SeedChat (with @SeedChat & others) on Twitter. It happens on Wednesday nights at 8pm CST and it’s a great way to “meet” other gardeners and ask questions (if you’re a newbie like me) or offer advice (if you’re an experienced green thumb). If you’re into gardening, check it out!





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Cocktail Perfected: The Blue Hawaii


Naoto & I had a signature cocktail at our wedding–the Blue Hawaii. We chose it because of its pool blue color (pool was our wedding color) and because of Naoto grew up in Hawaii and we shared a wonderful vacation there with his host family a few years before we were married. And, it might be sweeter than my cocktail tastes today, but the Blue Hawaii was right up my alley seven years ago. When I whipped up a batch for Naoto and I on our anniversary, it took us back to the beaches of Hawaii and the party that celebrated our marriage.

The Blue Hawaii has been around since 1957 and has several variations, but for our wedding, we chose this traditional recipe.


Blue Hawaii

3/4 oz light rum

3/4 oz vodka

1/2 oz blue curaçao

3 oz pineapple juice

1 oz sweet & sour (I made my own: 1 part lemon juice, 1 part simple syrup)

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass (or serve on the rocks, but for goodness sake, please don’t put it in a blender!) and garnish with fresh pineapple and an offensively red maraschino cherry. It would be better if you could include a little paper umbrella, too. Enjoy on your anniversary or on a sandy beach.

DSC_0025P.S. Thanks for the cocktail swords, Donovan!


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7th Anniversary Gifts: Copper & Desk Sets


When Naoto & I exchange anniversary gifts, we use the traditional and modern gift ideas as guidelines. I buy or make something for Naoto from the traditional list, and he buys me something from the modern list. (I wish I could tell you what we’ve gotten for each other in year’s past, but I don’t remember all of the gifts…we should have written them down.)

So since it was our 7th anniversary I got to work with wool or copper (ah, if I only knew how to knit!) and Naoto had desk sets for me…seriously…could he have HAD an easier gift for me?! (I even have a Pinterest Board dedicated to desk stuff!)

I really like to make things for Naoto. He never has a wishlist (I married the least materialistic person on the planet.) and I like to try out new things. My first embroidery project was an anniversary gift (year two is cotton). I’ve been wanting some more art for our home and have been looking online for different mobile type ideas. Through my search, I found this tutorial from Smile and Wave for a copper pipe himmeli. I was a little bit intimidated by the project at first. I don’t make a habit of poking around the plumbing section and I’ve never cut a pipe before. And parts of the tutorial didn’t make sense to me until I actually started working with the materials. But I have to say, Rachel’s tutorial ended up being perfect. Locating the materials was the hardest part (mostly because they didn’t have the right pipe size at Menards and then Lowes put my paid order back on the shelves) but once I got started, I really enjoyed this project–so much so that I plan to make a few more. I’d love to have a little cluster of them with a plant or two in the corner of the bedroom. I’m going to make that happen. (Because one looks lonely and ridiculous.)


I used a slightly different pipe than Rachel used. Because Lowe’s put my original order back on the shelves (I guess that was a happy accident), I had a chance to poke around the copper pipe section and I found a skinnier pipe–1/4″ Type OD. I have no idea what that means, but it’s skinnier than the 1/4″ Type L (even though they are both 1/4″…don’t ask me, I’m not a plumber). It worked like a charm. Also, it was very satisfying to cut the pipes with the little pipe cutter. It took some practice and some patience. (First I smooshed the end of the pipe because I was too impatient and tightened things too quickly. Then, I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere as I turned the pipe cutter round and round, but then one last little twist and the pipe was cut–like magic.) I think the whole project took around an hour and the hardest part was threading the twine through and then getting it all lined up at the end. Mine is quite imperfect, but I hope to get better as I make a couple more. I think Naoto liked it. (Or is that his what-the-heck-is-this-well-she-made-it-so-I’d-better-smile face?)

IMG_2288And I know Presley finds it quite intriguing…

DSC_0051(Maybe hanging it at the side of the bed was a bad idea??)

DSC_0005For my gift, Naoto got this sweet wooden cat pencil holder and this planner from Paper & Type. I think I’m going to use the planner for scheduling blog posts because I don’t want to wait until 2014 to put it to use! My Letter Ledger is from Paper & Type and I just think her products are so unique and useful. Thanks for the lovely choices, Naoto!

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Our 7th Anniversary Weekend


Naoto & I spent the whole weekend together celebrating the every day of seven years of marriage. We did nothing exceptional, we just enjoyed each other’s company and lots of good food. Naoto popped out on Saturday afternoon and brought back this huge bouquet of flowers “from Presley”. It was such a sweet surprise and I’m enjoying having them at my desk (for maximum enjoyment and minimum Presley “enjoyment”.)


After relaxing on the balcony with breakfast and coffee, we headed to the community garden to check on the plants. We did a fair amount of weeding and watered our plot. (I will talk more about the garden later this week…we are both amazed and thankful to see it’s growing!)


After relaxing out on the balcony and watching it rain, we headed to the Golden Steer for our traditional (since moving to Forest Park) anniversary dinner.



It was our fourth year going there and it never disappoints. I always fill up too much on the cracker basket, the French Onion Soup, the salad and the baked potato to eat much of my steak! And the lone button mushroom floating around on the steak plate makes me giggle every time…

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After the Steer, we went to the Marion Street Cheese Market for dessert. Naoto had a chocolate dessert with a homemade chocolate marshmallow and some snicker doodles and I had a strawberry rhubarb dessert (sweet pastry layered with strawberry rhubarb and topped with meringue).

Sunday was our actual anniversary. We slept in, had coffee and exchanged gifts (more on that later). Then we reluctantly went to the gym together. So romantic, I know.

After the gym, we headed to the Little Goat Diner. This was Naoto’s choice, not that I needed any arm twisting. I did a little research and realized that it’s an easy trip on the el (too easy…I think we might have to get pie and coffee at least once a week now!)

IMG_2295Little Goat was busy, but they could seat us right away at the counter, so we decided to try it out. We’ve sat in all of their seating options now (communal table, booth and counter) and while the booth is nice and quiet and private, we both really enjoyed the frenetic people watching at the counter. It was neat to see the orchestration of the orders and to hear the cooks interacting with each other.


We ordered the Smoke Fries…and I don’t think I will ever NOT order the Smoke Fries in all future visits. They were skinny and perfectly crisp and savory…my idea of the perfect fry. (My passion for these fries will now rival my love for the pie.)


IMG_2298Naoto got the Tonkatsu sandwich, which came with this tasty-creative pickled daikon radish, zucchini and rhubarb salad. I decided, since I always feel too full for pie, to get a CUP of the Tomato Apple Soup, which now comes with a tiny Monte Cristo sandwich on the side (instead of the original, reeeeallllly good cheesy toast from our visit in February). I was super disappointed…until I took a bite of the Monte Cristo…it was like eating a tiny ham and cheese sandwich in between two savory donuts…

IMG_2300And for dessert, of course I got the pie (Blood Orange Meringue) and Naoto got the Miso Hungry Banana Split…ice cream covered in a miso sauce with miso chips on top. Weird? Not at all…it was amazing!

(I just realized that I spent most of my anniversary post talking about Little Goat Diner…no regrets!)

IMG_0771When we got home, I made us two Blue Hawaii cocktails (more on these later) and we lit our unity candle and toasted seven years.

It was the perfect ending to the weekend.

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080Happy 7th Anniversary to my Naoto! Thanks for a most wonderful seven years! Here’s to many more…and NO seven year itch!

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